Marcus Buggs (part 2) Gets Into College (view this story)

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Rep: 141
Colin Mulvany April 18, 2012, 9:38 p.m. permalink

I'm really crossing my fingers that Marcus keeps moving forward. What a great success story.  I guess my fear here is that the pressure to succeed will take a toll on him at some point. That will be an interesting turn in the story (a conflict.)  If you continue to follow Marcus, it will be a challenge to document. Will he crash and burn? Or will he overcome the odds and push through to college and eventual graduation? ( A great resolution.) This is one of those stories that I hope you stay committed to Eric. I would like you to go deeper and more intimate if you can. I see this on-going story reedited together into a full documentary later. The key is to keep the conflict of his struggle and upbringing on the surface. 

I really like your shooting style. You have a fly on the wall approach when you need to be, and your interviews are revealing. Audio  and camera technique are excellent. 

This story starts out a little vague for me because I had to remember the original story I'd watched months ago ( I did watch it again.) This is where some narration would help define this story for better viewers like me. I know the  jury is out on whether to narrate or not, but in this case setting up the viewer with who Marcus is and what he is doing now would have helped them (and me) reconnect with the story without having to re-view the first story that was produced a while ago. You didn't narrate in the first one so that sets up continuity issue from this point forward. Maybe narrative from the principal or Marcus could have set up the story intro better.

On the Freep website, the first video thumbnail is visible, but is it is not well labeled. I think you need put "Part 1" and "Part 2" in the description to let the viewer  know this is a multi-part ongoing series. 

One thing I would like to see done better is your lower third title. I know it is a Final Cut Pro 7 issue in that the titler really sucks. The font you chose is hard to read. Something a bit more simple, but elegant, would work. I like Arial font best ( bold on top, plain and smaller size on the bottom) with a drop shadow (1.5 inset, 30 softness, 90% opacity.)  

Nice work Eric!

Rep: 444
Eric Seals April 20, 2012, 3:42 p.m. permalink

Hi Colin,

Thanks for checking it out and the critique of it.

Yeah watching the 1st Marcus video is important for context and glad you did. 

I struggled with this 2nd piece to be honest. 
It didn't have the emotions, moments and the story wasn't as interesting as the 1st one. The whole time I was shooting this and even in the edit it felt like more of a process story from point A to B to C kind of thing.  
I'm always trying to do better than the last and felt this was a high hurdle hard to get over and be successful at.  But like you said and I've always thought when I re-edit this along with the 1st piece and others coming throughout the year it will flow into a nice documentary on this special guy.

Interesting point about the narration you wanted to see at the beginning "setting up the viewer with who Marcus is and what he is doing now would have helped them (and me) reconnect with the story without having to re-view the first story that was produced a while ago."
That is something I didn't even think about.
I could see narration being good but at the same time see it making the piece longer than it is at 6 minutes.

Don't you think narration would be a lot for the viewers to process with a short recap from the 1st piece and new stuff in the 2nd?  That's one reason why our web team added the 1st video so folks to start from the beginning.  GREAT point however about putting Part 1 and Part 2 in the description to let the viewer know about the multi-part ongoing series. Gonna have them fix that next week and remember it for the next piece coming out in June..  Thanks for that!!!  :-)

Good point as well about the lower third, a few others have mentioned that to me as well.  I'll see how the Arial font with the other things you mentioned looks.

Going to hang out with Marcus tomorrow as he attends his 1st ever high school dance and really looking forward to being with him when he sees his mom for the 1st time in two years after she gets out of Federal prison at the end of May.

Easily two more videos to come by mid-September from the mom back in the picture dynamic, etc to him packing up for college, moving in, classes and the adjustment.

Thanks again Colin.


Rep: 48
Pat Shannahan April 22, 2012, 6:25 p.m. permalink

Nice work Eric. What a great long term project. You did a great job of making us want to care about Marcus. 

You might have been able to tighten it up a bit by ending when he drops the bomb to his mentors that he got into Western. The whole thing builds a story about a student who people are trying to get to go to college. They take him to get his suit, they introduce him to college professors at an awards diner and then take him to tour a school in the hopes that he will decide to go to college. It's a big payoff when you learn that he already got in. Very emotional. It makes you want to cheer. You have that wonderful reaction from his mentors and a great ending quote about the journey to come. The stuff in between gets in the way of that great moment. Seeing the college president doesn't really add anything. I don't need the mentor to give me context. I get it. We see it when they hug.

