This project was born out of pure curiosity and devotion to answering a question:
How have the expectations of life after college compared to the reality?
Giorgio on the Couch the band couch (May 2023)
As "Graduation Day" enters the post-production phase, I am dedicated to refining the film into a polished and impactful final product. I understand the critical role of post-production in shaping the narrative, refining storytelling techniques, and enhancing the emotional impact of the documentary.
During this stage, I carefully select the most powerful interview segments, combining them with visually captivating footage to create a seamless and engaging viewing experience.
Through this documentary, I set out to shed light on the universal themes of self-discovery, resilience, and the pursuit of purpose. As I continue the post-production process, I am committed to delivering a captivating and thought-provoking film that resonates with audiences worldwide.
Stay tuned for updates on the post-production progress as I work tirelessly to finalize the visual and auditory elements of "Graduation Day."
Capturing the Essence of Post-College Life
In this case study, I, Giorgio Citarella, a passionate documentary filmmaker, will take you on a journey behind the scenes of the creation of my short documentary, "Graduation Day." This poignant and thought-provoking film explores the struggles, triumphs, and universal search for purpose that I as a young graduates faced in the post-college world.
Giorgio Citarella II scouting locations to film in NYC (April 2023)
"Graduation Day" is a cinematic exploration that follows a recent college graduate as he embarks on a quest to reconnect with his classmates and discover where life has taken them. Through their stories and experiences, the documentary unveils the challenges and victories encountered on the journey of adulthood.
As an independent filmmaker, I faced the task of financing "Graduation Day" on my own. The pre-production phase was crucial in shaping the documentary's vision and ensuring the necessary resources were in place. I dedicated myself to conceptualizing the film's direction, securing funding through odd jobs, and assembling a concrete plan of production execution that would unfold over the course of 4 months.
Setting up my camera at the Keystone Bridge in Washington, D.C. (March 2023)
To capture a diverse range of perspectives, I carefully selected filming locations in Washington, D.C., Boston, MA, New York, NY, and Setauket, NY. These cities provided a backdrop rich in stories and experiences that added depth to the narrative of "Graduation Day."
Location scouting at Walden Pond, Massachusetts (May 2023)
Independent documentary filmmaking requires a tremendous amount of devotion and hard work. It's not just about crafting a compelling story, but it's also about managing the logistics of the production. As an independent filmmaker, I had to be willing to wear many hats, from director to producer to camera operator.
Equipment & Software
Throughout the production and post-production of "Graduation Day," careful consideration was given to selecting the right equipment and editing software to bring the vision of the documentary to life. The following cameras and editing software played a vital role in the creation of the film:
My Blackmagic camera at the border of Massachusetts (May 2023)
For capturing the visual essence of "Graduation Day," the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro (Bmpcc 6k Pro) was chosen as the primary camera. This camera's exceptional image quality, dynamic range, and versatility allowed us to capture the intricate details and emotional nuances of the subjects' post-college journeys. The Bmpcc 6k Pro's compact size and lightweight design also provided the flexibility needed to document intimate moments and navigate various filming locations seamlessly.
To achieve a distinct cinematic look and enhance the visual storytelling, the Helios 44-m lens with a Cine mod was utilized. This vintage lens, known for its unique character and swirly bokeh, added a touch of artistry and nostalgia to the footage, complementing the themes explored in "Graduation Day." The Helios 44-m lens brought a visually compelling element to the documentary, enhancing the overall aesthetic and creating a captivating viewing experience.
Post-production is a crucial phase in shaping the narrative and visual presentation of any film. For "Graduation Day," the editing process was carried out using two industry-leading software packages: DaVinci Resolve Studio and Adobe Premiere Pro.
DaVinci Resolve Studio, renowned for its powerful color grading capabilities, played a pivotal role in enhancing the black and white aesthetic of the documentary. This software allowed us to meticulously fine-tune the visual tone, contrast, and mood of each scene, ensuring consistency and emotional impact throughout the film. The advanced editing features of DaVinci Resolve Studio streamlined the workflow and facilitated seamless integration with other post-production elements.
Additionally, Adobe Premiere Pro served as a valuable tool for the overall editing process. Its user-friendly interface and comprehensive editing suite provided me with the flexibility and creative control necessary to assemble the footage, refine the narrative structure, and synchronize audio seamlessly. Premiere Pro's robust capabilities in handling complex timelines and its integration with other Adobe Creative Cloud applications proved instrumental in delivering a polished and cohesive final product.
