For my second semester of my junior year of college I was halfway through my first year as an English major with a Film and Digital Media concentration. Still I was confused as to what I had signed up for. I had been undecided for my first two years of college, so when push came to shove and I was advised to get on board and pick a major for the start of my junior year, why would I feel like choosing any of the majors that were offered to me before? Nothing had happened in the past year that was going to change my mind. When I went to my advisor, I was told about a new concentration opening in the English department. I knew that I enjoyed writing and I was more interested in the modern way of doing things. Therefore, Film and Digital Media sounded just like the progressive movement that could keep me interested for another two years. As anyone could guess, I signed up, with only a small idea of what kind of path I had set myself on. That first semester I took my first two Film and Digital Media courses: Introduction into Film and Digital Media and Film and Film & the Art of Lit. Adaptation; the latter of these two being the better course. I was expecting the introductory course to clear up any questions or concerns I had about the major I had almost blindly selected. But answers were not what I received at all. Honestly, the course should be used to bring someone up to date on social media and film, as well as basic computer multimedia literacy. And the second course, while it was insightful, did not really provide me with any definitive explanation for this concentration. As a result, for my second semester of classes I signed up for two more courses that fit the Film and Digital Media criteria: Film Comedy and Developing Digital Content.
Film Comedy was much like Film & the Art of Lit. Adaptation, but that was to be expected as both courses were designed by the same instructor, Prof. Andrew Macdonald. While this class was an interesting course to take, it did not give me any help as to where I was heading with this major. Developing Digital Content did just that. I signed up for the class because I had previously been a student under Prof. Lofstead in the Film & the Art of Lit. Adaptation class. I was expecting something along the lines of the Introduction into Film and Digital Media course. That would entail movie watching, blog writing, and the occasional internet adventure. What I got was a course that was structured outside of the curriculum and in the real world, something concrete, substantial. Fortunately for me, this is exactly what I was looking for. This course was taking something that someone would be paid to do and bringing it into the classroom. Someone with an English, Film and Digital Media degree would be hired to do. Finally, an example of what this major entails and what the future could hold for someone with it.
For the course, the class would be working for the non –profit organization the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities on their PeoplesSayProject. The purpose of the project was to bring together the different creative generations centered in New Orleans and discuss the present and future of the city’s culture and economy. For the class we were instructed to create content for the figures that would be featured at each event. This would involve research, writing, and interviews. Not only would we be able to experience having an actual “gig”, but we also posted published online content that we could reference for future use. Now I have an idea of what an English major with a Film and Digital Media concentration can do after graduation. What information I was working with before this course was foggy and gave a bleak outlook for the future. I can’t say that I am completely content with my decision based on my image of an English major, but goddamnit I need to finish out in four years. English at least allows for me to express creativity, and the Film and Digital Media concentration keeps me out of the “Dark Ages” and away from the education route that so many English major seem to take/fall back on. Developing Digital Content showed me the online aspects of the literary, journalistic, and social frontiers and the possibilities of being your own publisher. Also, I learned the tendencies of the new generation of online readers as well as what draws the interest of the eye on the computer screen.
The site for the project, www.thepeoplesayproject.org, was created by Prof. James Lofstead using WordPress as the engine. Each student created an account for the site and was given editorial access to the content posted by that account. We were instructed to create one article for each of the four events and one shorter response for each as well. These articles were posted as “posts” under the category for the theme of the particular event. The posts were supposed to relate to one or both of the speakers, or to the theme of the event relative to New Orleans. The responses were intended as feedback for both the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and for our instructor. The class had a warm up event by creating content for the Mardi Gras Indians and the Creole Wild West Tribe before jumping into full gear.
The first of the Louisiana Endowment of the Humanities events had a music theme that featured artist Andy Murray from Royal Fingerbowl and hip-hop artist Truth Universal. My article was focused on Andy Murray and his affinity for sea chanties. I had to look up what sea-chanties were and where they originated, then take my findings and post an article relating to Andy Murray and his own work. My response to the event was inspired by Truth mentioning labels during his discussion. Therefore, I wrote about my position on whether a beginning music artist should sign with a label or not and how I was influenced by what Truth said. The second event had a art theme and featured local artist Ayo Scott, son of John Scott, and Bunny Mathews the creator of the beloved local comic Vic nd Nat’ly. For this event, I wrote an article about the “Y’at” and its connection with New Orleans. I linked it to the event by discussing how Bunny is helping to keep the “Y’at” culture and dialect alive in his comic Vic nd Nat’ly. My response was concerning the struggle for artists to make a living in New Orleans with all of the competition and “the saturation of New Orleans symbols.” The third event was theatre themed and featured the young co-CEO of Cripple Creek Theatre Company, Andrew Vaught, and the old, slightly befuddled John O’Neal (Junebug Productions). Each of these men was entertaining and enigmatic in their own way, and both were dedicated to promoting social awareness. I struggled with my article for this event, as I never was an avid participator of the theatre. I wanted to post content relating to theatre in New Orleans and ended up publishing an article about the history and renovation of the Saenger Theatre. Most of the content, except for the pictures, was taken off of Wikipedia, but as I learned in class, much of online content is simply republished or taken from another site. Many examples of this can be given, and regardless I cited my work. I decided to make my response about their beginnings and dedication to their missions. The last event had a theme of film. It featured Glen Pitre and Brandon Odums, Louisiana filmmakers. Pitre is responsible for many films like Belizaire the Cajun, Cigarettes & Nylons, Hurricane on the Bayou, the Man Who Came Back, and The Scoundrel’s Wife. And Odums is a founding member of the viral film project 2-cent TV. For the event, I was assigned to post content regarding Pitre’s the Man Who Came Back or the Scoundrel’s Wife. Lucky for me, I went online and saw that it had already been done by another. I then chose to recap the “beef” between 2-cent TV and Tom Joyner, and was content with the final result. For the response this time I went over the filmmakers accomplishments and discussed the creation of new film projects in the city as a result of hurricane Katrina. Overall, I enjoyed this class and working for the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities on their PeopleSayProject. I learned about my major and where I am headed, along with how to develop and publish my own content online.