Friday, January 30, 2009

Blooging Eh?

First time blogger, not a fan. I went skiing tonight. An elitist sport it's sometimes called. I was out there for 2 or so hours and kept an eye out for anyone other than wealthy white. I noticed and spoke to many "poor" white guys and girls, only saw one black fellow, and no other physically descriptive races; it is sometimes difficult to tell behind the goggles. I've been told skiing is a white elitist sport. I don't know if it is. My favorite people to ski with are my friends i taught to ski and snowboard. I went to an all white high school. Would it have made a difference if I had not? None of us had money to pay full lift ticket prices, but we found our ways to go on the cheap. So does this mean someone from any school does not have the opportunity at a sport like this? I don't think so.

A Situation, my buddy tells me a story where he's in Cleveland outside of a concert having a smoke and 2 black kids start throwing pennies at him. He tells me, "what can I do in this situation, I can't yell and beat em' up." Interesting. Then my flatmate then gives a hypothetical, "I'm a black kid going to Hudson, and a couple of white kids are throwing pennies at me" racism? Ya it is, it's all racism. Or is it American, or world, society?

I really don't like blogs.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Good News!

Even the pessimist in me thinks that this documentary is going to succeed.  Thats a victory all on its own.  All the groups seem to have a firm grasp as to what we are all doing, and it is making me feel a little more comfortable for now.  Key, more to come in the next few days.  I have a bad feeling the pessimist may be coming back once I get my hands on a camera.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Welp, here goes nothin'

So it seems that we are finally headed towards something. When I first got to the class i wasn't expecting...well I guess I don't know what i was expecting. Everything sort of got pilled onto us at once. I almost thought that we were just going to go down hill ha, but tuesday in class we actually got into our groups and started going somewhere. We are finally on the same page....I think. I was overwhelmed at first with everything that was being said to us, I mean still am. Honestly a class on how to use a video camera and get good footage in a matter of 4 hours........god save us..hahahha but it will def. be an adventure. Here we come Hollywood!

They ALWAYS say No!

One thing to keep in mind as you contact people to get their cooperation with shooting: they ALWAYS start with NO!

Gaining access to your population can be one of the most difficult parts of any documentary. Most people don't want to be bothered, don't want to be on-camera, don't want you to interrupt their "real" business.

It's up to you to be convincing. To be persistent. To be honest. Seek out compromises....don't stop with that initial "no."

And if nothing else, just show up at the event and ask again and again and again and again. That's how Z-TV was able to get a one-on-one interview with John Kerry in the 2004 election race. One student who just NEVER gave up asking. She wore them down. The no turned to yes. Good docs don't happen easily. It takes persistence and vision.

Time for a new direction?

So I felt that our team has finally all gotten on the same page, and has the same vision. But it may come to a crashing halt. 

I received notice today that most likely we are going to be unable to get interviews with the speakers that we would like to. At this point agents are being contacted to see if things can be arranged with Tim Wise, and I have to go through the school of art to make arrangements with David Brown. Which shouldn't be too hard (famous last words). 

So I think we need to start brainstorming for a back up idea. I'm so excited. 

It's amazing what a little organization can do!

Before class on Tuesday I was unable to envision what this documentary was going to look/feel like. The class had an exercise the week before in which each student made a presentation on one of the following topics:
  • Define tolerance as it pertains to race relations in America
  • How is change (perceptions, mindsets, laws, etc..) initiated and conducted in America
  • What progress has been made toward or away from cultural coexistence in America
  • Define racial persistence
  • Define individual identity
  • Define social identity
  • Define cultural identity
  • Research and define cultural assimilation
  • Research and define Cultural pluralism
The lazy student in me thought this was pointless, "lets get on with the documentary already!" But as usual I stand corrected and feel this exercise helped a lot with understanding different angles these questions can take you in. So once that was all over and we huddled in our groups for a bit we have some direction and ideas to confidently take that first step into making this project happen. I'm really excited.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Okay, so today I was not looking forward to going to class.  I was drowning in a sea of too lofty, too abstract, too not-gonna-happen-in-three-months-on-no-budget ideas that weren't pointing in any sort of direction.  We needed the insight only the designation of "oracle" and a lifetime of toxic gasous hallucinations could provide.  A treatment out of this chaos by Thurs? Not happening.

But after a rather laborous first 5 minutes of small group discussion, and a surprisingly fascinating crash-course on the truth behind stepping (seriously Pat, that was amazing.  That's a documentary in and of itself,) we did have an angels-with-trumpets-out-of-the-clouds experience, and while I'm still "beyond" freaked out, I felt like I have a much better handle on what to hone in on, at least for now.  (I think the angel's name was Madea?)

It seems that none of us wanted to explore race in the same way it's been explored for decades.  We just might have something here.

Week Two: Confusion Sets In

After two weeks of working on topics and ideas for the doc, we are seeing some concern among students about exactly what this thing will look like. With good reason, right?

We spent the weekend training on how to set up to record an interview, the teams all took turns shooting each other. But those controlled situations will be nothing like going out with unfamiliar gear into an unpredictable situation with a new person. That's when we'll find out who was awake Saturday morning while we went over the gear!

A bigger issue is "what will this actually look like?" What's the story? What's the point? After two solid days of good discussion about identity, race relations, change and persistence, today the teams are working on developing an outline of what the final product will look like....and they are worried about how amorphous it all is. I can only advise them that this is natural....

Treatments are due on Thursday. We'll see then how it all goes....

The Crew

Dr. Phil Hoffman
Anthony Samangy

Group 1:
Christina Day
Patrick Magyar

Group 2:
Courtney Mesick
Abby Popa
Natalie Roth

Group 3:
Jennifer Spurrier
Paul Woznicki
Kellie, Evans

Real life. Real Experience.

This course will toss students into the world of producing documentaries first-hand, as the University of Akron's Rethinking Race activities unfold in Spring 2009. Students will work hands-on planning, designing, shooting, and editing a documentary under the direction of multiple Emmy award nominee Dr. Phil Hoffman, and Telly Award winner Tony Samangy. This cross-disciplinary team will consist of students from across art, communication, music, and other departments. No boundaries, no artificial barriers between artists. There is only the work.

Don’t just study documentaries. Make one.