Not long ago we had the chance to work with some talented kids at the Jodie O’Shea Orphanage in Denpasar, Bali (an organization founded in loving memory of Australian, Jodie O’Shea, who died tragically in the Bali terrorist bombing of 2002). There we gave a one-day documentary camerawork workshop to a group of students, aged 12 to 17. The goal of the class was for each participant to learn to become a “human tripod”, in essence to use their body, itself, as a stabilization device for their camera, as they performed a variety of still and moving shots.
Being able to shoot handheld like this allows for a degree of flexibility that is very important for documentary work, where you never know where the action will lead next. And while the concept is simple, to shoot smooth, professional-looking shots is actually quite challenging, as the smallest quiver or shake of the camera in your hands can lead to footage that looks like it was shot during an earthquake!
While most of the participants had little to no experience with cameras before, it was truly amazing how much they learned-by-doing in just a few hours time. The earnestness with which they took on this challenge can be seen in their faces as they focused, framed, and followed their shots. And in the end much of the resulting footage was truly astonishing… rock solid and stable! As a result, the students finished the class with a real feeling of confidence in what they had achieved, and hopefully also inspired to further pursue their interests in camerawork and filmmaking.
One of the goals of Bent Marble workshops is to bring filmmaking to the common man/woman/child, and demystify what may seem like an intimidatingly difficult form of art. We strive to have our participants experience the joy of success, before they have time to doubt themselves. And with such success comes snowballing confidence, creativity, and learning. Camerawork, for instance, may seem complex, and many may initially feel that they “don’t have an eye for it”. But in our class we briefly provide a few pointers and then encourage our students to try. And they soon realize that it isn’t rocket science after all… just a whole lot of fun!
Like cinematographer or videographer, an “operator” is one of the names given to a professional cameraperson. And while none of the youngsters we had the pleasure to work with at Jodie O’Shea Orphanage are professionals, just yet… boy were they super smooth!