My family garden sanctuary is the perfect place to daydream. When spring begins to blossom the hummingbirds show up, and make our garden their home. When there is not enough food source I make sure to provide them with some nectar in my feeder. Over the last few years we have become quite close, and I would say I have somewhat garnered their trust. I was sitting in my backyard when the first hummingbird arrived and decided to set my camera rig with the hopes of getting some footage. The opening scene was from that day. I have been shooting a lot in black and white. I am fond of the monochromatic look both, aesthetically and it’s timeless quality. It does lend well to producing dreamy imagery. Over the winter I spent quite a bit of time watching films that were black and white, and began making notes in my book of some things I wanted to try out. I have also been actively working at developing my editing style, which like painting is something that develops over time. For this short I wanted to try some new camera set ups, including a trinity style stabilising system. It takes out some the wobble when in movement and using handheld. The idea for this short sparked while I was filming the hummingbird perched in a double plum tree. Quite often it is a very active little bird. So to see it perched in a resting state it made me think, does a hummingbird daydream? Well of course it must! About a week later I decided to get some footage of them at the feeder. There is one dominant hummingbird, a Rufus to be exact. I made sure to observe its movements, I have had about four consecutive summers to do so. I think it is a key to first observe them so that once I am ready to shoot, I have some idea how they will behave. The hummingbird is fast, and tiny, both make for some tricky timing, especially if they are in full flight. I decided to stay close to the feeder and use a handheld shoulder setup, and see if I could get right close to the feeder. With a little bit of patience I was successful in my endeavour. I came away with some great shots. From there I decided that I would create my dream sequence. Initially it was going to be in full colour, and then I felt it was perhaps better in monochromatic. I have a few different locations I like to go, which offer both great Natural elements and are enough off the beaten path that there is little to no chance of encountering human elements. This was key for the dream sequence which I wanted to keep as a POV experience, taking the viewer into a magical little world that they may not see everyday. I used both planned time-lapse pan movements and handheld stabilised set ups. For the forest sequence I was using my stabilisation to eliminate some of the up and down movement. I wanted to create a floaty, and ethereal feel. I was quite satisfied with he footage I got. I also was in a cougar habitat which I find puts me into a very focused and aware state. I did wonder what the animals must think about this strange human running around with a camera, alone in the forest! It does take a lot of practice to make a camera movement smooth, nothing is perfect. Over the course of a couple weeks I amassed some great footage and decided it was time to head to the editing phase. I will sometimes make a rough outline before I start to get the flow going. I do tend to experiment as well and having a bit of an idiosyncratic shooting style which includes lots of interesting movements and finding good old happy accidents, through trial and error. I usually work on sound and music while I edit. Once I have selected a group of clips I will either go and collect wild sounds and field recordings that suit the imagery, or I go through my sound archives from previous missions. I love layers, both in my painting style, and as it turns out in my editing. There is a fine line for sure between over doing it and finding the right balance. And perhaps this is also true for life itself, finding the balance. Once editing, the process usually unfolds fairly rapidly, although I will admit that sitting in front of a computer isn’t alway my idea of fun… I do find editing to be very fun, and I am always surprised by the results. Each short I learn something new and see something I didn’t before. I think doing it all does help when it comes to shooting because I have learnt what I need and what I don’t need. Less can be more. I also have a healthy size library of stock footage I have collected. I think maybe thats the biggest lesson in creating this short, having to work with limited resources and help, I am somewhat forced to pair things down so that it is manageable. I don’t always get it right the first time, there is an initial edit to get the blocks in place and then I will do a bit of sorting and rearranging. Once there I create a movie file so I can see it, and make any necessary changes, or adjustments. By the third or fourth cycle I am pretty close to the final version. At that point I work on title sequence and tighten up the sound, and as I said before get a feeling of balance. Once it is completed I do a couple viewings with fresh eyes and will either live with it, or make some minor tweaks. It has been a great process of discovery and once it is all together I feel a sense of peace with it knowing it’s time to share. I hope sharing some insights about my process has been somewhat interesting to you. Once it is out there it is no longer in my control, leaving it up to the viewer to make their own interpretations. Thank you for your precious time, and without further adieu here is my latest digital short, ‘HummingBIRD DREAMS in Black & White.
Hälts films presents ‘hummingBIRDs DREAM in Black and White’ with soundscape ‘Earth was Sung’ c.2022