Since March 2017, I have been working on a story about the coffee culture in Chicago for a student documentary film project. This project has been in collaboration with the Institute of Contemporary Art in Moscow Russia. Since July, I was under the assumption that my video contribution was completed. However, I recently learned that the funding foundation wanted something more from my piece.
"PEOPLE DON'T WANT THAT KIND OF COFFEE IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD."
My advising professor informed me about a coffee shop on the south side of Chicago that might be worthwhile to check out. At first, I was not sure if the coffee shop, Kusanya, would provide the best addition to the story that I was producing. Kusanya is located in Englewood, a neighboorhood of Chicago. In a 2009 study conducted by the Metropolitan Planning Council of Chicago, it was found that 44% of households are below the poverty line. When I think of going out for coffee, I see it as a treat that I'm willing to spend some extra money on, and not necessarily something that would be popular in a less affluent neighborhood.
I knew that I would be conducting interviews and wanting to capture good NAT sound. I set up a SmallRig cage on my Canon C100 with a Canon EF 24-105 mm IS f/2.8 lens, and also attached a shoulder pad and Zacuto Grip Relocator. For sound, I used the Rode NTG3 to capture those great NAT sound moments, and a Sennheiser ew 112-p G3 with a LMC Sound C Mount to hide the lavalier microphone during the interview. I chose to go with this setup because it would provide me with a way to quickly move from an interview set up to being able to capture steady broll. I’ve been using the C Mount on my lavaliers for a long time, and they work great at concealing the microphone as well as preventing unwanted noise from rubbing against surfaces.
"WE WANT TO CREATE A PLACE THAT TREATS PEOPLE WITH RESPECT AND WELCOMES PEOPLE."
This shoot provided me with a unique opportunity to interact with a community that I knew very little about but had a lot of assumptions about. During the interview, the owner commented that,
"If you walk into a place and they treat you as if they're guarding themselves from you at every turn, you have to absorb that. We want to create a place that treats people with respect and welcomes people in and doesn't create a defensive posture automatically."
This was an interesting realization to hear and made sense to me. Everyone that came into Kusnya was in good spirits and was very friendly.
The shoot itself went over very well thanks to the gear planning. The only issue that I had was that one of the interview subjects was very animated and was moving around during her interview, so I could not lock down the tripod and had to be constantly readjusting. This constant movement wouldn't have been that much of an issue, except for the fact that I was using my travel tripod which has a ball head, instead of a fluid head. This meant that instead of being able to move within the vertical and horizontal axis, I would end up overshooting my framing every once and a while. When I was off the tripod, and the camera was shoulder mounted, the SmallRig system along with the image stabilization built into the lens was great at smoothing out my shots. I look forward to how this project turns out.