My work with the documentary process has opened a whole other set of skills to me. I have spent much of my time familiarizing myself with the digital media lab’s copy of adobe premiere. Admittedly, I deserve to write a rather glowing post for lynda.com, which offers detailed and amazing video tutorials.
Like most of the Info Age’s projects, this one forces one to acquire non-traditional skills. Although the advertisement project might leave a few gaps in understanding how it relates to the historical discipline, the documentary offers very clear-cut, transferable skills. You are still crafting an argument about the ways in which events occurred and, more importantly, why it happened. Where are the differences? Well, primary sources in your typical paper include documents, not actual living people. There is a certain danger in conducting interviews, namely asking leading questions. If questions shape the project, it even more strongly influences the sources for this type of project. Unlike a traditional project, you cannot bully a piece of paper, much less make it answer a question specifically in your favor (perhaps a debatable point). I must warn other students conducting similar projects. Please put thought into your questions. As I understand it, the documentary typically needs a direction and form before interviews even begin, and the temptation is to make sure that interviewees’ statements match with your own interpretation, but such attempts create weak projects. While our main interviewer crafts questions as objectively as possible, I can imagine a scenario where an interviewer pushes interviewees to produce very specific answers. I enjoyed sitting in on an interview to watch my project partner work. Of course, she already brings a great deal of skill to the table, so I had a wonderful learning experience.