In our third week of MAET in Galway, we were asked to create an iVideo project, or a powerful movie regarding an issue in the educational setting.
My partner, my husband, and I decided to create a movie about an issue that is very near and dear to us, after both having grown up in low-income families, neighborhoods and schools–that of racial (Social Economic Status, really) academic achievement gap. While this gap is persistent and tricky to narrow, there are things that genuinely concerned school stake holders can do to promote a positive solution to the problem. Our video, “Inequality”, is a simple and moving call to action, directed at the school stakeholders, particularly teachers, parents and administrators. It is meant to make the viewers feel unnerved, to give an insight into the “doom and gloom” that our nation’s low-income and minority children face each day at school. We are hoping that this feeling will stay with our viewers and push them to question their own identity and expectations (and encourage their students to do the same) regarding their profession and interactions with students.
We started our design really, by brainstorming a handful of vignettes (or problems) that we gleaned from our racial achievement gap research. We abstracted, really, to boil our idea down to a sentence, phrase and then, one single word: inequality/disadvantaged. While we wanted our viewers to have this word stick in their mind, we wanted to show the other stories or vignettes to capture the three most problematic aspects of the gap. We chose to use hands to communicate these emotions and altercations. We thought using the hands as our image, would lead people to focus more on the heaviness of the issues, and less on the details of filming full bodies and interpreting other sources of emotion in eyes, faces, body language, etc. Hands allowed us to cut out the clutter but force the unnerving details still.
In terms of the actual movie-making, we spent the most time on the planning vs. the filming and the editing. My husband and I created a storyboard using sticky notes, which allowed us to shuffle shots and quotes around on the three vignettes. We used the storyboard to explain our ideas to three different groups of people. We took advice from all of our colleagues, however, in the end, stuck with our gut on not adding in too many pieces of audio. The actual filming was fairly quick. What was tricky was sharing the equipment and actors with the whole class of Year 3 students. Editing was really enjoyable. Using iMovie was new to my husband and me but we were able to collaborate and share the workload so we each got a chance to edit. Our instructors’ help was key in the editing process too. We especially took editing advice when it came to the use of transitions and text. I think the most important thing we learned in the editing process was that we should just keep it simple, black and white, short and sweet–except for some of the transitions. Transitions ended up being the most power piece–creating longer and shorter ones depending on how much you wanted the previous vignette/quote to sink into the viewer. The music we found here and really, the title of it, “Wounded”, really just fell into our lap, under the “unnerving” category. It matched the tone of our issue very well.
Check out our video here by clicking on the image:
Listen to my commentary here.