I feel like I've been apologizing for blog negligence a lot lately. It's been a very busy couple of months and two of the bigger projects on my docket rolled out this week, one on top of the other. I hope to have time in the next couple of days to address the second one, but since the first one has been released publicly, I'll talk a little bit about the most recent Day in the Life video for MSIH.
With a new year and each class moving to a new level of training, the task of sharing their own Beer Sheva experiences fell to Noah Gorelick and Seth Morrison for the first Day in the Life video of 2014. Last year's videos focused on four individuals whose individual lives, interests, struggles and experiences provided the content for each 5-minute piece. This year I was given the assignment of crafting videos around two specific themes: students who were married and students coming from a background of Jesuit education. The Jesuit video came first and I spent about a month dropping in on Noah and Seth in dissection lab, lectures and various different extracurricular activities in their lives.
Unlike last year, I knew from the beginning that I had to essentially tell twice the story in half the time since two students were sharing the same 5-6 minute timeframe. To figure out the mechanics of this, I actually went back to the videos I shot last year and recorded how long I spent covering different topics in each video. I divided the content into a spectrum with four categories: personal life, collective social life, collective academic life and the MSIH story. What I found was that the videos spent roughly even amounts of time sharing information that was specific to each person as they spent sharing information that is common to the experience of every med student. At the same time, roughly the same amount of time was spent sharing personal information as well as academic information. I've often told people that videos like this always begin is a sort of ambiguous, uncertain state and remain there until the point where something finally clicks and the work transitions from a process of crafting a story to a process of refining everything into a coherent final product. I never really know when that moment is going to arrive but I think in terms of these videos, that point comes when the flow of the narrative, the balance of the content and the rhythm of the story settle into a comfortable balance and it finally just feels right.
With this in mind, I began the interview and editing process with a numerical formula of a six-minute total with three minutes allocated for each student divided into the four categories listed above. The time frames I was left with were ridiculously small and so I decided that the only way to effectively share the required amount of information was to double-up content categories as much as possible. I began mapping out what experience were common to both Seth and Noah as well as relatable to prospective students. In the interviews, I also crafted the questions I asked in a way that would elicit answers expressed in the same temporal framing so I could cut back and forth between the two conversations, as though they were both sitting in the same room. Finally, in the editing timeline, I color coded all the clips I selected as "usable" based on whether they were "me" statements or "we" statements. When it came down to the brutal process of cutting a seven minute video down to six, the balance of personal and collective information guided which information was a higher priority.
What all of these technical frameworks allowed was a map of sorts that would guide and direct the numerous small decisions that all led toward the "aha" moment when the video feels like it has clicked and I know where it is ultimately going. I always find that initial stage to be frustrating and tedious. Some projects start with everything lined up and together in my mind and I can throw all my energy into the creative process. This is the domain of the "awesome all-nighter" where I spend my evening looking forward to the point when my wife goes to bed and I can sit down for an eight-hour, uninterrupted stretch of pure creativity. Prior to that "aha" moment, all-nighters are a burdensome necessity often times resulting from procrastination. In the case of this video, I did one of each but having that framework of how to divide up the time, how to gather footage and how to decide on final content made the uphill journey of getting to the moment of coherence a lot easier.
Seth and Noah were great to work with on this one and I'm really happy with how it turned out. Expect the video about married couples to be ready in May. Enjoy.