Category Archives: 261MC: Documentary

REFLECTION 1 & 2 Research, Process and Development

My colleague picked up on Kervin when he watched The Secret Millionaire episode set in Coventry. Once he had told me, we sprang upon the idea and attempted to make contact with Kervin. We researched the background of the The Secret Millionaire to find out who Kervin was associated with. This was Anesis who we email but got no reply from. Michael, my colleague, then decided to search for Kervin on Facebook which he was able to do. He sent him a private message letting him know what we wanted to do and Kervin happily obliged to help us out.

We set events into motion and arranged a meeting with Kervin at the Salvation Army building in Coventry. We took a Mirantz audio recorder so we had audio material we could present and use to plan our documentary. Kervin introduced us to his collegue Steve and we went for a chat. We got around 40 mins of conversation with Kervin and Steve recorded plus an extra 20 mins we didn’t get on tape (whilst we were walking with them). After outliner what we planned to do and how, Kervin invited us to one of his soup kitchen meets. This would be invaluable footage to use and we booked a date.

Before the soup kitchen date, I was researching Kervin and Anesis to see if there was any other content on the web about him and what he does. I managed to find a few YouTube clips of him at work and contacted the man who had uploaded them. This man was Rick Merdock and we plan to collaborate with him in the future. He had also filmed a meeting with Barclays who had sponsored Kervin and executives from the company to sleep on the streets of Coventry for a night and during this meeting, Kervin gave a lot of background information which I utilised to create his biography.

Rick’s YouTube Channel

Rick Medlock

Through laising with Rick, I was able to meet him when we were filming the soup kitchen. He filled me in on his background with filming work for Anesis and Kerin and gave me permission to use any of his footage I wanted.

We managed to film a fair amount of footage of the soup kitchen that day. But the best thing was, homeless people would come up to us and ask us if they could do an interview – this was exactly what we had hoped for. We got about 4 or 5 different interviews from people there who told us about Kervin and his work as well as their own lives.

The next part of our schedule was to meet Kervin and obtain a sit-down interview of him. He invited us to his radio show where would could perform the interview but also asked that we film the actual show for him (for private publicity purposes). This footage would later become part of the documentary as this is just one other thing Kervin does to help people.

During the research element of the documentary, I have learnt several things:
– There are plenty of people out there with a story, do the work and find them.
–  Don’t take no for an answer.
– And intimate interview works well with just two producers.
– Learn to understand the subject more indepth. Once a relationship is built, more can bebrought out of the subject

and certain ‘difficult’ questions can be asked.
– Don’t jump straight in at the deep end, have meetings to get to know the character without the pressure of a camera around.
– Audio recording equipment is useful during long conversations for later research.

I also learnt a great deal from the development part of producing a good documentary:
– Keep constant communication with the subject.
– Don’t be afraid to get involved as much as you can.
– Things can dramatically change instantaneously so just adapt to the new situation and adjust your plans.


REFLECTION 4 Evaluation


Draft Edit of the Film

 

During the editing process, it became completely clear that we had to use the performative method of documentary as opposed to observational. We had originally wanted to say ‘look at this, what do you think?’ but we realised we actually did have to plan people in the film actually asking these questions and being our on-screen voice.

After our rough cut we presented we had a bit of useful feedback. We had included a shot of Kervin looking directly into the camera and telling the audience directly how to change people’s views of the homeless. The feedback to this was that it seemed too much like a promotional video and the visual had to go. The audio was powerful and moving however and could stay in. We were also asked to put more of our interviews into it as well to give other people’s perception of Kervin and the work he does.

I think it was important to show certain footage we had of Kervin both as a instigator of helping people, as shown in the radio show, and an actual doer, him talking to people and feeding them at the soup kitchen. One of my favourite shots is of a man talking to him asking him for money and him turning him away because of what he knows he will spend the money on, drugs. It is a power and emotive scene and I think it really represents Kervins true nature of how he strives to help people in the best way possible. He will feed and council but he will not fund an addiction. This comes from his own past experiences and he even says this on camera. I feel moments like these helped break the stereotype people would assume of someone who is an ex-junkie, ex-addict, ex-homeless person and furthermore show what these people can go on to achieve after they’ve had a lot of help. It really exposes the situations people find themselves in and that it is a pressing issue.

 

My personal development throughout the module is very prominent now in how I work. I strive to meet the people and really get to know them properly before any filming commences. I have learnt how to professionally and effectively plan what I am going to do and how I am going to do it. I understand that more time taken in the planning process and by having a back up plan, I can eliminate silly problems that occur when I get to the editing stage and something is missing or is not right. I have researched and now fully understand the different modes of documentary, what they mean and how they are made and I feel this will be an invaluable skill in the future.


REFLECTION 3 Analysis

Although we worked to stick to the shooting plan, situations arose where we had to change our plans. This was not much of a problem because we planned for hiccups as we went along although they turned out in the end to aid us.

We had planned to shoot a sit down interview with Kervin at the Salvation Army HQ in Coventry however, during one of our liaisons, Kervin invited us to his radio show and we leapt on the opportunity to do both the interview there and obtain some other footage of him in the studio. This really helped give our subject some more character that reflects his true personality.

At first we had wanted to produce an observational documentary however, as we progressed through the shoot it became more apparent that we were doing something more along the lines of expository as he carried out his work. Also, we felt a real performative element came into play when we were filming the soup kitchen. We had aimed to film some of it in action and ask a couple of people for interviews but a lot of people were coming and talking to the camera, giving their life stories and interacting with us on a personal level. The odd person was aggressive but it this was down to our presence with a camera in that we could not just observe, we were part of the action.