Location scouting at Harvard University, Massachusetts (May 2023)
By utilizing the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro, the Helios 44-m lens with a Cine mod, DaVinci Resolve Studio, and Adobe Premiere Pro, I was able to leverage the best tools available in the industry to create a visually captivating and emotionally resonant documentary.
The careful selection of equipment and editing software played a significant role in shaping the overall aesthetic and enhancing the storytelling experience in "Graduation Day." These tools enabled me to capture and present my journey with the utmost precision and artistic integrity, ensuring that the film engages and resonates with audiences on a profound level.
Once pre-production was complete for a subject, I would embark on an incredible journey to bring "Graduation Day" to life. I conducted 4 interviews on camera (and several informal interviews off), captured footage, and documented the raw emotions and genuine moments that unfolded before me across the east coast. My role as the director was to guide my interview subjects, ensuring each scene resonated with the essence of post-college life.
The heart of the documentary lies in the personal stories of my carefully selected former classmates. They generously shared their experiences faced after graduation. I approached each interview with sensitivity, fostering an environment of trust and respect that encouraged open and honest discussions.
Veronica (February 2023)
Throughout the filming process, consistency, and clear planning were paramount. I worked closely with my interview subjects, ensuring everyone was aligned with the vision for "Graduation Day." From scouting locations to coordinating schedules, every detail was meticulously planned to create a compelling visual narrative.
Exploring the Grey Areas
In the process of creating "Graduation Day," I drew inspiration from various sources that helped shape the film's aesthetic and storytelling approach. Two key influences that significantly impacted my creative decisions were the concept of filming in black and white and the works of renowned video diary filmmakers Chantal Akerman, Jonas Mekas, and David Parlor.
Documentary Filmmaker Michael Jacobsohn (May 2023)
Filming in Black and White:
The decision to film "Graduation Day" in black and hite was intentional and served as a metaphor for the transitional phase of post-college life. This period is often seen as a grey area, where individuals are faced with uncertainty, searching for their path and purpose. By removing the distraction of color, I aimed to highlight the emotional complexities and introspective nature of this phase, capturing the nuances and subtleties of the subjects' experiences.
The black and white aesthetic not only emphasized the internal struggle and exploration portrayed in the documentary but also provided a timeless quality, allowing the audience to connect with the narrative on a deeper level. This visual choice helped create a sense of universality, resonating with viewers who have experienced or are yet to experience the challenges of life after college.
"Down There", Chantal Akerman, 2006
Video Diary Works of Chantal Akerman, Jonas Mekas, and David Parlor:
As a filmmaker, I have always been fascinated by the personal and introspective nature of video diaries. The works of Chantal Akerman, Jonas Mekas, and David Parlor, in particular, left an indelible mark on my creative process while making "Graduation Day."
Chantal Akerman's introspective and deeply personal approach to filmmaking served as a guiding light. Her ability to capture the minutiae of everyday life and delve into the internal struggles of individuals resonated with the themes explored in "Graduation Day." I sought to infuse the documentary with a similar sense of intimacy and vulnerability, allowing the subjects' authentic experiences to take center stage.
"Lost, Lost, Lost", Jonas Mekas, 1976
Jonas Mekas, a pioneer of the diary film genre, inspired me with his commitment to documenting the passing of time and the mundane moments that often go unnoticed. Mekas' works encouraged me to embrace the ordinary aspects of post-college life, understanding that these moments hold profound significance. I incorporated this philosophy into "Graduation Day," capturing seemingly small encounters and conversations that collectively contribute to a deeper understanding of the subjects' journeys.
"Diary", David Perlov, 1983
David Parlor's video diaries brought a sense of immediacy and raw emotion to his storytelling. His honest portrayal of the human experience, combined with his experimental approach, pushed the boundaries of traditional narrative structures. Parlor's work served as a reminder to embrace spontaneity and take risks, allowing the documentary to organically capture the subjects' unfiltered emotions and experiences.
Incorporating the essence of video diaries into "Graduation Day" allowed for a more personal and unfiltered portrayal of post-college life. It created an intimate connection between the audience and the subjects, inviting viewers to reflect on their own journey of self-discovery and navigate the uncharted waters of adulthood.
By merging the black and white aesthetic and drawing inspiration from the video diary works of Chantal Akerman, Jonas Mekas, and David Parlor, "Graduation Day" aims to capture the depth and complexity of the post-college experience. It is my hope that the film resonates with audiences, sparking conversations about the universal themes of self-discovery, purpose, and the beauty found within the grey areas of life.