Broadcasting has never been in my priority list. I never imagined myself to get a degree that will require me to render in the wee hours of the morning, or to spend countless of times doing story boards that can’t compare to a stick man. But reality told me to face my fear of the unknown, and embrace this challenge that eventually outweigh my love for film.
The structure and composition of broadcast communication embodied in me characters that I thought only existed in the fictional world – I became a hero, an antagonist and a modern-day sidekick.
Chapter 1: HERO
Through different production electives, my resourcefulness and problem solving skills made me feel like a superhero. A box of thumbtacks or even a flick of light can save the day during a disastrous and unlucky production day. I never knew I could make things happen, not until my electives made me do it. We were harnessed to be the hero whether we liked it or not. We were tasked to orchestrate little things, and come up with something that will eventually change the world. Being a BC student in UP instilled in me the power to influence the people and make the world a better place. Slowly but surely. We all know the powers we hold as part of being a media practitioner. We must uphold the truth, fight for the marginalized and be the beacon of hope for those whose lives we dedicate our works for. At the end of the day, it’s not only a matter of whether we saved the day or not, sometimes it’s all about making a difference while making it work.
Chapter 2: Antagonist
Somewhere.. deep inside, we all know that we’re all antagonists. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t go out there ruining other people’s lives just for my own happiness. We all have this misconception of being the ‘anti’ – the root cause of all evil, the ruthless and the heartless one. But just like any typical antagonist character, there lies the reason and the background why the ‘anti’ exists.
My BC 128 and BC 144 classes (pre-recorded programs and videography) taught me the art and the worth of being the antagonist. I was the ‘anti’ of my fear of not being good enough. I used to be the enemy of people who weren’t as organized and as functional of the other members of the team, and I was the main antagonist of all my restrictions and insecurities as a broadcast student.
In every production, there will come a time when arguments and misunderstanding (petty or big) will come along the way. I learned this the hard way. You’ll eventually become the antagonist of someone. You’ll hate the fact that people don’t understand your intentions and vice versa. Sometimes you’ll think you’re always right, even though in reality you got it all wrong. While this process of antagonism come and goes, people will eventually realize that it paves to another process of failing and learning. And in production, we all know that failing (as bad as it gets) is the best way to learn.
We learn to say sorry. We learn to forgive. At the end of the day, we see the good light in being the antagonist as the one who seeks to judge you objectively, the one who aims to be the best, and the one who shapes you into becoming driven and experienced.
Chapter 3: Sidekick
What are heroes without their sidekicks? One thing I learned from my videography class is that you have to work alongside people who are far greater and more experienced than you consider yourself to be. Being a DOP requires you to be part of a bigger picture while working with lenses, ISOs and aperture that are prolly one of the most underrated jobs in a production. Well, learn to deal with it. I chose to be part of the background rather than being in the limelight of the foreground. Why? Coz both of them co-exist, and in reality television materials wouldn’t happen without their brain child and carpenters – a camera without an operator will be useless.
The sidekick continues to learn and grow. They hide behind the lens, they silently observe and move. And eventually, they themselves become the bigger picture as time goes by.
To be honest, I wasn’t planning on taking a production class during my last sem as an undergrad. Productions, as mentioned above, can bring out all the good and bad in you and you won’t even know it. Aside from being the hero, the antagonist and the sidekick. The best character I’ve ever portrayed as a prod student under Sir Raz.. was to simply be myself.
Most of the time we get lost during the chaos and whirlwind of emotions during a shoot, that we often forget who we are.. what we want and why we’re doing it. We forget to look back behind all the aesthetics and technicalities. We tend to get too immersed in meeting the deadline that most of the time the passion and love for what we do subside and all we want is to just make it, and get it done and over with. But with my experiences and learnings under Sir Raz’s supervision I learned that I should never stop the fire burning. The passion will keep me intact, and the desire and hunger to learn will keep me grounded.
I have always been reluctant when holding a camera, which is kind of ironic for a Broadcasting production student.
I was never eager to take a photo, never really excited to experiment with lighting. I was that rare breed of a production student, the ones who chose management over videography and took anthropology electives instead of editing. Although I absolutely love production work, the creative aspect honestly scared me to death.
I have ideas, sure. But I have never actually gotten the courage to really go out and create something.
It is, I guess, a symptom of my fear of a blank piece of paper. I didn’t want to fail, and so up until last semester, I set myself up not to.
But then I figured, if I kept on avoiding failure and feedback, then where am I going to get honest and constructive criticism? When I finally apply for work and I don’t get the job because I lack training?
So, reluctantly, I enrolled in a Documentary class under Sir Raz de la Torre last semester. I have wanted to take the class since freshman year but I was just really, extremely stupidly afraid. Prior to that, I had only taken the mandatory basic TV class and an editing class—nothing yet that tested my skills (or lack thereof) with the camera. And so on that first day in the room, I had felt like I was feeding myself to the sharks. I felt unequipped, but I went to class anyway.
