Tag Archives: This I Believe

agenda :: 4/5

screenings: don, shannon,  jesse, grace, fanwen, wangsoo, jun, kelsey, jason

ices forms: since this is our last official day together, i have to ask you to spend a few minutes filling out these forms. i appreciate your feedback about the course and love to read about what you’ve found most useful or what could be improved. thanks for your help!


  • if you haven’t shown your final project yet, i’ll plan to see you on thursday, same place and time: right here in room 106 at 2pm. if you won’t be coming in on thursday, it’s been great to have you in class and good luck during finals week!
  • just a reminder that your last item of homework for the semester is to complete the “reflection” segment of the production journal. post to your blog when you are done. the final due date for these blog posts will be friday may 8 at 11:59 pm, so that i can get grades back during finals week
  • another reminder: i will be in our usual room at the usual time to hand back final grades (calculated from your individual module grades and the master rubric) on tuesday, may 12. if you will still be on campus and want to stop by and pick up your grades and my personal feedback, you are more than welcome to! otherwise, grades will be posted in the online system and you will have to wait a bit for them to be processed.
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agenda :: 4/16

writing warm-up: write about a person that has inspired you or challenged you to see something in a new way.

voting warm-up: here’s your chance to vote about the due dates for module 3. remember, we can stick with the days as they stand (april 30 and may 5), or vote to make reading day our last official class and give everyone extra time (may 5 and 7). vote only once based one what you prefer. majority will rule in this democracy, and we will all abide by what is decided in the poll. much like those kids in china and their choice for class monitor!

short screening: the pervert’s guide to ideology (excerpt) :: slavoj zizek is one of my favorite pop-philosophers, not only because he discusses his ideas in terms of movies and popular culture, but also makes movies of his own. i hope you’ll note how the filmmakers make his difficult subject matter more understandable by inserting relevant footage at the right times, and keep the viewer engaged by composing the interview sequences in clever ways to match the aesthetics of the movie in question. lively and compelling composition and editing can go a long way to help your piece. here, he explains his thoughts on ideology by illustrating them through scenes from the john carpenter sci-fi movie they live. everything is an argument, even bad movies, remember?

ideology: the study of systems of ideas, how they are formed, and their implications.

the point zizek makes is that our natural, default state is to live within ideologies, taking for granted the way certain things are crafted to convince us of something, manipulate our actions, or tell us how to view ourselves, even – in this case, putting on the sunglasses symbolizes the conscience choice we have to make to see things in a new way, outside of our natural positions. this is often painful and confrontational, as we step outside of our comfort zones – as depicted in the ridiculously long fight scene. but then again, that’s just his ideology regarding ideology.

deconstruction exercise :: (30 min)

  1. Think about three purchases you’ve made recently.  These should range from larger ticket items like electronics, to trivial daily purchases like gum, coffee etc.
  2. Go online and look for advertisements for the items, or the product website.
  3. For each item write a response to the following questions:
    – Why did you choose to buy this specific product?
    – Does the advertisement resonate with your own personal aesthetic or “brand”?  How?
    – Does the way the product is marketed appeal to your personal beliefs or identity?

storyboards:  basic information on storyboarding –  a common and effective method in time-based media. pre-visualizing ideas is always helpful (and can save time), and it really doesn’t matter if the author can’t draw –this process is more  about getting ideas onto paper (or some other sketching medium). steve stockman tells us to think in shots, and storyboarding is a great way to exercise thinking this way. here are some helpful links that have more information:

  1. storyboard wikipedia page
  2. basic storyboard template
  3. about pixar’s storyboarding process in toy story
  4. the empire strikes back storyboard comparison
  5. screencrush has lots of examples from movies you may know
  6. some interesting examples from family plot and the birds (2) by hitchcock, notorious for his attention to detail and adherence to storyboard composition
  7. storyboards from no country for old men  by j. todd anderson

workshop time: the clock is ticking on these projects – stick around to meet with me if you’re stuck for ideas, grab a camera and get some footage, do whatever the next item on this project’s agenda is! 


