Recording Mode


This week, the documentary team convened once again to continue our weekly journey. This time we ventured into the world of the Whitney Pier squad, as we began to gather material for our larger documentary of the iCreate pilot project. With pencils, cameras, and audio recorders in hand, we all entered the fray of the Boardmore Theatre, and swiftly shifted to recording mode. We had little context or explanation for what appeared before us, but as the flow of events continued, we gradually began to discern something of what the Whitney Pier group was up to. “Shoot first, ask questions later,” we may have said.  Or, as radio maker Scott Carrier writes, “In the beginning there’s the tool. We’re alive, we see things happening around us, but in order to tell other people about what we’re seeing we need an instrument for communication.” With the aid of our recording tools, it seems that we can bottle up our experiences as we have them, even before we understand what any of it might mean. We can begin with the tool.

The theatre itself created an unusual setting for our documentation efforts. While the youth from Whitney Pier played theatre games on the stage, the documentary team settled comfortably into the audience, atop suitably elevated cushioned red chairs. As audience members, we could easily pretend to be flies on the wall (with the exception of our resident sound engineer, who attended closely to the conversational sounds from the stage.) After we had documented enough material, we returned to our documentary headquarters and thought about what we had preserved. One of the facilitators, Wendy Bergfeldt, posed three questions to everyone: “What did we get? What do we need? And what can we do with what we have?” Everyone had many ideas, and as two members of the team had created shot lists (documenting the particular time that particular events occurred) our group should be able to rearrange what we’ve recorded with relative ease.

We then discussed some strategies for conducting interviews. One of the youth piped up with a suggestion:

“If you need some help thinking on your feet during an interview, I’ve got just the thing-“

“Always stand upright?” [cheekily asked another youth, eliciting much laughter]

“Yes! But also, make up your answers!”

And so, the youth conducted practice interviews with one another about some highly earth shattering subjects. (“We are exposing the conspiracy of poop monsters” floated into my ears.) After we were suitably practiced, we returned to the theatre to interview the youth from Whitney Pier. Though we were a little pressed for time, the documentary team interviewed together with ease, and the Whitney Pier youth gave us some really wonderful interviews! Now, we simply need to determine what comes next, and what comes after that, and figure out how to knit it all together in the end. And so, next week the documentary team will meet twice. On Monday, we’ll edit, and on Wednesday, we’ll continue gathering footage for our final project.