“Where Are You From?”

Digital story script 12/7/04

Text (white on black): “Where are you from?”

Voice: “New York” (Fade in: Photo of the Statue of Liberty; music: snippet from “I Love New York”)

Text: “No, (come in from right after 1 second), I mean, where are you from?”

Voice: “Well, I grew up in Uganda.” (Photo of me as a child in front of house in Mbale, wearing hot pants; music: snippet from Stephen Kent’s “Yekke” – dijeridou, followed by high-pitched yelps, a la “the natives are restless” in an old “Tarzan” movie)

Text: “Where are you from originally?”

Voice: “My parents are from South Korea.” (Black and white photo of my parents at their engagement; music: snippet of choral version of “Arirang”, a classic Korean folk song)

Text: “Funny, you don’t have an accent.”

Voice: “I grew up speaking the Queen’s English (Photo of me as a child in Trafalgar Square, London, surrounded by pigeons; music: snippet of “God Save the Queen”), but I lost my British accent when my family moved to the Bronx.”

“You know, in Uganda, they called us “Mzungu”, “white” people, and they called the East Indian “Asians.” (Photo?)

Text: “When I was in the Army, I went to Thailand for R&R. The women were so beautiful…so gentle… (Photo of Thai classical dancer)

Voice: “I know what you mean… so graceful…, but I’m from Korea.”

This is the story I did not make during the KQED Digital Storytelling Workshop December 9th. and 11th.

We started out with a 2-hour prep session on Monday, December 6 where we got to meet the instructor and the other participants. We were told we would actually make a 1 1/2 to 3 minute digital story by the end of the day on Saturday. And, that they would all be great. We were to tell a personal story because we already know these stories and have the artifacts to capture the stories (photographs, drawings, perhaps video). To illustrate her point, our instructor, Leslie Rule, showed us several digital stories that had been made by previous workshop participants. (None of us believed that was true – all the stories were too good!) The last thing we did that evening was take a few minutes to write a story on a 5″X7″ card, which we shared with each other. Our homework was to write a draft of a script (no more than 1/2 to 3/4 of a page, double-spaced), gather 10-15 photographs, and find music that we would like to use for the stories.

I wrote this script first, using text in lieu of photographs because I did not have many childhood pictures with me. They were all at my parents’ house, which is now in Florida. Then I wrote a second, very different script. And called my parents to see if they could somehow get the picture to me by Wednesday. I got through to them Tuesday afternoon, EST and decided the best thing to do would be for them to overnight the physical photos to me. If they could get to a courier before 5pm, I figured I would have the photos by noon on Wednesday.

My father called at 4:30pm EST to inform me that all the couriers closed at 2:30pm. They had been a bit late in getting out because it took them longer than anticipated to take the photos out of the albums. The albums were so old that the photos were encrusted onto the albums. Some photos had torn while they were trying to take them out.

I resigned myself to leaving the first day of the two-day workshop at lunch time to get the photos, which would arrive by noon on Thursday if they were mailed first thing Wednesday morning. My mother called that evening to tell me that since they had more time, my father had annotated all the pictures with the date and place. E.g. Trafalgar Square, London, 1969 Europe Tour.

On Thursday, I went to the workshop having never worked on an Apple computer, never used Adobe PhotoShop (that was Mark’s domain), never scanned a photograph, never used voice recording software, and never used a video editing program. Oh, and not knowing which photographs I would have. After many hours on the web and listening to CDs that we had, I had downloaded or copied 11 tracks that I could possibly use.

The morning was spent going over our scripts. I read both my scripts, and was encouraged to make the second one. Two people broke down and cried in reading or talking about their stories; every story elicited an emotional response. By lunch time, I was so tense and emotionally charged that even after leaving KQED to go downtown to pick up my photographs, I could barely eat my lunch. After lunch, we recorded our scripts and took turns digitizing our photographs.

On Saturday, we finished separating our photographs and learned how to use iMovie to create our digital stories. We added photographs, the voice track, and music. We learned how to use the “Ken Burns” effect to create some movement in our still photographs. We learned to put transitions between our photographs; we became very frustrated with iMovie.

Somehow, we all finished by 5pm and got to watch all nine stories. They were all great.

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