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In June, 2021, we traveled to York, PA with OpenGov to work in recreating the story of a break-in that happened at City Hall in late 2020. Together, with actor Anthony Papandrea and crew, we worked to create a list of scenes to help tell the story. Here are a few notes and lessons from that shoot (watch recreations video).

For me, recreations require thought, preparation and a little luck in order to keep yourself from hitting the 'cheesy' button. I feel like most of the work is in the edit and when I edit I like to go with fast-quick cuts that symbolize what happened. I stay away from faces and work to focus on some iconic items that tell the story. Doing so helps the mind of the viewer to start thinking and leaves some part of the story to their imaginations.

In this particular story the 'main character' (or perpetrator) used a fire extinguisher to break in to City Hall. Knowing this I put the focus of my camera's eye on the fire extinguisher first and then went to profile shots of the perp. I selected only a few iconic locations to set the scene (i.e. City Hall sign, the entrance, and the server room). This helped simplify things and narrow down the variety, which is another rule of recreations, keep it simple.

Working with DP Connor Wilke, we knew we only needed seconds here and there from each scene. So we first went with violent handheld motions for the break-in, literally holding on the subject for a second and then panning my camera up and down violently for cut aways. Then switched to longer shots for the climatic scene of destroying the server. What we ended up with felt realistic enough to get the mind imagining the scene, but not so much to overpower the imagination.

Then we took what we had back to edit. From there we mixed the recreations with the real-life photos and added in some sound effects and a few graphic overlays for effect. We darkened it, found some theatrical music and built it all over the interviews. What we ended up with was a feeling that the viewer can start to ruminate on and imagine that painful night of destruction (watch). ​

What did you think?


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