February 12, 2012

fanatic: the making of a documentary

So, remember how I said last post that I wasn’t going to concentrate on fanhood in the future?

I lied.

I'm sorry.

One of the only non-holiday weekends that I leave Lafayette is Super Bowl weekend. The Kowaleski clan has a history of being passionate about sports, and football is king in our family. As such, I haven’t missed a Super Bowl with my family in all 19 years that I’ve been alive. This year was no exception (also, as a diehard Miami Dolphins fan, it was awesome watching Eli stick it to the Brady Bunch…again), and inspired me to write about my experience documenting my family’s unique relationship with America’s Game (sorry, baseball).

In the fall semester, I took Making Media II with Professor Nandini Sikand. I’m sure I’m going to blog in the future about the other projects that I worked on for that class, but our final project fits in quite nicely given the football theme of the past two posts.

Compared to our previous projects, the class was given a lot of creative freedom concerning the final film we were to produce. Divided into groups of three, we had to write, produce, and direct a 10-minute film of whatever we wanted. The amount of creative control given to us was almost overwhelming; with so much to choose from, how could a group of three decide on what to film?

Kowaleski boys, Super Bowl XLVI (2012)

My fellow group members, Matt McKenzie and Kurumi Fukushima, took a surprisingly short amount of time to decide what our film was going to be: a documentary on football fans. It’s something that a lot of people can relate to, and, given the fact that Thanksgiving was coming up, gave us a fantastic filming opportunity. We would film a real-life crowd first, at an upcoming Lafayette Leopards football game (which we won on a pick-six in overtime. Unbelievable). Afterwards, I would take a camera home and try to capture the magic that is a Kowaleski Thanksgiving.

I filmed everything, from everybody watching the game together to interviewing various members of the family, from my 6-year old brother, Jadon, to my grandmother. It was an absolute blast, and you can watch the project below.

The difficulties of interviewing and documenting the event basically revolved around post-production editing, specifically the lighting. The haphazard circumstances of the interview demanded that I construct a set basically on the spot, which made for some questionable lighting consisting of lamp shades and overhead lights, which I hate. (I personally prefer to shoot outside, it removes those problems. The sun is this filmmaker’s best friend). However, Kurumi worked some coloring magic and transformed what was initially a shadowy, incomprehensible murk of a shot into a watchable image. Much props to her.

Working in a group with a creative project like this is always going to be tough, because there are bound to be creative differences. When one person’s vision clashes with another’s, it isn’t unusual for there to be some tension in the editing room.  When all was said and done, though, I’m under the impression that everything went extremely smoothly—unless, of course, you count editing in the library from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Staring at a screen for 10 hours straight will make you loopy, mark my words.

I hope you enjoy the finished project, it’s the product of many many many many hours stuck in the Skillman Library.

posted in Mick Kowaleski


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