A few notes to start things off...
Let me begin by saying that I started writing this at 5am. Despite thinking that I’d conquered jetlag, my body hasn’t been fully convinced. Early bird gets the worm, I guess? (Or in the case of living in NYC, early bird realizes just how many rats live in and around their apartment’s garbage bins).
South Africa was awesome, simply put. I’ve been to Africa once (Kenya, in high school) and have spent a decent amount of time in Latin America, but South Africa definitely stands out as a unique place to travel/live.
The inspiration behind the “Advice to my future self” video series came from a number of different places, the first being my own uncertainty about what life held after finishing school. My personal feelings were supplemented by the sentiment that I heard time and time again among my friends and peers whose feelings ranged from excitement to nervousness. Rooted beneath all of the uncertainty however, I noticed a fundamental feeling of optimism that laid the groundwork for our post-graduation lives.
Seeing this optimism inspired me to go about capturing it in a way that could be reflect upon in future years. In doing this, I hoped that we could be reminded of what once inspired ourselves.
Execution: Because I have absolutely no formal education in video/film, my approach to the project was relatively bare-bone. My equipment setup included my Nikon D3300 with an old prime film lens (~50mm full frame equivalent), a wireless lapel mic and a black satin cloth that served as a static background behind the interviewees. Crucially, I didn’t think about lights which led to sub-par lighting in the videos. You live and you learn.
More important than the equipment were the two questions that I asked:
While the first question was meant to initiative a reflective manner of thinking in order to prepare interviewees to answer the second question, it ended up triggering emotional reactions in a number of individuals. Answers to the second question varied in complexity and length, which was one thing that surprised me. Some people spent upwards of ten minutes giving their future-self advice, while others did so in no more than thirty seconds.
Reactions: The original thought was to share each person’s video with them four years after it was filmed (2015 to 2019). In 2017 however, I noticed that many friends who participated in the project seemed to be at a point of change in their lives, myself included. As a result, I decided to share the videos at the halfway point with the promise that I would re-share them again in two years. Reactions to seeing the videos were overwhelmingly positive. Some commented that it was reassuring to see that they were following the advice that they had given themselves two years previously, while others said that it was a good reminder to ground themselves in, given recent uncertainty/tough times.
Conclusion: In its entirety, I feel that the project was a success and achieved the impact on its participants that I hoped it would. I look forward to prolonging its life when the videos are shared again in another two years and hope to apply some of the things that I learned from it to future projects.