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Allowing People to See Themselves

and to be seen by others

· Filming

Last week I spent a whole day with a gorgeous man.

I spent hours gazing into his eyes, listening to his words, feeling moved by his deep reflection and willingness to be open to what was emerging in the moment.

No, sadly not a new romance in my life. But a day spent editing footage I had shot nearly 8 months earlier.

Once I have spent time with someone, giving them time and attention, and filming the process, the next step is to give them an unedited copy of the footage. This could be anything between 10 and 60 minutes long.

The invitation is to watch themselves, perhaps as if they were watching another person, with compassion and kindness, with acceptance. The intention is to let go of the usual critical voices that are busy in our heads when we see an image of ourselves.

It seems for many people the default reaction is to criticise our appearance, how we sound, what we said, why we said what we said. We can give ourselves a really hard time. "I don't really look THAT old, do I?".

For some this is the end of the process. But for others there may be a short film to be made. The film will capture something of the essence of that particular person. They may be speaking - sometimes people have a lot to say once they are given time to think and be present in the moment, or they may be silent.

Sometimes I create a one or two minute film that captures something of the essence of being human. There may be words, there may not be. Responses people have to these short films of others can be very moving. They don't need to know the person but they can feel touched by the experience of seeing them in this way. These may shared here on my blog, on my website and potentially on social media.

Other times there are longer films to be made, that may not ever be public. They may just be for the subject as a record of our time together, they may share them with family or friends. It could be a film which becomes part of a family archive. A special way to record people in the family at different stages of life.

Being filmed in this way is certainly something that can be done more than once. Each time will be it's own experience. The person I was editing last week has sat with me a number of times now, usually with a gap of 6 to 9 months, and it provides a really interesting record of what themes in a persons life change over time, and what remains constant. This is certainly something I would love to do more of.

Sometime it maybe that the subject of the film wants to use some of it on their website, to give a glimpse of who they are, for people who are considering working with them. It certainly isn't your usual promotional video, and isn't a style that everyone would be happy to use, but for those that are it has the potential to be very powerful.

This work I am engaging with is certainly 'work in progress' and probably always will be. It's an inquiry into what it is to be human, what is it that connects us, and the opportunity to see another without the layers of masks and protection that so often we feel we need to wear to stay safe, and to be acceptable in this world.

I am on a mission, a quiet, yet bold mission, to allow people to see themselves, and be seen in a way that is authentic and real, and in doing so give others permission to do the same.

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