First, I want to say that this short documentary proved to be more difficult than what I had imagined. I feel like a lot of factors went into this...I changed my topic, I lost some footage, and I was stressed and mentally drained. I was honestly surprised at how well it was received by my classmates. I didn't think it was bad, but I knew if I was better prepared I would've done way better.
I realize that my previous pre-production journal is kind of irrelevant at this point. Well, maybe not completely. I was all set to do my original plan of documenting the African-American Cultural & Resource because it's one of the few places here on campus where I do a variety of things. I work there and I hang out there, which is rare for me because I usually don't like hanging out where I work. Also a lot of things happen in the center and so many different people come and go...it's just a really interesting place to me. But life came at me fast when news on Richard Spencer came out. I was immediately thrown into overload mode, if that makes sense. There was a lot going on at the same time but somehow I through my frenzied thoughts I realized that this was a special moment in my life that should probably be documented somehow, some way. So I changed my topic. And I don't regret it.
What I do regret is not being fully prepared. Or should I say fully focused. Some of my shots that I used were after thoughts. For example, Jody and I would be working on activist related stuff, and I would think, "Oh! I should probably be filming this."
The shots that I did plan out were lost. Of course. I had behind the scenes footage of Jody and I filming our first 'radical' video (the very opening scene of the documentary until it cuts to Jody and I in frame). I also had footage of Jody and I working in my apartment and having a conversation about how other students are handling the situation and what our struggles were (I have the audio, I just couldn't figure out how to fit it in the doc without it seeming forced or attaching it to random b-roll). There were even shots that I filmed the night before the project was due because I was struggling on what I wanted the overall message of the documentary to be.
I also realized that being in the documentary was challenging, but worth it. I would be in so in the moment of planning something or meeting with other students, that I would forget to check the audio quality of my field recorder or make sure my camera was in focus. It was a personal struggle to put myself in front of the camera and be vulnerable. The scene where I'm crying was very unplanned; I was suppose to just sit in front of the camera and talk about my emotions, not actually show them. At first I didn't want to include it in the final video, but I wanted this video to be memorable somehow and I sucked up my pride.
I need to shoot more compelling b-roll. I had a lot of shots of my room: my poster of the 1936 Summer Olympics Black power salute with Tommie Smith and John Carlos, my books on the Black experience (How to Be Black, Assata, The Other Wes Moore, Negroland, Justice, Between the World and Me) my plaque from UBSA, and my record player playing a Kendrick Lamar album. But none of those shots (except the one with my plaque) did anything for me. There was nothing in my interview or the narration that motivated me to use them. I had the mentality that they would be fillers, but they couldn't even fill anything. In the future, I definitely want to shoot more motivated B-roll, and now that I know the message I want to get across it should be a lot easier.
I also want to include more people in my doc as well, because there are a lot more students out there doing great work other than just Jody and I. I would want a wider input to this story, especially since Jody and I share a lot of the same thoughts and I wouldn't want anything to get redundant.
From the feedback that I got, I have decided to keep the narration as part of the film. Originally I only decided to narrate to help piece the film together so it could make sense. I had a lot of holes, and I figured I could just fill the holes for now and then scrap the narration later. But after watching it again and hearing what my classmates had to say, it really did add an extra element to the story that I need to keep. I also need to remind myself to be in the film as well. I can easily hide behind the camera and make the story about someone else, but including myself in the story makes it more personal and more real.
I hope this all makes sense, I kind of just let my mind flow free on this one.