Take It from a Pro…

March 27, 2015

By Alayne Potter

Last semester our Bass Connections in Energy project, Exploring the Intersection of Energy and Peace-building through Film, took our team from complete scratch and helped us begin to mold our visions for our films. Our goal is to visually express the complex relationship that energy has with peacebuilding. Our partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has given us access to footage they have taken as part of their environmental assessments and allows us to use this film in crafting our stories.

If this doesn’t sound easy, then you’re right. We are facing some pretty big obstacles. All of the footage we have is part of the UNEP archives, and we in turn must work as both an archivist and a documentarian to achieve a final product that will show the relationship between natural resources and conflict.We don’t have any control over the footage and images available, and we only have one year to complete the whole project. You don’t even have to take my word on these obstacles we must overcome. Trust Sean Peoples, a Multimedia Producer and Program Associate in the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program. For the past few years, Sean has been making short documentaries for the Wilson Center as part of a series. He was also our most recent guest and the person who told me we are facing an uphill battle. Luckily, we also had the opportunity to learn from Sean’s expertise.

Sean met with our group in order to discuss our ideas and current progress and provide advice. In our two-hour session, Sean acknowledged the obstacles we had, but more importantly, helped us take a step back to look at the big picture of the project. In order to visually depict the complex relationships between natural resources and conflict to a general audience, Sean suggested that we develop an outline of the story we are trying to tell in key bullet points. He also recommended that we continually go back to this outline when we are feeling overwhelmed by the obstacles we are facing to remember the importance of the story we are sharing. That way, the simplicity of our message won’t get lost in the details.

Already, we have a new set of questions and struggles we are attempting to overcome, but with so many smart people like Sean helping us along the way, we are in safe hands. By working with us to develop a process that is suitable to our project, he has helped our challenges become more manageable. Not only was it helpful to have an outside perspective on the project, it was great to get the input of someone who has run into these kinds of problems before.