When was the last time I had accomplished and was proud of accomplishing a personal goal? A meaningful goal that I will never forget is my personal project on informing people about the value of sleep. The purpose of my goal was to remind people of the important role that sleep has towards our lives by producing a short documentary on sleep deprivation as a final product. The reason I chose this topic was my personal experience with sleep deprivation. During my experience, I have noticed that I was often more irritable and moody as well as excessively tired during the day. This has affected my relationship with my surroundings and had affected my school life as well because of extreme fatigue and drowsiness. I have achieved this by creating a short documentary, introducing the causes and effects of sleep deprivation and provide solutions that are practical and achievable at the end of the video.
Once I have figured out my goal, I had to think about how I wanted to achieve that goal. Since I decided that I wanted to create a documentary video for the product, I implemented skills that were relevant for creating the product using a success criterion:
Criteria one: In order to inform the value of sleep, having an organized structure and form of information was important for the audience to understand and follow through.
Criteria two: Use of information was one of the most important parts of both the research and the product. This was decided by whether or not it was relatable to the global context and goal of the project. However, it was also important to have background knowledge as well as to understand further information in regards to the topic.
Criteria three: By applying cinematic elements and additional movie editing techniques helped to show the value of sleep in a visually engaging way. Reading a website on different film shots helped me determine this. (Wiliam, Sydney Australia.) Audience engagement is key to having people think about their sleep and take action.
Criterion four: The audience is an important part of achieving the goal for the topic. With a variety of information and the level of complexity, the audience was focused towards teenagers/adolescents and adults. However, informing younger children to avoid being sleep deprived in the earlier years help reduce the impact.
As part of the project, we were required to create an action plan in order to keep updated and avoid falling behind our personal goal. Creating the action plan in a table format digitally has helped me see every step clearly and adjust deadlines quicker. The main factor that helped me develop the action plan was the personal project timeline. In order to match and keep up with upcoming events and activities such as mentor meetings every two weeks; the personal project fair and the final exhibition, I had to think carefully about what was achievable and what were realistic deadlines. Having the action plan checked by my mentor and talking through it during the meetings has made me reflect on decision-making as well. However, this process was often influenced by class assessments and poor time-management skills.
The research took longer which caused less time to create the product, and that affected my affective skills–perseverance and mindfulness. Though, over the course of creating the product, I have learned to manage my time and organize steps of what had to be done first to the least. The problem with using a digital version of the action plan was that it was easily forgotten. This was because most of the time, I did not have the action plan open and was responsible for checking back and having the document open every time I had worked on the research and/or the product. Looking back, printing a copy of the action plan would have helped as I would have it in the folder that I use almost every day. Self-management was one of the most important parts of what I learned throughout the process of the project. This was something that I both struggled and tried to improve in the research and action part of the project.
As part of the project, I had collected data through sending a sleep survey for high school students and teachers on the school bulletin. As a result, I was able to find personal effects that sleep deprivation had on different people and base a conclusion out of it which was that sleep is reduced as people become older. Throughout the project, I was able to interview different people. This helped me with my communication and social skills. From experts to students at YIS, I was able to collect primary sources and not rely on the internet all the time.
Script-writing was the most time-consuming part of the project as it was the very base of achieving the documentary video. Due to poor time management, I was both writing and editing the script whilst creating the product. Therefore, most of the times I had to work on my flexibility and stay motivated to work on different tasks simultaneously. On the contrary, I was able to transfer research and gather information into a clear script which allowed me to organize a large amount of information. This helped me see what was relevant and irrelevant depending on my goal since I had converted background research on sleep itself, I felt that I did not have to include much of it later. Instead, I have only included the part of the internal biological clock and circadian rhythms as I thought that it would have a smoother transition when I explained how sleeping-in affected a person’s sleeping schedule.
Filming and Editing:
Filming independently was a struggle that I had to face throughout the process of completing the documentary. This was especially when I had to adjust the height of the camera depending on what I wanted to show. This was evident when I had to find lighting and/or work out the direction of the lighting. As part of the success criteria, applying a variety of cinematic technique such as the variety of camera angles was a necessity and something that required plenty of thought. I have achieved this through a plan of what to film by illustrating ideas on a storyboard, demonstrating creative thinking skills.
As I read the script aloud and recorded my voice, I noticed that there were medical terms and vocabularies that were unfamiliar. I had to rehearse the script numerous times as I had stuttered and mispronounced words often. This stage was laborious because I did not expect it to take so much time. In addition, the video reached over 10 minutes which meant that I had to cut information.
Reflecting on the process
I think the main challenge that I faced was self-management and organization. Although I should have been done in the first week back from break, the fact that I was still researching, interviewing, animating and editing had challenged greatly on my patience and emotional-management. More of my time was focused on getting the product done instead of thinking of ways to distribute it. Another challenge besides the editing of the video was shared materials such as the camera stand and the mic as there were limited resources. I had to communicate and negotiate who was using the material at which time and what day of the week. This influenced the video quality as for one of the interviews, I did not have a mic for the camera and the interviewee’s voice was muffled. Therefore, I had to conduct the interview again but this time, I did not have a camera stand and so the video was shakier. Luckily, there was a stabilizer option on iMovie which had helped immensely because it had lessened the shakiness beforehand. Although it did not look as natural, I had to be open-minded and accept it because it was still something that was better than before.
As a result of both challenges and success during the process, I can say that I have grown exceptionally as a person and a learner. Through the obstacles that I faced, I was able to discover my weaknesses and what sort of things I found struggling such as organizing and managing my time for an overwhelming amount of work.