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Commit / Repent

February 8, 2012

Given the challenge of telling a very short story in three shots with a fixed camera, I made the video above, entitled “Commit / Repent.” The story came about organically over the process of shooting it. I originally wanted to make a story where the first two shots didn’t make sense until the third shot, that of a book cover. So I headed up towards Strand Bookstore to to find a book cover that might tell a story about the person who owns it. On my way to Strand, Grace Church caught my eye. I have never set foot inside this beautiful building in the ten years that I’ve been walking by it so I went in to check it out. Inside, I saw that it was such a beautiful location and I started taking video with my phone. I sat down at one of the pews and managed to stick my phone up towards the beautiful ceiling.

There, a foggy idea for the story above started to materialize. Getting the angle I wanted for the “repent” shot took a lot of trial and error since I could not see how the framing looked. When I had a shot I was satisfied with, I continued up Broadway to Strand Bookstore, where I shot the first shot in their basement. To do that, I used the friction between the books on a shelf to hold my phone in placed while I walked the aisle. Since I was already acting suspicious and figured their security already had their eyes on me through their CCTV, I decided to do the “commit” shot at home.

When I got home, I looked over my books to find one that was appropriate. I thought The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins was appropriate not only because of the title, but also because Dawkins is well-known for being an avowed atheist. After cutting the shots together, I felt a little dissatisfied. I thought I was trying too hard and that I could be more clever by somehow telling more story with less time. But I really liked how the church ceiling and windows in the last shot tell a huge part of the story. I really wanted to keep that. I hoped for inspiration to strike me, but it didn’t happen before the assignment was due.

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