  • complete the production segment of the production journal template fully, and post to your blog by monday at 11:59pm.
  • continue making progress on your project on your own, working through rough drafts, and editing all your raw material together into a coherent 6-8 minute piece. you know better than i what you need to do at this stage, so keep yourself on task and remember your due date.
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agenda :: 4/14

*production week*

video warm-up: if i die on mars: i just find this pretty interesting. would you be the kind of person who could leave earth forever to be one of the first people to live on mars? they ask even the embarrassing questions that are everyone’s minds.

discussion (15 min): “everything is an argument” by lunsford and ruszkiewicz :: because you’re meant to make an argument of some kind during your final project (no matter how subtle), this article provides a lot of different ways arguments might be structured and their various goals. think about your own project in terms of these ideas: who is your audience? is it a strong, persuasive argument or a more subtle statement of your beliefs? does it argue about the past, present or future? what is the reason or “type” of argument that you want to make according to lunsford and ruszkiewicz? how will you appeal to your audience?

  • “an argument can be any text – whether written, spoken, or visual – that expresses a point of view”
  • difference between argument and persuasion?
  • reasons for arguments: to inform (name recognition, logos, etc.), to convince, to explore (acknowledge a problem – call on reader or others to help solve it), to make decisions (choosing a major?), to meditate or pray (to change something internal or create a pause for deeper thought, stained glass windows? poetry?)
  • occasions for arguments: aristotle’s model based on time – past, present, and future. Past (debates about events that have already happened), present (arguments about contemporary values – think of sermons, graduation speeches, etc.), future (what should happen, as opposed to what has/is happening?)
  • types of arguments: arguments of fact (did something happen?), arguments of definition (what is the nature of the thing?), arguments of evaluation (what is the quality of the thing? is it good/bad?), proposal arguments (what steps should be taken?)
  • appealing to audiences: more from aristotle: pathos (emotional appeals, or appeals to the heart), ethos (ethical appeals, based on the writer’s authority or credibility), logos (logical appeals, based on reason)

inspiration box: (30 min) an important part of any creative process is the moments in between working where you get to simply look around for inspiration or reflect on what inspires you. i have a few shoeboxes at home in my work space that hold interesting items i’ve accrued over the years. i have small childhood toys, photos, handwritten notes, random junk, and all kinds of other things in these boxes. some of them were things given to me, some of them were found totally at random on the street. basically, its a collection of things that i find some kind of emotional attachment to, no matter how small. it’s just a few boxes, you won’t see me on “hoarders” anytime soon. i also have a bookmark list on my computer that i’ve been keeping for years of interesting websites and other information. the david foster wallace speech i posted last time is in there, so is this. it doesn’t have to be anything serious or heavy handed. during this part of class, work on your own for 30 minutes to create a page on your blog named “inspiration box” or something similar and begin to fill it with things you can find in your computer files, on the web, from your photos, etc. that inspire you. try to gather as much as you can today, but keep adding to this over the next few weeks.

group meetings: (20 minutes) get together with small groups near you and share your progress. discuss ways that you are all moving from pre-production into production, share items from your inspiration boxes, sketch out storyboards or talk through intro sequences or other segments of your project that you are able to envision. set goals with each other to be completed over the next few weeks, write them down, and hold each other accountable to these goals when we return.


  • if you haven’t settled on your module 3 project idea and completed your pre-production journal accordingly, please do so soon, for your benefit! i will check for pre-production journals on your blogs after wednesday at 11:59pm, so make sure you finish them up and get them posted.
  • begin production on your project in whatever way you can – record a voiceover of you written essay (or other narration), start interviewing others about your idea (even if just to gather other perspectives on your subject), or go out and start filming relevant b-roll.
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agenda :: 4/9

writing warm-up: you and your friends are ordering a pizza tonight, but can’t agree on what toppings to put on it. write briefly about how you would likely deal with this situation.  do you argue passionately for your personal choice? do you take the role of a mediator, listening to others’ opinions? how do you come to a conclusion in which everyone is happy?


