The Blacksmith: filming my first short doc

Tedwood crafting a bottle opener for the documentary.

Tedwood crafting a bottle opener for the documentary.

For the past year, Tedwood has been sharing pictures of bottle openers, spoons, forks and knives, things that he's been forging in his garage. He said, "I've only been doing this for a very short period of time, but I know that I'll be doing it for the rest of my life." And he's gotten good at it. It's an interesting hobby. I don't know anyone else who does it and I was curious to learn why someone would want to.

"I love the feeling of the muscles in my hands being sore after working," Tedwood said. "I love the heat from the forge, and the way it transforms my shop into a cocoon from the outside world."

Okay, I thought to myself, someone with this much passion has to help me film a documentary about this.  

I didn't put much thought into the idea of the documentary, just start filming and see what stories develop. I created a list of preliminary questions, and I knew I wanted to focus on Tedwood's process, but otherwise I decided to wing it. It was another learning experience, in both the art of welding and filmmaking. 

LOCATION 

Tedwood's shop is located inside his garage. There's no room for a car, but that's par the course for a craftsman with a lot of tools, just ask my dad. The location is great for filming because of the lighting options. The garage door was open, allowing me to use sunlight as the key, which was important because I lack bright lights. I used two Aperture Amaran LED panels, one as fill, the other, a background light. I positioned them on the same side as the sunlight to keep the direction of light consistent. 

SOUND

Gathering audio was nerve wrecking. I wanted to use a lavaliere mike this go around because a shotgun would have muddied up the sound in a small space. But I didn't want to use a wired lav in case Tedwood had to move around a lot (he did), so I settled for my Audiotechnica wireless microphone. I actually never used it for more than a few minutes before. It's gotten a lot of mixed reviews, but that's to be expected of a cheap wireless system. But it worked pretty well, except the times where it dropped audio for a second. Luckily it didn't happen during a great quote.  

Tedwood's arsenal of bottle openers, sporks and knives, and machetes. 

Tedwood's arsenal of bottle openers, sporks and knives, and machetes. 

EDITING

Tedwood standing behind his booth at Mutiny Artwrx studio, along with dozens of other Atlanta based artists.

Tedwood standing behind his booth at Mutiny Artwrx studio, along with dozens of other Atlanta based artists.

Editing and blacksmithing are a lot alike: they're both about refining--constantly going back over what's been crafted, making intricate changes, until finished. I'm still sitting at my desk, editing away at this documentary. I'm working on the first draft, leaving gaps that need to be filled, thinking about what still needs to be filmed.

Tedwood's craftsmanship is industrial-like, so I want the final edit to have a gritty feel to it. I want it to have just as much texture as his finished products. And a really good editor can do that. I'm still learning but I've got ideas. Maybe I need to plug in my Xbox controller, turn on Doom, 2016 (Mick Gordon's industrial-metal soundtrack has been a major influence on me), to get some inspiration.  

First draft of my documentary's timeline in FCPX. 

First draft of my documentary's timeline in FCPX. 

Getting to the part where I import all of my footage to an NLE is one of the most exciting steps to me. It's the part where everything comes together. I take all these clips that have been shot out of order, and I take them and put them together in a way that makes sense--that tells a story--Tedwood's story. Now back to making this movie...