Raised in Captivity
I’m currently working on a short video documentary about the actors at Augustana, and spent some hours on Saturday following them around as they were preparing for their last show of “Raised in Captivity.” It’s truly fascinating to be able to visit someone’s world like that! I don’t need an excuse to be curious or ask questions, and the best of all: I don’t have anyone telling me what to do and what not to do. I can be my own boss, and let my own creativity flow.
Here are some sneak peeks from the first day of shooting.
In the past I’ve only done fictional short films, which allows you to “direct” the people in front of the camera, and tweak every single scene until it’s just the way you pictured it. In documentary filmmaking however, you’re not only a filmmaker, but also a journalist. And your task is to tell someone’s story just the way it is. There’s no room for directing, tweaking or enhancing of any kind.
Which is great of course, since you want to tell credible stories and let the audience see what you saw. But, it can also be a little frustrating at times, because you only get one shot. You can’t ask your subject to repeat everything they said, just because the lighting was a little off at that moment, for example. As the organized person I am, I prefer having a clear and structured plan ahead of me. But with this type of storytelling, I quickly realized that sometimes you have to trust your impulses, rather than the storyline and questions you planned beforehand. When you don’t have a script, and you’re dealing with real people, you can’t always predict the direction the story is going. Maybe that’s what makes documentaries so interesting? Either way, I enjoyed every minute of this first day’s shoot, and I’m excited to continue.
Things I don’t get about Americans
Today it’s been exactly six months and four days since I moved to the US. During that time, my love for the country and its people have truly grown stronger for each day. Strangely enough, some of the cultural traits I once thought of as “extreme” or “ridiculous,” have now become normal to me. I no longer think it’s weird that strangers ask me how I’m doing, or that I always see a three-digit number on the scale when I weigh myself. – Which by the way, is not a result of the infamous American food, but instead their use of pounds instead of kilos.
However, there are still a few things I don’t get about this wonderful place.
First of all, there’s a reason why I tend to avoid using coins when paying for my groceries. If I have a bill, I’ll always use that before I even consider digging up any coins from my wallet. Why? Because the coins “over here” don’t have any numbers on them. And just to make it even more confusing, you can’t use their size as a reference either – a ten-cent coin is smaller than a five-cent, and so on. When I finally thought I’d gotten the hang of it, a cashier asked me one day: “do you have a dime?” To me, that sounded more like the name of a candy bar (that we have in Norway..) so I just said “No, I don’t.” And looked at her. She looked back at me, and a moment of awkward staring followed. Obviously, she asked if had five more cents, because I didn’t give her enough money. But as the genuinely nice person she was, she just said: “Okay hon, that’s fine. Do you need the receipt with you, or in the bag?” So I left the store, not knowing I’d just paid five cents to little for my groceries.
Another thing I don’t get, is why (many) Americans dress like morons in the cold weather. Here in South Dakota, we’ve had temperatures as low as -26°C, and the biting wind has at times made the effective temperatures drop down to -37°C. At least, certain students at Augustana sure knows how to live up to their name as “Vikings.” The picture below displays a not so unusual type of winter footwear. (If the owner of these feet now feels like a victim of online exploitation, I apologize in advance.. sorry!)
Then there are those gaps. The gaps you’ll see in every public bathroom, which truly makes it a PUBLIC bathroom – because privacy becomes a challenge..
And yes, everything is generally bigger over here. Especially the shampoo bottles. I’m not exaggerating when I say that they’re about three to four times bigger than the average norwegian bottle (But half the price, yay!) Sometimes I wish I could just bring my whole backpack to the bathroom at night.. that way I would be able to bring both my shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, face wash, moisturizer and toothpaste in with me at the same time – instead of walking back and forth several times.
When I first saw the size of this cereal pack, I thought it was quite sensational (Which is why I decided to pose with it in my hands.. heh) *As if I didn’t already look like a foreigner*
America even offers menstrual pads in “Kardashian-household sizes.” Unless you live together with six other girls, you won’t need that many at once.
*Talk to your doctor if you do…* – Which is another thing that is typically American. If you watch a TV commercial for medication, health products or diet supplements, there’s always a sidenote warning you of the possible side-effects. “If you experience headaches, nausea, dizziness, fainting, chest pain or loss of sight or pulse – stop taking the pills and go see your doctor.”
“Over here” you can also buy alcohol every day, 24 hours a day. Even in pharmacies! As opposed to in Norway, where only certified stores can sell beer and other low-alcolholic beverages and wine/spirits can only be obtained at the official “liquor stores.” (Usually only found in bigger cities)
I could probably go on and on about things that are different from the tiny country I’m from, but I’ll save that for some other time.
Peace out, and be blessed.
That headline caught your attention, right? I’ve learned some tricks from my journalism classes. True story. However, if you choose to continue reading, you’ll soon notice that the title is not completely random after all.
Because, I just did my first “journalistic interview” ever. After being assigned to write about sexual assault, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. With no reporting experience, that topic seemed like a pretty rough place to start, but there’s no “starting slow” in this field I guess. Luckily, the people I interviewed were very talkative, and I didn’t have to ask too many questions. To be honest, the actual interview itself went beyond all expectation! The problem came when I was trying to read my own notes afterwards: “What was I trying to write here?” Huh.. what the heck is this?” “Seriously..” Some of the words didn’t even look like English. I’m a terrible multitasker, so that might explain a bit. Listening to my own voice on the audio recorder afterwards was also pretty mortifying, but oh well. I’m here to learn!
Now I’m headed out to have dinner with some friends at “Famous Dave’s,” before I’ll snuggle up in my warm bed and watch Netflix the rest of the night. The temperatures outside have been overwhelmingly cold lately: -18°C today!! The thing about the South Dakota weather is that it always looks warm, but you’re in for a very unpleasant surprise if you dress according to what you see through the window. Take this picture for example:
if you just ignore the heap of snow in the back, it looks like one of those nice, sunny, warm and windless days we have in Norway (twice a year..) On the upside, from April through October, the temps are often between 24-35°C.. or.. that’s what I’ve been told. Let’s hope it’s true.