Aid to Pakistan

My third news package for Broadcast II class is a mile-a-minute run-through of the strategy of fighting terrorism in the hinterlands of Pakistan by developing the infrastructure in that area.

Shoot 1 – Mexico, Mo.

The Chairman of Pakistan’s Senate, Muhammad Soomro, who stepped in as President following the departure Gen. Musharraf, visited Kit Bond’s hometown of Mexico, Mo., so I headed to Audrain County, “Biofuel Capital of Missouri”, to capture the moment on video.  Problem was, when I got there, the luncheon (hosted by the local Rotary chapter) was underway and media weren’t allowed in.  Not that there were any other media in attendance.

So, I waited.  Then, people began streaming out of the country club.  I hadn’t seen any official Pakistani vehicles, so I went inside.  There I found Sen. Bond shaking hands of attendees on their way out.  Somehow I’d missed the Chairman!  I figured I’d better get in line, and when it was my turn to shake the Senator’s hand, I asked if he could spare 5 minutes for three questions on his way out.  He looked at his watch, and I said “I’ll go set up next to your car.”  He said, “That’ll be fine, see you there.”

So, I interviewed the Senator, as well as a very knowledgeable oncologist from Pakistan who I met in line to greet the Senator.  Straight talking-head interviews.  My camera time allotment had run out, so I high-tailed it back to Columbia to turn it back in.

Shoot 2 – Mexico, Mo.

The next day, I grabbed a camera and went back to Mexico, thinking that I could develop the theme of rural innovation being what Missouri could offer Pakistan.  That was the theme of many of Bond’s comments, and so I focused on getting some nice visuals of innovation at work.  The problem was that not so much was going on around Mexico on the weekend.  I found a bunch of great signs of innovation – a cattle ranch with “GENETICS” all over the buildings, which I found a strange selling point for beef in an organic age.  The cows were all resting on the ground, though, which made them look sort of sickly, and I later decided it was distracting as a sequence.  The Advanced Technology Center that I was wedded to shooting because Bond had made mention of it by ATC in the middle of one of his quotes (brilliant tactic, btw) was all scary government architecture set amidst an empty parking lot.  Nice sign, where I did a short standup explaining what the ATC did and led into the second part of the story where I thought, at the time, I’d introduce the idea that poverty and terrorism are linked.

Also, I attempted a cool zoom-out scene setter that I’ll upload to YouTube and link to soon.  I had to edit it out of the package for lab because I ended up getting another interview, which I’ll talk about in a bit.

So, time was coming up, and I still hadn’t gotten any great shots to illustrate the story I think I need to tell.  I headed back to C0lumbia.

Shoot 3 – Broadcast Lab

I’d already put out calls and emails trying to secure an interview with someone, anyone, qualified to speak about the situation in Pakistan with any authority.  Professors, professionals, students and friends thereof had all replied with regrets.  Some due to scheduling, others due to a distaste for MSM portrayals of Islam.  As I was sitting forlorn trying to write, I received a tip on a student who would be a great interview.  I emailed, but got to writing because I didn’t want to count on it.

I realized that the problem with my stand-up, with the whole piece, was that all the visuals were from Missouri.  That makes sense, in terms of covering an event or working the Missouri industry and technology angle, but to show people why development aid is smart and pragmatic (which was a point Sen. Bond made over and over again in the course of our interview – he really was quite generous with his time) as a policy for the U.S., I needed to somehow illustrate what the government is dealing with along the frontier in Pakistan.  So, I remembered that I’d downloaded a demo of this cool little Mac app, iShowU.  The program captures a .mov movie of whatever you’re doing on-screen on your Mac.  It can even tap into your iSight and insert you into a little inset box in the corner.  I’d seen it used in inummerable “how-to” tube-casts, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

I went with a narration of looking at a GoogleMap of Pakistan, and led into Sen. Bond’s point about how the mountains west of Islamabad shield insurgents because the government can’t effectively govern without infrastructure like roads, electricity and cellphones.  Considering how comical my previous stand-up attempts had been, I thought that the result was generally positive.  It provided the necessary context at a critical point in the story development, and freed my later interviewee bites to address a more informed hypothetical viewer.

Again, link to video forthcoming as YouTube is the slowest and WordPress doesn’t support Vimeo embeds:(

Shoot 4

I wrapped the package after that, but then found out that I had the opportunity to interview the President of MU’s Muslim Student’s Association.  I couldn’t say no to that.  So, I met Ms Maqbool at the Black Cultural Center on campus, and played her the clips of Sen. Bond and Dr. Waheed, as well as my stand-up.  I wanted her commentary.  She provided it.  She should definitely go to law school.  I ended up with great, incisive sound, and absolutely no space for it.  So, as I drove back to the lab, I resolved to make space, at the price of the scene-setting.

I completely rewrote the script, laid down a spare, manic voice-over, pushed the time of the package to the absolute maximum, and wrote a barely functional intro and tag.  I think the piece was one interview bite heavy.  I should have removed Dr. Waheed’s summation or perhaps Sen. Bond’s first bite.  I really just wanted 20 extra seconds, when it comes down to it.

Evaluation

I didn’t have the visuals from Pakistan to tell the story of the need for development.  Nor did have action shots of the interviewees to develop them effectively as characters.  What I did have was graphics and a nifty browser video and great, intelligent sources, and a legitimate connection between Mid-Missouri and this place all the way on the other side of the world.  I avoided the sound problems I’d had on my previous package and generally feel good about what was bordering on art-filmic (yes that’s a word) experimentation in my opinion.  It may as well have been animated.

Tompkins

To return to the objective/subjective split I touched upon last week, I think that the subjectivity in this piece was provided completely by the standup, and even that was grounded in objective fact.  But, having my face floating there, accompanying the viewer on a little adventure around the globe via a potentially familiar visual interface.  Ok, hold on, more in a moment as I’ve got to change my nameserver for some reason.

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