The sun hit the tawny, dry grass of the field in the early-October way the sun always shines in Ontario in the fall. The sky sparkled in that startling blue colour that bursts above us when the clouds are absent for the day. And my Grade 8 class was bustling with the nervous excitement of filming our first feature-length film. It was about a community of Canada’s First Nations people, and I believe the storyline had something to do with preparations for winter. We had spent weeks preparing the script, costumes, sets and makeup protocols. As I remember it, the day went off without a hitch.
The members of that class each went on to the bumpy adventure of life that we had no idea lay waiting beyond the walls of our classroom. Some experienced happy marriages, many divorced. Some moved into jobs they loved, some to careers they tolerated, many to the uncertain anxiety of balancing children and work. Some of us are already grandparents and sliding towards a welcome retirement. How can this be? And whatever happened to the movie we made?
That precious memory of the class movie from so long ago came flooding back in all its tender mercy this morning. It had been my job to help edit the footage, which I think might have been shot with a Super 8 camera. In a full circle moment, I found myself tasked today with editing the 10-and-a-half-minute rough cut of the “sizzle reel” videographer Robert Evans had put together about my trip to New Zealand in May. If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll remember that I was part of a group of transformational leaders from around the world who convened in that country for an epic trip. We took part in some adventuring, spoke onstage at a rugby stadium, and delivered workshops on our areas of expertise. We also delivered water filters to an aboriginal community.
The trip was captured on film by a team of camera people who committed to giving each participant a video summary of the trip that we can use to promote our businesses. This is a big deal! And I am SO not a video expert! I love putting stories together in words, and I’ve got a cache of videos waiting to embed in the new website that we’re hoping to launch in the fall. But, other than those intense hours in a darkroom trying to edit the Grade 8 class’s Magnum Opus, I haven’t worked too much with film.
And, full disclosure, I wasn’t physically editing the New Zealand video. But I was trying to determine what needed to come out of it in order to bring it down to a length that anyone other than my mother might watch to the end. The process involved a detailed review of each scene and segment. It was tough!
The video team had caught some terrific moments and spliced it all together with great transitions and upbeat music. I was reminded of a phrase in writing, where authors are urged to “kill their darlings” in order to develop a concise story that engages readers and moves along at a good clip. I certainly killed some darlings this morning in my video editing, although probably not nearly enough of them, I’m sorry to say.
But the experience also touched me deeply: somewhere out there is a faded movie of a group of sweet young people in the process of becoming whoever it was they were meant to become. They are frozen in time, a whisper away from birth, a surprise or two away from old age. And, one day, the video of me in New Zealand will fade into history, too, a forgotten snapshot of a life well lived, a delicate souvenir of the business I built. My video editing experiences are humbling indeed. And they are a powerful reminder of the importance of being fully present to our own lives.