Sunday, February 7, 2010

Longterm JRN 521 Project Proposal

In life I believe that you are not truly experiencing living, unless you love what you do and pursue the things that make you feel alive. My project, Extreme Limits, will show this through the experiences of three individuals who put their health, relationships, and lives in danger each time they take part in what they love. Ultimately, I want the audience to feel the passion and rush that each person gets from their sports, and to understand that when you are so involved in what you do it becomes who you are. What you do with your day, what you do with your friends, what you talk about, and your career are all intertwined with what you love, train, and sacrifice for.

The project is formatted into parts based on each of three individuals’ lives and is centered around the central theme of extreme sports. The first subject I will be focusing on is Luther Kurtz, who is a main tandem instructor for Skydive Harbor Springs in northern Michigan. I plan to show that a lot of work and planning goes into skydiving and that the instructors and pilots are like a family. They do everything together. I plan to show the planning until the jump season, and the preparation that goes on with the gear and making sure the equipment is ready and safe. I plan to show what Luther’s role is in the business, how he got into it, what he felt like the first time jumping, and why he decided to make it his career. I will show how he uses his love for skydiving to calm nervous first time jumpers, how he takes on the pressure of training other people, how he calm’s the jumper’s families, and the worry and joy he has during preparation and after landing. I plan to show how even outside of work, he still is involved in skydiving by talking about the jumps, going jumping with friends, and spending time with fellow employees after work. I want to show how jumping affects his relationships, and how his girlfriend and parents feel about it. I plan to interview him about his experiences, film him with his friends, interviews his family, cover his preparation and training, and get in the plane with him for the jump to capture the rush.

The second subject I am focusing on is Christos G. Piliafas, who is an undefeated Ammy Cage Fighter. He is the owner of Great Lakes MMA in Traverse City and is opening his own training camp in Waterford in a few weeks. He also has a pro debut at the Leelanau Sand Casino in April. I plan to focus on why he got into the sport, how hard he trains and how often, why he loves the sport, how his girlfriend and family react to him fighting, how he is a mentor for younger fighters, past injuries, and the stress he faces fighting as he gets older. I plan to go to his camp, the opening of his new facility, his fights, and his hanging out with friends and family. I want to show the emotion, anger, and joy of being a coach, and his reaction to his and their victories or defeats. I want to focus on the physical and mental exhausted and the strain/bonding between fighters and family.

The third is Josh Golden who is an avid snowboarder and an employee at Caberfae Peaks Ski Resort who is very involved in trick riding and occasionally competes. I plan to cover any competitions, his teaching of other boarders, the tricks and jumps he does, injuries he has sustained, and show how hard he works at improving his boarding. With making his passion also his job, he also gets to be out on the courses, and so I plan to cover how often he actually rides, the relationship between friends, the competition between other boarders, future plans, and the good and bad of doing extreme snowboarding (including crashes, trash talk, and the strive to feel the rush but to realize how far to push it without getting hurt).

As for the action and how these things will emerge in the story, I have it scheduled that I will be covering Christos Piliafas every weekend from now until the end of the semester, Josh Golden, at least 1 time a week, and Luther from Harbor Springs starting in March every other weekend, spending the most time at the end of March and April when then begin the jumping season with the public. Each subject will be covered in similar ways but I am planning my schedule accordingly so I can attend things that come up that are unplanned. For each subject I plan on covering how long they have been involved in their sports, what got them interested in it/what other things they wanted to do first, how they got involved, what their friends and family had to say/how they reacted and still feel, the training and preparation, the losses/defeats, the joys, the time spent outside of what they do (that still involves their sports), how they mentor others, how they inspire others, injuries, and where they see their future. As with any project, any other categories to cover and show develop and change with where the person and story take you, but this will be the framework.

For the interviews I plan to interview each subject about their sport, process, training, preparation, facts, emotions, reactions to past experiences, goals, worries, fears, reasons for the sport, why it is their career, and their reaction to the pos/negs. of their sports, and how their comments on what people say about what they do. I also want to include interviews with those they mentor, the people they work with, best friends, parents, and their significant others to dig deeper into the roles they play. I want to cover their reactions and worries about what each subject does, their initial reaction, how it has changed their life, and the pos/negs. that have come out of being around someone who does an extreme activity.

I want to start off each piece with an opening action shot capturing the action and rush, cutting to a still or video shot of the expression on the subject’s face, followed by an interview about who they are, what they do, and for how long. Then an interview with family about their fears and worries, a section on accidents and injuries, the possible risks, and then take it from there. I want it to follow a logical flow of time, starting with the preparation for the activity, worries, fears, with the middle involving the actual sports and its risks (with the family and significant others views), and the ending being the outcome and how they react with their friends (support) and where they see themselves going (plans for the future/what next).

I plan for this piece to impact my viewers by showing the rush, the dangers, the relationships, the fears, the effect they have on those around them, their passion, and their drive. I want the viewer to understand that loving a sport is like loving anything or anyone: you take risks. Despite the risks, you still are willing to do anything to continue doing what you love.


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  2. Hey Rebecca, I don't know what feedback you've gotten for your proposal yet, but one thing that stands out to me in the huge distances and many hours on the road you'll be spending covering your subjects. Wouldn't you rather spend that time making photos?

    For one of my projects I tried to do a story on a refugee living in Grand Rapids, and while the story was there, in the end I was unable to complete it as I couldn't be there when the action was happening. I wish I had just invested the time here.

    I'm sure you could find several individuals who do the same things here in Mid Michigan. We have sky diving right here in MP right?