By Jeremy Teicher, director. This is a brief summary of an extremely detailed process. The information here is meant to enhance the viewing experience, not to serve as a standalone guide.
First days in the country:
- Met with school stakeholders including representatives of the parents, village leaders, and teachers to introduce the project—how it would benefit the school and community. We also visited the nearby villages where many of the students live and introduced ourselves.
- Spoke with school administrators to discuss the project time frame and curriculum; discussed what the project entails and how we aim to accomplish it. We addressed operational logistics as well. The teachers selected students to participate in the project.
- Day One: Our first meeting with students. We explained what the project is and what our goals are: to enable them to share their stories. By the end of this first meeting, they couldn't wait to get started.
- Day Two: Talked with students about what kinds of things they'd like to share with people from other countries. Is there anything about their lives/culture they feel is misrepresented? Distributed cameras and reviewed function.
- Day Three: Collected the cameras, uploaded the footage, and returned the cameras. Reviewed camera functions again. Handed out a new worksheet that would help students identify potential topics. Had a class discussion and sent students home with a homework assignment to narrow down topic choices. Students took cameras home to continue practicing.
- Day Four: Met with each student one-on-one to discuss their topic choice. Each student wrote a draft narration to go along with the topic. Gave each student specific suggestions for when they start to film and reminded them to keep their narrations in mind while filming! Then we all got back together as a group and everyone presented what they'd be working on. Within context of class discussion, students commented on each others' topics and shared thoughts/advice.
- End of Week One.
- Gave kids extra batteries and sent them off into the wide world to film.
Week Two and onward:
- Day One: First day back from the long weekend. Collected the cameras and uploaded all the footage, then returned the cameras to the students. Class discussion, talked about how the filming went. Addressed, as a class, any problems that came up over the weekend.
- Evening: reviewed footage and took notes. Compiled the notes into individual feedback for each student, as well as group discussion feedback on issues that I saw coming up for multiple students.
- Day Two: Collected the cameras. Uploaded new footage, then returned the cameras. Met with each student for individual feedback, then had a group discussion.
- Rinse and repeat for as long as necessary. Based on my knowledge of the each student's narration, I was able to tell roughly when each student had enough good footage to tell the stories. Depending on how many topics each student is doing, this could take anywhere from around two weeks to...however long. For us, this took 10 days.
- Day ?: Recording the narrations. I found this to be perhaps the most challenging step of all--we could only work as long as the laptop battery lasted and it was difficult to achieve an acceptable level of background silence. We waited to record the voice narrations until the final few days of filming, because many students tweaked their topics over time.
- Day ?: For us, this happened at the start of the third week. Continued to have one-on-one meetings with each student, but brought in rough cuts of the movies. I made sure that each student was happy with how the edit was shaping up and that I didn't accidentally use clips in the wrong places. They didn't nitpick and tell me exactly which shots should go where, but they did correct any factual errors I inadvertently made (such as pairing the wrong clip of the harvest process with a certain narration, for instance).
- Last Day: The final show! It's good to have time to wrap everything up and celebrate the students' achievement. We threw a small party at the school, with food and drink, and invited family and community members to attend. We used a small projector and speakers to have a screening of the completed films. Everyone was very proud.
- I then returned to America and refined the edits, put together the special 30-minute film, and develop the website.
- More questions? Where do we go from here? Check out the Frequently Asked Questions page.