  • a few more student projects :: andrew :: sean :: jin :: michael :: edwin
  • “please vote for me” :: this is one of my favorite pieces to show, because it is pretty simple in premise but packs a punch when it comes to the argument that it creates and issue it addresses. what do you think the argument being made is regarding the nature of democracy and voting?

elevator pitches: i’m interested in hearing about what’s on your mind for the module 3 project. i asked you to come to class today with a few brief ideas about the issues or subjects you’re interested in pursuing, so let’s all take a moment to talk about these as a group. each person gets a few minutes to sum up their ideas in just a few sentences (as in the amount of time you would have in an elevator with someone).


  • readingEverything is an Argument by Andrea Lunsford and John Ruszkiewicz, available on e-reserves. create a blog post that addresses question #2 on pages 42-43. instead of writing one paragraph for each occasion as the question instructs, pick one  – either to convince, to explore, to make decisions, or to mediate/pray – and write one paragraph in as much detail as you can. (don’t worry about the in-class trading with a partner part either, just the first part about the written paragraph). post to your blog by monday at 11:59pm.
  • pre-production journal: it’s time to start planning for your module 03 project! take your written “this i believe” essay and short list of ideas and find a way to translate its content into a video piece. we’ve seen students do this very directly with their essay, and others have interpreted it much more loosely. start answering the pre-production segment of the production journal again in regards to your initial idea. remember, it is important to do this before shooting, as it helps refine your idea and the direction it will take. planning is key to a successful project, and this is meant to give you a roadmap. have some of this completed by class-time on tuesday.
  • for your listening pleasure: david foster wallace commencement speech at kenyon college, “this is water” – no assignment tied to this, but i hope you’ll listen if you’ve got a few minutes. d.f.w. makes a really interesting argument about what the value of your college education really should be. he’s a pretty notable writer who grew up in this area and died a few years back. there just happens to be a movie about his life premiering at ebertfest next week as well!
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agenda :: 4/7

writing warm-up: list 5-10 beliefs that you hold to be true.  Your beliefs can range from broad philosophical thoughts such as, “nature is more important than nurture,” to more specific instances such as “cats are better than dogs.”  (take 10 minutes, think hard)

intro to module 03moving ahead to your final project – back in pre-production/brainstorming mode. you have a lot of freedom in this module to follow your ideas. there aren’t as many guidelines as long as you are following a subject you believe in and can make an argument about it, and examine your held beliefs in a critical light.

final screening dates: because these projects are a little longer and everyone deserves adequate feeback and critique, we’ll break these screenings up over two days. final projects will be screened on april 30th and may 5th, no exceptions. i hope you learned a bit about how to manage your time in module 2, this module will require you to work even quicker! here are the screening groups, assigned by alphabet once again:

  • april 30: kimmi, xianhao, ian, seri, saina, don, jason, tingnan, sophia, connie, yuhe
  • may 5: shannon, yuxiang, jesse, grace, mi so, fanwen, wangsoo, haley, jun, kelsey

(i came up with a solution to give you all a little bit more time, but you may not prefer this solution.. we can put it to a vote if you like.)

screening :: student work: damian :: daniel :: tony :: paul :: eric :: andrew :: sean :: jack :: tasha :: jin :: sung

this i believe :: audio essays: a good way to get started thinking about what beliefs will guide your final project, and what the big message is. a radio program revived by npr, featuring the written and spoken essays of celebrities and everyday people like you.

  • jackie robinson :: wayne coyne :: sarah adams :: william wisseman :: are these people trying to win an argument? i’d say no, its really more about presenting ideas and opening a dialogue about the beliefs that guide their daily lives – not so much about convincing others that they are right.

screening: this american life, “god’s close-up” (30 min)


  • write your own ‘this i believe’ essay. use the writing warm-up as a starting point. follow the criteria for a successful statement of belief: authentic voice, narrative coherence, communal relevance; and also the essay writing tipspost to your blog by wednesday at 11:59pm (we’ll have an in-class activity using them, so no excuses – do your best, and try to write directly about one belief in particular. there will be time to revise or change this statement)
  • between the writing warm-up, the ‘this i believe’ essay, and any other brainstorming you might do, come to class on thursday with three possible topics for your final project. be prepared to talk about these with the class.
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