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HomeFactory Video: Lake Merritt Bonsai
Factory Video: Lake Merritt Bonsai
Posted on: Wednesday, January 26 2011 |
Raymundo Archila is one of the newest members of The Factory filmmaking program. He commutes twice a week from San Mateo, where he attends Hillsdale High School. Raymundo started at The Factory in August - he had no filmmaking experience. We spent a few months getting Ray up to speed on screenwriting, editing and camerawork. He pitched his first project to us in October - a small documentary about a Bonsai garden in Oakland - and by December he was editing.
Here is Ray's experience producing his first film, in his own words:
"As a child I grew up with an older brother and father who enjoyed making Bonsai trees. In the process they got me involved in the art of making Bonsais. We were involved in a local bay area Bonsai club in Palo Alto, called Kusamura, where we met once a month to talk about Bonsais and learn new techniques. This club always offered the chance to docent at a Lake Merritt bonsai garden located in Oakland. We could help trim trees, be tour guides and maintain the garden. This always interested me, but unfortunately I was 9 years old with a busy family, so I never really had the chance to docent. Over the years I began to lose interest in Bonsais - as a teenager I had difficulty sitting down and having the patience to craft a tree into a bonsai. The appreciation of the art was always there, but the discipline required to make them had faded."
As a new member of The Factory I was searching for a project. One day I was pitching ideas to my brother while he was making a Bonsai. We began talking about making a bonsai video for the Kusamura Club. I liked the idea. Once the president of the Kusamura bonsai club, Jerry, was approached he asked if I could make a video for the Lake Merritt Bonsai garden in Oakland, instead. I agreed, thinking that although I was never able to docent, I would be able to help by making a documentary that brought awareness to the garden.
I met with Jerry at the Lake Merritt Bonsai Garden to get a sense of what the garden was like. I took a camera along with me and did a pre-interview with Jerry; we talked about how the garden operated and what it meant to him. After my meeting with Jerry I reviewed my footage of the location and my interview with Jerry. Once I had reviewed the footage, I began thinking of specifically what to film and what questions to ask. Once I was prepared, my film crew and I went back to Lake Merritt. Charisette Li was a wonderful assistant who helped record audio during the interview process. Once the interviews where done, I filmed the B-roll and tried to capture the peace that it conveys on camera.
The most difficult part of the whole project was the editing. It was a long process where I had to cut down all of the footage and interviews to the bare minimum. This consisted of a lot of planning and organization to develop my basic structure. Re-watching and analyzing every bit of footage I had was a long boring process, but absolutely necessary to know my material like the back of my hand. I made a story out of the interviews and chose appropriate B-roll to go along with it. This took a few weeks; during my winter break I came into The Factory and devoted at least 5 hour days to finish my film before the new year. I am glad that I did and very proud of my first film.