Permission

This video came out five years ago this coming Wednesday. I know this because 1) I’m a weirdo who remembers specific dates to insignificant events and 2) the video came out right when I was catching the video bug. I watched the video a few dozen times when it came out and felt intoxicated—with its energy, its heart, its pacing, its speeds, its framing, its coloring, its hand-held cameras (and all of their movement and immersiveness and humanizing chaos). I was infatuated with it all.

At the time, in April 2012, I had only ever made two videos—both in the month prior: a 14-minute mockumentary about a teammate’s track season (with local sponsors, Windshield World and Noonie’s Deli) and a 27-minute day-in-the-life of my 21st birthday, which featured a trip to the police station to ask about the legality of drinking out of paper bags, a trip to the McDonalds drive-through—on foot, a trip to the local thrift store, and a trip to Middlebury’s main drag to narrate strangers’ conversations. (Neither show was picked up for a second season).

When I first saw the Feel The Love video, I wanted to recreate that—that liveliness, that build-up, that rawness. I wanted to create mosaics of people and faces. I was fascinated with the alchemy of it all, that, for me, video was this all-encompassing medium of writing, audio, music, improvisation, and photography. I was less interested in narrative and plot and more interested in capturing feeling (and accentuating and magnifying feeling).

*                                                                         *                                                                   *

Last week, I read this Austin Kleon post about permission. This is my favorite line:

Every piece of art or writing I’ve ever truly loved was a kind of permission, a permission to bring forth what I felt was already inside of me.

I thought about what’s given me permission over the years. I thought about how we ultimately don’t need permission, but it’s really nice to have it to launch ourselves.

I then went back and revisited the videos that have given me the most empowering sense of permission, that invited me “to bring forth what I felt was already inside of me.”

I checked in with them like they were old friends and caught up (and rediscovered what it was about them that gave me permission and clarity):

River—for a million things but especially its sound: its atmospheric noise; its blurring of non-diegetic and diegetic (sound that exists in the video world vs. sound that only the audience hears); its varying volume levels; its silence; its compassion.

Stubborn Love—for its natural light, its intimate framing, and its warmth towards a scared little kid who’s moving (which was me 20 years ago).

Gold On The Ceiling—for its manic, restless cutting (and its subtle and not-so subtle jump-cuts). It’s just so rock n’ roll.

The Big Easy Express— for its seamless voiceovers, its dichotomy between soundtrack and live music, and its lettering (in terms of font and placement).

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The artist is a collector. Not a hoarder, mind you, there’s a difference: Hoarders collect indiscriminately, artists collect selectively. They only collect things that they really love.—Austin Kleon

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