‘Francine Learns’ – process notes for a video remix

Francine Learns How to Open His Heart with Her Teeth‘ is based on a poem submitted to the Storehouse by Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick. This remix didn’t work for everyone, but I continue to be fond of it.

To me, Shannon’s poem was a sad and vulnerable piece that still managed to carry a steely hint of future menace. It gave me a sense of waiting, of preparation, of trapped potential and latent emotional power amidst current pain. It took me a while to decide what sort of images I might use with it.

I rarely use footage of actual people in my video work, and prefer, for example, to use clips that focus on a hand, an eye, or on feet, rather than footage that depicts a whole identifiable person. Why? Not sure yet – it’s a question I continue to consider. But I definitely like to use stylized representations of people (the robotic alien figure in this piece was a terrific find, for example), so I was excited to find the robot lady on Equiloud’s free clips site. I liked her immobility combined with the elements orbiting steadily around her, which gave me a sense of something purposefully ‘cooking’ underneath.

Along with robot lady, I wanted something gritty and earthy as a second, grounding element, and went with a US National Park Service B-roll clip of a rocky mountain ridge – high, rarefied, barren, but with latent potential and a purposeful arc of movement towards a dangerous-looking cliff edge. I chose three images (a pulsing red heart-chamber lookalike thingy, a fomenting space-ball cascade, a barbed wire silhouette) to layer behind the two grounding elements, then brought those two main elements together at the end with another weird and wonderful Equiloud confection – bright, metallic, morphing – and another purposeful robot lady image.

For the voice, I used my own reading as I tend to do, since reading and recording a poem is where the ‘making’ process really starts for me. Initially, I added reverb to the voice using the Garageband reverberation tool, but edited that out subsequently as a bit much. For general aural background I used a favorite soundtrack – a wild keening/ululating solo voice that for me hit that ‘trapped potential’ theme again.

Overall, a fairly complex endeavor for me with many moving parts, and I had to cut and lengthen and shift clips and sound in many iterations to get it all quite where I wanted it. But the work was lots of fun, as always!

Thanks once again to Shannon for contributing her work to The Poetry Storehouse. As always, we warmly encourage other remixers to visit the Storehouse and get creative with its contents.

Visit the Poetry Storehouse Vimeo page to see all Storehouse-based video remixes.

Published by

Nic Sebastian

Nic is the author of Forever Will End On Thursday and Dark And Like A Web. She founded the now-archived Whale Sound site and is co-founder of The Poetry Storehouse. Nic blogs at Very Like A Whale and Voice Alpha.

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