I will start by saying that I'm pretty happy with how my documentary turned out. In the beginning it was a struggle to try and piece together what I wanted to do. Even when I went into editing mode it was still a struggle. I knew I wanted to tell the story of black student activists. There were so many different aspects of this story that I wanted to include, but I didn't want to go over the time limit nor unnecessarily drag out certain parts. But let's start from the beginning.
I titled the piece The Black Eye and it acts as a double entendre. It represents the black student perspective, as in seeing through the eye of the black student, and it also represents the overall feeling of the situation of a white supremacist coming to our campus and the university not showing solidarity with minority students.
I started by getting interviews of my peers that I knew would have pretty diverse opinions on the subject. My angle was to show the conflict in different people wanting to do the right thing, and I also wanted to show how even within a similar community there can be different opinions between individuals. There were a couple of times I wish I had a little more time with my interviews so I could've had more time to find more interesting locations, made sure that Alberto wasn't right up against the wall, and made sure Joseph's hair wasn't hitting his mic, etc.
Once I shot my interviews, I listened to the audio and wrote down interesting sound bites from each person. After I had all the sound bites listed out, I finally created a structure for my story that kind of resembled a 3 Act structure of a regular narrative story.
My intro was centered around the question, "Do we know when he's coming?", to try to get the audience curious about what the story was going to be about. My Act 1 acted as the 'Explanation' where I wanted to answer the question who was coming and why. I chose sound bites where my interviewees talked about what they knew about Richard Spencer, what they knew about white supremacy, what they knew about the university's decision to let him come to campus and how they felt about. My Act 2 introduced what it meant to be a student activists and I chose sound bites that talked about why activism is important and the struggles of being an activist. My Act 3 kind of talks about the plan, or the lack thereof, of what to do when Spencer comes. I grouped together the sound bites that talks about what students are going to do, what they're scared is going to happen, and is there a right or more wrong way to handle the situation. My Act 4 acts as the outro where we end on student advice and words of encouragement. Once I had this structure set up, there were a lot of good sound bites that I had to cut only because they didn't exactly fit into one of the four acts.
I feel like there isn't a direct direction about what the documentary is about, it sort of covers a breath of different things. Then ending feels opened ended but I think it reflects on how our situation is open ended.
I learned that when I'm really passionate about a subject, I tend to go full force on a project. Out of all the assignments I've worked on in my different classes, making my documentary was the one that I felt really engaged in and where I put in the most effort. I found myself writing things down and organizing before I even opened Premiere to edit, which is something I don't tend to do. I realized that I do like working on projects alone. And I'm not saying that working in teams is a bad thing, it's just that I was able to work when I wanted to. I could schedule and shoot an interview right after class if I needed to or pull out my computer to edit something at 3am and not have to worry about coordinating with a separate cameraman or editor. I like being able to structure the story and choosing the sound bites myself. But I do like working with others to get feedback and different opinions for me to consider.
I enjoyed the feedback I got from my classmates. They were able to understand the story and give good feedback on certain details that I didn't think about, like switching between different interviews and the interviewee being on different sides of the screen. As I gave feedback to my classmates, I noticed how receptive they were to the comments before and after they presented their final. Watching how far Cat progressed through her rough draft to her final was amazing to see and she really took the feedback Caleb and I gave her and applied it to her final. The most helpful feedback I received were reviewing the possibilities for publishing my documentary and getting permission and/or paying for licensing for the music. I haven't had the opportunity to think about where my documentary could live, besides my website, and I got a lot of good ideas from my classmates.
I learned a lot about the different types of documentaries this semester, and that certain ones have different ways of telling a story. I definitely want to explore creating documentaries in different ways, and I want to continue practicing organizing all the research, footage, and audio I get before I begin the editing process. It helps a lot, it just takes effort on my end to be more proactive about it. I really like short documentaries; they force me to get straight to the point with my stories and cut out unnecessary stuff that just causes stories to drag. Over the semester my passion for documentaries has grown even more and I want to keep making them to tell stories that will have an impact. I've learned techniques to help me keep my creative drive like creating something/doing something creative every day, and always stay looking for inspiration in different places. I want to keep finding interesting stories and telling them as creatively as possible.