Final Draft – Documentary

Working on this mini-documentary about my family has been a useful learning experience. It required me to test my hand at some technical skills that weren’t needed for the visual essay, since I was capturing my own sound and footage. I also, unsurprisingly, have a strong emotional investment in the project so I think I endured the technical frustrations with a little more grace because I really wanted to get to a good final product.

I still view this as an incomplete piece. I might consider it more of a trailer for a longer piece that I hope to create one day. This is why I feel comfortable leaving it without a title at this point. I couldn’t come up with anything that I was happy with and I feel like a title might emerge as the project grows and takes shape a little more.

I used a few of the techniques or styles that we learned about in our readings. The bulk of this documentary is interview of my parent’s first-hand experiences – these are conversations that we’ve maybe touched on in the past but what they share on camera for this piece was specifically constructed for the camera; it happened because the camera was there. The cooking action I filmed was already scheduled to happen at the time and I set out to capture it on film. What I captured isn’t necessarily “true” in the sense that it accurately and perfectly portrays how a pie is made from beginning to end. But I feel that it captures what I often remember about the process of making the pies. I also used reflexivity and made my own presence evident in the piece, both with my own voice and my appearance on camera.

The goal of this documentary is to capture something emotionally honest about my family. There are no objective truths that I was trying to find, or even anything that I especially want my audience to learn or think after they see this. Rather, this is the type of documentary that attempts to say “we were here” and “this is how we felt”. It is an attempt to preserve a facet of personal life that is meaningful and that can be shared like more traditional family artifacts like photo albums or antiques.

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5 thoughts on “Final Draft – Documentary

  1. I think your final draft came out quite well!

    Your comment at the end of your post, about how you weren’t seeking an objective truth, but instead trying to capture a piece of your family’s history, is what I think makes this documentary strong. You created a 21st Century artifact! Adding your family photo puts you into your family’s history, which was a good change from the first draft.

    However, despite your reflexivity and self-introspection, I like that you addressed that parts of this documentary were performed for the purpose of the camera. I think having your voice as part of the documentary, engaging with your family as the subject was a good choice.

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    • I really like your final cut. I especially enjoyed how you used more photos to weave through the history of your families experience with food while you were also explaining, and having your family members, explain its importance. I had a lot of fun watching it because of your family’s enthusiasm as well as the fun music!

      Another aspect of this I like is the camera angles capturing the food production process. This made the documentary easy to connect with because I felt like I was cooking there with you! If you make this a larger project, perhaps you could add more of these angles to add to this effect a bit.

      Adding to this, if this becomes a bigger project, perhaps try to capture more of your family in the documentary. Based on your photos, food seems to be a huge aspect of your family’s culture. Showing the hustle and bustle of your family enjoying and preparing the food could capture this even more, adding another layer to the historical photos you present.

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  2. I love baking and cooking myself, so I was particularly loved this project of yours!

    Some thoughts in no particular order…
    – I like the beginning narrative that you added to the beginning of the video with your brief explanation and context.

    – Love your dad’s comment about food being a “cultural carrier” – spot on!

    – The flour sifter handed down through the generations? Awesome.

    – The long panning shot over ingredients was a bit too close and too lengthy for me.

    – Hand whipping meringue. Fabulous.

    – “Rather, this is the type of documentary that attempts to say “we were here” and “this is how we felt”.” I like this. A lot.

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  3. This was a very sweet piece. I could relate to the subject – an intergenerational relationship to food, recipes, and family, and how carrying these traditions though the immigrant experience in the United States is a keeper of cultural ties and family formations. I particularly loved the use of music – pasta e fagiole! And I love the way you panned through the making of the Easter pie. It’s a short piece, so the content is concise. The only thing that stood out to me was that the part about the electric mixer is unnecessary, even though you are very charming on camera. Your father’s statement is the statement of the video in my mind, perhaps you might put it before the family photos rather than in the middle, but it works fine where it is. Good work.

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  4. This is so well done. Looking at it again, I think you picked the perfect topic. I’m a big foodie and my gateway into understanding cultures have always been food and music. The topic is not only appealing and relatable universally but also provides personal insight into your family life.

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