One of numerous things I’ve learned over the past year is that in my profession time is extensively dedicated to gathering content, editing, reediting, further refining, another gander, perhaps a phase of ‘I messed this all up. It’s horrible. What do I do from here?’, eventually this sigh of relief that perhaps it’s alright after all, and then a temporal ‘final’ edit.
Honestly, this summer didn’t turn out how I planned. Many of the endeavors I had desired to accomplish didn’t happen due to unforeseen events and side projects. In the end, I overloaded myself. With only a few of my originally planned projects coming to fruition, and constant work, I found myself still burnt out. The previous quarter in the spring had not just exhausted me. It finished me Mortal Kombat style with a Sub Zero spine rip fatality.
Rather than permit myself the down time I needed, I went straight into more work with weddings, video projects, a still photography project, and part-time work. Then suddenly fall quarter arrived, and I’ve been nothing but tired, ill-motivated, restless, and unsure of why I’m here.
But aside from this unplanned tangent, I have my last project of summer to present. It was a planned video project that I had started developing with a nonprofit in late May/early June about their summer internship program.
Though we discussed several project ideas, I was most intrigued by the internship program because it involved 6 people from different backgrounds to live and work together for over 2 months. They all work in key areas of the nonprofit and are involved directly with people in the community. So, the interns are cultivating relationships with one another, with people in the organization, and with people in the community. This particular nonprofit is founded on Christian principles, and faith is also a key component to this program with fellowship and biblical study. So, there is also a cultivation of the spirit.
With my bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies, I am always looking for projects that have a religious facet to them and how that is manifested into a person’s life, comes to define them, their experiences, their thoughts, all within the context of their beliefs, regardless of what tradition he or she is a practitioner of.
So, I approached this project wanting to focus on the interns’ experiences and reflections about their work placements, their relationships with one another, their experiences being in a Christian community in this context, and their personal reflections about this program. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to work with on this type of project. Each of them were quite open with me and were able to articulate their thoughts and experiences in such candid, thoughtful, and honest ways that I was confidant this project would turn out well. I enjoyed not just working on this project, but had a great time getting to know each of them.
The difficult part has been the post production. After gathering all the footage, both interviews and supporting shots, it was a bit overwhelming to make sense of it or rather, to figure out what edit will be the most cohesive and communicate to an audience the key elements I’d want them to know about these people, the organization, and the program.
Originally, I had considered creating 3 succinct vignettes, with 2 interns in each because having 6 people in a single short video can easily be confusing and overwhelming to a viewer. After transcribing interviews and storyboarding this original outline with my friend, Matt Adams, I found myself questioning that decision when I finally sat down in Final Cut.
Part way through a vignette, I decided the wrong choice had been made, and I needed to redo the storyboard and approach this differently. So, again, bless his heart, Matt storyboarded with me under the new outline of one video. In the end, about half of a slender wall was covered with blue post-it notes, each scribbled with a quote or scene, and when combined, wove together the story that felt right. Though we discussed a few tweaks or scene swaps once I started laying everything out in Final Cut, the edit stayed relatively true to the second storyboard.
Part of the reason I switched to a single video was because I realized it required all 6 of them, together, to tell this story. With knowing them and their relationships with one another, this should have been obvious to me sooner.
Granted, this is only my third video project ever; so, I definitely have more learning to do, and will constantly refine my style, perspective, and narrative approach. I always want to strive to take my photography and now videography to a new level, and though it will be a continuous and lifelong process, I look forward to the challenges and projects that are in the future.
I should also add that this video is closer to Advocacy Documentary rather than journalism because there are no counter perspectives or further investigative information. This video is strictly about the interns and their experiences and reflections.