December Retreat Reflection: The Art of Filmmaking and Moving Forward

On Saturday morning, I thought I knew exactly what to expect for this weekend: more bonding with people from other schools I don’t see too often and getting to the bottom of  my group’s project. I expected the group work to run smoothly and for everyone to get along as perfectly as they did on the google hangouts we had had in the last few weeks. In many ways, my predictions were proven wrong – in a good way.

Right away, when we diagnosed our team, it was clear that while we were achieving our goals, our goals could’ve been set higher. We had all given what we could but being a group of similarly ambitious yet very different individuals, we wanted to do more. This forced us to take some accountability and really clarify what we want to achieve. Although this conversation wasn’t as smooth as others, this was probably the most necessary discussion our group could’ve had. I started learning that agreeing all the time, even when it is genuine, can allow a group to forget the importance of reflection and double checking that everyone is on the same page. It was moments like this that reminded me of the Harvard Business Review article that we read called “High-Performing Teams Need Psychological Safety. Here’s How to Create it”. There was a line in that article that goes, “If you believe you already know what the other person is thinking, then you’re not ready to have a conversation”, that really reminded me throughout the weekend that while we may all have our own preconceived notions of climate change and the maple syrup industry, it is important to listen without assuming you already know the answers and that the other person is wrong. There is so much value in taking a step back and trying to really understand a teammate’s thoughts and not just hear the parts that appeal most to you.

Being part of a team is greatly about learning to level the playing field. I know personally that I have a past habit of getting on my high horse and not knowing when to step down. One of the most challenging but valuable learning experiences for me, especially during this retreat, has been learning to see everyone as an equal, both in social action teams and in the whole WTS community, no matter the age, school, or differences we may face. Like in the Ted Talk we watched, “The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives”, the speaker pointed out the importance of balance within morals, or anything else, and by allowing yourself to understand someone else’s point of view with “curiosity”, you are not confining yourself only to your confined, slightly deluded bubble. Another important piece of the Harvard Business Review article that I recognized throughout this weekend was the importance of being vulnerable in order to create trust. I tried practicing this when we first received the cameras, since the rest of my group had past experience in filmmaking and I had none. I had to ask for help often and during the presentation last night about documentary styles, I took notes for my group and focused as much as possible to learn the things they already knew. Both the introduction to the cameras and the presentation from last night were extremely helpful and definitely gave a sense of “realness” that I personally needed to feel more motivated.

For this upcoming month, we have already made specific plans of what needs to get done, with more small but important actions coming up this week and hopefully some interviews after that. The bulk of our filming will hopefully get done this month but we need to all be accountable and independently motivated for that to be achieved. I see myself being an interviewer and contacting many of our prospective interviewees in the next month simply because of the connections I already have. I am excited to learn a lot, not only about filmmaking but also about the topic my group is researching because this is something I’m very passionate about but in order to be an active member of this group, I need to start making this class a greater priority. I know that these retreats often give some momentum that is easy to dampen quickly after but my goal after leaving this retreat is to not forget why I joined this class in the first place and to hold on to the passion that I feel for our topic.

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One Response to “December Retreat Reflection: The Art of Filmmaking and Moving Forward

  • Great reflection Rachael. You made some strong connections (as Alex did) about curiosity. I do believe that if you work from that place, you will be propelled to investigate every area of this important topic.

    I would also agree that the weekends we are together fuel much passion, and tapping into it is so helpful when getting through the long to-do list. I can’t wait to hear how your initial meeting with Ms. Tymon goes and who you interview first!

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