ONE SENTENCE SYNOPSIS
We all want to be something when we grow up… but is there any hope for that in today’s world?
ONE PARAGRAPH SYNOPSIS
To Be Something documents the dreams that our youth in the world have for our future. But with all that’s going on in the world in this current day and age – poverty, conflict, inequality and corruption… is there any hope for these dreams to eventuate? who actually is responsible for making these dreams come true?
Unit Production Manager – Jessie Mahina Caesar
First Assistant Director – Jessie Mahina Caesar
Second Assistant Director – Jessie Mahina Caesar
Narrator/Main Character – Jessie Mahina Caesar
Child with dreams #1 – Foxx Berlowitz
Child with dreams #2 – Nicole Cruz
Child with dreams #3 – Anihera Proctor
Child with dreams #4 – TeAwanui Proctor
Child with dreams #5 – Callum Fitzjohn
Child with dreams #6 – Cianan Fitzjohn
Camera – Tanika Berlowitz, Caitlin Fitzjohn, Haydnn Reeves-Price
Stock Footage – Pexels Stock Photo & Video (https://www.pexels.com/license/), Internet Archive (https://archive.org/), Coverr Stock Photo & Video (https://coverr.co/license)
Music – Freeplay Music
Song(s) – Driving Upstate, The Rules Of Disgrace, Distracted
Post-Production – Jessie Mahina Caesar
In class, we’ve discussed how recorded images and sound can convey a sense of authenticity, and/or persuade us to think about the real world. This is an idea that inspired the entirety of my film, ‘To Be Something’.
After much consideration on how I was to execute this project, considering the COVID-19 restrictions, I had decided to take on the assignment alone, and make use of entirely voice-over narrative, stock and found footage and interviews. This means that this idea of using recorded images and sound to convey a sense of authenticity and persuade the audience to think about the real world, was paramount and would become my main focus.
‘To Be Something’ is based around my own personal ideas on the world. While they’re personal thoughts and opinions, they seem to be thoughts and opinions that a lot of us similarly share – That is, that that the current state of the world isn’t great, and at this rate is crushing the spirit of most of us; furthermore, if we continue to go this way it will just be a never ending cycle. So to convey these ideas, I came back to the original one we had in class, of using sound, through voice-over narration that I did myself, to discuss these ideas. I then thought to include stock footage, in between interviews with children that I collected from their parents, that would help support my opinions through the use of images that were related and helped generate thoughts about what I was discussing in the narration.
When unpacking ‘To Be Something’ further, and understanding the process behind the film – It’s clear to see that, rather than a singular moment/scene in the film/edit, the entire film works to showcase and example of this discussed idea in class of using recorded images and sound to convey a sense of authenticity, and/or persuade us to think about the real world. Although there was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discuss the Coronavirus Pandemic through this idea, as we are currently living history, I thought that there was possibly a larger issue at hand here that the virus is uncovering – That is, that there are rather large cracks in the governments and systems within our society. The pandemic is exposing these cracks, and showing us all the problems that I touch on in ‘To Be Something’, and up until now it has been a never-ending problematic cycle. But in all of its darkness, and destruction, the pandemic also marks a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to break this cycle, and that’s why I thought it time to use image and sound in this film, to convey these thoughts I was having to try persuade the audience to think about this problem in the real world – and do something about it.
I didn’t think that I’d have much to say about the process of collaboration, considering this was a solo project for me. But after much thought and consideration, I actually found that I did have something to say.
Collaboration, in the context of my film ‘To Be Something’, is a very interesting point of discussion – As I was confined to the space of my own house to produce the entire project, and made the choice to work alone, rather than in a team. Usually, I wouldn’t favour taking on a project alone, but considering the COVID-19 restrictions in place, I thought that working in a team would actually make it a harder process, instead of an easier one. This felt like an exciting challenge for me, as it was both an opportunity to fully creatively express myself, and to experience executing every role in the film-making process.