I look forward to watching the following installments. I'm rooting for Marcus.


Rep: 444
Eric Seals April 22, 2012, 9:13 p.m. permalink

Thanks Pat! :-) 

It's been great working with Marcus and he's one of those subjects that just does his thing, not camera aware and it has been a smooth working/shooting  and story process. Hope you were able to catch Part 1.

I understand your point about tightening this up and ending it after the bomb was dropped of Marcus getting into Western and the hug. But in ending it right at that point however don't you think it would have left the viewers with a "that's it?" kind of feeling?  
"He went to all the way to Western just to tell them he got in?"  

That would be a head scratching way to end it. I say that because going on a college tour you gotta show him in that environment. Part of the "if you say it, show it" kind of thing. You know?

Ending it with the hug inside the Western Welcome Center (which looks like any office complex) the message of where he is at and why he's really there would get lost to the viewer I feel.  Thoughts??

People that are following the story and video have seen him as a youth to a man quickly (Part 1) and now at a college campus I think gives the story scope, growth and more forward movement to the next installment coming in mid June.


Are you saying you'd like to have seen it switched up and show the tour 1st and then the surprise announcement ending with the hug? That would have been ideal for sure but that's not the way it happened and this is more of a linear piece of storytelling and just wouldn't be right.

I do agree with you Pat in watching it again that I could of tightened this more at the tour part.  Could of shaved off 45 sec to 1:15 minutes.  Thanks for that.

Really enjoying working on this and glad I'm getting lots of time on it.
It's one of those stories that come along where I know from the emails and phone calls we've been getting that tells me that our work we on this story is helping others who just want to give up when the odds are against them....if this guy can overcome and succeed than I certainly can.  

Thanks again Pat for taking the time to watch and review it.

Take care


Rep: 48
Pat Shannahan April 23, 2012, 8:44 a.m. permalink

Hey Eric,

It's just an opinion, but I think what I'm trying to say is that the ending can be tightened up. The big moment happens at 3:30 and then it goes on for another minute and a half. I don't think you need all of that. The president of the university doesn't add much. He says about what you'd expect him to. I think if you cut out the president, use the quote from the mentor, and then show him on the tour while hearing that great ending quote about the future it might tighten the whole thing up. It would also get rid of the jump cut at the end where he is outside on the tour and then inside doing homework. I wouldn't end it right at the big moment, but some trimming after that point would make the whole thing better.

It's great to hear the public is responding to your story. Well deserved.


Rep: 444
Eric Seals April 23, 2012, 9:57 a.m. permalink

Very cool man.  I was just trying to understand more what you were getting at that's all.

I agree with you 100% on the President not being in there and tightening up parts after that.  I think I had him in there because it's really odd to have the head of the university come meet a student but then again I always felt he was only there  because I was there and he had seen the 1st video of Marcus.  Right on! He doesn't add anything and is kind of a "so what" part of the piece.

Eventually later in the fall after 4 pieces on Marcus the things that you said about tightening up will help for sure as will what Colin said.

Just found out that the school Marcus is a senior at is now on the chopping block to be closed in the fall.  I hope that's not the case but sad if it ends up that way.

Thanks again man!


Rep: 444
Eric Seals April 23, 2012, 10:46 a.m. permalink

Question for you about this.....Did starting this off visually with the face of his principal and the lower third bother you at all instead of a nice visual?

It did me but I just could not find anything to cover him speaking.

In hindsight what I should of done is shoot tight details when they were measuring Marcus with the tape, marking his suit with chalk for alterations and make a nice short sequence of that before transitioning into the next piece.

Hope I didn't come off as defensive earlier and if I did, I apologize.
I guess I was confused but your later post really helped me understand better what your point was  :-)


Rep: 48
Pat Shannahan April 23, 2012, 10:03 p.m. permalink

I don't think you came across as defensive. It's great to be having a discussion on storytelling. You do good work and I'm so glad there are sites like this where we can interact with other photojournalists outside of our own newsrooms.


Rep: 444
Eric Seals April 24, 2012, 5:38 a.m. permalink

Cool man!  

I love discussions back and forth as well.  Wish there was more of this kind of dialogue going on with videos.

I'm heading to Wisconsin in June to speak and judge at their Wisc News Photographers Assoc and I'm gonna pimp big time FtF.  Hoping we can get more people on here.  

Colin created a great site, the only site out there. We just need to get the word out more.  I think the NPPA magazine should do a story about the site. In fact I'm going to mention it to some of the folks I know.  


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