All posts by Peter Freeze

And the Academy Award for Best Documentary Goes To…

And the Academy Award for Best Documentary Goes To… Creighton University’s Journalism and Mass Communication Department for their Documentary titled, More than Beaches and Baseball.

Wednesday was a long workday, but it was also quite productive.  We used the script that had been put together that is full of quotes.  We found all the quotes and trimmed them out and placed those into a master story document… that ended up being just over 2 hours long.  So now we need to trim out any English that was in those clips and pray that it is under 30 minutes long after that.  With a 2-hour film we could be in the running with far larger budgeted projects for some really neat awards… if i keep dreaming that is.

Although it was a long day we did a lot of the work that needed to be done, and now that all those clips have been located we can easily go find them and edit them down to exactly what we need.  The project looks great, and it is coming together, we should be completing a rough cut of the film by Friday.  Which would include the footage we want, just not perfectly edited, and we still would need to do the voice-overs.

With just two more class days left we will be putting in more long hours so we have something to show by the time we have to call it a week.  But everyone is more than willing to work long and put their efforts into it so we all know it will come together, because we are not leaving until it does.  Keep checking for more updates about where you might be able to get sneak peek. 

We’ll do it live!

So this week will be the only week we have of class that is devoted fully to editing the document together to make something that is coherent. We are trying to find the story and find the best way to tell it.  Sorting through 25-30 hours of footage and trying to find the 20-25 minutes that best tell our story is not an easy task.  It has already proven difficult as we overcome obstacles that are thrown at us everyday.  

We have split the class into working in partner groups that build sequences of footage that can be used to backup the interview footage that we used.  So that involves taking footage from 2 or 3 camera angles, lining them up within a frame so they are seamlessly connected to make it more interesting to watch. Besides just sorting through all the footage; importing, naming and tagging all the film clips was a entire day’s task.  As we complete more sequences of clips we will sew those and the interview footage together to create our final project and work on voice over or subtitles.

We are hoping to have a good rough cut done by Friday, so keep your eyes peeled for an update on where you might be able to find a sneak peak of the project in the near future. 

Majagual

This part of the story has much less to do with our documentary and much more to do with us learning an incredible lesson from the amazing people of Majagual.  Wednesday was our last night in the campo, and I think that everyone really dug into the experience on this night not wanting to miss anything while we were there.  Wednesday was our first full day of work were we all got a taste of hard work.  Seeing that we had completely underestimated what we would be doing and be astonished by how the Dominicans seemed to work as machines.

It would also seem at this time in the trip many of our perceptions of the DR have changed.  They have changed because of what we experienced in the last week of the trip.  The experience of Dajabon and Majagual gave us a great look into the other side of Dominicans reality and or lives.  Although we only received a very small window into their lives it was enough for us to realize many things about ourselves and and about the people who we were living with.

The way that I see us telling all the stories that we have seen is by exploring all the ways that people have changed, and exploring those peoples stories to help explain how they accomplished all that they have in the Cien Fuegos area.  I think it would be hard not to look at these people and see the hard work they have done in their eyes and their faces.

The People of Cien Fuegos

Today was new, even for me after spending 4 months here in this country, and even more specifically, here in this neighborhood.  Today I walked up the same couple of dirt roads to get to the school on top of the hill named Santa Lucia, the same school that I walked to 2 days a week for 4 months.  But something was different this time, it was not me or them, nothing had changed, it was the experience I had that was different.

For 4 months I walked up those roads and up that hill and maybe waved or said hello, but I never once held a conversation with any of the people that stood in their houses or stood on the street to look at us as we passed them.  Everyone that we encountered was willing to help us today with filming the people of Cien Fuegos and their lives.  

Our first stop was at a firehouse, the only one in Cien Fuegos.  It serves 125,000 people with a staff of 17 that run on two 24-hour shifts.  After taking some footage and stills outside the firehouse we were welcomed inside by the captain who was proud to show us his station.  He and his brigade that work one of the two 24 hour shifts posed for pictures for us.

Along the way there were many more stops, none quite as memorable as stopping and listening to Alfonso sing and play the guitar.  He had a wonderful voice and was a great guitarist.  We happened upon him and were just hoping to get a 30 second clip of him maybe strumming the guitar, but he played for about 3 minutes for us and we were all blown away.

All of these people and places that we stopped today were on my way to the school that I went to for 4 months, but now I feel more connected to the area because I know the people on the way to the school, I know more about the community that I served and I feel like now I can tell their story and am very excited to get working on putting together the footage. 

Crash and Burn Footage

Today was a beach day.  We drove to the north coast with another class from Creighton that is also down here.  We arrived around 11, and spent around 5 and 1/2 hours there at the beach in the town called Sosua.  This is a beach that does not have too many tourists, and since it was a national holiday there were a large number of Dominicans as well as us.  We spent a lot of the time in the crystal clear water that was the perfect temperature under a beautiful cloudless sky.  

At this beach they have a few people who have boats and offer rides on inflatables behind them for anywhere from 3-5 dollars.  Several members from the large group of us went on a banana boat, which is a large tube in a straight line.  Later 3 of us took a flat round tube out that you laid down on.  Our reason for going was because we had a great waterproof housing for one of the video cameras.

We took a spin and got some great footage of the sky courteous of me because I could not tell which way the camera was pointing.  Our first crash and burn ended with Scott Peak and me in the water after a hard turn.  You can see on camera me tucking the camera into my chest during the fall and then the boat circling back up for us. The boat started before Scott could get all the way on but he still managed to hang on and right himself back on the tube.  

