A chance encounter presented Gennaro Ambrosino with a subject for his WexShorts entry Belonging
“To my total amazement, she started to tell me her story.
Everything was coming together in such
a perfect and magical way…”
Wex Photo Video: Can you tell us more about yourself and the type of films you’ve been making?
Gennaro Ambrosino: I’m the owner of Alchemedia Studios Ltd, a London-based video production company and for the last few years, I’ve mostly produced corporate and crowdfunded films. However, I’m really passionate about documentary filmmaking and that form of storytelling, so whenever I have the time and chance to work on a personal project, I like to look for the stories I’m interested in. I tend to lean towards people/profile documentaries and focus on cultural and anthropological themes.
W: How did you find the story for Belonging?
GA: I recently started to use Instagram more and not long ago, I shared a picture of me with my Qigong* teacher. She liked the picture, so I looked at her profile which had some clips of her practising. I was very impressed and intrigued, so I told her I’d love to film her at some point. Although she’s based in Canada, she happened to be stopping in London for two days, en route to Italy.
We filmed on the 2nd of July and I asked her if her story had anything to do with the theme of identity – I was looking for a story to submit to WexShorts. To my total amazement, she started to tell me her story. Everything was coming together in such a perfect and magical way; I had to make it happen. And I did, even if time was tight and I had to edit the video during my summer holiday!
*Qigong is a Chinese art that’s also known as Chinese Yoga. I’ve been practising it for many years and it’s what Ying, the subject of the film, practises and performs.
Visit Gennaro's website to see more of his work.
W: How did you plan the shoot?
GA: I didn’t plan that much to be honest. I knew I wanted to one, capture her story and two, focus on trying to create some beautiful visuals, and I think both her performance and the location allowed for that. My studio is based near Hyde Park, where I tend to go for a walk when I take a break from my desk. So, I didn’t do any location scouting because I already knew the place and knew that the pagoda could potentially work really well for what I wanted to achieve.
W: Can you tell us a bit about the equipment you used to shoot this project?
GA: I shot all of the B-roll footage with my Sony A6500 on a Zhiyun Crane 2 gimbal and the interview with a Canon 5D Mark III, with the Sennheiser EW 100 wireless lavalier system. I liked to use the A6500 with the gimbal because it’s very lightweight. However, I found it quite difficult to rely on the camera’s LCD screen (especially outdoors) to get the correct exposure. I used zebra stripes to help, but I still couldn’t get it accurate and ended up having to cut out some footage. For this reason, I’m now investing in an external monitor and recorder to go with my setup (the latest Atomos Ninja V), which I’ve actually pre-ordered from Wex Photo Video!
W: Can you tell us more about how you brought the edit together?
During post, I tend to start with the interviews. In this case, I tried to present her story and message in a synthesised way, while trying not to leave out parts which were key to the story. I cut the project in Adobe Premiere Pro CC and then colour graded it in DaVinci Resolve. The music was purchased from Musicbed.
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W: Do you have any advice for others wanting to create their own mini documentary?
I would advise you to follow your own passions and interests when finding a story. This will trigger a personal engagement with the story itself and the creative process. In other words, put your soul in it!
W: What’s next for you?
GA: I’m working towards scaling up my business. I also want to dedicate more time to personal projects, particularly documentary films. I’m going to aim to be more involved with the filmmaking community and Vimeo, and will submit more work to contests like this one and film festivals.
About the Author
Kristian Hampton is Wex Photo Video’s Technical Editor for Pro Video. A video specialist who has worked in corporate studios for companies such as Vodafone Group and PwC, as well as working as a freelance grip on various TV productions and features. He also runs Krade Media, providing enterprises with production services. Follow Kristian on twitter @KrissHampton