Intention of project
‘Te tango’ meaning ‘I have you’ in Spanish is a 15-minute mini-documentary, aiming to capture the views of many individuals stance surrounding self-reliance. I want emotions to run wild as we see what communities can do to create a better world when we rely on one another in a more powerful way. The objective is to shift the current perspective of all of those ‘self-reliant’ people into understanding reliance has its strength. My idea of creating change in my community is through powerful and optimistic storytelling. There is plenty of sadness in the world. As my project focuses on creating strengthened communities and aiming to reduce loneliness and depression, I see transpiring the notion of belonging to a community to be so powerful and positive.
Origin of idea
I love creating purpose in all of my films and animations. It really transpires the notions I want to achieve as a filmmaker. I originally found the major project to be an unfamiliar space. I was unsure of what I wanted to achieve and how I would get there. At first, I wanted to evolve my Entrepreneurship project of the Happy Hub and create a space for individuals to reconnect with themselves and perhaps colleagues. I then shifted my thinking into a more logical and drastic move which was to create a film that transpired this notion. I have always loved the idea of creating and challenging myself into making a documentary. I love the beauty in its rawness and authenticity, I guess that is what attracts people to them. To see humans being human. In their most vulnerable states. I think it is really special to unlock that sense of beauty we all possess when personalities are stripped and we are all alike.
I wanted to really test the waters and what I could achieve through filmmaking that would reflect who I am as well as build community spirit. I got the name from beginning to learn Spanish and my friend Alejandro from Mexico would always say Te Tengo when trying to help me. We had a dinner one night and all of his friends said Mi Molla Tu Rolla meaning I like the way you roll - I have you, I respect you. And I thought that was quite a nice foundation for my mini-documentaries to begin.
Nathan Oldfield is a huge inspiration for me. The way he compliments human behaviour with beautiful cinematography will always amaze me. He places delicate topics alongside calm ocean settings and that really does something to me. It ignites my spirit into feeling something more than a form of escapism when watching films. It triggers an emotion that is almost unexplainable until you experience something similar alongside someone else so they understand. It is a unique way of viewing the world and for that, I am grateful to have found him. Documentaries are a great vehicle to express internal monologues through other humans. It is about understanding how best to express those emotions to the audience, through others.
Another great inspiration of mine was actually a period video via facebook - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW0brheXOPo&feature=youtu.be its voice-overs, choice of imagery and colours, complemented with great sound design = a video everyone wants to watch regardless of if that topic really suits you. What really appeals to me is sharp and relevant imagery that tells a story in different ways throughout. That is what I am trying to do. Share a unique way of telling a story everyone has heard before; we need each other, through the lives of 3 individuals. Poets also really inspire my work. Particularly Tess Guinery’s new book Apricot Memoirs and Erwin Raphael McManus’ The Artisan Soul. They create an unlock of vulnerable behaviour in me that gets my creativity rolling and mind wandering. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Albert Einstein were also inspirations with their thoughtful quotes that express deeper states of mind.
I was also really driven and influenced by the state of my current society. I see so many people in competition with other humans, friends, family and loved ones. Making enemies for no reason when instead we can collaborate and create change in much more powerful ways. When discussing the idea with people, I waited to see their first reaction on the matter; that moment of getting a little emotional that they wanted to look away before they told me more was totally what I wanted from my audience. I want their vulnerability to shine and their hearts to be open to their community; awaiting being strengthened together.
Quality and effectiveness of research, its process and outcomes
At first, I was so lost with this project and its direction. I was unclear on the message I wanted to achieve and the questions I needed to ask in order to get there. Qualitative and quantitative data in the form of surveys and interviews was my biggest hurdle. I always think of my dad when thinking of a question, whom from a young age told me an insightful Albert Einstein quote. Dad would talk the way he thought I perceived Albert to speak with his moustache, “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask… for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes” (A more beautiful question, 2018).
This was the most tedious process for me. I respect marketing gurus who do surveys for a living as it is an equation of sorts. If you don’t lead them up on a journey of questions, they get bored: evident through their answers. Once I began to understand a pattern and the outcome I was after, the questions happened to fall into place. Through online anonymous surveys, I found the majority of answers were authentic. I did, however, notice that humans still do remain sceptical about themselves at times and regardless of anonymity, they still feared how I perceived them in the sense of being self-reliant. I think though it actually goes deeper than that. I feel and notice I do it sometimes when filling out surveys or forms, you fill it out in the way you want to be and sometimes not as you are. You accentuate specific characteristics perhaps without even noticing, it is the way of the human spirit.
