Dear Streethunters.net Readers,
In the past we have reviewed books, magazines and gear, but today I come to you with our first-ever full review of a film. And not just any film. I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to get a first look at the new “Fill The Frame” street photography documentary produced and directed by Tim Huynh!
If you are a longtime reader of ours, you might remember a post from 2019 titled “Pledge your support and help support this upcoming street photography documentary “Fill The Frame” by Tim Huynh!”. Back then, we were impressed by Tim’s initiative to produce a new street photography documentary and we had asked you to help with the film’s Kickstarter campaign. Well, luckily for Tim and mostly for us, the worldwide street photography community, the goal was met and the film was made!
I think this movie rolled out at the perfect time because most of us street photographers have been going through a very rough time during the Covid self-containment and even though we have shared with you a few good ideas to help pass the time while in lockdown, nothing could be more refreshing than a good film about street photography.
What is the “Fill The Frame” street photography documentary about?
If you read the official synopsis of the film this is what it says:
“With the continuing rise of the digital age and popularity of social media, the genre of street photography has propelled like we’ve never seen before. Still there is more opportunity for street photography to be recognized and appreciated by the masses.”
So basically “Fill The Frame” is about how the world of street photography has changed or evolved with the onset of the digital age and social media. How street photography as a genre managed to get better defined and better understood by the general population and how it has shaped itself into an undoubtedly recognisable genre of photography. Well, we couldn’t agree more.
Review of the “Fill The Frame” street photography documentary
Before I start with the review, I would like to share the fact that I have no experience in reviewing films. Up until this moment, my only relationship with films has been to view them. Of course, I have my own opinions, but I have never shared them in writing before on Streethunters.net. So this is going to be a first for me, please keep this in mind before you start reading. As with all reviews, I am going to split my writing into sections, for your easier consumption and because I love categories. So, I will be looking at the film concept, the direction, the editing & pace and the fun factor. Ready? Let’s get to it!
As I mentioned before, this film is about street photography but offers a unique approach showing how the digital revolution has affected the genre, shaped it and redefined it. “Fill The Frame” shows us how contemporary amateur street photographers approach their art, what their mindset is, their workflow, their backgrounds and their general relationship with photography. But “Fill The Frame” doesn’t stop there. By alternating between profiling the contemporaries and placing their work among that of the masters, it allows the viewer to understand how modern, day to day street photography fits within the broader history of street photography. A fascinating concept that I haven’t seen before. The usual idea behind a street photography documentary is often the story of a master photographer, or the work of a group of extremely well known, usually professional photographers with a great body of work and a long history in the wider genre of photography. So because it isn’t just another one of those documentaries, I find the unique idea of “Fill The Frame” very interesting and for that reason, I give it top marks!
Before I wrote about this section, I decided to look into Tim Huynh’s background and see what other directing work he has done. I felt that, to be honest in my approach I had to know more about Tim’s past work, to better know who I am about to write about. Tim is new to the “directing game” with “Fill The Frame” being his first directing project. So knowing that and after watching the film I have to say that he has done a great job! My personal experience in film making is limited and crude, as I have more of a “home video” knowledge and approach to my work on our YouTube channel, but even with this limited experience of mine I can understand that the amount of work that was put into making “Fill The Frame” must have been daunting! In my opinion, Tim has done a great job of telling the story well, following a steady pace by not going too slow or too fast and without overcomplicating things. He has made a documentary that is easily comparable to others of a similar genre and has managed to keep me as a viewer interested most of the time. I say most of the time because there were some scenes I felt needed better editing, but I will talk about that later in the editing section.
Editing & Pace
Transitions between the scenes were snappy and well defined and as I mentioned before the flow was steady and at a good rhythm, without slowing down or speeding up unnecessarily. However, I found that at some points there were some “blank” scenes (black screens) that lasted a little bit longer than needed, making me think that the film was stuck or finished or that I had accidentally pressed pause while watching it on my MacBook. I understand that these “blanks” as I call them act as defining separators, but they felt a little bit too long at times. However, I think that if these “blanks” had additional info, like a small title, or a quote, they would flow smoother into the overall film. Moving on I also found that the facetime given to each photographer wasn’t equal in length. This might be my perception playing tricks on me, but I felt that some of the people interviewed got less facetime than others. Of course, this is just a personal opinion so take it as you like.
This is what counts most when watching any film. Be it a documentary, an action film, sci-fi, or thriller. No matter what the concept, the direction, the editing and the pace are like, if the film isn’t enjoyable for the viewer it has missed the goal. So when we get down to brass tacks, how enjoyable is it to watch Fill The Frame? In short, I liked it a lot. It inspired me to watch the photographers share their stories and experiences, it elevated me to see them shooting in the streets, it excited me to the point where I started visualising myself shooting in the streets of New York, something which remains just but a dream for me until this day. I think that this film is very enjoyable for the average street photographer and is also an interesting watch for the average non-photographer as my fianceé later told me. So good job to Tim and everybody that participated in this production. Well done, I had fun watching it and I will watch it again.
Conclusion and Key Takeaways
“Fill The Frame” is an inspiring street photography documentary with an interesting concept that has good direction and is fun to watch for photographers and non-photographers and I recommend you all to get a hold of a copy. It will be a nice addition to your film collection and you will certainly find yourself taking away some good advice no matter what your level of street photography is.
Here are a few key takeaways that I noted that I think you might find interesting:
- Melissa Breyer tells us that we can capture a whole story within a fraction of a second when we click the shutter.
- Paul Kessel reminds us that it is never too late to follow your dreams.
- Dimitris Mellos is a living example that if you want something a lot you can make it happen, even by packing up and travelling to the other side of the world to take your chances.
- Matthias Wasik helps us understand that street photography is something anyone can do as long as they decide to make that first step.
- Melissa O’Shaughnessy reminds us that we identify ourselves with the people we shoot, finding and capturing moments that are interesting and related to us.
- Jonathan Higbee tells us that everything can start from that uniquely defining shot, the one that can launch our career and most importantly to never be afraid of who we are.
- Lauren Welles risked everything to change her life around, giving up her high powered and secure career in Law, with all its perks, just to follow her passion for photography and to be truly happy!
- Julia Gillard reminds us that Street photography is hard because you can’t always pull out that perfect moment. You have to try over and over again.
Useful info and trailer
Fill The Frame trailer
Film Title – Fill The Frame
- Website – https://www.filltheframefilm.com
- Video on Demand – https://vimeo.com/ondemand/filltheframe
- Kickstarter – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/filltheframe/fill-the-frame
- Instagram – @filltheframefilm
- Facebook – Facebook.com/filltheframefilm
Contact information & Crew
Director, Producer, Editor: Tim Huynh
Director of Photography: Jessica Gallegos
Assistant Camera: Ayden Byrnes
BTS Photographer: Eugene Lee
Sound Design: Pacific Music Productions