Case Study: Window Window is part of the SHIFT Film Festival competition and will also celebrate its premier.
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Case Study: Window

Window is part of the SHIFT Film Festival competition and will also celebrate its premier.

Inara Chayamiti is a Japanese-Brazilian documentary filmmaker who has been telling non-fiction stories for over 10 years. Currently she is developing her first feature length documentary about the Japanese and Brazilian diasporas. In her work, Inara aims to spark important conversations, to promote empathy and to raise awareness of human rights and environmental issues through stories in which people are protagonists of their own narratives.

"The smartphone became a bridge that allowed us to feel less isolated online. And most of the footage was made with smartphones, too."

16 september 2020

Idea

"Window (original title: Raam) is a cinematographic window in 9x16 that connects self-isolated perspectives of the coronavirus pandemic from five windows: mine in the Netherlands, my sister's in Italy, my mother's in Brazil, my sister in law's in Portugal and my cousin's in Japan. It all started because I wanted to stay creative and also closer to my family during such an uncertain and frightening moment which marked the beginning of the corona crisis. This challenge of staying creative under such circumstances was encouraged by Marieke Rodenburg while I was attending one of her courses. So I asked my family to join me in the experiment of filming ourselves to share how our daily lives were affected by this historical moment."

"Since I decided to follow the sanitary rules and stay at home as much as possible, I was not able to film much outside. So I decided to shoot what I could from my window. It was also a way to try getting to know my new neighbourhood since I moved to the Netherlands this year and I was not even able to really get to know Amsterdam before the coronavirus outbreak. I started to film in the vertical position because I felt that my field of view was framed by the shape of the window. I decided to continue filming like this, also to represent the intensified use of smartphones during the pandemic. The smartphone became a bridge that allowed us to feel less isolated online. And most of the footage was made with smartphones, too."

Script and editing

"I rewrote the script a few times while editing. This combined process took about 20 days and I had some different versions while I was experimenting with different possibilities in the editing room. So it was a non-linear creative process that also changed according to the scenes that the characters were sending me while I was shaping the story. I also had weekly comments from Marieke and other students while participating in her course at CREA (cultural student centre of the University of Amsterdam)."

"I asked my family for some specific scenes and to talk about some particular topics, but most of the time I just let them create freely so the process would be as collaborative and non-vertical as possible. Every time I had a new version I shared it with them so they were able to see the route the film was taking."

Production

"I had an online meeting with each character separately to exchange ideas and we kept writing to each other during the whole process to figure out what was interesting for each of them to film and how this would have to be done."

"The initial idea was to continue shooting until the lockdown in each country was suspended and hopefully to meet each family member in person to film with them. However, I realised that the situation was unpredictable and it made me reflect that choosing only one month of the beginning of social isolation could also be interesting and maybe even more powerful because it shows this first moment of transition into what became our new normal."

Sound and colour

"I bought music from stock and used a lot of direct sound. I also used some smartphones' and apps' sound effects to emphasise the digital atmosphere."

"During color correction it was a challenge to unify the footage made with so many different smartphones and with my professional camera but it went well. My idea to mix the footage by using a frame and overlaying images was also a good solution to make a more cohesive blend."

Empathy, flexibility and readiness to compromise

"I submitted the short to a few festivals and I am waiting for their result notification. After the festival screenings I plan to distribute the film online, focusing especially on social media as tools to spread it."

"After over 10 years of experience telling non-fiction stories, I would say that it is crucial to documentary filmmakers to be empathetic, flexible and ready to compromise. Real life is nuanced and changes all the time so you should be open enough to understand your characters' world and also the new paths your story may take. It is also important to keep making compromises regarding the things that motivate you rather than sticking to the first plan or idea so you can tell the story in its most powerful way."

Window

Short Film Competition 1
September 11, 18.00-19.30, Online

Get your free viewing-link here!

(c) All visual material is used with the filmmaker's permission.

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