Montage Project 3 – ‘Two Minutes’

This week’s word relating to my montage was ‘time’ (not ‘thyme’ – ‘TIME’). Although my immediate thought was to jump into the kitchen just to take the mickey, my thoughts turned more serious as I recalled several students doing artefacts about poems in recent weeks, and I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to write on about the ‘word of the week’.

To be honest, I was kind of cheating a little bit. The poem ‘Two Minutes’ was written on two pages of a book the day the task was set. It took about twenty minutes for the first draft, and the final wording was finished after an hour. The speed of my creation of this text was partly due to knowing my time constraints (after all, the ‘Dirt’ project has not been finished yet due to such time management issues). But I have also written poetry before – not all Media Production students may have the same academic history as me, but in my ‘youth’ I was an active student in the realms of creative writing. I penned many short stories, poems, songs and other things (including a story written backwards and a full 260-paged novel). None of these got published – most were for academia anyway. The point I make is that I’ve done poetry before, and ‘time’ for me seems to be just about one of the easiest topics you could choose to do a poem on.

Back in my ‘heyday’ I already pipped this project to the post – the poem was called ‘The Clock Was Never Broken’, and it later became the title for my little booked collection of poems, based around my angst-ridden teenage years. Not so much ’emo’… well, maybe emo. I wouldn’t know – not read any of them in years!

Anyway, I seem to have got side-tracked – this project was to be a visual media artefact based on what I’d already done before. I wasn’t gong to recycle an old poem I’d written years before, that would be just not right. I wrote a new one in one hour, and then decided how I was going to present it. There is indeed some flashy inspiration for this project, and quite simply I’ll just put the video here:

I wanted to speak as fast as this, but I didn’t know my poem nearly well enough after only 48 hours since writing it. My mum actually saw this man in Nottingham once. He turned up on stage drunk, stammered about, and had to lean up against the wall. Apparently a member of the audience shouted out ‘Yeah that’s it, lean up against the wall, that’s plastered n’all!’, provoking one of the biggest laughs of the night. I wanted my poem to be presented in the same way – monotone and fast-paced. In my production of my poem, the final line was (as usual) decided quite early on in the process. Thus the title ‘Two Minutes’ was already cemented – I just had to make sure the delivery was around about that time, otherwise the artefact wouldn’t make any sense. I didn’t originally intend to wear shades in doors – it was just that I quickly realised on the day of shooting that I needed to read the poem off my Macbook, and thus needed to conceal my eyes. Shades was the logical choice. I did several re-shoots to try and get rid of the blue reflection in the shade lens, placing my macbook in various locations, before realising my Macbook was not what was causing the blue reflection – it was the blue light on the side of the JVC camera I was using to film myself with.

As it turned out, despite my small vanity, when it came to recording, I felt that the poem was one verse too short for this video, so I included an extra verse which took five to ten minutes to pen and chucked it in there to make up the time. This verse was the one about Mandy – in retrospect, perhaps the most important of all the verses in the poem. Then imagine my dismay when, after reading the whole thing out, the poem actually clocked in at over two minutes. It was a close call though – the opening credits took several seconds of the run time anyway.

I recored myself using a JVC, yet for some reason still unknown to me, I didn’t re-set the camera, and instead just pointed and filmed. In the editing suite, I realised I’d filmed in widescreen. I knew this would change the export process, yet I wasn’t too upset – frankly, I consider it a thing I need to learn. Filming in DVCAM all the time is good, but one day I’ll film in HD or widescreen, and when it comes to exporting and formatting I wont have a clue. I now considered this project a practice run for such events. With the exception of my inability to conceal my grin at the word ‘bollocks’ at the end, I was quite happy with the way it turned out. I did only two takes, and chose the best shots for the piece. I used the mic that came with the camera – no clip mics or reporter ‘stuff’. This also allowed a bit of diegetic back ground noise, which I quite liked.

Other notes for the set-up of my narration include my shining my desk lamp right in my face to illuminate me more. After the white balance was set, my room looked very cold. I turned the red ‘paint’ tool up to maximum to make my room look a little warmer. I was quite hot – that jumper of mine came straight off after each take! The shot of the sink was just me experimenting with reversing footage – something else that I wanted to explore. The image of water going up the tap was something I had in my mind from the start. I had a couple of other ideas, but I felt they wouldn’t have any relevance to the poem (the sink was meant to relate to the ‘time going down the drain’ part, but to be honest that was pushing it). I decided against taking unnecessary shots with the JVC, and instead went out on a later day and took photos with my DSLR that related more to the poem. Although it wasn’t my original intention, some of these shots become stop-motion videos.

I kept the one cut-away shot of the sink in, though this shot may have been better if it was closer and filmed in slow-motion. It’s also hard to make out the water is going up rather than down, because the picture is so white. The DSLR pictures also contrasted with the widescreen video footage, as they weren’t in widescreen. I didn’t think was was such a bad thing though – it differentiated the photos from my narration clearly. I had a lot of trouble with that last line as well – not the ‘two minutes’ bit, but the bit where I say the word ‘b*llocks’. I realised that I was insulting rather serious issues – especially the one about the gay man who hangs himself. However, the poem and everything therein is entirely fictitious. Without the taboo word at the end, the poem falls flat. It was much needed, it’s not what the audience is expecting, and it hammers home the one message this poem is about well and truly. It is also my own personal joke at the expense of the others (always a pleasure 🙂 ).

Another of my favourite poets actually came up lectures as well – Simon Armitage. I always remember him as being the best thing at ‘GCSE Poetry: Live!’ all those years ago (and I’m sure I’m not alone). I’m sure he’s inspired my work in some way or another over time; the link to his site is here:

And here is the finished piece!

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