Changing Perspectives: Walking up the Stairs

It was in the middle of the October when I first encounter the architectural design known as stair as this immoveable and intimidating object. It wasn’t until I suffered an injury in my knee that I came to see stairs as these things that are there, that facilitates getting from a lower to higher place and vice versa, but only for those who can actually use both their legs. Inspired by the short story by Julio Cortazár and the short documentary The Unconscious Art of Graffiti Removal, I set myself to make a short film that dealt with the subjects of stairs.

People, especially at Georgetown, come across stairs in their day to day live, but usually no one puts much attention to them because they have become mundane. In order to change that, the short film had to unfamiliarize the audience from the object. The first shot of the exorcist stair next to the Car Barn manages exactly that, and because of that it was one of the most powerful scenes in the whole film. It sets the stairs from an angle that not many people have ever seen them, and once the next few shots of the same stairs and the other two staircases are shown, the audience would start to understand what they were watching at the beginning.

Another important aspect of the short documentary I was trying to get right was the humor found both in the short story by Julio Cortazár and The Unconscious Art of Graffiti Removal. Both of these texts try their subject as a serious thing, however there is a humor around their whole narratives. To accomplish this, I relied heavily on the various titles shown in between the different shots of staircases and the legs going up the stairs. Each of the definition and instruction given throughout Stairs had direct relationship to another one. In the case of the definitions both stairs and steps were meant to work together and reference each other to create the dry humor of both texts that inspired the documentary.

A part of the visuals of the film, one of the aspects that make the film stitch together neatly is the soundtrack. I used Tibetan bowl, which that serve as kind of a bong with a resonance that keeps going as long as you keep stroking the bowl with the gong. The sound effect created with the bowl worked great, and added at the right moments throughout the film, it connected the moments I wanted to highlight, the feet, the steps and so on. In the end, sound is a powerful element that helps put together most of the narratives.

Finally, it is important to mention that it is really important to plan ahead of time what you are going to film, but before even starting to film it is important to visit the place you are going to film. When I first started the project, I had a clear idea of I wanted to do, however when I went to the places I wanted to film, I wasn’t able to do what I had planned because I had a different notion of the space, that change the moment I started filming. It took various session of standing there and experimenting with different angles and seeing how I could play with the space before I could actually get something I really liked. As much as producing media is about planning ahead of time, it also important to go to the places, and be ready to do rewrites and new storyboards in the spot to end up with different things that might work better than the original idea.