Reflecting On Documentary Research

As the spring semester comes to a close, I am beginning to reflect on this class, Documentary Research. To start off the year, we started small with the concepts surrounding location, voice, and ethics behind documentary work. We looked at pieces by Robert Coles and Bill Nichols that built upon our understanding of becoming a documentarian. Simultaneously, we watched films like Stranger with a Camera and Banished that allowed us to see what we were learning about put into action. At first, I struggled a bit to think like a documentarian but as the semester went on, my learning for the subject soared and I began to think, act, and create like one. Writing essays, blog posts, and creating documentaries really managed to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Things were beginning to click and once it did, I had so much fun learning the ins and outs of documentary work. This was especially true for my final documentary. Something we always spoke about in class was presenting what you found important to the audience, so they could visualize that same significance. In my case, family and my family’s history is something very important to me. Showcasing how my grandma grew up in the Oranges was very personal yet it still reflected how a whole group of kids, families, and a community interacted during the 1950’s and 60’s during the height of the Italian mob. My grandmother had always told me stories about her life growing up in this neighborhood and I felt it deserved to be shared. This may be a lighthearted story but I truly believe that it brings others back in time to an urban area of New Jersey. Even if you don’t have that Jersey pride like me and my family do, that nostalgia my grandma feels is definitely communicated to everyone who watches the quick documentary. Achieving this feeling, almost felt like I accomplished something a documentarian would. I told a story that delivered an important message. Although places may change like the Oranges, or people get older, the culture of how you grew up resonates with you and your community for life. It is integral piece of growing up and shaping the person you are today. Sense of place travels with you wherever you are. I am proud to have made this documentary. Without all the preliminary work and studying, my film would not have carried all of those significant elements like location and voice. I am very grateful for this class, I truly feel like I have learned how to open my eyes more and look beyond the obvious. I feel as though, I am a more well-rounded and educated student and person. Documentary Research may just be a class from the outside but it taught me valuable life lessons that I will take with me for the rest of college and life. Sometimes its easy to feel like you’re in your own bubble, but after experiencing this class and learning the things I did, I think more holistically, deeply, and carefully about interactions amongst our society and the impact we make on others. This class may have been a semester long but the teachings and lessons about humanity are invaluable and timeless. I believe this class was important in my understanding of media and communications and will set me up for further success in this field. I would recommend this class to anyone and everyone at Muhlenberg, it is definitely an unforgettable, eye opening experience.

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