Dec Retreat: Deciphering media kits, interviews and our goals

Our second retreat was productive, fun, and a bit chilly. I was happy to be familiar with the spaces we were working in because this made me more comfortable. The presentation given by Jason Mittell helped me learn a great deal about how to film a documentary and what makes a good documentary and why. After getting our media kits, which was exciting because it we were now holding the necessary tools needed to create our final end-product, we settled in to listen to what Jason had to say. As we watched various clips from many different documentaries all being different styles of shooting, I felt myself becoming a more critical viewer of how a documentary was shot. I used to really focus on the content and only slightly on the aesthetic. The little I did focus on the aesthetic I only thought about how the energy of the film felt. Not how it was created. Now I feel like I know the “science” behind creating the good and correct feel for a documentary which is definitely extremely useful knowledge which I am very grateful for having.

Additionally I am grateful for getting a bit of practice and education on how to interview. Before the retreat I understood a bit about interviewing but I now feel as though I can be even more successful. I understand that we should follow the interviewee’s emotion if we see a particular question spark something inside him or her. When we sat down with a partner and conducted brief interviews, it was hard at times to think of questions to keep their thoughts going in one direction, but it gradually got easier as time went on and this certainly felt like very beneficial practice. Furthermore we got specific time with our group to reflect on how we wanted the interviews in our documentary to look. More specifically we thought of a person we were planning on interviewing and thought about where it would be, how it would look, what techniques we were planning on using and how we wanted it to feel. This was also challenging because we all had lots of different ideas and we had to work together to get them to fit together and be one idea. This activity gave us a taste of what filming would be like because we will have to decide on everything together so we can get all of our ideas in it, but merge them together so it does not end up scattered all about.

Over the next month, I see a busy time full of interviews, thoughts and frustration. I know I need to be prepared with a back-up plan if an interview falls through. And I know I will have to stay extremely organized so nothing gets forgotten and I stay focused without becoming overwhelmed and falling behind. I have faith in myself and my ability to manage time so I know that I can stay focused and get my work done. I know that I must be processing the interviews I have and really think about what the person says because I feel strongly that to have a certain piece of information in my documentary, I myself must understand it and if I am the one collecting this information then I will be responsible for sharing it with the group and helping them to better understand it. Logistics may also pose a problem at times just because some members of our group live farther away however I believe our group has come up with a better plan that will allow us to stay updated with each others work then our plan  from the last retreat. This newly devised plan better suits our group and in particular it is easier for me so I am glad we also had time to make adjustments on our groups action plans at this retreat.

I am very excited for this next month and to begin interviews and learning even more about my topic. I cannot wait to look back in January on where we are now with our idea of what are project is about and how it is going to look and where we end up. Our group must stay focused on our goal and if we do, I know we will be able to come up with a great end product that will convey our message in the way we want it to be seen. I am so thankful for the resources and opportunity What’s the Story? provides us with. I am looking forward to my and my team’s journey over the next month and seeing everyone in January.



Grace Widelitz

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