Matas Navickas is 20 years old guy who calls himself a future scientist. A guy who has a personal lab in the garage of his house might sound bizarre to many. However, the young man – a living example of his own words – is convinced that nothing is impossible if one really does what he or she truly loves. From plant biotechnology to investigations on paralysis.
Since he was a child he was spending his free time in the forest, catching bugs and butterflies. He really enjoyed spending time in the hospital, where his mum worked at the time. His cousin was studying Medicine in Lithuania, and she was always taking Matas to laboratories and from that time he got obsessed with science.
When I met Matas for the first time I was so inspired by his story because he loves nature just as much as I do.We both love animal documentaries like “Planet Earth” and “Frozen Planet”. Matas was happy to share his story with me. We wanted to create a documentary that inspires other to go and explore the world, to see things from another perspective. Matas passion to science is so catching that I wanted to share it with the rest of the world.
I think the most helpful thing in this project was tutor support and feedback sessions. It was so useful to show film rough cuts to other people and hear their opinions and tips. We paid a lot of attention to people’s feedback and it influenced our work a lot. In a good way. We received a lot of useful technical and creative advice. Tutor also always commented our blog post, so it kept me on track. He recommended a lot of good documentaries to watch so we can stay inspired. Chris Marker and Dziga Vertovs had the biggest influence on my work. Dziga Vertovs “Man with the movie camera” was the first experimental movie that I saw and it motivated me so much to try out new things. Even our tutor was always saying to don’t be scared of experimental things.
In the past few months, I learned so many different things about lightning, sound and editing. Now I can apply it in practice and it also encouraged me to be more confident in my ideas as I know how to apply them easier and make them come to life. Even though it is important to have a shooting script and storyboard, for this project I decided that I wanted to let my imagination run wild and see what creative shots I could come up with during the actual shooting day.
We decided to use 3 locations : Birmingham Botanical Garden, Coventry University Laboratory and Country Park (Coventry). After we filmed in the first location, Matas offered us a lot of his personal footage from surgeries and laboratories. We did a rough cut and we saw that we have enough footage for our film, so we decided to stay with one location.
At the first time, when we interviewed Matas he was speaking in English. An interview was good, but it didn’t sound natural. We tried to edit it but it didn’t help. So after a few tries, we decided to record Matas in his mother language – Lithuanian. I think it worked so much better, it has the flow and Matas sound very kind – just like he really is. After we changed the interview we had to re-edit everything, because Matas gave us more footage and more details in the interview. But I think every change that we made was very beneficial and a good lesson as well. Next time I would start everything sooner, so if I want to change something it’s not going to be so stressful.
Our editing is absolutely different from the one that we planned at the first. We wanted to take 50mm lens and shoot a lot of close-up shots of plants, animals and Matas. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the lens, so we had to use zooming in and be creative with the shooting. Firstly we planned to use 3 different locations but after we changed that we chose to use more shots from laboratories and surgeries. I think those shots are very powerful and cinematic. It tells a lot about Matas. When we showed our rough cut to tutor he gave us a feedback and he said that we should use longer shots. Almost everything what we had was different 3-5 seconds clips. We haven’t used the tripod so the camera was a bit shaky, it was hard to choose what parts to put in the film. After the meeting with the tutor, we edited and stabilised the footage so we can put longer shots and it worked pretty well. We decided that for the first part of the film, in Botanical Gardens, we are going to use green/brown shades, and for the second part in the laboratory, we gonna use more blueish and white colours. I did some colour correction to brighten up colours for a little bit. For the sound, it wasn’t that hard because we did the interview two times, so we knew where our mistakes were. This time we paid more attention to surrounding sounds, we tried to avoid them so we don’t need to edit sound too much. Also, the second time we asked Matas to speak in his mother language – Lithuanian. Luckily, on the same week when we edited the sound we had Sound Workshop in Uni and it was beneficial – we learned how to delete extra sounds from the recording and how to improve the recording quality. After we had a clear sound we needed to translate everything to English and after that – put on the subtitles . The translating part was challenging as well because we needed to translate everything word by word how he said it. Sometimes it’s hard because some two same things don’t sound the same in different languages so we needed to be clear with translations – to make it sound good and correct, but don’t change his words. It’s not very hard, it just asks for a lot of patience.
This module made me realise how much I like creating documentaries. I’m very satisfied with it and it was such a great experience to film this movie.