A Journey Into Self: Personal Documentaries

Project Description

This project was a 3-week unit within Hartford Area Career and Technology Center’s Design, Illustration and Media Arts program. Discovering Community’s Media Instructor, Scott Miller, collaborated with Felicia Allard’s 12th grade Design, Illustration and Media Arts class, asking students to explore one aspect of who they are, and show how it has a profound impact on them. The students began by writing essays on their topic, which became the basis of monologues for their films. Next they studied the basics of documentary film before shooting, editing and presenting their own work.


Students Hayden and Sven placed 1st and 2nd at Castleton State College’s film festival in the documentary category.

For more information about this project, please see the project Case Study below:

Discovering Community Project Case Study

Project Name: A Journey Into Self

Project Type: Personal Documentary

Location, date, time: Hartford Area Career and Tech. Center – Fall 2012 – 8:30-10am

Teachers: Felicia Allard

VFC Collaborator: Scott Miller

Student Age: 12th Grade

Class: Design, Illustration and Media Arts

Websites http://ajourneyintoself.blogspot.com/

Project Description/Goals:

This project was a 3-week unit within Hartford Area Career and Technology Center’s Design, Illustration and Media Arts program.  Students from five areas High Schools participate in the program, meeting every morning and staying together in a class for 2 years while studying a broad array of media arts.  The students were proficient in camera and editing techniques, having made scripted and artistic videos prior, but had never turned their skills toward a documentary.

The curriculum asked students to explore one aspect of who they are, and show how that has had a profound impact on them. The students began by writing a two-page essay on their topic, which became the basis of a monologue for their film. Next they studied the basics of documentary film before shooting, editing and presenting their work.  Students Hayden and Sven placed 1st and 2nd at Castleton State College’s film festival in the documentary category.

 

Equipment:

- Mac Lab with 27” iMacs

- Canon HD camcorders (school owned) and DSLR cameras (student owned)

- Tripods (school owned)

Software:

- Final Cut X

Syllabus (see full document):

Met with students weekly for 13 weeks from 8:30-11am

-       Week 1: Learn about short format documentary, pick topics, write essay

-       Week 2: Share essay and get feedback, film and conduct interviews

-       Week 3: Edit and present work

     

VFC Collaborator’s Reflections

The group trusted one another immensely, which allowed them to explore very personal topics.  This trust had been built before I entered the classroom, as the students had been together for a full year prior, as they all are in the DIMA program at HACTC.  Because of this I found it fairly easy to enter the classroom and quickly gain the trust of the students.  As a result of trusting one another, and trusting me, many students felt comfortable making films addressing intense, personal issues such as their gender identity, experiences of abuse, differing physical abilities, adoption, and death in the family.

Another factor here was the short time period we imposed on the project.  This pushed the students to get it done – which many responded well to.  However, the short time period was frustrating for some, and one student did gave up rather than try to meet the goal.  Overall, the short time period was positive for the majority (80-90%) of the students.


 

Syllabus, Full Document

 

Personal Identity Video Project 2012

Instructors: Felicia Allard, Scott Miller

Hartford Area Career and Technology Center, Fall 2012

FINAL Documentary Video Requirements:

•                5-8 minutes in length

•                first person documentary

•                must address one of the 3 following themes (or may cross multiple themes):

1.             A profile of an important person in your life, and how you have been affected or inspired by them

2.             An exploration of one aspect of who you are, and how/why it has had a profound impact on you

3.             A journey into a negative issue in your community, and how that issue impacts you, with an exploration of strategies you can use to transform or change the issue (perhaps educate the non-knowledgeable on the topic)

Schedule:

W-Th Oct 17-18  

Learn about short film and documentary.  Pick topics.  Explore sub-topics/ angles you may approach the subject, think about/plan interview possibilities and video shots for your topics

F-Su Oct 19-21

Write a 2 page first person essay on your topic.  Goal: clarify what you are trying to say to what audience.  (and in the best scenario...can be used as script/voice over in your video)

M Oct 22

Share essay with the class, meet with Scott, Mrs A and Bob to clarify topic , plans and needs.  Gather feedback

T-F Oct 23-26

Hold interviews when possible at HACTC during class time, conduct planned off site trips with Bob or Mrs Allard., Tape, tape, tape and more taping.  NO excuses.  You will be marked down for days you do not work on the project.  Plan to have footage to work on, taping to do, interviews etc.  PLANNING and FOLLOWING THROUGH are key to the success of your project!

M Oct 29

All footage should be taken.  Edit!

T-Th Oct 30-Nov 1

Edit, Edit, Edit EDIT!!!!!! Project due the end of class on Thursday Nov 1.

F Nov 2

End of the Quarter!  CRITIQUE