160MC: What I was trying to do and how well I did it

With my manifesto video, Non-Binary, Non-Apologetic, I was trying to engage my audience to visually communicate my experience and identity as a non-binary person, and to make the viewer consider their own behavior towards transgender and non-binary people.

I was inspired by the criteria of the project to use split-screen and graphic match edits as a visual motif to represent a non-binary gender as visually fragmented between portrayals of various levels of masculinity and femininity using costume and make-up and to blend these fragments together to represent a whole person. I think I used these techniques very effectively, particularly in the opening of my video where I used layered split-screens fading in and out rather than simply cutting between them, creating a pleasing visual flow that reinforce the message that the fragments represented a single identity.

I tried to reinforce message of the voice-over dialogue by tying the visuals to the subject of the dialogue; the opening montage portrays my explanation of what non-binary is, visually representing a person who is “neither male nor female”. Similarly, when the voiceover asks “Do you wear boy’s clothes or girl’s clothes?”, I purposefully placed a wide-shot of me walking in heels and a dress on the words “girl’s clothes” to represent what people typically see as “girl’s clothes”.

Also during the “Are you having a sex change?”, section I matched my expression to the dialogue to convey emotion; when the question is asked I tilt my head back and shut my eyes, this is me trying to convey exasperation, and then when I say “and it’s really not okay”, I start looking to the side with a sour look on my face, representing my annoyance. I think these techniques were quite effective at visually conveying the message and emotion of the dialogue. I also used soundtrack, which I created myself using a DAW and virtual instrument software, to reinforce the emotion of the video.

In the final section of the video I wanted to emphasize the message that, “being non-binary […] isn’t about your body, or your clothes or the labels that you use”, that being non-binary is just about being yourself. To visually convey this message, I took some inspiration from the short film Break Free by Ruby Rose, in which there is a scene where Rose pours water over herself, washing away her makeup, and I filmed myself washing off my makeup in the shower, using close-ups and extreme close-ups to emphasize detail and emotion. This was to show that my gender identity is not defined by my clothes or make-up, but is a part of my purest, naked self.

I originally planned to use just a black and white filter for this scene, but when experimenting with different effects I found I could use the threshold effect to make a visually compelling, music video-like image, while still portraying the original emotion of the scene. I thought this would draw in the audience more than just a simple black and white filter, but I still wanted that raw element. So, for the final shot I used a close-up, no makeup, just a black and white filter, staring into the camera, unafraid and unashamed, as the voiceover states that “[being non-binary is about] living truthfully for yourself”, which I think added a lot of impact coming immediately after the heavily stylized shower scene.

I think my video was a success and has the effect I wanted as I have received a lot of positive feedback from peers who were impressed with my editing and some who said it made them think about the issue in ways they hadn’t before.

Andrew Sheller is a Media Production student at Coventry University. You can see more content from Andrew at their Facebook page through this link.

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