Tuesday, November 6, 2012


For this class’s final project, I’ve enthusiastically decided to go with the second option of creating a video.   The main focus of the video will be myself being interviewed (in the same manner that the subjects where interviewed in the UP! Series) by someone you can’t see (a close friend of mine).

I will include my friends and family and speak on our relationships but I won’t actually interview them.

Some of the subjects I will cover:

-What experiences in life have led you to where you are now?
-What’s most important to you in life right now?  Why?
-What drives you in life and what do you ultimately want to accomplish? 
-What is your relationship like with your immediate family and why?
-Who are your friends and why?
-Why and what are you studying at St Johns?  Why are you in school?
-What do you want to be “when you grow up?”
-Where are you living?  What neighborhood, what city, with whom?  Why?
-Where do you want to be at 28 and 35?
-Girlfriend?  Why or why not?
-Hobbies?  Interests?

I really want to focus on this critical time in my life: after the Marine Corps, before my career, this whole college thing.  Where I am in life.  What drives me?  Where I want to go in life.  What do I ultimately want to accomplish?  I think it will be interesting to look back at this in 10, 15, 20 years and see if I succeeded in doing what I wanted to do.  I’m going to try to ask similar questions to the ones asked in the UP! Series. 

Besides me actually sitting down and being interviewed, I will show scenes of my neighborhood, the city, (and explain why they’re so important to me), my family being my family, my friends being my friends and me out and about doing things I do on a regular basis.

I will really only predict my life and not make predictions on much else.  I will start this project by getting together with my friends that are going to interview me and map out or let them come up with questions.  From there we will film the actual interview segment.  After that, I will go around with a camera filming clips I want to add into the interview until the videos ready. 

The introduction will be a few short clips of: me and my friends out partying/drinking, me at the gym, my with my mom, my dad, then from there I will transition in the interview, my city, my neighborhood, etc.  


In Reporting on Your Own and Writing about People: The Interview, Kalita and Zinsser explain what interviewing really is and how do it properly.  Interviewing is more than sitting down, asking a few questions, writing down the responses, going home and putting it on paper.  To interview correctly is a long hard process that takes a lot of work and there’s a few things that an interviewer always has to keep in mind.  My favorite point was Zinsser’s point on finding the human element in anything.  Finding the human element (to anything) and exposing it brings life to an interview or any work.  It can make the most boring subject interesting.  This reminds me of the move “Waiting,” a movie about a restaurant. This doesn’t really sound interesting and a movie simply about a restaurant wouldn’t be interesting.  But the film finds the human element of the restaurant (the workers), and exposes it.  Their experiences at work, interactions with costumers, the shenanigans that go on in the “the back,” (the kitchen, freezer, and other areas of the restaurant that a costumer wouldn’t see) and this all makes for a very interesting and very entertaining movie.  This also reminds me of anytime someone documents a conflict or war.  It’s one thing to talk about the political reasons behind the conflict but to interview people living the conflict brings life to the documentary and makes it interesting.  The documentary goes from being about two fighting political parties to being about the locals living through the conflict;  their struggles and hardships, or the soldier fighting the conflict; his pain, his struggle, the horrors he endures.  Another strong point in the articles (this one by Kalita) was that when one interviews it is necessarily to forget everything we already knew about the subject of the interview.  An interview is meant to tell a story, from a specific persons point of view: their opinions and their stances.  We cannot bring what we already know to the interview.  Doing so would be to bring our own personal opinions and cloud the direction and outcome of the interview taking away from its authenticity.  And lastly, (to me) the most insightful point in these articles was (Zinsser’s) the point on the process of coming up with an interview worth publishing and an interviewing staying true to the interviewee.  Coming up with an interview worth publishing means taking many different interviews and extracting worthwhile material out of them and putting it together into one flowing interview that makes sense.  This takes a lot of work, and a lot of times it might mean rewording some of the quotes or editing sentences so that they make sense.  Though that’s a necessary part of the process, it’s always important to stay loyal to your interviewee and not put words in his mouth or change the message the interviewee had to say. 

For my project, I (myself) will be the main focus of the interview.  The project is about my life and my predictions for my future.  My family and my friends will have cameos in the video, and will say a few words, and I might ask them a question or two, but I won’t actually interview them for my video.  Me being interviewed will be the main focus of the video.  I’m going to get together with a very close friend of mine and show him my proposal of the video along with an outline of the video and the subjects I want to discuss (in accordance with the guidelines for the project) and together come up with possible questions.  Or I may let him come up with all the questions and surprise me.  I want to keep the interview genuine and sincere not too rehearsed.  I think it’s only right that I be the main focus since this video is about my life and my predictions for the future.    I want to make something similar to the UP! Series as far as interviewing goes.  

Monday, November 5, 2012


Thorne, B. "The Seven Up! Films: Connecting the Personal and the Sociological. "Ethnography 10.3 (2009): 327-40. Print.