It was a different flow from any of my other classes. We followed a series of worksheets, challenging us in terms of how we would be able to tell a story. I remember one of my favorite assignments was being asked to look for any random person and get them to talk about the things inside their bags. We’d driven to Fine Arts because we wanted to get someone with an interesting set of things and sure enough, we found this pretty freshman working on a guitar crate. Inside her bag was a can of paint, some sandpaper, a bunch of different pens, and some random doodles. We went about it pretty straightforwardly asking her to explain each item to us and by the end of it we were so satisfied that we got an interesting subject to shoot.
We later learned, during our discussions, that having an interesting subject wasn’t enough. The exercise wasn’t about finding the most interesting looking person, but finding the most interesting stories that person had to tell.
After that, I knew I was in for a ride.
I learned a lot of things in Documentary class, most of which I felt I could apply to life in general.
Documentary class taught me to always dig deeper. This you could achieve by earning people’s trust and asking the right questions. It taught me how to deal with people. It taught me that structure was important and that being driven by a purpose makes things better.
It taught me that nothing was boring. That if you could just scratch the surface, everything’s bound to get interesting.
And that’s what happened with the way I started to view production work. It wasn’t about creating the most brilliant documentary ever (although it wouldn’t hurt), but about being able to effectively and truthfully tell your subject’s story. Everything else would just follow suit.
Editing our documentary. Figuring out how to tell the story was a huge challenge.
It was just the right pace and the right content for that class. There we learned the value of stories and how extremely challenging it is to tell the truth (I swear it absolutely is). Finding a trusting subject and asking the right questions is just as challenging as shooting and crafting a structure for the story at the end of the day.
It was, however, a lack of oversight on my part that I took 132: Documentary before 144: Videography. While 132: Documentary taught us the importance of effectively telling a story, 144: Videography emphasized the significance of technique. Though there wasn’t anything on the curriculum that required you to take 144 before 132, I figure it would be a better approach to taking up production electives. While I am proud of what we’ve accomplished in our final documentary, I concede that had we been equipped with better technique, we would have been able to tell our subject’s story better.
Documentary class encouraged me to make mistakes. It challenged me to at least try and be better. And so when the second semester rolled in, I signed up for Videography class under Sir Raz without even blinking. It was another exciting semester, I was sure of it. With almost twice the amount of students in class from 132, I was beyond nervous. I was in class with people who were two batches younger than me and I felt they were all so fearless.
Videography class would focus on technique, sir said. While content was still important, technique was the main concentration of the course. Technique—that was my weakness.
To be fair, it wasn’t a breeze for anyone in class. In our mandatory TV production class, we were using these huge film cameras in the studio. They would be in these enormous dollies, planted in strategic areas across the room. Studio lights were on the ceiling and so we didn’t deal with any of that either, not really. The only time we had the chance to shoot outside (and manipulate framing and lighting on our own) was during our final productions and that was hardly enough training.
Lighting in class? nakaka-first world! (Photo from my own instagram)
Experimenting with our own cameras and adjusting every little bit in order to get that perfect shot, it was exciting. Frustrating, too, at times but that was to be expected. We got into the science of it, optics and physics and whatnot. Aperture adjustment was a challenge and lighting was an absolute pain but we survived. I won’t go into the details of it; you’d have to take the class yourself! ☺
A production still from one of our worksheet assignments 🙂
For our final production, we had the opportunity of producing something based on a published piece. After the screening, I think we all came out of the class feeling pretty good about ourselves. Workshop in a classroom setting really is the best! I got the most constructive and encouraging feedback from sir and from my peers. I don’t know about the others but, coming from it, I just felt really inspired to go out and shoot something even just for the heck of it! Of course, lighting would still be a pain and framing would still remain a challenge but it isn’t as scary for me as it was before. And I think that is what is most important about this class—at least to me.
Last day of class! Photo from Sir Raz’s instagram.
Taking these two classes taught me not to be afraid to fail miserably. To be fair, I don’t think I did, but still. Even if I had failed, it would be because I at least tried to create something. Suddenly, I find myself embracing challenges and just, really, appreciating what people have to say about my work and me.
The past two semesters, taking up documentary and videography, were two of the most challenging semesters of my college life. It wasn’t because class was difficult (although at times they were) but because it pushed me to really strive and do well. It’s an impossible task trying to compare the two classes: one was about telling a story, the other was about telling it beautifully.
Beautiful and effective visual storytelling, that’s what those two classes taught me. As a student, I’ve still got a long way to go but I at least found the confidence to really try and challenge myself. At the end of the day, I think that’s what I would remember.