The next crash and burn was that I had the great idea of rolling off the tube to get a shot of the other two guys and the boat.  This one ended particularly interestingly because the camera bounced into my face and cut my chin open. There is some good footage of the other two pulling up to me while I floated in the water with the camera.  

After this one I passed off the camera to Scott so he could shoot some and i could hold on with both hands. Our last Crash and Burn occurred at the end of the ride and ended quite poorly because both Scott and I were thrown from the float yet again, but this time the camera slipped out of Scott’s hand and when we both surfaced and looked at the camera it was floating between us.  We raced to the camera and caught some really good footage of Chris on the tube alone refusing to be thrown off even though he caught a couple feet of air of a bounce and the tube was at a 45 degree angle.

All in all it was a great afternoon that was quite intense but fun.  We caught some great footage that should be cool to see, and maybe make it into the behind the scenes of the making of our documentary. 

Cien Fuegos Round II

Since this is my second trip to the Dominican Republic.  The first trip I would spend 2 days every week of classes in a school in Cien Fuegos, so I thought I knew the neighborhood well and thought that I knew a lot about Pedro, our video’s subject.  But being here again has thrown me for a loop because things always change and there is so much to learn about the neighborhood that I did not know.  I was definitely surprised at how many new things I was seeing and how much they affected me.  I thought I was prepared but I guess poverty has that ability to always be impactful and something that you shouldn’t be unaffected by.

The thing that I have been using from classes is quite similar to my important aspect of class, which is adapting on the fly.  Today was our first day of shooting video and in the morning we had lots of problems with our microphones and little opportunity to fix them because of time constraints and where we were working (on the move).  But nevertheless I learned a lot while we were moving and am still learning new things about the great programs that Pedro has started.

Things that are important…

What I want to write about is things that are important that I have not necessarily learned in the classroom, but rather from participating from afar. The most important thing that I have learned is that not everything will work out as it is supposed to.  My first example of this was when I was trying to listen to some online lectures that had been posted so I could complete an assignment.  Of course it technology decided that the link to said lectures should be broken and therefore strand me unable to listen to the lectures late at night.

That incident was a great reminder that patience is really a virtue that is vitally important in the Dominican Republic because the pace of life is so much more relaxed and slower than in the U.S.  You have to be willing to work around situations that arise without foresight and be able to respond in a relatively calm manner.

Another fine example of this was in the airport, we missed our connection to Santiago, and had to get on a flight to Santo Domingo so that we could avoid spending a night in the airport.  Instead of waiting in a line for hours on end we made the decision to go straight towards the gate that the flight to Santo Domingo left from and speak to the gate agent. We explained our situation and worked around a unplanned problem.  


Please Fasten Your Seat Belts

Well, I am still waiting to hear that phrase… “Please fasten your seat belts for takeoff.”  I love this part of the flight because it means that I am going to stop sitting in a plane that isn’t moving and start moving towards my destination.  Being a regular Southwest Airlines passenger is always entertaining because they seem to have several ways of doing this, by singing it or even if you are lucky they will rap it.  Just check it out for yourself. Click Here.

 

It hasn’t come yet but it sure will be here soon because there are only 7 more days until we leave for the Dominican Republic.  I am very excited to get down there and see some familiar faces, not only of my class, but also from the workers at ILAC who I grew to know quite well of the 4 months that I spent down there. I am excited about the language, the people, the smells, the food, the pace of life, and mostly about making a documentary in a place that I called home for 4 months.

Although we are only there for 10 days I know that we will experience and learn a lot both from class time and time in the city, because I have learned that the best way to learn is by talking to people and hearing their story.  Hearing Pedro’s story will without a doubt be a great experience because he has done some amazing things with the community of Cien Fuegos.  To me he seems like one of those amazing people that you read about in books or see in movies, except this time I am meeting him and I am making that movie about him that will help get his name out there.

 7 more days! 

Writing, Do you Love it or Hate it?

“Our waking hours for the text of our lives, our dreams, the commentary” – unknown

My writing experiences may differ from most, I have taken a slew of English classes that focus on writing both in high school and in college.  Also in high school I worked for the yearbook and wrote many of the profiles of the student body/faculty as well as picture captions.  I have a little bit of experience writing news articles for various projects in my course of studies but all in all I have a general feel of journalistic writing as well as your standard paper writing techniques.  

I do not enjoy writing on topics that I do not enjoy, but do not mind writing on topics that I find interesting as long as the length is not too long. I always have had a short attention span so if I am writing on something that I do not find interesting for a lengthy period of time I will not enjoy that.

Journaling is something that I started to do this last semester while I was studying abroad, I would write a couple times a week in the beginning but time was scarce so that shrank very quickly to writing only once a week near the end of the semester, and now my journal is sitting on a shelf so I have lost that form of regular writing. 

Writing a blog worked out far better for me last semester because like most people, I am able to type much faster than I can hand write.  I kept a blog last semester as well and that seemed to get more content then my journal did and a lot of the time they ended up with very similar material. I really enjoyed the blog more than the journal because I could match photos with what I posted as well as videos.  This made it a much more visual experience for people who read it and I am a much more visual person.

A lot of the time when I write, I just let my hands wander where my brain is moving.  I do not make outlines, or bullet points before I write, writing for me is a like letting my brain rest and slowly express itself honestly.  What I write is typically only edited for grammar and not for content because I feel that what I first write is far more honest than if I go back and edit it. Maybe that’s my attention span making excuses for my methods but I stand by them.  

For instance, I was looking at this assignment on BlueLine and I would answer each question before I moved onto the next. I read through the whole assignment once before but when through it again while writing this blog as I answered each question.