Sunday, December 9, 2012

A letter to the next group

Dear Capstone class of 2013,

Congratulations on making it this far!  You are about to embark on a process which will require more time and effort than any other class or project with which you have involved yourself in the past.  Capstone is no joke and I have a couple of pointers which I hope will help in the year to come.

First, pick a subject which you are interested in.  You will become an expert on the subject and if you are passionate about it, it will make the project that much easier.  To make the best capstone, you must completely immerse yourself into the subject matter.

Second, DO. NOT. PROCRASTINATE.  A capstone documentary cannot be done last minute if you want to shine at the showcase in December.  Just think of how much time and effort you have put into your previous classes in BC.  Make sure you contact the people you want to feature in your documentary ASAP.  They are all busy and you don't want to have to cut a reliable source just because you did not make time to send one email.  You have one final project next year, so why not give it your all and make something that will truly WOW the department, the audience, and perhaps most importantly, yourself. 

Third, ask for help.  I needed to travel to Raleigh, NC twice on a starving-student income.  So, I went down to the Drinko Center this past summer.  I probably spent a total of a half an hour with them and was awarded a $450.00 travel grant on the spot.  The Drinko Center is wonderful in helping students accomplish their goals, so take a trip down and embrace their help.  In help for the documentary production, Mr. Weaver, Andy, and your classmates are your best friends.  Sometimes it is easy to make simple audio mistakes or perhaps let a jump cut go simply because you have watched your footage so much.  Ask another person to watch your documentary to fix these little mistakes.  The week before Capstone presentations, the wonderful Jarred Treshok spent countless hours helping me go clip by clip fixing details in my documentary.

Last but certainly not least, do not take this last year for granted.  While this is going to truly test every thing you have learned in broadcasting, it is the most rewarding class I have ever had.  If you put in the right amount of time, you will surprise yourself with what you can accomplish.  Yes, there will be tears and plenty of all nighters, but this is when your class goes from friends to family and Mr. Weaver goes from professor to father-figure.  I would not trade a day of capstone.  I learned so much, not only about my subject, but about myself.  So, go out there, find your subject matter, and work to the best of your ability!  I am extremely proud of each of you and I wish success in absolutely everything you want to do from here on out.


 From freshman Today Show wannabees... seniors about to take on the real-life broadcasting world. You guys can do it!

and that's all folks!

On Saturday, December 1, all of the tears, laughs, and capstone struggles came to an end as I, with my classmates Adam and Hannah, presented our final documentaries to a room full of people.  I was really nervous to see how the audience would react to my presentation because, as we can surely all agree, you are your biggest critic and I just was not sure of myself. 
As the ending credits were rolling, and the applause started, I was overwhelmed with joy to see people wiping tears from their cheeks as they clapped.  My story had touched their hearts, just as I had hoped!  Mr. Weaver looked thrilled as Hannah and I stood up to receive questions from the audience.  I was so happy when hands were shooting up to ask us about different details of our projects as it seemed that everyone was really interested in what we were showing them. 
Upon receiving my final statements from my consultants, it has really made me feel good.  They have been so supportive and seem to be genuinely surprised with the finished product.  I was also happy to see that they appreciated that I let the Boyd family tell their own story instead of narrating it. 
The icing on the cake was when Mr. Weaver congratulated Hannah and I on our documentaries.  He has been with us every step of the way since we were just freshman.  There is something so rewarding in giving back to a person who helped you establish the person you are.  I know he was worried with how our documentaries would turn out as he definitely does not hold our hands through the process, so it was awesome being able to show him what we accomplished and make him proud.

The feedback I received makes me so elated.  I poured my heart and soul into the subject of my documentary, from making two trips to Raleigh, NC to meet the family and to film to going over every last detail in post-production.  This was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and it is such a bittersweet feeling that it is finally complete!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Your Support Could Change a Life

On Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 11:30 a.m. in Westminster College's Mueller Theater in the McKelvey Campus Center, three senior broadcast communications students are sharing their senior capstone documentaries with the campus and community.

