The Original Opening

The Original Opening

The toughest part of making a film is killing your darlings: deleting the scenes you love because you know that you don’t actually need them. The great thing about making films in the 21st century is that your darlings get to live again on YouTube. Today I brought one of my favourite darlings back to life, and I’d like to share it with you.

Originally Being Ginger was a short film that I made as a grad student at The University of Edinburgh. It was 23 minutes long, and the clip above was how it opened. I tried to use the full short film as the first act of the feature, but as I was editing I discovered that some changes had to be made. The most important thing was that I needed to explain exactly what I was doing in the film. If you’ve seen it then you know that I did that with an animation and then you see stills of me as a kid with the credits before the film really launches in the park.

On the first day in the park I got very lucky when a lovely young woman named Emily happen to walk into the frame at exactly the right moment. I interviewed her and from there the film grew organically. But after Emily left I stayed in the park for another hour and I actually stopped several other women. I was quite fond of one of the interviews, but there were two problems. The first was that in the story of the film, as soon as I meet Emily, I need to start chasing her. There isn’t time to show a second interview. The other problem was that the two girls I stopped in the second clip were 17, and since the film is about me looking for a date, I thought it would be a problem to show me talking to teenagers (In my defence I didn’t realise how young they were when I approached them). I decided that I couldn’t show them in the same scene as the other girl, and I couldn’t show their faces at all. My solution was to only use the audio and put it over the opening credits.

I set my camera up in the edit room and I put my back against the blue door. Then I filmed myself looking right down the lens while I played the clip on the computer so the audience would see my reaction to what the girls said.

I loved this opening for several reasons. First, it let me save a very funny interview that helped me establish that I’m not crazy: women do really say random (border line offensive) things to me, but it also let me establish the whole film. To me that opening says: “This is me. And I’m going to make you look at me as I really am, even if it makes you uncomfortable.”

For the most part I thought the opening worked perfectly, but there were a few problems with it. The biggest was that some people didn’t seem to realise that my “performance” in the clip was a reaction to the audio. Every once in a while someone would tell me they thought I was just looking cocky and showing off for the camera. Lou, my trusted camera operator and friend, said that it conflicted with the rest of them film because I’d have to have lots of self-confidence to look down the camera lens the way that I did. I thought that was fair enough, but I don’t know how anyone didn’t realise the connection between my smile and the interview with the two girls, but it happened enough that I decided I needed a new intro for the feature version of the film.

I’ll also add, if you’ve seen the film you might remember the scene where I had my picture taken at the Redhead Days (the first picture scene, the one when I’m wearing a white shirt for I Collect Gingers.) In that scene I say to the photographer, “I’ll give you my cheeky smile,” and I tilt my head. That look was meant as a reference to this clip, but of course the clip was lost, so the reference means nothing.

I was very sad to see it go, but, now it’s back on YouTube for all to see.