It’s Not You, It’s Me…

For one of this week’s Video Assignments, I chose to Tell a Story without Dialogue.  The title of the story is “It’s not you, it’s me” named after the dreaded line that any guy or gal loathes to hear on the other end of a phone line or an awkward coffee table.  A more recent encounter with this phrase inspired the video and the story is about a person who starts off his day like normal, assuming all is well and normal until he checks his mail and receives “the line.”  The world turns to grey and through body gestures, pauses, perspective, he comes to a realization that he shouldn’t dwell and that there are others around to support him.  He loosens the constraints of his work attire, representing the confines of emotion and self to which he has resigned himself and finds new friends in strangers in the park who support him on a slack line, a metaphor for balancing life and how we can’t do it alone.

I used the B/W and “Happy” (color) settings on my Panasonic DMC-TS20 to record the video.  I used a tripod to take the shots in my apartment and recruited a friend to take footage of my walk through “days” (title of the song playing during the black & white footage). When I read Ebert’s points on reading movies, what stood out to me was the notion that a rightward direction represented the future, so most of the footage of me walking is forward and to the right, to represent forward motion, versus the helplessness, sadness, and resignation that Ebert associated with tilting the left.  The idea of the upward angle to the right with most of the the initial walking was to suggest moving forward, moving on.  Coincidentally, the two scenes entering the park showed a upward, but leftward approach to the park, which also timed well with a lull, almost resigned, tempo on the song.  This was temporary as the tempo picked up heading to the transition to color.

The color scheme was pretty simple.  Whenever Coldplay’s “Life in Technicolor” played, there was color, life, and joy, be it in the daily process or the ending scenes.  When the character receives the note, he enters into a black and white world where the joy of color is almost removed by a shift in mood. Throughout the video, split segments into pieces deleting every other slice to create a jumping effect which I smoothed with crossfade transitions.  This served the purpose of trimming down total time of footage, but also created the effect of time passing as the subject remained still while people and things around him moved.  At one point near the end, I slowed down the video as the character paused to look at roses.  This effect was to provide a hint to the viewer as to what might be going on in the character’s mind.  All these effects, coupled with the tempo, tone, and message of the song played well together.

One other aspect of the film that I tried to include was that you couldn’t see the character’s face for most of the video until the 2nd half when he comes to his realization and sees the color in the world around him.  The intent was to allow the audience to try and guess what was on his mind based on everything else BUT his face.  Him scratching his head, pausing for the roses, putting his hands in his pockets, looking down to the ground…what does these things say about his thoughts and his feelings.  Towards the end, we see him on the park bench, arms open, comfortable and happy in the sun and around people.  An unintentional aspect of the ending of the Coldplay song, he sings “…no my feet won’t touch the ground…” which matched up with the character slack-lining above the ground with help from a new friend.



14 thoughts on “It’s Not You, It’s Me…

  1. Wow, Amos, that might be all I can say. This is a fantastically produced and conceived video on many levels. I can maybe guess this happens when something becomes more than just an assignment.

    The creative camera work is impressive as is the effort to coordinate the filing all over town (even on the Metro). I was ready for the ending to be the color returning to the scene, but then you take it even farther with the rope walking sequence at the end– I have to ask if that was planned or if it was a lucky circumstance. Either way, there are beautiful metaphors in that walk and being helped along the way.

    This is of the quality I hope for in the final project and you deliver it in a single assignment. Well done, extremely well done.

    • Thank you! Yes, there was a sense of “ownership” that I felt with this particular assignment, the kind ownership where an idea or activity begins to actually own you. I’ve mentioned this in my weekly recap, but I started thinking of this story after watching the “Coffee is, My” clip on the Week 6 & 7 homepage. I was disappointed to not find the assignment name on the initial list of video assignments and dug till I found the matching assignment.

      The slack line was very coincidental as was the lyrics to the song referencing keeping my feet off the ground. At the moment, the goal was to de-suit and do something fun and active with other people. A couple had just set up a new slack line and another couple was playing Frisbee with kids. The slack line couple was letting other passerbyers try out the slack line so my camera crew (Emmy) and I went to it. Also, the scene of me walking from the bench to the slack line happened after we did the actual slack-lining. Gotta love the magic of asynchronous videography 🙂

      • Excellent. And for what it’s worth very few movies are filmed in sequence. I’m really excited to read that Rachel’s video inspired you. This is really top quality work

  2. Amos, I can only say I enjoyed the video so much, I put it on my favourite playlist on YT. I particularly enjoyed the black and white segments. I think the idea of using the walking to mark time passing and weariness of day to day was inspired. This short film may appeal to you on the same theme:

    I love the unplanned moments that cohere – the line in the song and your footage.

    Also the unexpected – just as I started to wonder where is the story going colour changes and you have my interest again. I never imagined the ending and I love the message you offer about being open to the help of others to learn new things.

    From a course point of view – this post is a great example of offering an account of your creative process and also a clear outline of the technical process involved in the production. I bet you will never look at film in the same way again. DS106 certainly opened my eyes to just how hard it is to produce even a short film.

    Finally, the way you let the soundtrack speak through the images – really brought me into the story.

    I may want to use your film in my work with clients – are you okay with that? it would be in the context of coaching business people into making life changes. I feel you tell a powerful story of personal change that may speak to some much more than words.

    • Thank you for your response and the link to the short film.
      It was interesting how the different points of the song coincided with certain transitions and activities. I’d like to say that all of it was planned, but that would be a lie. That said, I did make that effort in places, to splice and transition to create certain effects, but there are definitely areas for improvement.

      If you want to use it, go ahead, though I only wonder if there will be any issues with the soundtrack music, for which I do not have “rights” technically. I was actually wondering how long the post will stay up before someone tells on me 😛

  3. Nicely done. I am a sucker for the “behind the scenes” explanation, so I appreciated your post about the making/constructing of your visual ideas. The use of music, with the filter of lens, makes for an effective composition.

  4. Hi,
    Really glad that Alan tweeted out the link to this. A wonderful example to everyone in DS106.
    I watch the video before I read the post, and found that any interesting remarks I though of were both explained and planned. The touch with the flowers is just beautiful.
    Way past stars.

    • I’m glad that you appreciated the video. Looking back at it, I’m catching a few things I would have changed (and just might). I really enjoyed making this.

  5. bcodelson says:

    Impressive! I almost want to tell you to stop making the rest of us look bad – ha! This was so thoughtful and well done. I really appreciate all the notes you made about the production of the video and why you made the decisions that you did. I think your use of forward and right motion did give the video the sense of positiveness that you were going for.

    • Thank you! I got carried away with this one and actually was a case where the story came first and the assignment followed. I had to search through the “Other” video assignments to find an assignment that fit.

  6. Hi, Amos.

    A few of us from DS106 open are thinking of doing a ‘summer DS106’. We are gathering a small group to run through the weekly assignment in the open programme but with some kind of creative twist. We have been plotting on Twitter and G+. I wanted to invite you to join us as you seem so keen on your DS106 learning. Here is the link to what we are talking about on G+ You would be most welcome.

  7. And of course if any of your colleagues want to join us, they are welcome. We are working in the open web and I know this may be an issue for some. But who knows? Some of you might be ready to play in the open 🙂 You would get to meet our Talking Doll Talky Tina!

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