Saturday, April 30, 2011

Feeling the Pressure!

With less than a week until our deadline, we are definitely feeling the pressure. In class we edited the opening, completed the script, searched for the perfect b-roll and sent the voice-over script to voice-over specialist Barbara Korsen, who has offered to lend her voice for our documentary.  One of our students is a rising expert in music.  He is focusing his efforts on creating the overall musical feel of the film.  We all gathered around the conference table as he shared his mixing skills with the class.

We finished and finalized the script with the guidance of Dr. Luskay and Andrew Revkin.   We officially have a rough cut of the entire documentary! Now it’s just about aesthetics and adding scenic shots to match up with our script. It’s hard to be selective when Belize caused us to bring home hours upon hours of beautiful footage! Long nights of editing, fine-tuning audio, superimposing images and creating graphics are in our future. Right now our main priority is getting this finalized by next week.  This is going to be a GREAT documentary and I know all of us our eager to see the final product.

In anticipation of our finalized project a few of the students are working on putting together the publicity plan. We are developing contact lists of people and organizations that might be interested in our documentary. While researching we came across two interesting interactive articles about mangroves on The American Museum of Natural History website under Science Bulletins. What’s fascinating is the transformation that is underway in preserving mangroves while continuing economic development in many parts of the world that supply shrimp. Our mission is to show how this movement is happening at a micro level, with the help of Linda Thornton.

The first one, Mangroves: Roots of the Sea discusses how mangrove destruction has become a huge environmental concern. The grassroots NGO, Yadfon was created in the early 1980s to restore the mangroves in the farming areas of Thailand. Similar to Linda Thornton’s actions in Belize, this organization works with the local community to ensure that their economic way of life is preserved while making strides toward sustainability. The Yadfon founder Pisit Charnsnoh,was quoted saying, “The forest sustains the people who sustain the forest.”

A follow up article, Mangroves and Shrimp: Finding Balance discusses the research that shows mangroves and shrimp farms CAN coexist. “By building shrimp farms 1 km from the shore, the land can reduce storm damage and support farmers.” Linda Thornton’s farms in Belize are a perfect example of how this relationship remains in balance. With our documentary we want to show the world how sustainable shrimp farming really can be! 

Monday, April 25, 2011

American Parallels: Developments in US Shrimp Farming

While continuing research regarding our documentary we came across quite a few websites that relate to similar subjects.

This article from Shrimp News International, written and researched by industry insiders, primarily focuses on research done over the last thirty years. They created scientific developments, which we can learn from. Anyone interested in our documentary, as well as shrimp farming, should check out this overview of “The Shrimp Book.”

Ganix Bio-Technologies, Inc., and Blue Oasis are in the process of building a 36,000 sq ft plant to grow shrimp in the desert. Similarly to Linda’s work in Belize, they will be running ponds on the inland and keeping a closed system, never dumping effluence, but reusing all their water supplies. As a parallel to Linda’s operation, they hope to create jobs and eventually branch out, creating shrimp farms close to every major city in the US. As a comparison, Linda and Mr. Michael Duncker created an influx of jobs in rural Belize with their shrimp farms, boosting the economy. Check out a brief CNN Money report on the Ganix shrimp farms here:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's Crunch Time!

This is the life of a documentary filmmaker. It’s not a 9-5 job. Its 24/7 brainstorming, which means staying (sometimes napping) in the editing lab until the wee hours of the morning.

The class has been putting in extra hours in order to meet our fast approaching deadline. We are sometimes even pulling 12-hour shifts to tie up any loose ends like capturing necessary footage and transcribing interviews.

Today’s class focused mainly on adding narrated transitions, explanations and introductions to key gaps in the script. This meant dropping some interviews and unnecessary footage. There are so many great pieces of information that we want to incorporate, but our enthusiasm has gotten the better of us. At this rate, we would be producing a three-hour film rather than a 20-minute documentary! So how do you squeeze all of the essentials into a succinct film? By working together to make sure everyone is on the same page with the story line and ensuring information follows a logical flow.

But there were signs today that the end was near – literally – as Pedro and Harrison worked on building the closing credits!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Keeping Busy!

We have been extremely busy. The post-production of this documentary is taking up most of our time making it difficult to blog. We have spent long days and nights in the lab. Dr Luskay and Andrew Revkin are pushing us to make this the best documentary it can be. Like they say, "Go Big or Go Home!"

Until next week, stay tuned for more updates.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Slow and Steady Wins the Race!

For two weeks, we have been camped in shifts in the lab, editing Act 1 of our documentary on an American shrimp farmer in Belize. With a month left to go, the pressure is on. During class Wednesday, Dr Luskay and Andy Revkin reviewed our progress and then listened as we pitched different approaches to the opening scenes of the film.

The opening of any film, especially a documentary, is comparable to the cover of a book or first sentence of a feature story. It has to have a “wow” factor, a hook, and then it must convey the core theme and concept in a way that builds audience interest.
We found the “wow” in a sizzling pan full of Ben Benson Steak House shrimp, although some last-minute shooting will be needed to get that moment just right. The story will pivot swiftly to the work of our core subject – Linda Thornton.

After our class discussion, we divided into groups.

While the opening lines were written in one room, another team disappeared into the Avid Editing Studio to work on Act 1. A third team continued expanding our master script and preparing to write the sections that will require a narrator’s voice. Other students hunkered down to start building Act 2, which we’ll be editing the rest of this week and over the weekend.

Many of us have found it best to work together on one section piece by piece, rather than scatter on a bunch of different sections of the film. This approach prevents duplicated effort. Teamwork, management, planning, collaboration. Not your average college assignment!

Connecting Act 1 and Act 2 has been a challenge in maintaining an esthetic flow in our storyline. We continued collecting background imagery -- b-roll -- from Linda’s Cardelli Farms to add in to Act 1, which lays out her move to Belize and early struggles. We also captured footage from South Water Caye and sorted through photographs that might come in handy in the film.

Dr. Luskay is pressing us hard and making sure we hold to the work ethic we’ll need to complete this documentary and hopefully make it another award winner!

The rest is up to us.

Shrimp farming has grown tremendously over the past 30 years. One of our main reasons for doing this documentary is to highlight the changing shift towards aquaculture. This graph explains why it's so important.

Monday, April 4, 2011

We're in the News!

Last week we posted that David Laub came in to interview our class for the Pleasantville/Briarcliff Patch.

Here is his article with photos: