A Man Speaks After Death Row (view this story)

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Rep: 50
Michael Lloyd May 30, 2010, 8:29 p.m. permalink

I thought this was very well shot, but needed some editing help. It is pretty long for the story and situation it shows. Shabaka's story is compelling, but, as you said, your access limited you to a brief telling of his wrongful conviction and his class presentation about his beliefs.

I wanted to see more faces of students listening to his message as well as the clever way you shot him telling it. Some juxtaposition of him with those he was speaking to would suggest there was some communication, not just a dialog.

Very nice shots to help tell a story with hardly any action, a man talking to a class. What he is saying is powerful, but it is not visually powerful. Is this a video subject or something else? We sometimes seem to think that visual media can tell all stories. I'm not convinced that is a good idea.

Rep: 4
Nico Colombant May 31, 2010, 3:58 p.m. permalink

Thanks for taking the time to look at it and for very helpful feedback.

I agree it needed more student shots, more dialog, interaction and tighter edits.

I don't think there should be a video subject/non video subject dilemma though ... I think the Studs Terkel approach of letting someone speak who they are and speak their mind works in video as well if the story and words are powerful ... Having video adds a dimension, and it maybe brings attention to someone people would not read about, or listen to, but may watch. I also find online video gives a new avenue where there is less of a formula of what a story is or how it should be done ...

Rep: 87
Michael Fagans June 10, 2010, 5:07 p.m. permalink


A few thoughts and questions in no particular order.

I am curious why you framed the interview section the way you did?

As noted by Michael and Colin (in other places) action reaction is important.

Did you think of using a voice over (VO) instead of text or with the text?

I am curious why he speaks to classes? Or is this the only one? Where is the class?

Why was his case overturned and he was released? Is he suing for wrongful imprisonment?

As with all of us, I think sharpening your story would help. Is this a story about wrongful imprisonment? Is this a story about life after wrongful imprisonment? Is this a story about the death penalty?

Depending on which story you are telling, I think it informs what you take out and what you add. The suit section is very strong, but does it help a life after storyline? Does that baby get thrown out with the bathwater? If it is a story about the death penalty do we need as much of the class that we see, or do we need file photos of his case/trial or something similar?

I understand the limitations of your situation, but the hard part of this process is going over what you have, what you can do with it and what story you are trying to tell.

There is focus while we shoot in the field and then focus when we cut away to get at the story that we can tell well.

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