An Experiment Made Reality

Early 2019, I reevaluated the reason behind doing what I do. After a strenuous journey of feeling conflicted, what felt like an early-career crisis, and much contemplation on whether filmmaking truly was my calling/ brought me happiness, I stumbled upon ‘The Book of Joy’ by Dalai Lama. The book revolved around the notion that through meditation and acting for and thinking about others’ happiness and wellbeing, you can achieve joy for yourself too. So automatically, I asked myself how I could create impactful videos that truly benefit the people who watch them?

During this confusing time, I was introduced to Sofia’s work. Below is a piece of her’s which I gravitated to

From @sofsdoodles snake series

After giving some of my close friends gifts Sofia’s artwork in form of cards, letters, etc, and joining her at one of her doodle meetups at Sprouts Cafe, I realized that Sofia was an excellent example of an artist who creates art that makes you feel good. So I thought:

let’s make a video of Sofia!

This video resulted in me feeling creatively rejuvenated – having a superb time creating this! 🙂

The Process – Pre Production

Originally this was meant to be a several part series, showcasing different individuals. Self producing each piece comes with its chanllenges, thus I decided to only focus on ‘Sofdoodles’

This project was produced with my own funds, and the help of Vanessa Andreotti and Rene Susa from The Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures Collective (which I am inmensely thankful for). This was back when I was operating under the business name: Look Closer Media.

After this, Sof and me spoke about filming spots that would illustrate “the why”, “the how” and “the impact”. From here came the locations, either places Sof used to gather inspiration or where artworks where actually being displayed and the impact they were having. Below is the original minute to minute description of what originally would be just a one minute video – in the editing stage it became a 3 minute video.

The Production

From here a super rough schedule was drafted, but most importantly interview notes were made. Here I got the help of my good director friend Chelsea Xinyi Chen – she is an amazing director, and she led the interview while I held the camera. We filmed all of the interview in Sofia’s home, only natural light.

These are some photos of the three of us from that day, it has been one of my favourite shoots ever.

Post Production

So much of the best footage was captured after first day of production. I noticed we had still a lot of imagery to cover so I developed this “pick-up” shotlist and we shot for another day. You can see how rough the list was and how I also used it as an opportunity to fix for mistakes that I did in the first day.

Abdo Megahid (the best collaborator one can wish for), did a lot of the heavy lifting for the editing of this video. He gave form to the story and gave this super rough shotlist a chance. Here is the structure he built for this story using collaborative management software Notion.

This is also a sample of the interview note markers he did so we could create the transcript.

I think during this time I also noticed that we needed some pickups, here is my schedule for that:

Afindi did this hand drawn animation to give the title of Sof’s film some life. I hadn’t seen his work in a while and it is stunning.

Afindi also did this leaf animation. Given our timeline and resources, we were not able to transition the animation into real-live footage of Sofia grabbing the leaf as originally planned. But it made for a stunning visual that represented the essence of Sofia anyways.

The Instagram Wall Animation Process (Below)

The Equipment

Panasonic Gh5 – shot 4K 10bit (most of the time).

Sigma 18-35. Nokton 0.95 25mm.

Ronin S

Rode Microphone and H6 Zoom for sound.

And Translink Vancouver provided transport.

Filters: Variable ND