It’s times when I feel accomplished and proud of the work I just did or when I’m splendidly excited about a possible story, it’s those times when I especially love journalism and even forgive heavy equipment, long train rides, freezing editing studios and uncooperative software.
And that’s exactly how I’m feeling right now. The past few weeks had been somewhat of a mess – communication and teamwork weren’t so great between myself and my group members, I wasn’t super confident in my own skills as far as all the new equipment was concerned, it felt like we weren’t really making any solid progress towards our final documentary, and really I was just kind of in an unsure state about this whole thing.
Now, no longer. (Gee, I feel like one of those commercials that promise that by using their product, you’ll no longer have this or that.)
Why the transformation, you ask? Well, it’s because of what happened during our interview assignment. Our initial possible interview subject was no where to be found when we were trying to contact him. (On Tuesday we learned that he had apparently gone off to Mexico for a week.) So when we realized we might not be able to interview him for this assignment, we kind of were sent back to square one. This was Saturday. Saturday I was at a dance competition and other dance related stuff from 6am to 2am. Saturday was not a good day for me to have to worry about this. No being able to leave the competition and being preoccupied with dancing, my only option was to either call people or work with those in front of me. I literally went to every person on the team and asked if they had conflict in their lives, and it was in this frenzy that I found Tim.
Tim and I had met once or twice before, but until that day he didn’t actually know my name. As I asked him if there was conflict, enough came out for me to realized that I could figure out how to make his story work for this assignment. So we set up an interview for Monday night. The guys arrived at his apartment a little before I did; I had a mandatory event to attend but then tried to get there as fast as I could on my friends’ way-too-high bike (as in I couldn’t reach the pedals if I sat on the seat) without killing myself. Because it was the first time we had worked with lights, it took us a good half hour to set it up. Tim and his roommate George were actually laughing at us at first because they thought we were film students and indeed, if we were, that would’ve been really sad.
The interview went extremely well. Tim was incredibly open and we captured some great emotion and conflict in his voice. It was also during the interview that I felt my group was actually working as a team. We all contributed to the filming and all asked probing questions. But then it kind of went back to being me and one of the other guys doing most of the work. That’s not to say the last guy did nothing, just that, to put it a bit harshly, we were doing more of the technical, artistic stuff while he only did grunt work. But this time, I didn’t care. I had found my own confidence in this assignment.
Before this assignment we had mainly been checking off lists of required shots and sound clips for each assignment. This time there was actually time to really shoot footage. On Wednesday I hauled our equipment down Sheridan Road to Tim’s girlfriend’s apartment to film them cooking. Because I had time, I was finally able to really get technical things like focus and exposure down. Leaving that apartment that day, I had two thoughts: 1) I’m glad I don’t eat meat and thus could deny their offer of fried rice and 2) I feel much better about my ability to use this equipment.
That night I went into the studio to edit and that only made me more confident. It took me nearly four hours to craft that story. A key issue was that we had so much A-roll that it took me an hour just to listen to it all and clip the sound bytes we needed. But beyond that, I found a more film-like storytelling arc. By building up this relationship and creating this beautiful fairytale, it made all the more impact when we see Tim in such an emotional state of tension when he reveals the decision he has to make. Because I have really only worked on broadcast, newsy pieces before, this was essentially my first video piece that was more film-like and artistic. And I think really it was fatigue and self-control that prevented me from staying on the entire time as one of the guys in my group added the B-roll. I guess I knew I needed to learn to trust my group members. It didn’t turn out quite the way I had envisioned it when I filmed the footage and when I put the story together, and I think editing at 3 a.m. also made him a little less careful with things like jump cuts, but it still turned out pretty well.
Here’s the interview story: http://vimeo.com/11131570 😀
So now that I’m more confident about my skills, I’m extremely excited about the other aspect of when I’m in love with journalism. That is, when I’m excited about a story idea.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I thought a great idea would be to do the documentary on some aspect of Asian American theatre. Since then I’ve talked to my minor advisor (I’m an Asian American Studies minor) and I’ve gotten the contact info of the actor I’d mentioned before as well as names and info about some other individuals. I’ve gotten in contact with this actor and he just wants a little more info “before signing on,” and I’m going to be in contact with other individuals by the end of tomorrow, if not earlier. I’m starting to look for archival footage as well. But as of right now, I guess the key thing is for me to really decide what aspect of Asian American theatre I want to focus on. Hopefully by Sunday night I’ll have that all figured out so I can contact my sources again and get their okays before I present this treatment on Tuesday.