I came back from Moldova with about 20 hours of footage and still no idea of what kind of footage I had and what I would be able to turn this into. This is because although I contemplated the idea, I did not hire any cameramen or anybody to help me. So I spent the whole trip with the camera in my hands, and experiencing it through its lenses. The camera was basically my eye. A very difficult task, to pay attention to your surroundings, to the framing and audio quality and at the same time understand what’s happening and be able to interact with it. And 5 languages were in place: Portuguese, English, Romanian, Russian and Yiddish.
Although I loved the trip, it was a lot of hard work. I must acknowledge my sister helped me with the second microphone, getting images’ authorizations/release and so forth. But in any case, I didn’t have any idea of the material I had. In my mind, I thought I was going to be able to edit a 5 or 10 minute promo to try to get some funding and go back with a proper crew and shoot a “real” documentary.
Two years later, two years of editing, I have to admit I have much more than a promo. I’m still putting pieces together, combining this puzzle into a film that can entertain people other than my own family, but much more confident that I have an almost completed documentary here.
There is still a lot of work to do: finishing the editing, composing the music, creating all the subtitles for the multiple languages, tightening the narrative/structure, etc. But after having directed a few shorts, this could finally be my first feature-length film. And I’m very excited for all that it represents, for everything I care, rediscovering the past, investigating your identity, feelings and perceptions of memory, possibilities for the future, understanding history and its consequences.
When the documentary is more put together, I should post some clips here. Stay tuned!
Next: Grave restoration in Moldova.