Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Making a documentary

In the afternoons at the Huckleberry Hill Project we are making a documentary.  It is a bold idea that exceeds our current capabilities and is as daunting as it is exciting.  Exciting because there are so many areas of learning to explore and so many possibilities of things we could do. Daunting because I have to make a leap of faith that we as a group can handle this monumental task ahead of us and scurry up the learning curve to gain the necessary skills we will need to accomplish our goals.

I, in all of my optimism and naivete, have jumped in whole hog into understanding Final Cut Pro X and filming using DSLR cameras. I have been reading books, watching endless YouTube tutorials, analyzing documentaries I like and talking to my film making friends. I have video and audio equipment and soft light boxes and a bunch of excited children eager to learn these skills.

Learning these skills is the reason I decided to make a documentary in the first place.  Making a documentary involves so many skills that the children will have to integrate. We as a group are role modeling how people can go out into the community, express themselves, stand up and have an opinion and importantly work together as a team on a project bigger than any one individual.  But this is a long process and there are a huge amount of steps and learning experiences we will be having on that journey. As always, it is the journey that I am most excited about.

We have brainstormed hundreds of ideas together as a group and discussed how to recognize an inspirational vision for the project and how to record it so it can be shared with the group.  One of the children had a vision during the week, a grand vision that she shared at our last meeting and we are picking it up and running with it.

We have organized to see a documentary maker/cameraman to teach us how to use our camera and how to visualize scenes.  I have been reading/watching web tutorials/researching everything I can about the technical side of shooting a documentary.  I have been out setting custom white balances, testing lenses and indoor lighting scenarios and I am feeling pretty good about our set up.

We have mapped out the beginning of a story line for the documentary, color coded grid paper with different clip types, counted out how long clips are and discussed different types of clips.  Next week I hope to lay out our rationale and plan out our first segment.

Our plan will be laid out on a 4ft roll of brown paper that we will be taking to the farmhouse.  Every part of the plan is going to be moveable so the children can see it and manipulate it. I am trying to do this in a way that children will be able to replicate the process when/if they make their own documentaries at some point.  Most importantly, those skills will be transferable to the management of the various projects they will encounter in their lives.  We have to make sure everyone knows what is going on and we have a large range of ages and learning types in the group.  Everyone has a role to play and we now have filled up the various roles (editing, filming, sound etc...) with eager children. 

It is daunting and exciting to undertake a challenging project from ground zero.  Yet we ask our kids to do this all the time and this is teaching them to go about it in a methodical way.  We also have so much information at our fingertips and many resources we will tap. It is a fantastic time to try something new and utilize the gifts that thousands are sharing on the internet. You don't need to sign up for a class as the information you need right now is just a click away.  All you need to do is allow the visions to bubble up, encourage the excitement, harness the creativity and impart the power of a methodical process.

I am grateful for the many contributions that everyone is making.  I don't know what the final result will be like but I know that the skills gathered along the way will last a long time.  Anyway, as you can tell I continue to be really excited about this project and the people involved in it.

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