For a lot of our projects, we really try to focus on finding the story. In some instances, we sort of have to create a story. But not too long ago, a whole bunch of stories just fell into our lap.
As part of their corporate social responsibility efforts, Samsung puts on an annual competition called Solve For Tomorrow, where they invite middle and high school students from around the country to solve a problem in their community using science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). You can imagine all the wonderful projects the young people dream up and create. We usually cover the event for Samsung which includes shooting the National Finalist pitch event and the final awards ceremony. However, this year Samsung decided that they wanted to delve deeper into the stories of the individual schools. They decided to start with the story of a local community and the project taken on by Brooklyn Technical High School.
The biggest challenge here was the subject matter. The community in the Park Slope neighborhood had experienced a number of tragic vehicle and pedestrian crashes which resulted in the deaths of several children. We were scheduled to interview the mother of one of these children, as well as friends and classmates. These are certainly not easy interviews to conduct and it can be a delicate balancing act when trying to get what’s needed out of the interview and then weave it into the Samsung story in post. The post-production definitely was a challenge - there were so many storylines that needed to come together in just the right way, in a manner that was respectful to all parties, and that also moved the audience to feel sadness and compassion and ultimately a sense of triumph and relief. The open to the piece sets the tone and we tried to make it impactful without being too dark or pandering.
On location we faced challenges that normally occur on shoots - rigorous schedules, tight turnarounds, limited availability to locations and talent. In fact, one critical voice, that of the teacher advisor suddenly became unavailable at the last minute. And so we scrambled around the school to find a teacher who knew the students and their project and could speak from a more external point of view. And we just happened to find a wonderful teacher who really helps drive the piece from beginning to end.
We turned this project around in a matter of days and had the privilege of seeing its “premiere” on 3-story high screen at a town hall meeting for Samsung employees at Samsung 837 in the meatpacking district of NYC. It was great to be able to see everyone’s response firsthand and we even got the chance to speak with people afterward.
The whole experience was really quite fulfilling. We had the chance to meet some inspiring and motivated young people and we had opportunity to give them a platform to share their story.