Lili Dekker: Realisations

two people outside brick building

With the filming now behind me, I have started to edit. For September 1st I intend to submit 3-5 ten minute clips that show the daily activities of my grandparents and the ways in which they have been affected by my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s. The further production of the film will take place within the next year. 

Since my last post, I have learned so much. As my first significant documentary project, this experience has been immensely fruitful:

  1. The more I filmed the more I became familiar with how I needed to operate my equipment for my specific purposes. At the end of each filming day I would go through my footage to establish which activities I still needed to capture and how I wanted to capture them. Whereas at the start I tended to shoot mostly handheld, towards the middle of my filming I came to favour using my tripod for more stable, curated shots that allowed the surrouding environment, the fascinating interiors of my grandparents’ house, to come to the foreground. In realising and constructing particular shots, I became inspired and interested in the production of ficition films, something I thought I never was too interested in, and this has been a very fun surprise. 
  2. With each new day of filming I became more and more comfortable filming my grandparents around (and occasionally outside) their house. I also became more confident in my knowledge on dementia. Before arriving in Holland, I remember feeling nervous about my research—I wasn’t confident in the questions I had prepared to ask. However, as soon as I arrived and had spent a few days observing I was able to consolidate what I knew before through observation and conversation with my grandparents.
  3. A final realisation during my time spent with my grandparents concerned the role of myself, their granddaughter and filmmaker, in the production of the film. My knowing them and their knowing me had a significant and unexpected effect on my research and filming. My initial intention was to take a direct cinema approach to the film. I wanted to depict the actions of my grandparents as they ordinarily go about their daily life, like a “fly on the wall”. What I soon realised, however, is that I couldn’t not be a part of the film. My grandparents very quickly became comfortable with the camera around and easily ignored it, however, they saw no hesitation in interacting with me, as they always have during my visits there, while the camera was on. Occasionally, I would also need to help them with an action that I already had the camera set on. I soon also became a character in the film and became more comfortable with interacting with them while the camera was on. This realisation has raised a number of important questions with regards to documentary style which I will be sure to discuss in my essay.
  4. It has been a pleasure to discover that this research has been as much a dive into important and widely applicable family experience as much as it has been a journey in discovering myself as a filmmaker.
    My grandparents, To Molenaar and Jan Molenaar, during our interview.
    Leaving for a walk.
    Snapshot of my grandparents’ garden, which has been an important part of their lives.
    Grandmother and grandfather in their bedroom.