After almost a year of procrastinating and putting me off, I finally managed to persuade Adilzhan to show me how he makes soap. He had originally been introduced to me as a budding entrepreneur who was making soap at home and selling it, but this was a little over exaggerated. As Adilzhan pointed out, it is impossible to sell handmade soap commercially, and the amount that can be sold at craft fairs and the like is quite limited. Nevertheless, he is still optimistic that he can earn a little to help out his parents.
I shot a series of images showing the process of soap making, the important thing here being to show the skill and care that Adilzhan puts into his work. As such, I took similar photos as I had done for my previous work on artisans, with dynamic shots showing different stages as well as more static shots showing still lives of the materials and equipment used.
Once Adilzhan had poured the soaps we left them to set and went to run some errands.
I thought it important to show Adilzhan in other contexts rather than simply at home – one of the stereotypes here about disabled people is that they just sit at home and vegetate, leading lonely empty and pointless lives, so I wanted to show the unreality of that perception.
The final stage of soap making is the weighing – Adilzhan needs to be sure that he’s covering his costs while not overcharging for the materials.
After we had finished we put all the materials away and went to his bedroom to chill out, when he decided to have a go at taking our picture reflected in the wardrobe mirror. I’d really like to use one of these images in the final film as a referent to the documentary making process (elsewhere I have discussed this in conjunction with the ideas of Ritchin, Trinh T. Minh-ha and Benjamin). Examples like Frank filming himself in the mirror during the shooting of Cocksucker Blues, or Wiseman and Herzog including their own voices in interviews. This is something that I have never done before.