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vacilando: when the experience is more important than the destination

Work Right

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I heard from two unexpected sources of wisdom this past week: David Johnson, President of Silent Images, and Scott Dikkers, a founding editor of The Onion. It's quite an unlikely pairing. On one hand, by highlighting the beauty of people amidst tragedy, David uses his camera to help "bring justice, freedom, and a voice" to the voiceless. On the other hand, by targeting the "foibles of humanity" everywhere, Scott uses humor to satirize traditional media coverage of current events. Yet as different as they are, both use stories in unexpected, necessary, and ultimately sticky ways that resonate with people. They challenge people to re-evaluate their perspectives of others and recognize their shared humanity - the impact I would like my storytelling to have too. These are some of my takeaways from their talks. "Seeing the World Through a New Lens" (DJ)

https://vimeo.com/107709111

  1. Be a passionate person about everything I do. I'll never know when and where that perfect opportunity will arise.
  2. God has called me to love all people. I can use the camera in my hands to respond to the injustice I see around me.
  3. I am here to serve first, then photograph.
  4. When building a creative team, find people who are smarter than me.
  5. Personal impact of all the tragedy and pain that David has witnessed and documented:
    • Wonder at the depth of God's unconditional love for such a broken humanity
    • Joy and comfort that God is sovereign and will one day restore justice
    • Conviction and responsibility to collaboratively participate in the reconciliation process

"The Funny Story Behind the Funny Stories" (SD)

Scott Dikkers

  1. Nothing is effortless. Even the most naturally talented comedians had to learn how to make people laugh, and often the hard way (e.g. out of necessity as an emotional coping mechanism).
  2. Basic Principles of Creative Leadership
    • Live my mission, and I will become a person of vision. Find out what I need to do or want to do, and just do it. Doing so will create a center of gravity that draws people to me.
    • Invest my passion, not my money. Heart is all I need.
    • Be prepared to scrap everything. If I've invested your money and it's just not working out, maybe I need to redirect my passion.
    • Trust my people. Surround myself with people who are smarter than me, who love what they do, and who need to be doing it to be happy. They will work hard, but I need to trust them.
    • Work right. Learn from those who have gone before me.

Altogether, their advice really encourages me that I'm doing the right thing by focusing on my artistic potential. When I am sharing stories, I feel like I'm doing what I was created to do.

#BettaVote

It is difficult to be creative under time pressure, but the burden is light when you have a great team! Duke Students of the World (SOW) is nearing the culmination of our first project this semester, and I am so thankful for the safe space we have created to make mistakes and learn together. Less than two weeks ago, we were approached by community organizers from the Youth Division of North Carolina's NAACP to create a nonpartisan video about the importance of the youth vote. The target audience? Voters of "our generation" who are skeptical and apathetic towards the voting process. The distribution? A national conference this Friday celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

Now, well thought-out videos with national reception rarely happen overnight, let alone three weeks. So it has been a whirlwind journey to brainstorm a compelling and realistic treatment, partner with other artists to build a creative team, and shoot/edit around the tight schedules of Duke students. I realize I need to learn how to plan a shoot better BUT IT IS HAPPENING and I am so grateful and amazed at all the people who have generously volunteered their time and skills to bring the vision to life. Drawing inspiration from a spoken-word graffiti video I made awhile back, we partnered with student rapper Edgeri Hudlin and graffiti artist WOEM to create a hybrid "graffiti-meets-rap-meets-spoken-word" video at the bridge underpass near East Campus. Street art, poetry, and documentary are well-suited instigators of real and authentic conversation, so why not mix them up? As you would imagine, the process has been a crazy cool combination of personalities, colors, and connections. I can't wait to share the complete video later this week. Very curious to see what kind of impact it makes!

The Timeline August 29: First meeting with organizers August 31: Team agrees to pursue graffiti-poetry idea Sept 1: Edgeri and WOEM join the team Sept 2-7: Edgeri writes rap/poem; statistics are collected to inform his writing Sept 8: Brainstorm visuals Sept 11: Record rap/poem with Edgeri; finalize visuals; contact student volunteers Sept 12: Production Day 1 Sept 13: Production Day 2 Sept 14-19: Edit video and invite feedback Sept 20: Presentation at voting rights conference

Behind the Scenes