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Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese Dance Cover: 2021 year in review

There are many layers to this video. On the first layer, it’s a recitation of Mary Oliver’s beloved poem, Wild Geese, which is one of my favorite poems ever. It’s inspired by some videos I saw recently which were an audiovisual representation of some Charles Bukowski’s poems. But instead of taking footage from existing movies or stock footage, I shot my own footage. 

It’s also a dance video, because it’s me. And in some sideways way, it’s a little bit of a year in review video. 

2021 year in review

2021 was tough. It wasn’t devastating like 2020, it was just long and intense and full of anxiety and frustration. It was upside down and backwards, full of upheaval and confusion. In the end, it was just a lot of waiting somehow, time moving past. 

This video isn’t a literal review. But somehow, I think the emotions are the same, and when I watch this video, I understand it. I guess 2021 was a year full of anxiety around belonging, which is exactly what Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese is all about. It talks about the vastness of the universe, and somehow manages to convey a sense of scale as well as intimacy. 

The Making Of

As always, I shot this video on my Osmo Pocket. I decided not to try and edit it myself, and sent it to my editor in Pakistan. He’s done a few of my videos – one of my favorites in Sleepless Beauty. He gets what I’m trying to do most of the time, and I don’t have to deal with the anguish of editing. 

I came up with the idea one night when I was not sleeping, a thing that was fairly common during an imposed vacation in Switzerland (long story). It was meant to be simple and quiet: a montage of life unfurling, the contrast of light and dark, smiles and frowns. I shot the process of making coffee and the empty cup, and several shots of just waiting and watching. 

I had been listening to Ludovico Enauldi’s Experience. Usually I don’t like to use copyrighted songs for my short films and instead use something from the youtube audio library. But this time I knew that I needed to use Experience. I needed that intensity. 

Because I was away from my stuff, I borrowed a dress from the friend I was staying with. I took a few different shots, taking advantage of the two big mirrors she had propped up in the living room to do some reflection shots. 

The music doesn’t have a lot of room for storytelling as it carries through pretty much one emotion, but I didn’t need it to do anything else. I kept the movement pretty simple, sticking with a lot of wing type arm movements. 

And that was pretty much it – I also took a time lapse of the sky as it changed into evening. Then I bundled all of this random footage together and sent it to the editor. 

Something for the solstice

I like to mark the winter solstice. It seems significant to mark the moment when the days stop getting shorter and the light starts to return. Certainly, it’s always a welcome moment. As much as I like winter, the long dark nights get old. 

It seems like the right time to release this video, which in the end is a bit about light and dark, even a lot about it. 

I guess most people will see something different in this video. I see it as something a little raw, a little imperfect, something that reaches for something and doesn’t find it, but finds peace in that anyway. 

A little bit like Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese poem.