Hello there, old friend. It seems like it’s been quite a while since I last posted. Since my last production blog post, a lot has happened and at the same time, nothing has occurred. I promise it’s not just because I like to use paradoxical statements to start my posts. It simply happened this way.
In these past two weeks we’ve prepared our pre-production treatments, chosen our topic and started shooting. Yet it all feels hollow.
As I noted in my last blog, I had been excitedly preparing my treatment on Asian American theatre, a subject which I delved into and then emerged with a narrower topic, that of the history and consequences of yellow face. Unfortunately, and I suppose I knew this in some ways in the back of my mind and simply didn’t want to acknowledge it, it’s a topic that deserves more than just seven minutes. Seven minutes can barely do it justice. So without my idea, we only really had one other topic (the third was just our interview assignment). Three people in a group, three treatments. If someone had actually done their work, perhaps we would’ve had another good possible topic.
Onwards. We’re doing our documentary on a Northwestern wrestler. And so begins my concerns, some of which I voiced from the beginning. He’s not the world’s most charismatic guy on camera and sometimes, no matter how nice and great a person is, without on-camera charisma, a lot of the story is lost. In addition, I’m afraid our group’s liaison with him may have told him that we only needed a little bit of his time. My biggest concern is that the other two people in my group keep on thinking we can just use a lot of archival footage for b-roll. I don’t know how many times I have to drill in the fact that we need more new footage than just footage at the banquet. One of them I’m afraid is stuck in the mindset that the scope of the story is simply what he already knew about our subject from previous interviews. The other simply doesn’t really care. Never really did.
So on Wednesday we interviewed our main subject. I showed up to where we were getting in the car at 5:15 as planned. And waited. Due to a variety of transportation and communication issues, we didn’t get to leave until 5:35. We finally got there around 5:50, ten minutes before our subject was to arrive. When we got inside the basketball stadium, we found out that the men’s team was practicing. Hello?!? Person who said he would handle setting up the interview? Why didn’t you check this? I guess I was being too trusting that everything was good to go and that if not, there was always plan B and C. Maybe it’s just my life experiences that have taught me to always have back-up plans.
We ended up having to do the interview at a location that was not optimal as far as composition went. There really wasn’t anything except a wall, albeit in two colors. It took forever and a day to set up the lights because there were issues with extension cords and the subject had to wait more than half an hour. The interview itself went relatively well, although I feel like we might have agitated our interviewee. I say this because there was obvious tension within the group and my two group members aren’t the most articulate people in the world. One of them isn’t very professional either. I am of the philosophy that class work should be treated as real work and that my sources should always be provided the utmost respect I can give. Hell, if I acted like that in situations like when I was doing a multimedia package on Iraqi refugees, I can daresay they would’ve never opened up to me, especially on-camera.
Up to now this post has just seemed like a rant and I realize that. I needed another outlet to express my frustrations. I’m hoping some mediation will solve some of the problems, especially on getting my group members to realize we need to be shooting b-roll now, now, now and now, but unfortunately I don’t see this group ever working cohesively together. How can it when there’s a lack of investment by some?
I do, however, see this documentary coming together. It’ll be a difficult path, no doubt, but that’s why it’s called crafting a story. I’m starting to see a few possible story arcs forming in my mind and I’m trying to imagine b-roll that would fit well. I just hope we as a group can get the same page while still having different creative ideas. If not, I’ll try my best to make this the best I can. You learn things in life when you grow up having to fight for yourself, literally and figuratively. They’ll be useful now. We’re supposed to shoot some verite footage this weekend or early next week. We’ll see how that goes.
The other good news is that I will probably pursue the yellow face project. It seemed to have been well-received by the class and my primary subject was very enthusiastic about helping me out in the future. He even offered to help me raise money for the project when I mentioned that I needed to try to get a grant to help cover some of the costs first. There’s someone I have in mind to advise me on this and I am playing a role in whether he will even be able to advise me, but I can’t say much more about him for a while. Cross my fingers.
On a completely separate note, I really wanted to blog about Egypt demanding its antiquities back and why making a Twitter account was the best decision Conan ever made, but I’ve been so busy and will continue to be so that it seems like the least I could do is by giving the topics a small shout-out.
That is all for now. I hope the worst has passed.