Steely Man: The Roy Dally Story | Body Piercing Documentary
by Ian Rendall
(South West UK)
Steely Man: The Roy Dally Story
When my wife first suggested Roy as a subject for my documentary, my project was set in stone. Having known Roy for many years, it was an obvious choice and one that I am baffled not to have come up with myself.
Although at that early stage I had no real plan or ideas as to the shape or structure of my project, I knew that Roy would be able to deliver a great performance on screen.
I did have problems pitching my idea in terms of an angle or a 'why', but I had quiet confidence that Roy would have the ability to tell his own story his way.
Going into filming on the 28th Feb 2013, I still had no solid thoughts what content or structure I wanted or needed. I DID know that I wanted some piercing procedures on film, a formal sit-down interview segment, and some B-roll wallpaper.
As it turned out, I never ended up getting a solid 'plan' at all. I just went in and filmed.
It was only when I started editing a couple of weeks later that any coherent vision began to formulate.
I figured that the best place to start editing was at the chronological beginning of the film. I needed to come up with an intro sequence that would set the tone. My inspiration for this was one of my all-time favourite movie scenes. The part in Kill Bill Vol. 1 where O-Ren Ishii enters The House of Blue Leaves.
The piece of music "Battle Without Honor or Humanity" by Tomoyasu Hotei would have been my ideal first choice of music, but I knew that getting permission, even word of mouth permission, would have been tricky. I settled on a piece called "JTQ Theme" by The James Taylor Quarted.
I emailed James Taylor himself for his personal permission to use the music. He emailed back within 30 seconds to say yes, although I would need to seek official permission from the record label.
I did actually attempt to gain official permission, however, the label website contact page was broken so that put a stop to that.
I resigned to putting myself at the mercy of the YouTube copyright police, and hoping it would go unnoticed..
I knew in the back of my mind that I would probably need to change the music for something copyright free, which I ended up doing.
There were no real problems with filming that would have ground the project to a halt. The only obstacle I came across was Roy himself, occasionally not being in the mood for filming for various reasons. I didn't waste this filming time. I used it to gain outside shots of his work premises, some insert shots and some general B-roll footage.
Would I have done things differently given the chance to film again? Would I have tried to push Roy into filming? Other documentary makers may have chosen to try and persuade Roy to film. Given my 'inside knowledge' of Roy, I knew well enough that pushing him would result in him pushing back harder, possibly even quitting the whole project in protest. That was a risk I was not prepared to take.
I set myself the challenge of actively not misrepresenting Roy. This created a reciprocal process between my research, the challenge I had set myself and the editing.
Given the somewhat vivid nature of the work that Roy undertakes, I decided that I would let the imagery represent the erotics and Roy's talking represent the ethics. This way, the audience gets the best of both worlds.
The sit-down interview segments may have ended up being a tad lengthy, but this was important to represent Roy accurately. I broke up the visuals by inserting scenes of procedures, trying to keep these relevant to Roy's dialogue.
Overall, I am very pleased with how my project turned out. Initially, I had aimed for a 45-60 minute programme. This goal had turned out to be somewhat aloof, although not completely unnatainable given the footage I had shot. Had I stuck rigidly to these running times, I think the project would have ended up being overly drawn out, and it would have felt like I was making it that length just for the sake of it. I thought it best to let the edit take its own course., and to let the film be as long as it needed to be. As it turned out, my final film clocked in at 29m20s. This wasn't a deliberate attempt at going for 30 minutes. It just so happened that I coincidentally lucked out at this mark once I had finished editing.
I have to say I very much enjoyed every element of this project. Roy was an absolute joy to film. Every piece to camera (or slightly off camera) that was filmed was done in one take, with Roy knowing exactly how to play to the camera to remain engaging and eminently watchable.
I just wanted to say that I think your website is amazing. I am a beginner with an idea, and the info and articles on your website are easy to understand and answer many questions I have. I can't wait to start filming!
--Sarah (Sydney, Australia)
I am a professional filmmaker, and I applaud this site for detailing the ABC's of documentary filmmaking. It serves as my own checklist as I continue making my own films... Thanks!