An experimental short documentary breakdown

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2020 was simultaneously an American election year and the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It felt like no matter which way the election went it would be historic.


documenting life one second at a time

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second by second

How special could a second be? If you live to 72, the global life expectancy, you’ll experience 2,270,592,000 of them.

day by day

I once heard someone describing time by saying the days go slow but the years go fast. Days begin to blur and look like one another but when you think about a year ago there’s a lot of little changes and they are hard to keep track of. Life just looks different and it’s hard to pinpoint when exactly it happened.


passion meets profession

Throughout your whole childhood everyone constantly asks what you want to be when you grow up. I remember in kindergarten thinking it would be neat to ride on the back of a garbage truck, so naturally I thought I wanted to be a garbageman, which in reality a terrible career choice for a blossoming germaphobe. Following that however I thought having the ability to connect and communicate with many people seemed like a superpower so I wanted to be a linguist. …


the frequently asked question

Okay so I’m an editor at a video production company in a smaller city cutting brand films, commercials, short films, and documentaries. Basically I take all the stuff the production crew creates (interviews, footage, graphics, etc) and reassemble and structure it in a way that hopefully connects and engages with an audience. I’ve been working in video production for almost 10 years now, at three different companies, and one of the most frequent questions I get is how did I get here.

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The answer to that question is more of a story than a how-to guide. Career advice can kind of be like asking how someone found their spouse, especially in this field. It kind of happens differently for everyone and doesn’t really result in repeatable steps. …


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Gear isn’t cheap so I do my best to take good care of it but it does me no good to keep it on the shelf or tucked away in a hard case. I use my camera daily and quick access is a higher priority than protecting the equipment. Any extra steps between storing and using the gear is an opportunity for me to decide it’s not worth bothering with it.

For my wife’s birthday we took a day trip to Philadelphia, which is a short train ride from where we live. The main thing we were going to do there prohibits photography, but I decided to at least throw my camera in the bag just in case anything else caught my eye. Once that camera went into the bag though it was never coming out, it spent the entire trip in that bag, because it was infinitely easier and quicker just to slide a phone out of my pocket and snap than to pull out the camera. …


We have these machines that give us the ability to pause or even replay a moment. It’s probably the closest thing that currently exist to time travel. Camera are truly amazing pieces of technology and one of my favorite tools.

the memory maker

Time has a strange impact on photography and video. A snapshot in the moment might just feel like another photo but years later you may revisit it and feel something completely different. Photos are frozen in time and capture things that have changed even without us noticing. People look different, places look different, fashion looks different, technology looks different. Photos store things that are absent from the present and vice versa. …


I get in my own way from creating a lot. It’s much easier to think about doing something than to actually do it. It feels productive but it’s too easy to miss the moment when thought should turn into action.

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The beginning of my career I spent a lot of time waiting to get better. I stopped making stuff out of fear that I would produce bad work and I didn’t want to be attached to bad work. I wasted a lot of valuable time because my perspective was off. …


If you post photo of video content online the most frequent question is probably what you shoot on. Everyone is in constant pursuit of the perfect camera.

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My first camera shot on dv tape and I got it when I was 9 years old which I used throughout my teenage years. In college I graduated to a flip camera that shot in 720, which was the lowest quality that was still considered high definition. Then the DSLR revolution happened and I picked up a canon 60d. …


I’ve been collaborating with nonprofits, businesses, and government agencies on video projects for about 10 years now. One question that never disappears is ‘how long should a video be?’ For those clients I’ve worked on videos as short as 5 seconds to feature length documentaries.

Realistically when you set out to make something you at least have a general idea of where you may fall in terms of duration. Nobody has set out to make a feature film and ended with a 15 second short film. But how do you decide if something should be 60 seconds or 15 minutes? …


I love creating stuff but I also find the creative process to be brutal.

perfectionism

I really struggle with finding the balance between the ideas of “good enough never is” and “done is better than perfect”. It’s a very thin space to live. “Good enough” is the minimum necessary amount of quality but perfectionism is an unattainable ideal. Endlessly tweaking and revising but never delivering is a fruitless labor. If you can’t deliver then all the work was in vain. So where is the threshold?

Having high standards for our work forces us to reconcile that anything short of perfect is imperfect. The need to sign off on something imperfect feels like a direct reflection on ourselves. Our audience or our client’s audience will probably be completely satisfied with imperfect and might even mistake if for perfect, but we know the truth. …

About

jordan k graff

human, aspiring filmmaker, sometimes-photographer, and avid coffee drinker.

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