envisional minds, 2013
HD video, 20 mins
Full Frame Theater at ATC
I never start a film knowing how it will end. With “envisional minds” the purpose was not so much to tell a story with a beginning, middle and end as it was to be with the subjects until they had revealed as much of their world as possible. Sometimes, making a film is like climbing a steep, rocky wall. Finding a handhold can be a terrifying struggle. Humor is a handhold for me. A funny moment in a documentary is a jewel.
My filming style tends to lean towards the observational. Beyond asking them to stand somewhere, I almost never tell my subject to do something specifically for the camera; there are no re-enactments in “envisional minds.” When I made the first several cuts of the film, the structure was divided into three discrete segments; each child had their own, uninterrupted vignette. This trope is very common in documentaries and I used it in an earlier film I made. Two months before the film was due my advisor watched the cut and told me it was “exquisite” and “nearly finished.” But I felt that the philosophy of the film was too predictable; early on, the audience could figure out exactly where the film was going at all times.
I enlisted the skills I had learned in the Experimental branch of my study at Duke and made a bold re-imagining of the entire film. I was operating from a vision I had in my head of what the new “envisional minds” would look and sound like. There would be connections drawn across all the lives of the three children. A faculty member said that an earlier draft of my film is about “aloneness.” None of these children ever meet, but by introducing their clips to each other through editing, we see a picture of childhood as a whole. The power of editing is something to behold; it’s my favorite part of filmmaking.