Still photographers have long known that timing is a key to taking a memorable picture. Think of the Hindenburg explosion or John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father’s coffin. Erez Sitzer extends that concept to cinematography with his “Miyako” a mini-doc recently showcased on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday TV program. Note the way the filmmaker uses the video’s beginning and ending to frame the decisive moment of the station master waving to the train.
Sitzer had been location scouting, looking for a small train station. In his words: “We found it. and by accident, found something else, someone else: Miyako. the station master. I watched her smile at each exiting passenger. then, noticed her wave at the departing one-car train. then, surprisingly, she continued waving. she waved until there was no trace left of the distant train. No one witnessed her, except, well, me. In that short span, my love and wonder of life was renewed. When I spoke to her later, she said at first she felt so shy. and hardly waved at all. Slowly, over time, she began doing something she neither needed to do, nor imagined she ever would. So this is miyako, master of a tiny station in the middle of nowhere Japan who attends to every train and passenger that passes by.”
You can see and hear the filmmaker discussing the project in the making-of video: