Think back to December 2014. Can you remember what you were doing? I was frantically trying to figure out how to film, edit and put together a documentary for a college assignment in the hope of getting a good grade. The result of this is my very first documentary, Tommy.
This was the very first piece of work I was proud to show off. It was the first time I realised my love of film and post-production. I know the fact that it is so very personal to me it is always going to have a special meaning to me but I remember the feedback from others saying how they too felt the emotion and they didn’t know my grandad on a personal level. This is what I want to try and achieve in my project. I want people to empathise with the people in my project even though they may not know them.
I enjoy looking back on this documentary from time to time because it reminds me of where I started and how far I have come in the past 2 years. I often doubt my abilities in filmmaking as I go through college even though it is my favourite part of the course, the area I hope to work in when I leave college and head out into the big bad world. And so, looking back on my previous work inspires me to continue forward, I can see how far I have come and I’m close to the finish line now, YOU CAN DO IT….!! (Yes, that is a quote from WaterBoy)
In the previous post I spoke about a Tattoo Artist Magazine in which I came across a well-known tattoo artist who specialises in tattooing 3D nipples and areolae, Vinnie Myer.
I decided to research more about Vinnie as he seemed like the “go-to” man when it comes to cover-up tattoos! I visited his website The Vinnie Myers Team and from the outset I was blown away by the sheer talent he posses and his dedication to his job. He had first started out as a normal tattoo artist and was thinking of giving it up for a while when suddenly he began to notice there was something missing in the tattoo world, something that many people could avail of if need be. He began to study the art form of 3D nipple and areolae tattooing. More and more people started to book appointments with him wanting to regain some of their femininity having gone through a mastectomy and losing a nipple, sometimes both. The work he did for them was outstanding and it was clear from their faces in some of the videos how appreciative they were and how much it meant to them to finally feel “normal” again. He now solely focuses on this form of tattooing and has a very small team in which he trained himself in this specific tattoo form.
I always find things like this absolutely fascinating, how a lifelike tattoo can improve people’s confidence and give them back something they had once lost through a horrible battle in their life.
As tattoos that cover scars was one angle I was going to use in my project I thought it was only right for me to understand the process and see if it is totally different when tattooing scar tissue compared to regular tissue. The answer is yes!
I came across this blog based Tattoo Artist Magazine where tattoo artist talk about their experiences, news in the tattoo world as well as answering some frequently asked questions people may have about tattoos. I had never really thought about scars other than mastectomy scars, cancer scars or possibly self harm scars. It was only after reading this blog I started thinking of other scars people may have that don’t stand out because they are so common like stretch marks. There is a whole world out there full of people with their own unique scars and most go unnoticed because they are so common but what we sometimes forget to think about is how some people still feel very self-conscious about them. It is for that reason that people reach out to tattoo artists for their help in covering up their scars or just to add a little colour to them.
This blog post goes into detail about the layers of the skin and how it is important to get a professional to do any tattoo, scar or no scar! They make it clear that yes, a tattoo will look different on scar tissue as the skin is so compact after healing back together making it even difficult for hair to grow back and that there is a higher possibility for the skin to reject the ink as it’s a much tougher surface.
He also mentioned some tattoo artists who are famed for their work with scars etc so I think I’m going to go have a look at some of their work and see what it’s all about!
I am ashamed to say I had never watched any of Louis Theroux’s documentaries or films, that is until last night! Scientology is not something I wanted to try and get my brain around at the moment because it’s already bursting with crazy information after this inspiration phase so instead I decided to watch his Documentary on The Most Hated Family in America – The Phelps. The Phelps were in charge of running the Westboro Baptist Church in church who had strong beliefs that “God hates America” and “God hates fags” etc.
Throughout this doc Louis immerses himself within the Phelps family to try and understand their way of life and see why they have such strong beliefs against fornication, homosexuality and their own country, America. What struck me as I watched this very controversial doc was that Louis was not afraid to ask any question. He asked questions that everyone wanted to know but wouldn’t dare ask unless they wanted to get a lecture but this didn’t deter Louis. When a member of the church began to shy away from the questions he was asking, he continued with the questions. What was also quiet prevalent was his calmness through silence. Many people didn’t know how to respond to his questions or were afraid to tell their truthful answers and so their would be an awkward silence but Louis didn’t mind silence, in fact, it almost seemed like he enjoyed the silence because he knew he was pushing them to a point of release where they would tell the truth rather than standing silence with Louis staring at them.
