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The Start of Starting Something

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The Starting Something series began with a trial video; I needed a segment that demonstrated the type of stories I hoped to capture. When considering a story to feature, I thought of Monica Roach, a musician and educator living in Delmar, NY.

Monica and I met through a mutual friend several years ago when I was making a video for my graduate school work. She was kind enough to participate and was generous with ideas and suggestions. Through the experience, I learned that we actually had numerous people in common and didn’t even know it! Our particular connection mirrored the connections that the Starting Something series aims to spark. Through discussion we unraveled common friends and interests – and all through disparate sources.

This is how community works. It’s about context. While one person may know Monica from the local music scene, another may know her as a parent, and yet another may know her as a music teacher, etc. Most of us have more than one circle of friends. When these circles meet, people find commonalities and connections.

But I digress…  I approached Monica in early February to see if she’d be interested in doing a prototype or pilot for the Starting Something series. At that time, the series didn’t have a name, and it was difficult to express exactly what I was looking for. What I wrote specifically was: “The idea behind these one minute pieces (yes…only 1 minute!) is to begin with a story and radiate outward. What’s especially important is that the story connects with something larger in the community. As a musician and someone who works with urban youth in a music program, I thought you might be able to offer an interesting story.”

Monica expressed immediate interest and was generous with both her time and resources to make it happen. To provide a fitting backdrop, Monica made arrangements for us to set up in a music rehearsal space in downtown Albany. The setting was perfect, complete with a large room, heavy draperies, and lots of floor space for setting up lights. On the technical end, setting up for a shoot requires optimizing the space you have at hand. Some offices are too small for elaborate lighting. Some rooms have noisy ventilation systems that make audio recording difficult. This location, however, provided the space and acoustics to make filming (as a one person crew!) easy.

My overall goal is to create video pieces that feel warm and personal, so I forewent the standard, expensive broadcast-quality camera and set up my own HDSLR camera – the kind of interchangeable-lens still photography camera with video capabilities that many people now own. This, along with a few lights, provided proof-positive that it doesn’t take Hollywood standards to make a film; story and content make the video. I throw this information in here to demystify the broadcast/filmmaking process and suggest that, yes, with the ubiquity of solid/affordable technology, anyone is poised to make a film. The primary ingredient is story, and Monica had plenty of story to share!

Aside from the 45 minutes of set-up time and 20 or so minutes of take-down time, our interview took about 20 minutes. In that time, Monica shared several stories – one of which became the first Starting Something segment in our new series.

At this point, I’ve completed six Starting Something segments and have several more in the computer waiting to be edited as well as a queue of stories waiting to be captured. Despite how busy the process of producing Start Something is becoming, I will always look at the first, very simple set-up and discussion with Monica with fondness. That segment – the first in a series - was, itself, the start of something that I believe will have value to WMHT viewers and our region’s inhabitants.