Overall, I was almost emotional when viewing all of the results from online surveys, interviews as well as focus groups. It allowed me to see the world in a different light; free from social media, free from masks and egos; just humans in their raw and natural state. It is so empowering. They guided my project in a beautiful and authentic direction, which was exactly what I needed to back my thoughts and concept.
Context of commercial, social and cultural factors
Every project I do has elements to make and create change in this world. I hope when people view my work it sparks something inside them they wouldn’t necessarily feel on the regular. I want it to create happiness and awareness of our current state of being. That we are much more than our devices and materialistic objects; we are all human and we all deserve to be happy and to belong to something bigger. If my work can give them that sense of being for those few minutes, then I have achieved everything.
I decided to take an editorial perspective on this project. This allowed for further heightening of the issue and a challenge I aimed to address through the use of my voice over at the beginning and the end to tie together the entire story. There is always the ability to address social and cultural issues that encourage change through delicate placement and authenticity for the audience's benefit. That is what I tried to do, create real and engaging stories that allowed people to see beautifully vulnerable humans and then to be that vulnerable viewer that feels something on a deeper level. Belonging and mental health are two of the most important things we have as humans. We need nurturing, we need a sense of self and we need a purpose in this world. My mini-documentary serves as a vehicle to help shift and shape their current state into a more holistic and community-driven sense of self. We can achieve everything when we work together.
Effectivity of the production process and timing
To plan for a mini-documentary is so much easier said than done. Just knowing what you have to do takes quite a bit of time. To organise questions, ensure you have a storyboard and structure. Scheduling your interviewees, have time before and after to discuss the interview and look through footage in case you needed to re-shoot. It was a great learning process for me especially because I was my entire production team. As I had 3 people to interview that required at least a couple of hours per person in which included their interview, some mistakes, discussion before and after and b-roll footage to have cut during the interviews.
As I wanted their responses to be authentic and natural I needed to allow them enough time to become comfortable, really think and engage in their questions and responses and then deliver that with the emotion needed to convince and spark a deeper response from the audience. B-roll was very time consuming as it required several locations and situations. Newtown festival was a great event that enabled me to film music and community reliance in such a natural environment. Just ensuring there was enough footage was also a process. Going through post-production during the production phase was necessary for this documentary as I had no time to have limited footage. As it is going to develop and only have 1 person being interviewed the entire production process will be streamlined for future episodes, which is great.
Self-assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the project
At first, I didn't know how my project would end up. I always envisaged a soul touching doco that had so many elements of beauty. Being completely honest with myself, I think my strengths lied with my cinematography and overarching message and concept of my project. Its overall purpose and long-term plan I also feel is a major strength as it allows for future development and growth on the same topic, thus taking into account previous feedback and criticism so it can be improved on for all following episodes. I.e tightening the message surrounding community reliance- is it for the individual or the community.
Experience is a major strength and weakness for me, as I have a little bit of it but not enough to call myself a professional filmmaker. It is a strength due to the fact that that is the only way I will learn, from mistakes and consistently creating new content pieces. It’s also a huge weakness as there are so many documentary makers out there that possess great skills as well as ideas. My pursuit for good and change, I believe is an infectious strength that is essentially driving my career and consuming the majority of my time as of late. Another flaw in the project would be how long the first series Ep is. As stated, the trailer could well be more powerful and concise than the actual mini-doco. However, my rationale for this is to allow the audience to understand how the entire series would look and begin with 3 different views and stories. Each one following will be more concise and short.
Assessment of the achievement of project objectives
There were so many things I wanted to achieve. I wanted to shift the stigma of reliance to be a positive and empowering thing. I wanted millennials to strip back their egos right down to their raw and natural beings. To understand collaboration and community reliance really is the most powerful asset and sense of belonging you can have. I wanted people watching to feel vulnerable and be ok in knowing people are there for you as you are for them in a sense.
From showing my family and a few friends the trailer before presenting in class to our panel judging night, I was ecstatic with the responses from my audience. My mum cried in the car when I showed her. Even my guy friends said they felt vulnerable when viewing it. I have also had professionals view and comment on the trailer in which they were impressed, moved and said it encouraged shifted thinking on the matter. By choosing to play my mini-documentary throughout my presentation I believe I created an emotional and engaged response from my class and the judges. I enabled them to see the world of Te Tengo.
