Sunday, March 25, 2012

the interrotron

As a former TV News intern, eyeslits-shut photo loser, and failed-actor-who-believes-in-her-talent-but-sucks-at-auditions-due-to"camera-freeze" (part fear, part freakout, part how can i emote realistically to a camera 30 feet away?), I want to think about being, filmed or photographed, about what are for some people OBVI shifts in disposition, appearance, and freakish dispossession of self that seems to occur when on camera (and aware of it -- see headshot, a topic i've contemplated previously). 

Watching Morgan Spurlock's 6 minute trailer(ish) bit on Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope, I lasered in on his nod to documentarian Errol Morris' tool for encouraging emotive face-to-face interviews that have become Morris' signature style. The tool is the "interrotron."

images via Steve Hardie
The interrotron lets a filmmaker appear in a frame into which the interview subject speaks. In effect, the subject speaks "directly" to the filmmaker, radiating an intimate realism that is often missing when a filmmaker asks a subject to simply "talk to the lens." In the latter scenario, subjects often appear to be highly aware that the actual person asking the questions hovers just above or otherwise off-center of the lens. And so, eyes shift, heads adjust and readjust, and the easy sense of fidelity to truth jolts haltingly, flailingly forward (see bad auditions), unavailable for meaningful resonance with audiences.

I will be building on this initial post, researching the interrotron and perhaps attempting to rig one up for my own work, not only as a documentarian but as an academic interested in performances of self. This may involve many experiments with the camera that will teach me how to better perform with/on it, and I may be soliciting tapes from you. Watch for it! Also, I hope (!) to interview Chris Crocker. I got to chat with Chris at this year's Sundance Film Festival. After screening his film, Me At the Zoo, I asked him as we walked out toward the lobby ...

how i prefer to be seen on camera,
unaware of it, completely
Chris, you're obviously amazing on camera. 
I. am not. How do you do it? 
You're either good with the camera, 
or you're good with people. 
(strange beat. 
we grasp at what to say)
I'm good with the camera.
(something ... something ... 
... flattering about his people skills)
Your hair is fabulous!

stand up straight & let me get a look at you

It's awards show Sunday, so i'm giving Margot. I'm through with the wishfulness and angst and regret, and Margot, more than an...