Despite all of this, I still found collaboration to be an extremely important part in creating this project. While I wasn’t out filming things myself, I still had to collaborate with others to find the materials I needed to complete the film. This meant collaboration with others to get my interview material with the children complete. Back and forth emails between the participants and I to make it all happen. I had to collaborate in the way that I had to show my work to other students, tutes, family and friends via emailing back and forth to get feedback to create the best possible cut I could, as well as finding good resources to help me with a project like this.
So I would definitely say I was a great collaborator, otherwise the film itself wouldn’t have come together, if I wasn’t. I was able to create ‘To Be Something’ because I was able to collaborate with others to find the content that I needed – regardless of COVID-19 isolating me.
When I set out to complete this film, I had completed an Ethics Charter to help assist me in the filming process. This, however, was created before the COVID-19 restrictions were put in place, and we moved to online learning, which changed the entire project – including the way that I set out to approach filming and putting it together. I had to find a way to create a powerful film, without actually being able to leave the house or see anyone to film – which I did through the use of voice-over narrative, stock footage and interviews that I had collected via asking people to participate and record the interview themselves, with whatever technology they had available. This didn’t make my Ethics Charter obsolete, it just meant that I had to apply these ethics differently. This was the charter I had completed, below:
- Turn the camera off at the request of the participant (Rachel Boynton, DOC NYC, 2018).
- Show the participant the finished film before the public (Rachel Boynton, DOC NYC, 2018).
- Love the people that you film. (Rachel Boynton, DOC NYC, 2018).
- Respect the participants wishes at all times, it’s important to have a positive relationship with the participant – and that they don’t walk away disappointed or unhappy with you
- Always offer the participant food or beverage if the participants are in your space.
- Ensure their facilities (i.e. Toilets, Change-rooms etc.) are acceptable if the participant is in your space.
DOC NYC PRO: Casting Case Studies 2016, streaming video, DOC NYC, New York, viewed INSERT DATE HERE 2019, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bndwq27kkjc>.
Because of the new nature of my work, ethics two, three and four became paramount. I had to love and respect the participants at all times, to maintain a positive relationship to ensure that I would get the best work out of them possible. I was relying on the participants to take my instructions clearly and compose a film worthy piece from whatever they had available. Usually, this was an iPhone, however, which meant the standard quality was (mostly) good. I made sure to inform them well of the project I was creating, what it was for (University, portfolio and possibly film festivals), how I was intending to use their children in my film, and the logistics of how it would all work (i.e. how I ideally picture the videos, what kinds of questions they should ask their kids, where they were to send it, release forms etc.). Finally, I was sure to show each participant the finalised film, or promised to show them it, if they should become interested in seeing it. So while I wasn’t able to film anything directly myself, it’s clear that having an Ethics Charter and ethics in place is important – regardless of the kind of project you are completing. I think the only thing I would add, if I was to write this charter again, is to consider the representation of other peoples stock footage (i.e. credits at the end, the message you are sending by using their footage).
While I felt satisfied with my cut I handed in, after our presentations in class, with Producer Adam Farrington-Williams & RMIT Media Academic Sophie Langley, I am now able to see and create a checklist of things to change before the final cut presentations – These being:
- To change the dialogue at the end of the film, to allow to audience to sit on what I am saying, as well as being able to digest the children who are speaking, rather than have them as a background feature.
- There is a lot of sound tweaking to do, as this was not something I focused on in the first two cuts of my film – mostly because I didn’t wish to waste time finessing those things when I hadn’t come to a full picture lock.
- & finally, I need to add some sort of call-to-action at the end in text. I’m thinking a quote about humanity of the sorts. I’m not interested in adding further dialogue in the end, as Sophie suggested, just as I think the final statements from me are powerful enough to stand alone, and for that fact that I think that the lacking in a call-to-action in my dialogue works to help the audience understand the point of my film – That being, that there is nothing that I can say to make anyone do anything about it, we must take global action together. All I can do is present people with the current global situation and let the people ponder the question of what can we do?