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.
FUN FACT: 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.