Oliver Shahery (COM’17) may be studying in Berlin right now, but he shows no signs of stopping his work whilst abroad.
Oliver just came out with his latest piece of work, a cinéma vérité film: Portle. Cinéma vérité is a type of documentary that excludes interviews and voice-overs from the chronicler. The subject is filmed cinematically, and they create the scenes without being staged. Portle features a random subject, Matt Portle, that Oliver filmed for a duration of ten days, with over 40 hours of footage, all condensed into eight minutes.
“I went to a brand new skate park in Boston at 2pm on a Sunday, expecting it to be packed,” says Oliver, “Matt was literally the only one there, so I knew he was going to be the subject of the film.”
Oliver had initially started doing this class assignment on a man who ran a flea market, “but I liked Matt a lot more and I was hyped that I would get to skateboard too.”
13-year-old, Matt Portle would frequent the skate park almost every day with his mom. “When I first started shooting I would film windows, the ceiling, the floor, because I didn’t want to ask his parents for permission,” jokes Oliver, “I finally had to ask his parents if it was cool when Matt started riding toward the camera. It was clear he wanted his tricks to be recorded.”
Not after long, they realized they had a lot in common, “He reminded me of when I was a kid,” shares Oliver, “he played the same video games I did, he skateboarded, and he was a reckless adrenaline junkie like I was, and still am.”
“He would even crack jokes about girls,” laughs Oliver, “we had a lot of little funny moments where we could understand each other without even talking.”
“Soon his mom let us go out and skate alone because she trusted me. I didn’t want to be a bad role model so I tried to behave.”
“There were a lot of times I would cringe when I was supervising him because the tricks he was doing were really dangerous, and I was nervous he’d get hurt. I couldn’t stop him from doing his own thing…I’m probably not the best guardian.”
With over seven short-films under his belt, “this project was the most fun I ever had shooting a movie,” says Oliver. While he wasn’t intending on being a character in the film, “it felt natural for me to talk to him because we didn’t have a script in front of us. We were really just hanging out the whole time and I was just filming it.”
The film has already been accepted to various film festivals such as The Monthly Film Festival, and the Mass Reality Check Film Festival in Salem, MA, which is one of the largest film festivals in New England. There, Matt will be answering Q & A on Oliver’s behalf. The film has also been sent to various film festivals in Berlin, where the BU junior is currently residing. He plans to also send the film out to get Matt skateboarding sponsorships.
“This was my first documentary of this type, and I definitely want to do more of them. I had fun with this and it felt like a relaxing but challenging break to what I usually do.
“It’s challenging because I can’t control the subject, and I needed to figure out how to film each shot cinematically without knowing where they are going to move and what they are going to do.”
Best Short Award -- Mass Reality Check Film Festival
Finalist -- Martinique Film Festival