In the article “The Seven Up! Films: Connecting the Personal and the Sociological," Barrie Thorne describes how gradually the original intent of the UP! Series became less relevant and the films focus shifted to a more personal direction.  The original intent of the series was to make a political statement on how social inequalities shape individual lives and help determine their futures.  At first the children where shown grouped together with other children from similar social and economical backgrounds.  Yet, throughout the series the focus of the films took a turn and the series developed an “emphasis on ‘human drama,’ ‘human nature,’ or ‘human interest “ (336).  The characters became more so individuals and focus was lost on their perspective social classes.  There became an emphasis on the personal struggles, accomplishments, and outcomes of the lives of the individual characters and not as much emphasis on the characters social class and how it molded them.  The individual families the characters had developed became a great focus in contraction to there being no focus on the families of the characters when they where children.

Apted, Michael. "Michael Apted Responds." Ethnography 10.3 (2009): 359-67. Print.

In the article "Michael Apted Responds," Apted does what he describes as odd for someone in his profession: he engages in debate with criticism of his work.  Essentially in the article Apted is defending himself, the UP! Series, and it’s intent.  He describes how the film shifting focus from sociologic to the individual characters was inevitable.  Many factors led to this shift in focus: each installment needing to be able to stand on its own as an individual film; the characters wanting to tell their own story, their way; and the characters wanting to prove the original intent of the film wrong, are just a few.  He says that the shift in focus was “organic and inexorable, and not the will of some bottom-line,”(366) defending the accusations that he shifted focus to make the film more appealing and make more revenue.  He goes on to say that the UP! Series wasn’t really planned; it was more so invented as he went along. 

Ebert, Roger. "The Up Documentaries (1985)." Rogerebert.com. Sun-Times, 25 Oct. 1985. Web. .

In the article “The Up Documentaries (1985)”, Ebert gives his take on the UP! Series and describes the changes some of the characters go through throughout the series. He touches on some of the differences between England the United States such as how different social classes have more significant differences in England than in the United States.  He also touches on the traditional gender roles of the late 1900’s and how men controlled the lives of women.    He touches on different characters and the paths their lives have taken.  He determines that some characters are happy, some are not and that’s because some are doing what they enjoy and “That seems to be the key: Doing what you like.”

Thursday, October 18, 2012


“The conscious mind seems to block that feeling of oneness so we can function efficiently, maneuver in the world a little bit better, get our taxes done on time.”

I like this quote because it gives a little insight onto the human nature of thinking about “just you.”  We focus on ourselves in our daily lives, for the most part, making our selves our own top priority.  We have friends and family that we care about and this doesn’t necessarily apply to them but when you meet a stranger or you see someone on the street, for the most part, people don’t care. We loose a feeling of connection with other people.  There’s no empathy.  I don’t necessarily think this is a good or a bad thing, but that’s the way it is.  But to be a good writer, you have to be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes.  You have to be able to think what they’re thinking and feel what they’re feeling so you can express it on paper.  And that for the most part, with most people; is lost.  I think to bring it back all you have to do is care.

“But it’s even possible to have this feeling when you see - really see – a police officer, when you look right at him and you see that he’s a living breathing person who like everyone else is suffering like a son of a bitch, and you don’t see him with a transparency over him of all the images of violence and chaos and danger that cops represent.  You accept him as an equal.”

I like this quote because it’s a continuation of the last quote.  “To look tenderly and with recognition (of life, living, breathing, own agenda).”  You can do this when you look at anything really.  The author explains how it’s easy to look at certain things in this manner; your baby, a cute animal, something of that sort, and feel connected.  But it’s a lot harder to do it with other things.  And that’s where we loose our sense of caring and become apathetic.  We have to look at something and actually try to see them for what they are.  Think about what they’re going through and how they’re feeling.  It might not come naturally, especially if it’s not someone you know or care about.  You have to do it purposely and want to do it.  If you do that, you’ll start to see more than meets the eye.  You’ll realize that’s more than some random person.  That’s someone’s father, mother, son, daughter, friend, etc.  You’ll realize they have their own life and their own story.  You’ll realize they’re a person just like you, and you’ll feel connected.  I like this because I’ve always been a strong believer on looking at people for more than the obvious, to try to put yourself in their shoes.  I know everyone has their own personal story, and I could never know it by just looking, but just realizing they a person has their own story and problems goes a long way in itself. 

“There is ecstasy in paying attention.”

