I was wondering if any other Workshopers are working docs or projects for the American Graduate project?  The overall project focuses on the issue of High School drop out rates. www.cpb.org/americangraduate )  I'm working on a doc to tie in with my station's participation and I'm looking for workshopers who may also be working on similiar projects for feedback, discussion, etc.  




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Hi Suzanne,  I joined this forum last week and am just seeing your email -- it's probably way too late and you're finished with your doc, but I produced a video profiling StoryCorpsU, an American Graduate program.  You can see the video here: http://storycorps.org/education/storycorpsu/  The video is documentary style, but definitely a a promotional video.  how did your doc go?  Julia

Hi Julia!  I enjoyed your video a lot!  It really gave me an understanding of the program and what students walk away with.  Thank you so much for sharing.  I really liked how you had the student questions become the teacher answers.  The whole thing was inspiring.  Even though mine wasn't suppose to be a promotional video, I was also inspired by the teachers and programs trying to change the future for students. My doc is at http://video.wfsu.org/video/2254473402 .  It will be running again on my station (WFSU-TV) at the end of August, just in time for the start of the new academic year. I'm alsp working on some additional smaller pieces for the web. 


 What kind of production schedule did you have for it?  Did you have to work on your video?(Pre, Prod and Post)  Did you shoot it over several days or were you limited in access?  Did you have any unusual challenges? One of my biggested challenges was interpreting statistics that were calculated differently by every organization. I finally incorporated that issue into the doc itself.  The other challenge was talking about High School Graduations  in a HD show when I only had very old SD video and a deadline that was about 6 weeks before any other ceremonies.  I think I made it work though. If you get a chance, let me know what you think. It's a 26:46 program, so I understand if you can't get to it right away.

THanks for watching, Suzanne!  I will definitely watch yours -- I am on vacation right now and checking email from the library so it's hard to watch a long-ish video.  I'm happily on vacation for two more weeks, so I probably won't get to it until after then.  I'm sorry!  I did watch the first few minutes (before I felt guilty about being on the public computer) and I thought you did an excellent job with the graduation footage -- it never occurred to me that it was SD -- and the first few statistics that I saw were super clear.

I don't envy you having to deal with statistics.  That's my least favorite thing to do.  We were hampered by an insanely tight production schedule.  We had 6 weeks, and three cities to shoot in.  St. Louis, the furthest away, wasn't holding the StoryCorpsU class until a week before the video was due, so we had to transcribe, log and edit all that material in an insanely short amount of time.  Plus go back and forth with StoryCorps about the final piece.  Our biggest challenge was working with over-worked teachers.  They were great and very helpful in the end but, understandably, we were not a top priority for them!

Thanks again for watching and I look forward to seeing the rest of your doc!

Wow! Three cities!  Did you pick up crews in each city or did you all travel together? How big of a crew did you have on your shoots? I had no more than 2 additional people on any shoot  (usually Videographer and PA)  except for once when I had an intern.   I've been in that fast turnaround kind of situation. It is definitely a challenge. But I never would have known it from your video.  It didn't seemed rushed at all! It looked great.   


At the beginning with the "Graduation video" the slow motion video in Black & White was HD video of various extras  (mostly college kids) walking in various graduation robes (each school has a different color in this town) in our studio. The color inserts over that was the actual SD graduation video.   Since I was able to make the real stuff smaller, the SD quality wasn't as big of an issue.  I was originally going to keep the HD video full color, but I thought making it different would make the real stuff stand out better and make the HD more obvious that it was different from the "real graduation video."   We spent about 2 or 3 hours or so actually shooting the HD "grad" video in our studio. (It would have been less, but I was running the camera and setting lights by  myself )   Various people at the station loaned us their kid's graduation gowns and hats, the college students came in for free, and I even convinced my dad to come into be the "Principal" handing out the diplomas.  I was able to take some promotional photos too that day.  It worked out really well.  But part of me still wishes I had real HD graduation video.


All of our locations were in the same town, so I was lucky, but working  around teacher and class schedules was hard for use too, but mostly just to get everyone available.   I tried to group it so we only bothered people for interviews  at each location on one day.  Then they could forget about us until the final result (which they liked!)  The Parental releases for the kids was the biggest challenge on that end.  Teachers had to remind kids who had to remind parents to sign then the students had to remember to bring it in. We also had to schedule an additional day at each place to shoot additional video, but we tried to get in and out as quickly as possible.


Enjoy you're vacation!!!  I look forward to talking/writing more.  Are you doing anything else with American Graduate/ Story CorpsU when you get back?

Hi Suzanne,  I too am just catching up on the Producers Workshop board and saw your post.  I'm producing an hour on Latinos and the dropout crisis for CPB's AmGrad initiative.  Happy to discuss if you are still working on your project.  @Julia: looking forward to seeing your piece and catching up soon when you get back to NYC.  



Hi Pam! I'm done with the main doc I did (the link is above if you want to see). I've shot some additional interviews for a a few additional web pieces (which may also run on our station this September). I won't be shooting anymore (I don't think), but the post production process for these other pieces is still on going. I would love to discuss our projects more. How far are you into your project?

Hi Pam!  What's your AmGrad piece about?  Are you focusing in NYC?  Is it a doc?  I wish I'd been able to work on a doc for this. . . Both of you guys are doing much more interesting work! 

Suzanne, we had trouble with releases, too, but luckily the folks at StoryCorpsU were able to press the kids and teachers on our behalf.  I think the HD stuff you shot of the graduation was great -- I never would have guessed it was staged, and I'm impressed that you can light AND shoot so well.  I certainly can't do that!

Thanks! It was partly "necessity is the mother of invention" , another part "trial and error" (especially w ith lighting!- To tell the truth, turning the video black and white transformed some of my lighting issues.Dealing with 6 different gown colors (blue, red, green, black, maroon, and a black/green shimery color) plus the background color (blue) and the carpet colors (red and teal on two different sets) was a big challenge. ) But the biggest part is that I'm lucky enough to work at PBS member station with a great studio space and fabulous co-workers who have the patience to answer any questions I have and help me any way they can. I am really very fortunate.


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