The Blacksmith

For the past year, Tedwood Strong 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. In my micro documentary, I ask Tedwood why he picked up blacksmithing as a skill and why he loves it so much.

Two months, two minutes: The Blacksmith micro doc

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About two months ago, I started filming my first micro documentary. Now I'm just about finished editing all two minutes of it (that's a long time for me), making tweaks here and there until I'm satisfied. Mixing the audio and video may be the best part, because that's when the story comes together. I've got the clips spread out before me, scrubbing through them and trimming the fat, like meat on a cutting board.

My plate of General Tso if there was any doubt. Photo taken by  Candra Umunna

My plate of General Tso if there was any doubt. Photo taken by Candra Umunna

I made General Tso chicken last weekend for the first time. I don't do much cooking, but it is very similar to editing a film. It's all about knowing how much is enough. My girlfriend and I added a lot of spices to the chicken. We coughed, sniffled, gasped for air. I thought it may been ruined, but it tasted really good. Cooking is a little more forgiving than editing; we all have to eat. And if it's pizza, you're golden because even bad pizza is still good.

So I guess I'm saying I hope the documentary turns out just as well as the chicken. Or at least pizza.  

The Blacksmith: filming my first short doc

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.

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Filming a promotional video

A little over a month ago I filmed a promotional video for The PINQ House boutique in Fayetteville, Georgia. It went well for a first-timer in the commercial world, but there are things I wanted to change. It was a learning experience. 

Sound over visuals

I placed my camera on the tripod to shoot the interview with the owner Rosha Rackley, A.K.A. Flower. I had her sit on a couch next to a window that was my main source of light. I placed a small LED light on the opposite side to catch some light in her eyes. After watching the footage a hundred times, I wish I had followed the rule of thirds. The picture looked good, but my audio left something to be desired. 

I don't have a microphone suitable for indoor recording. I had to make do with my short shotgun microphone, which would have been all right had the floor not been wood. I should have clapped to     hear how distracting the echo would be in the audio. Now I'm looking at adding a wired lavalier microphone to my arsenal. 

Forgetting to breathe 

When my camera wasn't on the tripod, I walked around the house with it on my shoulder, gathering b-roll to supplement the interview. It's comfortable, and you're supposed to be able to relax more. Yet I had to keep reminding myself that it's okay to breathe, that gentle breathing movements look natural in films. I tensed up and got some shaky footage.  

Despite wishing I had done some things differently, I'm glad I did it.

PINQ House: a promotional video

Rosha Rackley, A.K.A. Flower, runs a boutique/hair salon/event space for mothers and daughters in Fayetteville, Georgia, in an old pink house. Flower does a lot, but it's all to help create strong, independent women. Flower is trying to start a movement, and she hopes her daughter will take over the business when she's old enough. 

Music by Kevin MacLeod, "Life of Riley" (incompetech.com)

Test footage from my phone

I picked up an anamorphic lens adapter by Moondog Labs for the iPhone 6S, and a grip to hold it all steady so I can film things at a moments notice. I drove to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Center, a ten-minute drive from my home, to get some test footage to see how the rig performs. Since there isn't a neutral density filter I can attach to my phone, I film during sunset to limit overexposure. A phone doesn't replace a dedicated video camera, but it's an enjoyable experience. So far.