SHOOT FIRST, SCRIPT LATER

Do we really need to have a script to make a film, or to start practising filmmaking? What would happen if we let go off the requirement for a script, and all other elements of pre-production? No scripts, no shot divisions, no pre planned staging, nothing. Can we just take the camera and shoot ?
Can we shoot first, script later?
 
In this website, I show the outcome of my filmmaking experiments  using a mobile camera, shooting on a daily basis from the life around me, for the last five years.  I call it a film of 'lived-experience', since I am capturing my lived experience without any pre-planning or scripting.

A selection of clips and how they demonstrate the key elements of this approach are given below. (More discussions on the theoretical differentiations with the avant-garde or observational documentary styles are
 here, if you are interested)

Thank you for visiting

Alex Xavier

Finding stories where there is no script

I approach the no-script filmmaking with an emphasis on narrative realism underpinned by a 'cinematic storytelling' (in contrast to the self reflective expressionism of avant-garde, and the truth seeking documentary style of cinema-verite). This is illustrated in this clip, where the cut is designed to narrate the 'story' through a seamless flow of events. Scenes change from one to the other, silently carrying the progression of time along with it. Towards the end of the clip, a music track is used (currently a reference track from Yann Tiersen) to adjust the 'pacing' of the movie, which is also a tool for maintaining the 'feel of fiction'. (This is a clip from my upcoming non-fiction film 'Little Human Tales' . You can read more about it here )

Maintaining the 'fourth wall': how nonfiction becomes fiction

A recent short film I made portraying a funeral in the times of covid in a coastal village in Kerala is given here. It demonstrates some of the key elements of the proposed practice- including the 'invisible yet engaged camera' and 'maintaining the fourth wall' creating the feel of fiction within non-fiction footage.  Even when shooting reality as is, the illusion of a fictitious tale is maintained by making the camera an 'invisible presence'.  The  'characters' never look at the camera, the eye contact with camera is avoided as much as possible, contrary to most non-fiction/ documentary filmmaking styles.  At the same time, camera is not a mere observer as in observational cinema, instead there is an active involvement in how the camera moves through the 'scene' while remaining silent. The way I see it, the camera is looking for the movie, silently, without drawing attention to itself, so that it can show the audience- how reality itself turns into a movie.  

Going beyond a personal home movie : A Subjective Memory of a Collective Experience

The possibility of real-life, raw videos becoming rich, in-depth pieces of  a visual ethnographic pieces of history is always there. Because when you capture the life as it happens in a locality over a period of several years,  what is being captured is not simply an individual's subjective lived experience, but also the collective memories : the life and times of that corner of the world, culture, and happenings. In that sense, these are subjective memories of a collective experience. Here's a clip that illustrates this point. 

Discovering the narrative script post shoot 

This is another clip from the movie, showcasing the same principles of invisible camera, and emphasis on story telling. It also employs conventional editing styles  to express the passage of time through seasons. The edit shows events happening at different locations within the same season, connecting the narration through a common thread of the rainy season.  This segment covers one of the monsoon months in 2017, opening a window to the geographical and climatic patterns of the land. This is another example of how these non-fiction films, while being subjective, also becomes a visual record of the seasons, cultures, cuisines, life styles,  and a multitude such elements connected to the filmmaker's life.