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5.18.02 Folk Video

I went out on a limb and promised a parent group at work that I'd help produce a little recruitment video for them. I think of movie producers as impresarios -- cigar-smoking bosses who make deals and organize lots of people. But me, I'm more like one of those one-man bands, cymbals between my knees, a self-contained phenomenon.

It's tough to produce a video with no actual footage.

There are 30 frames a second to fill with... something. And sound! It's hard for a very visual person to face the importance of sound, but I think it's sound that ruins the so-called professional productions our agency has invested in. Personality-free voiceovers, impeccably enunciated for a thuddingly dull effect. And where is the music? We're supposed to be pulling heartstrings, for godsakes. Doesn't anyone at the low-budget ad agencies pay attention to how movies manipulate emotions through music?

So, for my no-budget, no-footage production I invented Lucy, the teenage narrator who tells the story of her mother and troubled brother. Lucy cuts pictures out of magazines and doctors them up with magic marker to illustrate her lines. The heart of the video is the two-and-a-half-minute narration by Lucy: I wrote the script, recorded it on mini-disc, transferred it to my computer, then -- the cool part -- altered my voice on SoundForge so that I sounded like a teenager. Then I foraged through Acid loops for music that wouldn't get me in copyright trouble and chose some warm urban blues sounds. All that was left was the unbelievably time-consuming process of getting the visuals right.

The result? I call it "folk video." Certainly a notch up from amateur home video, but a far, far cry from a slick ad agency production. Smooth, but a little grainy -- it fits my Lucy well. Parents liked my first version -- hope they will like the final cut, which I will premiere to them on Thursday.

For the credits at the end, I found a sound effect of one person enthusiastically clapping. Perfect.

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