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Aalany McMahan Talks Her Love of VHS & Capturing Teen Spirit on Film

Meet the one woman machine with a video camera.

Chilling in her bedroom surrounded by 70’s silver metallic fringe, vintage Playboy and Cashbox magazines, and her very own VHS tapes, it’s easy to see Aalany McMahan’s appreciation for all things vintage, and the influence of those references is clear in her short films.

The 19-year-old videographer has an eye for capturing teens exuding confidence and good spirit. With the help of her JVC camcorders, she documents them all in style, reminding her audience of the uniqueness of film. Below, keep reading for more from McMahan on her greatest influences and her devotion to the medium of film.

How long have you been a videographer?

I’ve always had my fair trades with shooting on camcorders and digital cameras since I was in my preteens. In the beginning of this year, 2018, I made a friend by the name of Alondra (@kwlsey) who had helped me really push my video work out into the world of social media.

How did you get into videography?

Ever since I was younger in my middle school years, I’ve been interested in films and the logistics of them. I would study angles and continuity errors of films, which have always been my favorite hobby. This lead me to take special interactive film classes after school where it was hands on with many materials. I also started to learn how to edit on computer programs, which I consider to be one of my biggest passions. From middle to high school, I always took film classes and have been self taught ever since.

With all the advanced technology we have, why do you prefer filming off of tapes?

Personally for me, I can’t really stand to work digital cameras and I would rather put my time and energy into where it all began. Seeing how organic retro video footage comes out when it’s done right is just so satisfying in every way. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love to see generations grow and discover new technology by the minute. Anybody who knows me just knows how my style rocks with vintage and I have to keep it all alike.

What are some of the biggest challenges in videography?

This is one of my favorite questions to answer. Firstly, many people compare photography work to videography work in the factor of timing. It is incredibly difficult to be able to whip up something creative and unique within the time span that photographers are able to. Videographers who come up with a shoot, prepare it, shoot it, and then also edit it have to take the time in order to perfect it to their vision standard. Being a perfectionist, I always think that my work could be better making it hard for me to release footage so easily. But also for the viewers and those who want edited projects, patience is such a virtue.

What are some key ideas/notes you keep in mind while filming?

Personally, for me it’s all about angles and how I envision my project to look. I keep my maneuvers in film a secret because everyone does have their own styles in recording, but I focus incredibly on them while filming. I almost kind of edit the footage in my head as if I had all the shots prepared already. Unless I’m styling, figuring out location, or start mood boards, I don’t really prepare hugely before a shoot just because I will stress about it. Song choice for my edits is also something I strongly care about.

How do you want your audience to feel while watching your films?

Well when I think of how I want my model(s) to feel while I’m recording them, I always try to hype them up to ensure they’re hyper confident in the moment. People should feel good about themselves all the time, but while the camera is on you go ahead and feel yourself! As for my audience, I want them to feel inspired in a sense. By watching my short clips and edits, I would hope that the people watching would gain some sort of joy and smile even if they’re not having the best day.

What is your biggest goal in film?

We all grow everyday and that’s one thing I want to see myself do in every part of my life, including film and video. One of my biggest goals is to be able to master many cameras and my personal style behind all of them. From VHS to super 8 and even 16mm, these are all beneficial to the growth of my passion.

What movies/films do you find inspo in?

Oh my, I could go on forever about this. Well, my favorite movie franchise of all time is A Nightmare on Elm Street and I tell this to everyone. My favorite genre of film in general is horror. As the franchise goes on from the first Nightmare to the sixth, Freddy Krueger also just becomes funnier and cracks jokes before dealing with his victims. The character development in that film is what gets me the most. Drive starring Ryan Gosling is my second favorite film, the mood of darkness throughout the entire movie and soundtrack complete me. Soundtracks to any film is also very important to me.

Any directors/filmmakers that you look up to?

This is extremely typical, but Quentin Tarantino is someone I have looked up to as a director since I was young. His cinematography, script, and soundtracks are all amazing, despite the fact that he bites off of older films. But he’s just inspired like the rest of us, right? Video directors, BRTHR, are also such a huge inspiration to me as they’re two brothers who tune into a unique Japanese style of film and edit, inspiring so many directors today.

Stay tuned to Milk for more artists on the rise. 

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