I was really happy about discovering the topic of my video project and I started planning the filming immediately. I shared my idea with my workmates and I was really pleased to see their excited reactions. However, I was worried about getting the permission to film in the restaurant. I set up a meeting with my manager, John, so we could both talk about the whole process.
As I expected, receiving permission to film in the restaurant, which is a public space, as well as, family ran business that relies on the restaurant’s reputation and customers’ satisfaction, is not easy. However, thanks to John’s good will, he made arrangements for the filming and offered to help me. I believe that being a Café des Amis employee for more than a year and half allowed me to have a very open conversation about my project. I was interested in representing the life at Café des Amis from my perspective – that means as a place to which I chose to belong and where I was always welcome. This perception felt even more accurate after the meeting with John.
Even though, the project was permitted, there were some rules we set up to make sure the filming runs smoothly and affects the restaurant minimally:
- As a researcher and filmmaker, I have to follow ethical guidelines regarding to filming in public spaces. It is in everyone’s best interest to notify the people about the filming and offer them to choose whether they wish to be a part of the project. This includes me being available to answer any possible questions about the filming and the project itself.
- The customers should not feel uncomfortable in the restaurant, this would influence their experience of the place and that could negatively impact the business.
- I have to be cautious while filming as the restaurant is usually busy and crowded. Therefore, I need to make sure I am not in the waiters’ way and I don’t disturb the flow of the restaurant.
- I need to follow the health and safety regulations while filming in the kitchen or behind the bar.
- I need to follow the customers’ wishes about being filmed, as well as, John’s requests in case the situation would get too overwhelming.
The meeting with John and articulating these points together helped me to feel less stressed about the filming. I knew that my workmates supported me and that they were available to help me to get good footage. It made me realise that filming a documentary about people is not only grabbing a camera and press record. I found out it is about these little conversations, ideas, honesty, support, rules and trust.