There’s a spaciousness present when collaborating one on one with someone that I’m appreciating about the structure of my thesis project. When there is one performer/artist, and one facilitator/director, the conversation can go many places – it can diverge and meander, oscillating between between the personal, the cultural, the political, the philosophical, as well as the creative.
As Jamar and I were collaborating, the brainstorming meetings always included making space for each of us to be seen as we were each day. Already close from past years of working and collaborating together, as well as being friends, encouraged/fostered a tone in our report of vulnerability – not just as it related to the subject matter of the work we were creating, but also about our personal lives and the socio-political time we were navigating. While the work stayed rooted thematically in our original conceptual idea(s), this report of friendship alongside collaboration and the layered conversations that arose within the process influenced the work greatly. Our willingness to sit in vulnerability together surely affected Jamar’s comfort in front of the camera, and the amount of time we spent intentionally listening to each other created a working relationship in which we were both unafraid to offer ideas as they arose, and willing to say yes to the serendipitous moments that presented themselves within the environment.
Navarro River Redwoods
One particular moment of serendipity was at the end of one of our early morning film days – we had been up and working since 5am and had finally wrapped up for our break/downtime around noon. As we were walking back to the car, we noticed a stream of light shinning through the trees onto a clearing carpeted in clovers. It was a magic moment – like the hands of the universe were reaching down to gently caress the clearing. We were both tired and I was thinking in my head about whether it would be okay to ask Jamar to keep filming a bit longer, eating into his rest time. But before I could even decide whether I was going to ask him, he dropped his bag on the path by my feet without a word, walked into the stream of light, and began dancing. Jamar is a poet, not a dancer, and dancing on camera was something that had made him particularly nervous about this project in general; so to see him respond to the magic of the moment by closing his eyes and dancing in the sunlight was…moving. It brought tears to my eyes. Whether that footage makes its way into the film or not, the clips we recorded in that sunlit clearing are my favorite of all of our footage, because they represent the vulnerability and intentional presence we shared with each other in this collaboration.