eruthros: Carrie Fisher flipping the bird and looking surprised (Carrie Fisher - flipping someone off ast)
[personal profile] eruthros
I made two vids this year for festivids, one of which made me cry a lot. (And made a lot of other people cry a lot – I'm so glad y'all liked it!) It was hard fucking work. This is the story of that vid.

I matched on "RPF - Carrie and Gary Fisher," which was one of my stretch offers - my "maybe I'll get matched on this, and if I do it'll be a lot of fun and a lot of work" offer. [personal profile] cupidsbow asked for something that was more about Carrie Fisher's life overall, with Gary as part of it, so I couldn't know what vid I was going to make until I knew what footage I could get from earlier in her life. So I came up with a short list of songs to consider and I started watching con footage and Wishful Drinking and interviews and etc to see what I would actually be able to do. It was just an average stretch-offer festividding experience.

Then Carrie Fisher died.

I cried a lot. At everything: twitter, reaction videos, news stories, fanart.

I avoided thinking about vidding for a week. In part because the overall theme of my short list was "fuck you, I survived" and suddenly ... well, okay, I was not going to vid "I am going to make it through this year if it kills me."

And then HBO announced that they were going to premiere "Bright Lights," the Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher documentary, early, on January 7th. I realized that if I had footage from "Bright Lights," I might be able to reconsider a song I'd had on the long list, a song that I thought I wouldn't have footage for: "A Better Son/Daughter," a Rilo Kiley song about mental illness. (But I had already cried imagining that vid back in November, when Carrie Fisher was still alive and tweeting, so I knew it would be hard.) And it had a lot of music after the last bit of lyrics, a lot of space that I could use to do fan reactions. Which meant I had to go screencap/download/etc fan reactions in addition to finding new footage. I lived in the tags and in the youtube searches for a while.

"Bright Lights" finally aired. I got it and clipped it the evening of January 8th and I was like "maybe I can make this vid." I listened to the song all day at work on the 9th and then came home and was like "[personal profile] thingswithwings I want to vid this song but it has several problems but I love it it will be beautiful it makes me cry what do you think can I do it." Problems: it changes pronouns and is maybe about two different people (I just ignored this), the hardest lyrical section is right at the beginning ("your mother" etc – she suggested George Lucas for this and it was a huge help), the second section of the song is aspirational which will be tough to vid without implying that she "got better" (it was tough to vid), it has a lot of sad / slow sections which was the footage I had least of (and it was tough).

So that was the 9th. Vids were due January 15th.

I listened to the song like 400 times in a row at work, until I stopped crying just listening to the song, because I only had so much time to vid and I couldn't spend it all crying.

I screencapped a million twitter posts and hashtags and fanart at work at lunch, too, and it wrecked me. Like ... the tumblr tags were full of people who were getting tattoos for Carrie, who were going to try therapy again for Carrie, who were remembering to take their meds for Carrie, saying fuck you to people who didn't respect them for Carrie, planning glittery justice for Carrie, fighting fascists for Carrie. The twitter #inhonorofcarrie hashtag was full of people who were talking about their mental illness publicly for the first time, people who had seen themselves in Carrie or who felt like Carrie had led the way for them. I teared up a lot. Carrie Fisher was that for me, too: someone who said "yup, these are my symptoms, this is how I am, bite me."

(I also got really angry and couldn't tweet about it, because those hashtags also contained the mental illness deniers and the psych meds are fake people and the fat shamers and some illuminati nonsense and some Alex Jones conspiracy theories and etc and I wanted to table flip a lot.)

I vidded and vidded and vidded and then screencapped things and then thought about vidding and then cropped tweets and did annoying work in photoshop and then struggled with lyrics and then worried about the vid. I had four major problems:

1) As a person with mental illness I find Carrie Fisher inspirational - but I didn't want to make inspiration porn. This was a super difficult line to walk, between "role model of someone who lived with mental illness and was awesome" and "~so inspirational about overcoming mental illness.~" I wanted to say "she was amazing, and she did great things, and she lived her life, and this is in honor of her" – but I wanted it to be about her as a person, not about an imaginary inspiration porn person.

2) I really really didn't want to put words in Carrie Fisher's mouth that she might not have agreed with. Like, I had a lot of footage of her with Debbie Reynolds, but I didn't want to use it for the lines about "your mother's still calling you, insane and high," because I don't think she felt that way about her mother. Or there's the line "I'll be better and I'll be smarter and more grown up" and I didn't want to imply that that would mean more educated or more serious. I did a lot of dithering about lyrics.

3) Carrie Fisher is complicatedly a role model for some people with disabilities. I find her work helpful and I feel like her not-giving-a-shit backs me up when I don't want to give a shit. And she said her fuck-yous even though assholery and slurs and that sort of bullshit did affect her; she wasn't magically asshole-proof. She felt like someone I could emulate: I don't have to be able to shrug it off, I don't have to be perfectly untouched by it, but I can still be fucking angry about it. And for me, she's also a model of not having to get it right: you can fuck it up, you can fuck it up repeatedly, you don't have to "get better" and "stay better" and never make a mistake. This is my symptom, and this is how I live right now, this is how I deal with it, and fuck you.