What I learnt:
– You must be able to rewrite your plans as a project develops.
– Try not to get lost in the direction of the piece.
– Always have a back up plan.
– Spend a bit more time setting up the camera.
– I made an error with the rifle mic as it was not aiming towards the interviewee ~ be mindful of this next time.

Kervin at the Soup Kitchen

 

 

Ian at the Soup Kitchen


Documentary Research: Kervin Julien – Bio

Just a short biography of our character, Kervin Julien.

Kervin Julien

Kervin Julien

Kervin Julien is a man who has completely changed his ways from a sinner to a saint. Kervin is predominately active in providing help and hope for the homeless community in Coventry. He is a strong member of the Church and the Salvation Army. He is the founding member of the organisation Anesis.

But Kervin did not always lead a life of good. His history is very controversial. Born into a life of physical abuse from his father, Kervin learnt life the hard way. He was sexually abused at the age of 6 and physically beaten and tormented by his father from being 8 though to 14. His brother’s intervention was the only reason this stopped.

Kervin found solace in alcohol and later through drug use. A persistent user of crack cocaine, he had to live the life of a gangster to support his habit. He walked with a 9mm pistol and had a shotgun stashed in his car. His house was filled with weapons for both protection from the dealers and as an aggressive means of acquiring his contraband. But the life of a drug-addicted gangster is not all glamour. Kervin told us of bullet wounds in his stomach, back and even his head. His addiction left to him becoming a dealer and he brought drugs into the country via Heathrow and Dover through Yardies from Jamaica. His family deserted him with only his brother giving him the occasional lump sum of money to get him through his day to day life. This money on the other hand, ended up being spent on drugs.

However, in 2004 Kervin had, what he calls, a divine intervention. He was being chased by the police for a drug/crime offense and jumped through a window which led to him breaking both his ankles (this has now developed into a disability for him). Whilst laying in hospital recovering and waiting for his trial, Kervin prayed to God for someone to help him and guide him away from this appalling lifestyle. His prayers were answered in the form of his mother; the only one who came to see him. Empowered by faith, Kervin renounced his conduct of gangster life and drug addiction. He was given a second chance at his trial and having moved to Coventry, became a strong part of the church community. But he had more to do than just to pray to God. He had experienced being homeless and therefore, decided to become active with the Salvation Army in aiding the homeless in and around Coventry. This passion for helping the homeless urged Kervin to establish the organisation Anesis which works at aiding the homeless, helping them to get off the street and help prevent those on their way from ending up on the street.

I find it ironic that this man was reborn into something so beautifully inspiring in the city that was itself reborn, Coventry.


Potential Project Titles

From Sinner to Saint
Sinner to Saint
Modern Miracle
Hope for the Homeless


Shooting Script

To carry out this project, we will need the following:

Equipment:

– an audio recorder (Mirantz)
– a video camera (Sonzy Z1)
– a tripod
– an external microphone (rifle mic) + XLR cable
– a boom pole
– possibly a DSLR
– possibly a set of Dedo Lights

Crew

– Alex and Michael

Subject

– Kervin Julien (main subject)
– Steve Lapworth (possibly to offer supplementing content about Kervin)
– Five members of the Homeless Community (talking about Kervin)

Locations

– Salvation Army Building – Interior (for sit-down interview with Kervin/Steve)
– Salvation Army Building – Exterior
– Location of Anesis Ministry soup kitchen (for the short snippets of their views on Kervin)
– The streets of Coventry

Shooting Plan

Part 1 – Interview With Kervin

Sit down interview with Kervin. Possibly use three point lighting to really bring out the depth of the powerful message he will present. Camera on tripod at eye level of Kervin sat down. Interviewer to be sat with camera over shoulder creating the effect of Kervin talking directly into the camera and thus the audience. Want 10mins of solid interview. Microphone to be on stand just in front of Kervin but out of shot. Camera to occasionally change into and out of focus.

Part 2 – Kervin at Work

Actuality filming of Kervin at the soup kitchens. Handheld camera to weave in and out of the action. Directional microphone accompanied to capture quality audio. Film Kervin meeting people and talking to them. Try to capture homeless people’s thoughts and views about Kervin, his work and what he is doing – could be difficult given the circumstances.

Part 3 – Archive Footage

Use little snippets of archive footage of the people in vulnerable circumstances and how hard their life is.


REAL LIVES GROUP TREATMENT – Update on Style

I did not appreciate the fact that including the stylistic approach toward the film should occur throughout the treatment. This is an additional part to the treatment and to what style the documentary should be.

Having researched in depth the six documentary modes, I can deduce that the film we want to make will coincide both manifestos of the Expository and Performative Modes.

We want our lead subject, Kervin, to speak directly to the audience and tell them directly that there is an issue out there and they should get involved with resolving it. We want to over-sync the audio of Kervin talking with powerful images about what he is part of and his work aiding the homeless. This coincides with Expository Documentary. However, through Kervin’s personal recounts and experiences and short lengths of footage of the people he helps, their experiences and what they say about Kervin is Performative; we also want to establish a connection with the audience that once they have actual knowledge of the issue at hand, they then understand these people’s situations and tie this in to relate to the political reality that lets these people fall into this brutal system.