A friend of mine Curt said when he watched it he had a moment to himself and then he felt like calling me to talk about it and share how much it moved him. He said it is such a special and hot topic to really dive into. He said he never really viewed reliance in such a powerful and emotional way. As he is a musician he really resonated with competition over collaboration and then was enlightened by the fact that you can have both and be much stronger because of it. A beautiful musician Eva from Hello Satellites quotes “Bec has made a moving series about how humans need each other. We do! And I needed her to remind me of this”.
I believe I have reached the objectives I set out to achieve. Overall I am just really proud of myself to have achieved a heartfelt piece that has already shifted perspectives and created change just from the trailer.
Reflection on what problems arose and how these were resolved
There are always problems in anything you do. Nothing will ever go completely according to plan. Ideas change, peoples schedules get busy and you just have to grin, bear it and continue the process the best way possible. Not so much a problem as it was an obstacle was the amount of content I had to edit. Time was a huge factor in ensuring that was possible as well as energy and creative juices flowing. A major problem was actually motivation in editing. Regardless of how in love I am with this project and its purpose, I found it actually daunting to edit and deconstruct this doco. I suppose it was because I am hard and very critical with myself and my work.
I always like to take time in what I deliver and ensure it tells a story, has an emotional impact and creates some form of change. The post-production is where it can all go wrong. If you don’t bring that story to life and give it the magic it needs, you don’t have a story. I resolved it by breathing, by watching inspiring filmmakers and their final products. I watched snippets of my piece and slowly brought it together. I watched it over and over and examined what I could cut and what needed to stay to remain authentic. I know they will be shorter in future which also is a blessing. It was a hard but very satisfying problem and challenge I accomplished.
Reflection of the mentoring process
To be honest. I am not sure about the whole mentoring process. I had Mark who is a great documenter as per his latest documentary ‘Vestige’. I did enjoy having his professional support on my project but did feel like it was more effort than anything at times to try and explain my plan and process to him without having anything fully developed. I really enjoyed having peer feedback in class more and the support we all had for each other which was amazing. I enjoyed leaning on others, like Kieran who was sort of in the same mindset and boat as me with her project. I also really enjoyed leaning on you Ian as you offered amazing advice professionally, educationally and personally on my project and my career as a filmmaker. I think it’s about understanding who best suits what you are after. I think perhaps having Nathan Oldfield as a mentor would have benefited me more with my overall aim and look of my documentary series. Someone with experience in my type of genre. Something I know for next doco.
How has the project challenged the student?
As I am still new to the filmmaking world, this entire project was a major challenge for me. Not only did I learn how hard it is to share real stories with authenticity but also how to create impactful change in my community through film. I found it to be the most rewarding experience to create a series that has the potential to continuously grow. This was severely challenging when I began. I didn’t actually know what I was getting myself into in creating a documentary. To have never done one before and only have inspiration and an inner desire for this as my driving force, I realised that was actually all I needed. It takes guts to show your vulnerability by creating a vulnerable piece that heightens emotions and community engagement from your audience.
Any piece of work I do is a challenge. It is forcing you to practise something you have learnt or are currently learning. It is a specific skill that enables you to grow both personally and professionally. It was a great 12 weeks that encouraged me to never aim low and to understand that I really am a capable filmmaker. Documentaries are a hard field to succeed in both audience engagement and change. To share real stories with real people, without filters and scripted dialogue. It really is something special to be able to say you have done. To be behind the camera and get emotional when their responses were so raw and beautiful; to understand that this is only the beginning for me.
How has the project assisted in professional development?
I really feel like filmmaking is where I was made to be. To share stories with the world for a greater cause. This is my future and I only plan to get more creative and share more powerful stories as I progress in this industry and the world. Every video I do serves a purpose. Nothing is ever regretted or neglected. There is no hierarchy for films. They are strategically placed steps that help me grow. I encourage myself to get better and develop my skills every day, always watching new and amazing people doing their things and sharing their stories so well.
This project has really allowed me to see storytelling in a new and more interesting light. I am able to understand the power of my skills and the change I can make. It is a beautiful way to use your brain, knowledge and creativity to be powerful in an genuine way. If the world is going where they think it is, video will be the vehicle that changes the way we view our world. Everything will be expressed through and in it. Sharing for the right reasons. Encourage beauty in the vulnerable, reliance on the lonely, and love for everybody. There is no end of the line for me. I will always keep creating even with little kids running around. It is now my way of being. I can’t not film. I enjoy being surrounded by people who love creating and collaborating. I have a beautiful community interested in change. I have them and they have me.