Category Archives: Video

Documentary: “Occupy Movement Update”

Quick Note on Documentaries:

When raw camera footage is sculpted, edited, and stylized it becomes a documentary—in other words, “the creative treatments of actuality.” The purpose of films, in this particular genre, is to raise awareness of a real issue, an event, or an individual/people. This is because documentaries are usually made by artists and/or even activists who have specific goals in mind. To create these films,  it requires grappling through a complex process that is compromised of extensive research, film/editing techniques, and launching a logical, memorable message. And hopefully, in the end these essential elements will unite to form a compelling and cohesive art piece that could circulate, inform and move the hearts of millions of  viewers around the globe.

Process of Creating this Short Documentary:

In the fledgling stages of creating “Occupy Movement Update,” our team wrestled with what aspect of the movement to focus on. There were so many different types of angles we could have chosen, but at the end we unanimously agreed that it would be interesting to concentrate on the popular question that mainstream media repeatedly asks Occupy participants, “What are your demands?”.  This broad question of demands seemed to branch out in a variety of forms. The current complaints voiced through the media is that Occupy needs to present ONE demand, they have are TOO MANY demands, or they have NO demands. We discussed how problematic these questions/comments proved to be because the very questions/comments are testaments to the domination of traditional power ideology that exists in our society.

Besides the difficulty of choosing a concentrated idea, another challenge was to create a film that covers all the essential bases (few of which I mentioned above). Roles were divided for the lack of time (4 weeks). Tim and Tamara were in charge of gathering the raw video footage on site in Downtown L.A., while Katie and I gathered video footage, photos, and quotes from from Youtube and various other websites. The most difficult challenge was to compound everything to create a lucid, influential, and artistic film. At first, editing the collectively gathered research/material felt like trying to make oil and water intermix. We realized that the quotes, clips and photos were not enough to send a clear message, so we framed the film with reflective questions to guide viewers along the entire ride.

So, with all the complications, intricacies and extensive time put into the making of this film, you may ask why we did it.

Let me explain.

For all four of us, to write a conventional paper on the Occupy Movement—focusing on how we could make each small point which would hide under a tightly, constructed thesis—could have been a natural, comfortable way of approaching this issue. Yet, we took on the challenge of translating it into a documentary because the power of seeing real people’s faces and hearing their real voices—with video footage/still images from the movement—brought a new sort of life into the message. A documentary allowed the non-fiction nature of the story/event to be made more real than maybe what text would allow.

So, I leave you with two questions…

Do you see what I see?

Can you hear us?

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Video Essay: Visual Femininity


A Short Blurb on Video Essays:

Like most students, I come from a background in which writing academic papers that exude cogency is praised by most professors and colleagues alike. In one’s undergraduate studies, the audience is obvious—the professor and possibly a TA who will stamp a final grade onto your papers. When we write about topics that we want to bring beyond the classroom walls and into the public view, this traditional, distant, and formal writing style does not seem to be as effective as other available mediums. Paper-based essays thrive in academia, but do they make the same kind of impact to the rest of society who we really want to listen?

Short video essays are rising into the public as they carve out a slightly different path than documentary films. Documentaries (essentially longer, more professional video essays) have made their way into various classrooms, the History Channel and the Sundance Film Festival. Creators of 3-5 minute long video essays have utilized popular platforms like YouTube or educational websites that encourage this new wave of visual learning and information extraction. Perks of creating an essay in the form of a short clip  are the wider audience, likelihood of someone finishing the piece in one-sitting, and its easy one-click accessibility on the internet.


Process of Creating this Video Essay:

In my previous post, I submitted a draft outline of what my upcoming video essay would look like. The process of outlining a video essay remained relatively the same as it would if I were to write a paper essay with the same topic and thesis. Yet, the aspect of maintaining cogency required that it manifest itself in an unfamiliar, alternate form.

Editing an essay took on a whole new meaning as I replaced my trusty thesaurus with film software programs. Shooting in real time and cutting clips demanded an extra layer of thought than simply pressing the delete key on a computer keyboard. Timing never felt so important. Music emphasized the tone and mood of the piece. The most surprising element was that words became a supplementary supporter rather than the primary means for relaying my message. 

The most rewarding part about this experience was that I wasn’t stuck in a library alone with my laptop and mountains of books beside me as I hammered away into the night trying to find legitimate sources/quotes to use to support or counter-argue my point. Creating this video essay required interaction with other people. I was able to hear their real opinions while I looked at their facial expressions and heard the fluctuations in the sound of their voice. After the shoot, the cast members themselves became my attentive audience as they provided an unexpected stage for me to share and explain my personal questions about Visual Femininity.


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