“A good communicator is something you have to be all the time,” –Angela Graham, Cardiff University professor.
Angela has been a documentary film professor for the past 30 years. This morning, she gave our class an inspiring lecture on communication and documentary film. She described communication as a very intimate thing -having an image in your mind and passing it through a gap into another’s mind.
She told us that with being a professional communicator, we have to be good communicators all the time -not just until we get off the clock. Good communicators have to be involved and invested in what they are displaying to the public in order for the message to be successfully sent.
Good professional communicators also look to talk to people who are not like them. If a communicator or reporter only talked to people with the same life and the same views as them, it only calls for a one-sided and narrowly viewed story.
My favorite thing I learned from Angela Graham was how she taught us to come up with ideas for our own documentary films. She showed us an old Welsh poem called Personal Helicon, by Seamus Heaney.
“As a child, they could not keep me from wells
And old pumps with buckets and windlasses.
I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.
One, in a brickyard, with a rotted board top.
I savoured the rich crash when a bucket
Plummeted down at the end of a rope.
So deep you saw no reflection in it.
A shallow one under a dry stone ditch
Fructified like any aquarium.
When you dragged out long roots from the soft mulch
A white face hovered over the bottom.
Others had echoes, gave back your own call
With a clean new music in it. And one
Was scaresome, for there, out of ferns and tall
Foxgloves, a rat slapped across my reflection.
Now, to pry into roots, to finger slime,
To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.”
At the last verse, she told us to think about our own personal darkness. She said, “What would you do to set your own darkness echoing?” We had to reflect and think about the darkness in our lives and try to turn it in to a documentary film idea.
I thought that was an incredible style of teaching.
People are different in all parts of the world live differently. But, the one thing we all have in common is feelings. Angels said that with creating a documentary, we are taking people form all over the world who we do not know and we are creating a community or connecting people through one thing we all have in common.