A few weeks ago I volunteered to film a school trip to Prospect Park‘s petting zoo. There was no money involved with me filming and no strings attached: I just wanted the opportunity to film anxious small children in high speed with ambient light. The experience would be good for me.
Honestly, there were no expectations. No one had seen my work before. I didn’t know how the project would turn out. I wasn’t getting paid for it. Besides, the tiny camera that I showed up with looked no different from everyone else’s.
I spent the period laughing and talking with the teachers, parents, and children in perhaps the most gorgeous weather of the year thus far. Helping take the children to the bathroom. Wiping small noses.
All throughout the trip I made conscious decisions of how best to film. Being kindergarteners, they were very close to the ground. Naturally, to film them best in their element, I had to get closer to the ground, too. I also relied on a lot of tight shots to focus on the activity, more than the environment. One other thing that I did, which is a major difference for me, was film handheld. I’m a fluid head tripod guy, so handheld is a radical departure from my established norm.
Once I got back to the studio I loaded the clips into Final Cut Express and put together a whimsical little expose with fast cuts and a jovial soundtrack. It’s a refreshing, feel good movie.
I quickly pieced together a DVD using Apple‘s included iDVD software. I made a DVD for the teacher and each student, with my name and contact information on each DVD. They watched it, in school, on an HDTV and were astounded.
Remember, this was a volunteer project. I took the assignment for the experience, which I did gain. More importantly, I was able to reach a built-in audience, surpass their expectations, and become a respected entity in the classroom community.
Those results don’t put checks in banks or transfers into PayPal. What they do is put a warm, fuzzy feeling in the heart. They give you client satisfaction skills. They give you personal satisfaction from being able to use your God-given talents to help others.
I felt good being able to make everyone smile. It’s not always about how much you can make. Sometimes you just do it for the love of the craft.