How I made the video on Iraqi refugees

July 9, 2008

Brittany Mitchell writes:

Video on the Iraqi Refugee Crisis.

Before I get into the technicalities, this project was the best thing that ever happened to me. When the project started rolling I thought to myself, “Oh, this is great, I love current events!” Little did I know that this project would change my life. I started getting to know people in foreign countries and realized that they’re just like me. I can’t even stress how important it is to be aware of the world around you.

I promise you, by creating a documentary you will learn more than any book can teach you. You will discover compassion and countless abilities you never knew you had.
So I highly suggest creating a multimedia piece on an important topic. It’ll strengthen your skills, knowledge and your heart as well.

Now for some details about how we worked on it. You won’t ever fully appreciate a film until to see what goes into producing one. The Iraqi Refugee documentary may be only 10 minutes long but over a hundred hours went into creating and recreating the project. There were times when I started working at noon but didn’t stop until five in the morning, there were times I cried and I’ll shamefully admit that there were even times that my lack of sleep caused huge mood swings that my boyfriend thankfully tolerated.

The first thing to remember before you begin a project is to schedule your time properly. Sit down with your group; put all planners on the table and set your first three meetings; make each one at least three hours long. While you’re scheduling your dates also find out each person’s strengths. Once you finish, end the meeting and treat yourself to a night out because all you’ll want to do later is finish the project that is practically engraved into your mind.

Ok, so the next meeting is crucial. Christine and I didn’t get a solid topic until three weeks after the project was assigned. So make it a point not to leave until you all agree on a topic, not a broad topic either. Pick a subtopic. I can’t even count the number of emails I received that asked for topic clarification. Don’t be like me and assume that the people you’re contacting will know exactly what you’re talking about.

A brief description of what your group plans to cover should be at least a paragraph long so that you have a basic outline for all your emails.

The professionalism of your emails is a huge determination on who will help you. Credentials are a must! If your school doesn’t have an award winning paper make sure you have some kind of creditability. Most people won’t give you the time of day if you just describe yourself as a college student doing a documentary for class.

Also remember that your contacts shouldn’t just be through emails. Talk to everyone about your project. You’ll never know who’ll be able to help and the more you talk about your topic the more you’ll know about it.

I know it’s definitely easier said than done but just keep in mind you shouldn’t finish your documentary in a week or two if it’s an important topic. It takes time to conduct interviews and you shouldn’t jump to do anything.

My suggestion is to spend the most time on your outline. I can’t even begin to tell you how much time I would’ve saved if we just asked the questions in the order of an outline. It’s definitely better to have your guests answer the same question in different words rather than just having each person answer different questions. You can never have too many people answer the same question.

I had to completely discard a phone interview with a person in Washington D.C. due to horrible audio and if it weren’t for my other sources answering the question, I never would’ve been able to cover my whole outline.

When editing, always have your outline in front of you. Whether it’s a timeline or a storyboard, you need a visual. Don’t let your brain hold all your ideas, that’s what a computer’s for.

Organize the information the most you can. I had all my audio in one folder and the video in another. Then I made subfolders on each topic I wanted to cover. Once the media was cut I just dropped it into each category. Then it all disappeared.  Yes, you read right, it ALL disappeared. That’s all it took was a little tap to the table and my external hard drive was gone. So DEFINITELY back up all your work. You never know when someone’s foot will accidentally pull the USB cord.

I know it may seem some points are overly stressed but please take the advice. It will save you a lot of time.

Oh, and just so you know. The first few processes will most likely be repeated many times. Don’t worry though, it’s completely normal!

How I interviewed Iraqi students

July 7, 2008

Christine Graf tells about how she did interviews with two Iraqi students, other Iraqi refugee stories she’s done, and what her feelings are about her reporting on this issue.

Here’s what Christine had to say:

In her shoes: from Iraq to America

Living as a college student in Baghdad during the war

Christine Graf

“I am an Iraqi citizen and I had to leave my country because of the war,” an Iraqi college student studying in America said.

The war in Iraq started in 2003 when she was a 15-year-old high school student in Baghdad. (Loquitur is withholding her name because she has family still in Iraq.)

“We were just kids. We went to school and hung out with our friends afterwards. Life was carefree before the war, just like kids here in America.”

When it became clear that this war with America was going to begin, she described how people started to leave Baghdad because it was a main target. That is when she realized what the war was already beginning to create.

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