But some people feel like she was presented to them as a model of functional capitalist-appropriate mental illness, especially after her death. And sometimes her encouraging quotes played into that: like, that quote that goes around all the time, "if you're living with this illness and functioning at all, that's something to be proud of," leaves out people who feel that they aren't functioning. Also, there's medical and social model stuff, and people who did find her a role model but who don't think of disability the same way I do. Disability is complicated.

So this was a tough line to walk also, because some of people's #inhonorofcarrie tweets were uncomfortable for me personally, but were still in honor of Carrie, and it was hard to find a balance there between my comfort and my narrative (because my vid) and other people's narratives. This basically doesn't matter because you can't read the tweets unless you pause the video, because they are just there to give an impression of a conversation, but I dithered about it anyway.

4) I didn't want the vid to be a downer – I wanted it to be hopeful, triumphant. Here's what Carrie did, and she was awesome. And here are we all, our communities, and here's what we can do. "Thank you," and "we'll miss you," but also: "Carrie Fisher sent me." Hitting the right emotional notes = hard.

I was still hanging out in the tags and checking youtube for new source all the time even while I was vidding, because new stuff was showing up on youtube constantly - like, this amazing video of Carrie at home with Gary and Dwight wasn't posted until January 12th, and Just for Laughs didn't post their special until the 21st, and etc. It was the most unplanned I have ever vidded, like, I've gone back for reclips in the middle of vidding before but I've basically never done this totally-new-footage-means-rearrange-that-verse-completely thing, or just yanked new source straight into the project.

I clipped EVERYTHING and put it into the vid. Even long past when I should have stopped looking for footage. ([personal profile] thingswithwings kept saying "is there a point at which I should tell you to stop clipping?" Um, in retrospect, maaaaybe.) I have a folder of new clips, new new clips, new new new clips, and finally a folder of "honestly eruthros stop it" for all the reallllly last minute things.

I uploaded a draft of the vid on the festivids deadline and then I kept messing with it - trying to fix that fucking early section from "your mother" to "gods have not blessed her inside," trying to fix the last section and give text enough time, slotting in new footage as it became available, stacking up a million tweets to make that impression of a vast response, and editing the rest of the fan response section, which I was still doing at very nearly literally the last minute. The vid was going to end with the call to action tweets, and then the women's march happened, and so I was vidding the signage and everything on the Friday before festivids opened.

This also meant I used up the space I intended to use for credits – it was going to have a section of scrolling through the tumblr tag and through youtube tributes and then screencaptured me typing into a dreamwidth post form and uploading the vid to youtube for the credits – like, this vid is part of this community response – but I didn't have space, sigh, and the protest signs needed to go there.

I "finished" the vid at like 6pm the day before festivids opened. (I say "finished" because it is possssssible that I put in a couple more shots before uploading the signed version. *facepalm*)

Then I made the other vid, about Gary, from scratch in like 8 hours that evening before festivids out of all of the puppy footage that I hadn't been able to fit in this vid. Because: puppy. And because there were so many shots that didn't fit in this vid and I wanted to share them with everyone. And because Carrie and Gary loved each other.

By the end of last week before festivids opened, I'd stopped crying at the vid. I ended up more detached, because I'd spent so much time looking at it, and I started to see things that were off the beat instead of seeing the vid. It sucked, because it was hard to assess it as a finished vid - I started to feel doubtful about it a lot. I was really lucky to have [personal profile] thingswithwings to beta, because she gave me a million great suggestions and she watched it over and over and over again and told me what worked and what didn't. She also cried very helpfully to indicate when I'd gotten it right. Thanks, buddy, couldn't have done it without you.

I think it'll probably hit me emotionally again once I've given it a little space. I hope so. Making it was hard, and emotional, and cathartic, and I'm glad I did it, and I'm glad I got to give it to y'all. And I'm so glad that folks liked it, that some people also found it cathartic and triumphant.

Thanks, Carrie. Thanks for making space for us. #inhonorofcarrie

Date: 2017-02-13 07:20 pm (UTC)
laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)
From: [personal profile] laurashapiro
Thank you so much for sharing your process. After we talked about the vid a little when you were here, I was just totally in awe of you for even attempting something so huge. And you really made something that worked -- P. and I were both verklempt, but I can also see your thoughtfulness in this, not just your big heart. The complexity of Carrie's position (both self- and super-imposed) with respect to disability is IN THE VID, which is a miraculous thing, really.

I'm sorry it was so hard and so painful. I hope it helps to know that the result is empowering for so many of us.

Also, it wasn't until Rydra linked to this post that I realized I wasn't subscribed to you! ::facepalm:: I got so used to seeing you all the time on Twitter, I thought I was following your journal all this time. Corrected that immediately.

Date: 2017-02-15 01:38 am (UTC)
laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)
From: [personal profile] laurashapiro
Mmm, vid massage. (: That sounds like a really valuable experience.

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eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)
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