In the past few weeks, I seem to have stumbled onto a much welcome surge of creativity after months of being stuck in a creative rut. From writing short stories, to finally finalizing my poetry book (coming soon 😉), to painting and drawing - I’ve been doing it all.
The latest manifestation of my Dionysion escapade was my poetry film, SEX! POLITICS! RELIGION!, which the process of making felt so creatively fulfilling, that I wanted to jump on the blog and share it with you all, and hopefully inspire you to make your own.
What is a Poetry Film?
To put it simply, a poetry film is a piece of visual media that accompanies a poem that is played over the film. You can think of it as a music video, but for a poem. Poetry films can vary a great deal, ranging in length, narrative style, and aesthetic, and in general, offer a lot of room to take creative liberties.
Why I Challenge You to Make a Poetry Film
If you are reading this post, I’m assuming you are a poet and have dozens, if not hundreds, poems that you have written over the years. So if that’s the case, why not turn one into a film? After all, half the work has already been done.
Something that I think is so cool about making a Poetry film is that you can take the feeling you were trying to express within your poem, and create a visual for it. This can add a whole layer of meaning to your work, and entice a whole new audience that you didn’t have before.
Since I am not a filmmaker and have never made a film before, the idea of creating one felt intimidating to me. Yet the great thing about making a poetry film is that it is very accessible even for beginners. Let me tell you why:
They are generally short in length: While in theory, a poetry film can be the length of a typical film, in most cases, they are the same length as a poem, meaning that most poetry films are only a few minutes long. Because they are so short, poetry films are a great way to dip your toes into creating visual media without committing to a long and complicated project.
They do not need to include a narrative: One of the hardest parts about creating a traditional film is creating the narrative itself. Poetry films, on the other hand, can be made with or without the narrative, as the poem serves as the main “story” in the film. The visuals simply represent what the poem is about, and provide a beautiful aesthetic experience for the viewer.
They do not require acting: Though you do not have to feature people in your film, if you do, it usually requires minimal acting, which means you can cast yourself or your friends, with no need of hiring professional actors.
They do not require fancy equipment: Making a poetry film does not require a fancy camera or fancy equipment, and I can guarantee that all of you already have all the tools you need at your disposal.
How to Make a Poetry Film
Okay, so let’s say I convinced you to make a poetry film. Now what? Here is a guide I’ve created of my process that I went about making my film, which I think may be useful to you too.
Choose or write a poem: Of course, this is obvious, but I had to include it in order to provide you with a complete guide. A useful piece of advice though - read through all of your written work before deciding which poem you are going to use, and see if any of them bring a visual to mind more easily than others. Though any poem can be used, some poems might just be more conducive to making a film than others.
Create a mood board: After you choose the poem you would like to work with, create a mood board (on your computer or just in your head) of the aesthetic and general tone of your poem/film. Include things such as colors, emotions, items, and scenery that you want your film to feature.
Get inspiration: Just like with any art form, it is important to not only produce it but consume it. So do a quick YouTube search and watch some other poetry films to inspire you to create your own.
Write a ‘visual script’ of your film: Once you have all your raw materials ready, it is time to sit down and start putting them together. Take out a notebook or open a document on your computer, and get to work. The first step is to decide whether you want your film to have a strong narrative or not. If so, you need to come up with a storyline for your film and write down what is going to happen in each scene. If your film is not going to have any particular narrative, make a list of interesting visuals that you would like to be shown during different parts of your poem.
Record your poem: This can easily be done on your phone. I used the voice memos app on my iPhone 11 plus a cheap lapel mic I bought off of Amazon.
Get filming! This will be explained in later sections of this blog.
What You Will Need
As I mentioned earlier, I’m sure you already have the bare necessities to make a poetry film. I made a list below of some things you may need or just want.
A camera/phone: Phone cameras are extremely high quality these days so your phone is more than enough to make your film.
Editing software: Though there is more advanced software you can use to get different effects, you really do not need anything fancier than the software that comes with your operating system. I used iMovie to edit my video and GarageBand to edit my recorded poem.
Camera app: If you want to get interesting effects on your video, you can browse the app store for camera apps. I used an app called 8mm to record my film.
Tips for Coming up With Ideas
If you are feeling stuck coming up with an idea for your poetry film, I made a list for you that can help you get some ideas rolling. Start off with choosing:
One outfit (if people are featured)
These things can serve as a general outline for your film and create a cohesive tone. Play around with your camera and try recording some footage using these things. As you’re doing this and watching the footage back, you may suddenly find new ideas or realize you have actually captured something interesting.
Share Your Work
Once you make your film, don't be afraid to share it with the world. If you decide to make your own poetry film, we welcome you to share it in the Cove’s forum and tag us on Instagram so we can see your work! I’m looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with, and until next time, my friends.
My Poetry Film