“”The fighting Valleys” explores the story of Kerry Hope European Middleweight Boxer, born and bred in Merthyr Tydfil a town with a rich boxing history this project communicates the story of the town and its boxing inhabitants through still and moving image.
Unlike previous projects with my final piece I would intertwine three mediums audio, moving image and stills. Firstly when using audio my plan was to interview as many people as possible, when working on projects in the past I had previously only interviewed one subject in this case I decided that to cover the story of Merthyr’s boxing history in a wider context I would interview as many people as possible leaving me with a large source of audio material to use when coming to the editing process. When planning my project I knew that I would limit the amount of stills I would create the reason being that I wanted to create a small number of editorial portraits showing Kerry as strong and powerful figure. By choosing to limit the amount of stills I would in turn cover the documenting of Kerry through moving image and archive footage providing the narrative through a short film, which would allow me to cover the depth I feel I missed in previous projects.
Having already worked with Ironman Athlete Craig Twigg I knew that I could create a body of work similar to it. Although feeling confident in my experience from past work I decided that with as it was my final piece I would approach in a slightly different way. After my last project I realised soon after that I was not happy with the end product and I felt that with my next piece I would address the fact that I wanted to work with moving image. I wanted to test myself placing myself in a new situation; by using moving image I would be exposing myself to a new medium, new software and a new final outcome whilst in turn widening my knowledge base.
When approaching presenting my work I planned to display my short film on a mac screen with two headphones which would make the viewer interact with the piece encouraging them to actively choose to watch the video, alongside the video will be a life size print this to me was crucial for making an impact on the viewer allowing them the closest possible way of experiencing coming face to face with my subject. Aside from presenting in a gallery space it was crucial to present online, by placing my video online via Vimeo it would allow me to widen my audience and increase interest in the project.
Considering the outcome of my final piece the evolution is clear in the key themes, from a piece that would focus on a town the project has evolved into a piece focused on two key characters embed in Merthyr’s boxing community. By focusing on two characters the piece covers the boxing history of the town through two men at opposite ends of life encompassing. Through present day films and archive footage I was able to build a link between the stories of the characters and the viewer. Overall the project has changed in its outcome but the theme of documenting boxing in Merthyr has remained.
Below is a final edit of my short film ” The Fighting Valleys” documenting former European Middleweight Champion Kerry Hope and Merthyr Tydfil the town in which he was born and raised.
Password – merthyr
After looking through my selection of images from both shoots i have decided on the image that i would like to use, after trying to decided on the amount of images i would use i have decided to only show one image. My first intial idea was to show two images but i felt the idea they communicated was very similar and if i was to include both they would both be communicating the same idea to the viewer.
My main reason for choosing a single image is because i have decided to print a large print, by printing life size i want to give the viewer an experience which will be the closest thing to meeting Kerry in real life, by printing life size and hanging the photograph at eye level i think it will automatically bring the viewer into the image.
Below is a mock up of my final choice of image,when choosing images to frame and print I wanted to be sure that my photographs would have the right impact coming away from my shoots with Kerry with over 300 images i was wary not to have prints that communicated the same details to the viewer. As all the images from the shoots were all lit portraits similarities were common between images i did not want to produce multiple images with many similarities, because of this i decided to use on image which i felt would be strong enough standing alone. Thinking more about the idea of a single image i decided to print and frame a single still. I have decided to print the image 1m by 73cm this will be life size, for me printing the image life size was key to choosing a single image as i felt the impact of one image of such a size would be more powerful and would allow the viewer to encounter Kerry in the most realistic way.
110cm x 73cm
Below is a mock up the display I have chosen for my video, when choosing ways to display my video I had two main ideas in mind these were firstly via a computer or secondly via a projector. For two reasons I felt it would be better to display my video via a Computer screen, I feel that by using a computer I will increase the interaction between viewer and my piece, when my work is on show I want to encourage the viewer to use headphones and engage with my piece. Another reason for choosing a computer screen was the fact that i did not want a large projection that would appear bigger than the life size print, I feel that if I as to increase the screen size it would take away from the impact of the print. Overall the main reason for me producing a video was to show the side to kerry as a sportsman and the town in which he has been born and raised.
Before setting out on making a short film as this is my first time making a moving image piece i felt it was key to find some inspiration that worked in relation to what I am trying to do and communicate within my work. One of the reasons I wanted to watch and take in some short films was to recognise styles of filming be in camera techniques through to the way in which moving image is used to portray a story.
I beat Mike Tyson made by Joshua Weinstein tells the story of Irish Boxer Kevin McBride one time conquerer of Mike Tyson in 2005, In the years after McBride disappeared, this film details the story of McBrides drive to carry on fighting 6 years later.
Before setting out on making a video I had to decide what programs to use to edit, not having any experience in film making or editing moving image I was unsure of what program to use having no preference i decided to use Adobe Premier Pro my reasons for doing so were that because of it being an adobe program i could use it on multiple platforms be in windows of mac. Secondly i decided to use premier Pro on the knowledge that i have experience using Photoshop, Audition and Illustrator and know that it is simple to change the screen layout to a more recognisable program for myself.
Above – Using My Own Footage
The screenshot above shows the screen i was presented with when loading up my own videos because of the way in which i had filmed, using only short clips i had already made it easy for myself to locate and use my own footage. By shooting no longer than 1 min clips i limited myself but gave my self an easy selection of 20 -30 short clips from which i would be able build a narrative from by separating all my clips into various categories such as Dowlais Gym, Run and Kerry’s House it was easy for me to import my own media.
Above Using Archive Footage
From the outset of my idea i knew that i wanted to use archive footage this to me seemed very important as i felt the aspect of the towns history had to be shown through the story but i was aware that i may not be able to get the shots i wanted to represent the history of Merthyr therefor I had always planned to use archive footage. My two main uses of archive footage were for firstly, To find mining images and stills to me this was a massive aspect of the film as i believe it would be impossible to cover a story of a town such a Merthyr without covering the rich mining history.
Above Archive Sports Footage
The second use of archive footage was that of sports footage, with Merthyr being home to World, European and British boxing champions i wanted to source footage fo these boxers to give a viewer an insight into who they were, aside from archiving such footage I also filmed statues and graves of the men but found once i began editing archive footage was more suitable.
Overall the process of teaching myself premier pro was relatively easy i feel i got to grips with the program, with a simple layout and ease with importing media and exporting i would confidently now say that i can use the program.
When looking for archive footage i found it difficult to find creative commons licensed work that would fit in around my project this left me in a difficult position, with two choices i could either try and use creative commons work and try to find a way to intertwine it into the narrative of my video or secondly i could email owners of footage to seek permission Due to the videos that i had found and the footage that it displayed i decided to go down the root of seeking permission.
The first step i had to take was to find the owners of the footage, as i found some videos via youtube i had to make sure that i was contacting the owners of the footage in two cases i had found emails for the owners, above is one of the emails i sent out, i decided to use a template to keep it simple. By writing the same email i could change the title of the video saving me time.
Over the next few days i found that people were happy to let me use there videos, in most cases the video owners are keen to see my final piece and the end result below is the text i used to email owners of the footage.
Hi my names Alex Wierzbicki I am currently making a short film for my final degree piece about boxing in an industrial town specifically Merthyr Tydfil, I am looking for Short 5-10 second segments of archive footage and came across your video on The Johnny Owen Story 1/2. Would there be any possibility that I could use a short clip from the video, if so you will be fully credited.