Self reflective write up about Searching for Existence

This year we as a Group (VAMS) had the incredible task of producing an industry standard 24-minute documentary. This was an amazing opportunity for all four of the group members to take their journalistic skills to the next level. This was harder than I ever imagined. This self-reflective report will concentrate on the complications that arose while shooting and organizing the documentary as well as the role of myself and the other members of the group in the production. Other areas of interest include how I have multi-tasked and how certain roles were delegated to certain members of the group. In concluding I will mention if the documentary was successful in trying to reach the outcomes set out by the course.

We as a group found it very hard to come up with a story to do. It took many hours of reading newspapers to spending whole afternoons on the Internet looking for interesting stuff that we could concentrate on. We definitely wanted to get out of our comfort zone, out of our box. The idea of travelling to Zimbabwe can up and this was a very exciting opportunity for us but soon we realised that journalists in Zimbabwe are not very welcome. We therefore tried a little closer to home. East London to be exact. Michelle Sansom came up with the idea of doing our documentary on a bid rubbish dump called ‘Second Creek’. At first I was sceptical not knowing the whole story. When she told me that there was an informal settlement living off the scraps from the dump then we all knew that this story had to be covered.

With four members in a group, it seems as though you can delegate certain jobs to certain members. Jobs that you think they would be good at. This is normally the case but in a learning environment it never works. It is only fair that all the members get to do or at least try their hand at different avenues. This is where our group functioned very well. Although I did much of the filming it was important for other members of the group to have a turn so we rotated as often as we could to try get different views and angles. We all have our own unique way of seeing things and thus our own distinctive way of filming things. This came across in the footage shot over the few months spent at Second Creek. The amount of footage that we got and the quality of visuals was phenomenal, and this gave us a huge advantage when it came to editing.

Roles were delegated in the beginning according to strengths. Michelle Sansom with her precision nature handled the production file from start to finish with all the other members contributing valuable information whenever we could. Angy Yousseff took control as the director and Sheetal Makhan was our chief researcher. Sheetal along with Michelle were also the ones who got us all the contacts we needed. Then I in the beginning was given the task of cameraman. We filled these roles to the best of our abilities until we had all our safety shots. Then it was time to start having some more fun. Getting different angles, letting other people get their view of what they saw and basically we all had a go at putting our own individual stamp on the project.

During the production of this documentary I think the most valuable skill that I have learnt is that of working in a team. It is very different when one is working with oneself on a project, as you don’t have to confer with anyone as to what or how you are going to do something. In a group environment, it becomes extremely difficult to communicate ones opinions. At the beginning of our project, this was the case, where members of the group never really knew where they stood in the whole greater scheme of things. Once we got into the flow and other members started multi-tasking then it became a lot easier to communicate both your own opinions and to listen to the opinions of others. I found this to be a major advantage to the success of group dynamics. Another contributor to excellent group dynamics was that of humour. Without humour we would have crumbled under the pressure and ‘stubborn headedness’ of all the members. We all have very strong personalities and this came out during the making of the documentary. Our ability to control these personalities and direct them towards our production has lead to a brilliant end product. It has also given me the chance to learn different ways of interacting in a group situation and communicating better within these situations.

When it came down to the final bits of editing and putting things together I was scene as the person who would over look all the editing options. This was just because it is my sort of area of expertises. We did all however get to know the AVID program very well and we could all edit a project on there. The reason I took over many of the edit sessions was because I had a firm prior knowledge of AVID as I read manuals, tutorials on the Internet and I also practiced a lot after hours. This was so that my own techniques and knowledge for future would be enhanced. It also helped a lot with editing of our piece as things went quicker and smoother. Although I was the editor, the other members of the group gave their input all the time. It was truly a group effort. All four members were always present at every edit slot to add our own little individual stamp to the documentary. This I think at the end of the day brought us all closer together and thus the end product was truly a group effort.

This self-reflective piece has concentrated on the group documentary that we as a VAMS production had to make during this year. It covers areas such as group dynamics, specific roles within the group and how this amazing opportunity has helped us to become better journalists and communicators. The report covered areas of multi-tasking where all members of the group had the opportunity of gaining experience in all the different fields while still doing things that they enjoyed. In conclusion I would like to mention that although it was a really tough and sometimes-arduous task, we managed to pull it off with flying colours, producing an industry quality documentary.

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