It was 4:30 p.m. this past Monday. I was running on two hours of sleep. I watched many suitcases ride the baggage claim carousel and pulled my bag off when it came around the corner. I grabbed the handle of my suitcase, more than ready to go home, call my mom, shower and sleep.
John, the head faculty advisor, shouted, “I’m going home. I’ll see you all tomorrow at 1 p.m.”
Reality hit me hard. We entered the classroom on Tuesday afternoon with two weeks of class ahead of us.
The fun goes on and on, and for good reason. Making a documentary isn’t just about filming video, conducting interviews, and gathering information, it’s about editing and cutting footage and picking interviews that communicate to our future audience what about our 10-day experience touched us most. In short, we have to sum up our Alaskan adventure in 20-30 minutes. It’s an almost insane goal if you think about it.
In order to achieve this goal, we all became friends with Final Cut Pro, if we weren’t already. We spent all day Tuesday with our new friend, re-naming and organizing hours and hours of video clips.
We then started to transcribe the dozen or so interviews we conducted while in Bethel. That is, we listened to the video of each interview and typed out word-for-word what the interviewee said. It sounds boring. Listen, pause the video, type and repeat a million times. But I had so much fun.
I think I just got lucky, because the interviews I transcribed were not interviews I had the chance to sit in on while we were in Bethel. I had the chance to transcribe Nelson’s interview, which was the most amazing interview we conducted while we were there.
I remember the team coming back from that interview. There were lots of high-fives and the room immediately filled with energy. His interview was a last-minute interview. We took a chance on him and he told us exactly what we wanted to hear and more.
He’s the most well-spoken 19 year old I have ever heard, and he has an awesome story. I wanted to be his best friend by the time I was done listening.
I also transcribed part of Anna’s interview. She was a senior in high school who is going to study at the University of Minnesota next year. You could tell right away she was really nervous, and I think I had forgotten how often teenagers use the word “like.” It made transcribing a bit trickier.
After we were done transcribing, I got to know Final Cut Pro a little better. I made multi-cam clips of the interviews and marked important quotes. It’s not much, but I’m glad Final Cut Pro and I got along well.
After that initial work was done, the class was split into essentially two groups: the video team and the writing team. I am part of the writing team, and I’ve been really excited about the work we’ve done on writing the story/script.
We arranged all of the noteworthy quotes into categories like subsistence, fishing restrictions, climate change and Yup’ik spirituality, which are all categories that will make up our story. We then cut out all of the quotes into strips of paper and arranged and re-arranged them into a basic and rough script. It’s like fitting pieces into a puzzle.
It’s hard to believe we got back from Alaska six days ago. Since then, we’ve put in four full days of work. It was a short yet entirely long week.
The amount of work we still have left is tremendous, so here’s to one week more and an endless amount of editing.