Now I am not suggesting throughout my interviews for my project that I leave silences to pressure the interviewee to break and tell me how they really feel – That would be very, very bad! But what I did take from this is not to be afraid to ask questions you really want to know, if they don’t want to answer that is fine but if there is something I think will really add to the story, then why not ask?
The final thing I took from this, apart from the fact that the Westboro Baptist Church are absolutely crazy and brainwashed, is that don’t get awkward when there is a silence. I know from experience I often jump in too quick with the next question when interviewing which doesn’t leave the interviewee much time to think to themselves or add additional information that they may want to share.
Aaron is another person that has agreed to be part of my project and tell his story behind his tattoo. Aaron and his sister were both diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) at a young age. Unfortunately Aaron’s sister lost her battle and so he got a tattoo in remembrance to her. This is a topic that I know I will have to be very careful and patient when talking to him because it is such a heartbreaking part to his life and definitely something that means so much to him.
I thought it was important for me to know more about Cystic Fibrosis as I want to be able to talk to Aaron about his illness and have questions about it to ask him during the interview. I decided to visit Cystic Fibrosis Ireland website and find out more. It was devastating to see how many people in Ireland alone are effected by CF and how 50 new cases are discovered each year. I found out that it is an inherited disease that effects primarily the lungs and the digestive system and that many people don’t live past their teens but there are also many that live life to the fullest right up into their 50’s.
As I was going through more research I found out One Republic – I lived was inspired by a teen that suffers with Cystic Fibrosis and this video was a way of telling his story and raising awareness and funding for CF.
Seen as my project is based around tattoos and the stories behind them I thought it was fitting for me to go back to the start and get a quick history lesson on where tattoos came from!
I came across this video from TED-Ed called The History of Tattoos and it goes through tattoo history from the very start which was over 8,000 years ago. It was interesting to see that different cultures had different forms of tattoos and it also gave us an insight as to possible health treatments they may have used such as tattooing used for acupuncture treatment. There is also evidence of women getting tattoos to symbolise their sexuality and fertility.
There is no one country of origin for tattoos but we call them “tattoos” because it developed from the word Tatau, a Polynesian word used in Tahiti which is where English Captain, James Cooke, encountered many people covered in tattoos. His crew then arrived back home with tattoos of their own it sparked a craze within the English victorian high society but many people frowned upon tattoos, similar to now and so, a lot of them had hidden tattoos.
From my point of view and linking back to my project with people having tattoos that tell a story also date back to history when a sailor would get an anchor tattoo symbolising crossing the atlantic or a tattoo of a turtle if you had been south of the equator.
Tattoos weren’t always done by choice, the prisoners of Auschwitz concentration came were tattoo with their prisoner number on them. There are many people that have a family member that were victim to this and they have their family members prisoner number tattooed on them as a mark of respect and acknowledgment of the struggles they went through.
I found it quiet interesting to watch this video as I think it has helped me on my way to becoming an “expert” this part of my project.
As it is nearing closer and closer to Christmas I think it’s only right I acknowledge the amazing Christmas ads that have been rolled out this year. Some may say this has absolutely nothing to do with my project….they would be right, there is nothing about tattoos in any Christmas ad I have ever seen BUT they do somehow manage to melt peoples heart and bring on a flood of tears in which I am in awe of and definitely inspired by.
Lidl Ireland Christmas 2016
Everyone waits patiently for John Lewis to release their ad while holding a box of tissues but this year, Lidl Ireland bet John Lewis hands down. This is the perfect example of what I learnt from Michael Moore the other day, show people rather than tell them. At no point does anyone mention the passing of this mans wife, the mother of the people in the video and the grandmother of the children running around, they simply set-up a shot of a family eating around the table on Christmas Day with a vacant chair. As soon as we see this chair we know someone is missing without being told verbally. Then they have a fantastic way of lightening the mood by having this mans granddaughter jump up into the seat showing how even though some family members pass, the family continues to grow.
The one thing I would like to take from this is the ability to get people’s attention through a storyline and then hold their attention and hopefully they become emotionally invested in what they’re watching and empathise with the person they see. If I can capture a glimpse of emotion like this ad, I will be very happy 🙂