Nov 1, 2015 | 0 comments

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve more or less settled into my new life in the PNW. I can’t believe I’ve been here over a month and a half now. I have a nice little circle of new friends, plenty of social outlets, and I’ve started swing dancing again. Fall colors have finally peaked (I’m so lucky to have gotten two falls this year!) and the daily drizzle of rain has begun. Things are going surprisingly well, considering the doubts I had about leaving Alaska and going back to school.
A few weeks ago I joined my housemate and his friends for a trip to the local pumpkin patch. I think it’s the first legit pumpkin patch I’ve ever been to, complete with a giant corn maze (that took us an hour and a half to find our way out), a bunch of goats, a produce stand, and lots of farm food.
I was pretty excited for my pumpkin..
As far as school goes, I’m finding the experience to be vastly different from undergrad. I think this is partially because of the course of study I have chosen to take, and partially by virtue of being in the graduate program.
Probably the best decision I made coming to grad school was to take on media studies as one of my concentration areas. I honestly wasn’t sure I could pull it off, since A) it was hard to get anyone in the media department to talk to me when I was first inquiring into the school, and B) I have relatively little formal media training. What I needed and wanted was production experience, and that’s hard to get at this level of academia without much prior experience of my own.
I found my way in through a journalism class. Thanks to the generosity and mentorship of the instructor, I feel like I have grown leaps and bounds in my skill as a photographer and filmmaker in just the last couple weeks.
In this class, our entire goal is to produce a story about a local “forager,” anyone who scavenges, harvests, or collects found items for part of their livelihood. We are allowed to tell the story as a written article, a photo series, multimedia production, or a film. Wanting more experience with filmmaking, I chose the latter.
It was surprisingly easy to find someone to do the story on; after putting out some feelers into the community, I was bombarded by emails and phone calls from mushroom hunters and wildcrafters interested in my project. I ultimately chose to work with a local herbalist whose story intrigued me, and who seemed like she’d be most available and easy to work with.
It has been a learning experience to put it lightly, but my informant has been wonderful to work with. I won’t reveal too much right now, but I’ll try to post my documentary when it’s done, and share her story on here as well. For now, here are some screen captures from some of my footage so far to whet your appetite. 🙂
The project feels much like a rollercoaster: alternately exhilaratingly fun and stomach-droppingly terrifying as I navigate through the challenges of fussy equipment, asking the right interview questions, and the logistics of it all. We’ll see how it turns out. At the very worst, as my instructor put it, I may just “fail myself forward.” I like that idea. Even if it turns out terrible, I’ve learned a ton.
But right now I’m really happy with what I’ve got so far. And specifically what I’ve got is 30 pages of transcript and 3-hours-and-counting of raw footage, to condense into a 5 minute documentary. I’m way in over my head, but that’s okay. I’m kind of used to that by now. We’re just going to roll with it.


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