Three short films will be presented including a documentary which looks into the journey of ten children who survived European orphanages and have found a home in Raleigh, NC. 

The other capstones in the series are Hannah Paczkowski's project titled "Personalizing Homelessness"  which takes an inside look at a woman who, with her daughter, fought the hardships of homelessness and found a better life in the Interfaith Hospitality Network.

Adam Carswell's film "The Quest of Champions" highlights the Westminster Mens' 2012 Track and Field season.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Service Learning and What in the World this Documentary has to do with it

My focus for my Capstone actually started with service learning.  My friend, Leah, met the Boyd's while she was on Spring Break with a purpose in Raleigh, NC.  She called me up, told me about the family and the rest is history.

My documentary focuses around International Adoption and life for the family after the children are adoption.  In relation to service learning, it raises awareness of the hardships orphans in Eastern Europe face in the orphanages.  The children start off in not so healthy environments: being chained to cribs and staying in them for so long it deforms their bodies...

The children hardly receive enough nutrients to sustain themselves and in many cases, never see outside of the orphanage grounds. 

After spending a week with the Boyd's, I connected with them on such a close level and I feel like I am helping them personally when I inform others of the befits of adoption, as well as the horrors which go on in some Eastern Europe orphanages.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Love is Patient, Love is Kind

At the start of my documentary, I will use the voices of the six oldest children reciting 1 Corinthians, "Love is patient, love is kind" etc. and putting videos of children in the orphanages of the country's where the Boyd children are from.  I think that using their hopeful voices with the startling videos of the children still in orphanages will have a strong emotional impact on the audience. 

For the music, I don't want to use music very much in my documentary.  I think that the natural sound and the interviews of those who know the Boyd's best will make for the best sound.  For the parts where music is necessary, I plan on developing my own music in Garage Band.  I want to use something uplifting and inspirational for the opening and closing.

Below is another video I might use, if it fits, regarding what happens to orphans in Russia if they are forced to live on the streets.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Little Pepper

Originally, I arrived at the Boyd residence with mental and written notes directed at the focused theme of how Mrs. Stephanie Boyd, the mother of the ten children, goes day in and day out taking care of them.  I was going to discuss with her things such as how she prepares a meal for a family of twelve, how she provides enough love for each of them, and how she and her husband, Warren, keep such a strong bond of marriage.

What I found when I arrived there was that the little girl, pictured below, was really just one of the children who would change everything which I had planned for prior to meeting this incredible crew.

Meet Summer. 

She was adopted in April from a depressed orphanage in Bulgaria.  She was biologically the age of five but developmentally she was about 18 months.  She wet the bed, could not talk, and seemed to be mentally pretty far behind.  She is missing her corpus callosum which allows communication between the right and left side of one's brain.  One of the issues which this directly affects in her life, which I witnessed personally, was that when she is upset, she needs to have someone or something take her mind off of her emotions or else she will never pass her mood.  What I witnessed was after her sister pinched her with her seat belt, she started crying.  I noticed that Stephanie instantly took over and got her mind on something else.  Stephanie explained that had she not done that, Summer would have continued to cry for hours.

Summer's story, just like each of the other nine children, is one of perseverance and strength.  Each of the children came to America developmentally far behind where they should be.  They have all over come so much more than teachers, neurologists, and other medical doctors ever thought they would.  These amazing children are really the focus and they each have an amazing story to tell.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Life Throws You Curves But You Learn to Swerve

Initially, the focus of my Capstone was how Stephanie Boyd, the children's mother, handles being a mother to ten children with disabilities on a day-to-day basis. 

After spending my first stint with the family in early July, I realized that the story was actually about how far the children have come since being adopted.  This required a change in everything I had initially prepared for my documentary.  However, I was very happy to see that in spending time with the family, a focus for my Capstone became so clear.