Before sunrise on Saturday, my car was packed with equipment and my wonderful roommate Moriah and I were off to Gloversville, New York for the first day of shooting.
On the way there, I brainstormed questions and reviewed camera settings, but I soon found out that no amount of planning would ever completely prepare me.
After weeks of communicating with Maria the band manager via phone and email, it was great to finally meet her and the music director, George. They work very closely with the band, and their enthusiasm and willingness to help us was absolutely amazing. It’s a lot easier to make a documentary when everyone is excited about it!
We shot their rehearsal time for about an hour, and consequentially we had their original song All For A Reason stuck in our head for days. Their energy is contagious. Each person brings a bit of their own flare to both the group dynamic and the sound itself.
The band members are so genuine and willing to share their stories, and even through short 20-minute preliminary interviews (with a makeshift light clipped to a plant) we really began to get a sense for their personalities. Michelle, the lead singer, struggles a bit when conversing due to her autism, but once she got more comfortable with the camera, her kind-heartedness, humble nature and strength really came through. We had her play a couple acoustic songs on her guitar, and it’s incredible to see the power and confidence she gets when she plays. Scott, a bongo drummer, has a great sense of humor and an incredibly strong spirit. Unfortunately, we ran into some technical difficulties with our SD card during that interview, but we got some amazing quotes from him.
If there’s one thing I learned from this shoot, it’s that the minute you turn the camera off, magic happens. Some of the best moments were those that happened when I spoke with the band members one-on-one between sets without the camera. David, who’s blind, took my hand and told me he could feel the vibrations of my footsteps when I was filming him on the drums, Paul kindly made room next to him for me to sit during lunch, and Adrienne began telling me about the lowest point in her life before she found FLAME. In these moments, I’m torn: on one hand I want to freeze time and grab my camera, but on the other hand I wonder if these moments would have even happened had the people known they were being filmed.
As we wrapped up the day, we chatted with Maria and George about their vision for the documentary, said goodbye to the band and returned to Ithaca with an autographed photograph and a whole lot of footage to review. Looking forward to continue with my group!