Narration is a contentious issue sometimes.
Some filmmakers are anti-narration, the idea being that you leave your subject to answer the questions and lead the audience through. And, in some cases, this is a perfectly reasonable thing to do – particularly in a verité film.
I’m not anti-narration. I think that if narration makes it easier to tell a story then it’s a worthwhile tool to use.
In this case, we will use narration.
I think about the questions that I had to ask many, many times to understand what on earth was going on during the year we were filming. “What’s an ornithopter?”, “Why is it towed up?”, “How does it flap?”, “What are the risks?”, “What does it mean to achieve sustained flight?”…I know that the audience will ask the same questions and we will need to communicate the answers to those questions in such a clear and concise way.
That said, it’s no small feat to be ‘clear and concise’.
Right now we have temp narration, voiced by me. It’s rough and poorly written, on-the-nose and often fumbled. Essentially it’s a place marker that I will refine and refine and refine until, eventually, we have to record it. At which time I will panic a little and refine some more before finally making a commitment to the words that will then forever be part of this story.
For now, it feels a little ugly…but, if past experience has taught me anything, I have to trust it will get better!