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the empty

The fat girl as they call her, came to school with a hypodermic needle in her backpack. It may have been to defend herself, it may have been to instigate something. She comes from a broken home and this is her second or third school. E steers clear of her, and the bullies she tangles with. It was never understood  - how things began, who threw the first insult, the first punch, the first grabbed book but the end is a chronic cycle of violence. At one point, the girl's mother got the police involved and this was seen as offensive, a step too far. The police did not resolve anything so it was all just a lot of saber rattling. That is the most common sound here. The empty threat.

Last week, there was a sobrani, sort of a cross between a parent-teacher conference and a school meeting. I was busy, so E went by herself and took notes. Five minutes in she messaged me, that I was wise not to be there. Nothing about this girl was going to be resolved.
"Boys will be boys" was all …

water

In film school, the night before a shoot involved building the entire camera rig in the living room. Lenses were examined and carefully wiped clean. Canned air was blasted in freezing bursts into mechanisms that might carry a minuscule hair in them. Film magazines were labelled. Batteries hung in strands charging overnight. The process was one of method, a meditation, a calm step-by-step gesture toward the distractions the shoot would bring. This quiet moment was an antidote I took the night before. 


E is circling me. The tripod is fascinating to her - the red knobs, the sliding plates, the leveling bubble. I let her pull the arm a little, to understand what operating a fluid head feels like. The monitor is pulled from the bag that sat in the closet, then mounted on the camera. The swivels work fine. I can twist it in any direction and it will stay in place. The last batteries are charging, and I have lined the full ones up on the table. The big black camera bag is dusty, and I think to vacuum it but wipe it down with a wet sponge instead. N eyes me in the kitchen, my arms furiously whipping around the bag until it looks alright.

The next morning I make us chadi, Georgian cornflour cakes with scrambled eggs and some fresh goat's cheese from rinok. The bags are sitting next to each other on the living room floor. Coffee finished while I stand at the table, it is time to sling them across my shoulder.

The day unfolds with sinks and drains, with faucets and spouts. I am staring at the water, how to bend it to my will, how to make it tell the story, to evoke the need for water and how it can be taken for granted, how it can easily go away. N and E crane their necks sometimes to see the monitor, offering a quick nod of approval. I am worried about focus, about what I am missing in the frame, about how to get rid of certain reflections in the curves of polished metal.

It has been some time since I shot something like this, not my own personal film but a film I am authoring all the same. There are moments when I look and just see ideas, just compositions, the mundane remaining mundane. Then in the third kitchen, the sink offers soft reflections, a basin that makes the water look like it is running away when the tap stops. My stomach jolts, I see the metaphor can work, the real world expressing something poetic without being forced, the real world being revealed. My back hurts and I lean back, seeing N at her sister's kitchen table. She looks up at me for a moment. I think she understands why I am happy right now, why I feel satisfied.

Comments

liv said…
Sheer PERFECTION.

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