I like this quote because it reminds me a lot of the art class I’m taking.  Art 1000C: the Creative Process.  The class is all about experiencing things rather than just viewing or hearing them.  To experience everything (it almost makes me think of being on drugs-which I don’t do I might add) takes everything to a different level.  There’s a difference between simply going to dinner and simply eating and experiencing it all.  It’s something else to really feel the music in the restaurant, the d├ęcor, the mood, to really smell the smell and to really taste the food.  It definitely does make it a completely different experience, possibly bringing you to ecstasy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Writing essay #3 was enjoyable.  I really enjoyed the up series.  Personally; even though it was meant to be enlightening and though provoking (which it ways), I though it was simply entertaining above all. 
            I’ve mentioned this before but I disagree with the Jesuit maxim the series is based on.  The Jesuit maxim can be taken many different ways but I do believe the directors intent with the series was to show that one’s social and economical backgrounds define their lives and restrict them to the social class they where born in.  I’m against that for very personal reasons; I do not believe in any sort of predetermined future (destiny, fortune, etc) and believe that we make our own life.  Through hard word and dedication we can accomplish any realistic dreams. 
            Writing the paper wasn’t hard.  Since I feel so strongly about the Jesuit maxim was wrong, I knew the intention of my paper as soon as I read the assignment instructions.  Tony, being my favorite character, and being a perfect example for my paper; was the natural choice.  He was born into the low class, attended public school (dropping out at 15) and still made it out of the East Side of London.  He set realistic goals for himself and accomplished them.  He has a nice house and makes enough money to support his family and be comfortable.  He disproved the Jesuit maxim.
            If I could revise my paper, I would go into more detail on what I personally believe to be the directors’ intent.  It would give more insight as to why I went the way I did with my paper.  And it would give insight as to why Tony was the natural choice for my paper.  


The up series is a series of videos that follows a group of 14 children from ages seven to 35 at seven-year intervals (starting at seven).  The director meant the films to be a message about how the different social-economical backgrounds in England could pre-determine a child’s life.  He took children from all different backgrounds, some rich, some poor, some in private schools, some in public schools, some girls buy mostly boys, and even one orphan.  He followed the children’s lives and documented their opinions and their progress through their lives.  The films were very interesting to say the least; in general, even if you didn’t get the message the films were trying to deliver.  It was interesting to see these children progress through life and see where they ended up.  Though everyone’s background has an effect on their lives, I don’t agree with the fact that it determines ones life, thus I disagreed with the directors intent and even think the films contradicted his theory.  Not all the children ended up where you would have though they would have ended up if you where judging them from seven years old.  All the children went through some change in character and though they maintained some characteristics they had at seven, by 35 they where very different than at seven.
            My favorite character was Tony.  And in reflecting on the series, I feel the need to mention why.  I feel I can relate with Tony.  He reminds me of many men in my life, he might even remind me of myself (but that’s a bold statement on myself).  Tony was born in the low class, far from rich.  Growing up he knew what he was missing (materialistically).  He also seemed to know that he had limitations in life because of where he came from.  He knew he wouldn’t grow up to be the President or a rocket scientist.  But despite that, he was always a realist and set realistic goals for himself.  And most importantly, he accomplished them. 
            One thing I’d like to mention is that I feel the director left out a huge factor in a child’s life: parents.  The children’s parents were not even mentioned until much later on in the show.  If I have to be honest I’d say that my parents had more on an impact on my life then my environment.  They gave me a view on my environment and helped me form an opinion about it.  They made me realize it wasn’t a dead end street and I could get out of it if I wanted to.  I’m sure the children’s parents had an equally important role in their lives (whether good or bad).  Excluding the parents from the show was unfair to the children as it would have given even more insight as to why the children act the way they do, have the opinions they have, and the ambitions (or lack of) that they have (a good example would be Suzie; when we later find out about her parents we gain insight and empathy with her, it explains her childhood and adolescent years). 
            Manslins review agrees with my view on the film.  He states that even though there is some truth to the Jesuit maxim, it’s also contradicted in fascinating ways.  He gives a few examples of children who contradicted the Jesuit maxim with their changes in personality and the directions their lives took.  I like his review, because it backs up my claims on the film.  I do agree with her assessment that the characters are drooping; only because as the characters get older, they loose a lot of the charm they had as children and also, as they begin to settle down, they become much less interesting.  But such is life.
            To be perfectly honest, I’ve always had a problem with generalizations of any kind.  I’ve always been against stereotypes and any belief that your life is predetermined for any reason (destiny, fortune, etc.).  So naturally, I would disagree with the director’s intent to show that one’s social-economical background would predetermine their lives.  If there where any truth to that, then I, the son of first generation immigrants, who lived in a one –room house most of his life, has no business at St. Johns.  I should be working at some dead end job or some sort of manual labor right now.  I should have no aspirations or ambitions to change my situation.  Therefore I’ll have to admit that I watched the series biased, always looking for an opportunity to prove the Jesuit maxim wrong. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012


"Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man."

My mission statement for essay #3 is to show that the above statement is true in a sense, but not entirely.  No one can predict the future, thus no one can take a 7 year old child and predict what their occupation will be.  But at 7 years old a person will develop some of their characteristics and personality traits that will define them for the rest of their lives.  These traits will decide how the person will react to situations in their lives such as failure, success, love, etc.  A persons social and economical background will always have a limit (or lack of) on the opportunities that present themselves for that person but their character will decide how they handle their lives.  I will use Tony to prove this.  Although his life did not pan out like he hoped, or like most predicted, he is still the same person at heart.  He lives a very different life now (married, children, cab driver), but he is still the same bold, daring person he was at 7 years old.