It was a struggle to figure out what Going Home was truly all about. Clearly, I wanted to return home to document the house, because my parent's choice to sell it had been weighing on me. But after looking through all the footage and attempting to construct a story, I was left with a combination of images that lacked focus, packed no real impact, and held no meaningful epiphany. This was of course due to the documentarian like style of the film, and the choice to pursue an idea in it's purest form; as just an idea. I knew there was a meaning behind and a connection between the images I was capturing and the way that I felt about losing my childhood home, I just had to discover what it was.
It wasn't until I discussed the film at length -- which, by the way, is an EXCELLENT way to figure your shit out -- that everything clicked. From before I even returned home, I knew I wanted to go exploring the abandoned school house at Stewarts Point - I was inexplicably drawn to that idea and once the footage was captured, I knew It was central to the film. The desolate colors and compositional opportunities were striking. I don't know that I would have been able to pinpoint it if my boyfriend hadn't pointed it out: that I was attempting to link the images of the schoolhouse to my feelings about saying goodbye to my childhood home... OH. DUH.
Once I knew that my mission became a lot more clear:
1) Choose, design and arrange the shots in the beginning of the film to parallel the schoolhouse shots at the end of the film.
2) Build in the fact that the parents are selling the house by calling and asking my siblings to reflect on it.
3) Lastly, develop a score that will reoccur during the final shots of the film, and hark back to the opening shots of the film; thus linking the two "houses" together.
And we've done it (at least I hope we have).
It's been really shocking how many thematic elements I captured without even meaning to, and even placed them in structurally "correct" places throughout my edit. Here are some of my favorite happy accidents that occur within the film:
THE PIANO: This was a really neat coincidence. I filmed the piano in my house because playing piano was a huge and important part of my childhood. It's also a part of my past that I've come to really miss and wish I hadn't left behind. I filmed the piano in the living room days before Adrian and I went to visit the abandoned schoolhouse. And even upon exploring the schoolhouse it never dawned on me that there was a piano in both locations. Luckily I was intuitive enough, or just intrigued enough, to film them both in detail, making my editing job a lot easier.
MY FATHER THE PACKRAT: One of favorite sequences in the film are the few shots of my Dad's "office". My Dad has three offices I'll have you know. 2 of which are basically filled with historical documents, paintings, filing cabinets, childhood toys and memorabilia -- to the point that he can no longer use them as an office. There's a moment later in the film where my Mom suggests I keep an old sweatshirt, "the beagle shirt" and I tell her I considered it and she says I'm turning into my father. The film is also littered with collected voicemails and home video footage, so clearly the pack-ratted-ness has rubbed off on me. If I'm making a film about the difficulty of abandoning my childhood home, then clearly I have a hard time letting go, just like my Dad.
SYNCHRONIZED SPEECH: There are exactly three times throughout the film where I speak at the exact same time as my mom and say the same thing, with the same inflection. Although one is manipulated and created through editing. Can you spot all 3?
DRIVING SCENES: My good friend and excellent filmmaker (AND also Primrose Path team member) Evan Yee was kind enough to point out that there are three driving scenes, one at the beginning, one in the middle and one at the end. Each one gets closer and closer to the windshield until in the last one, all we see is through the view. This progression speaks to the whole idea of moving forward, especially since we are physically moving forward in the car as well as through the camera setups.
THE WEATHER: Please Mr. Sun, could you add a little diffusion to that? I'd like the light to be a bit softer. As filmmakers we always wish we could control the weather but alas... However we can edit the weather to our advantage. If you notice, the first and last "days" in the film are brighter, while the two in the middle are all rain and fog. That's because the first and last days in the film are more positive, about the warmth and happy things that come with returning home. The middle two days are the introspective days, where we explore the death of my grandmother, the loss of old friends, and the gloom that settles in alongside the memories. Editing these days so they are more succinct and appear in a certain order is something I can control, but the actual weather matching the content of what I was filming? Priceless.
Didn't catch these motifs the first time? Watch the film again here: