Sons Follow Father: a 9/11 tribute - Newsday (view this story)

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Rep: 444
Eric Seals Feb. 13, 2012, 7:12 p.m. permalink


Really nice job with the firefighter brothers video!
You told the love and honor they have of their father with class and respect and their bond with each other which is the main thing I took out of this.

What really worked well for me?

I was drawn in right from the start and hooked throughout. By the time I got to the end I didn't even realize it was a 6 minute piece.  
It all just made sense and flowed really well for me.

The lighting and framing of your interviews of the brothers on the couch was nice. Difficult to set up and shoot I'm sure and using a second camera and the angle it was shot at was needed and glad to see it :-)

Glad to hear you didn't pour it on with music. Others might have wanted to do that for the emotional effect with this story but your music was subtle and just right .

Your use of details from the helmets to pictures and then the actually helmet that their dad wore on 9/11? Wow!!

What I thought was missing or could of been done differently? 

To get us out of the interview setting and the fire station did you think about going out on a run with them as they fight fires? Or was that not allowed due to regulations or perhaps a time element with your newspaper? Cause that "action" of them doing their job playing underneath parts of the audio track would have been powerful.

While it's about the brothers and their father I would of loved to have heard from their mother if she was open to talking.  Would have given us a different voice and perspective about the love, loss and inherent danger that still exists for this family with such a hard, challenging and dangerous job 

I loved your camera work and control in this whole piece when you were walking in the garage of the fire station past the trucks, did you use a steadicam or what did you use?? I will say that the whole scene here moved to fast for me. The perspective of objects near the outside of the frame as my eye was looking at the brothers or into the middle of the frame gave off that rushed feeling. To be honest I felt that it wasn't needed because I thought it was going to be a transition and take me into the next scene but I didn't get that.  
Perhaps slowing it down either in shooting or in post and matching that footage somewhere else in the piece?

I wish there were lower thirds to know which brother was which. The 1st and best chance of this would of been at the :42 mark with all three on the couch.  

In your interview of the three on the couch sometimes I noticed the brother on the far left kept looking to his right very close to the frame and not towards the opposite side or near (not at of course) the camera.

There seemed to be lots of family pictures on that table during the interview. Any pictures of the three brothers with their dad before 9/11. Them when they'd visit him at the station when they were younger or just something to show us them together at some point for a visually connection.

Did you think about bookending? At the start of the piece you had the helmet and in the end finishing it off with a nice slow pan or detail of Ronnie's helmet from 9/11 with fade to black as one of the brothers says "Everyone calls him a hero now but before 9/11 he was our hero..."

Overall I thought you did a nice job with this.

How many days of shooting was it and how many days of editing?

Did you work with a reporter?

And for our benefit what was the hardest thing about working on this and what challenges did you face that were easy or hard to jump over?

Again nice Chris!!  :-)

Rep: 2
Anthony Umrani Feb. 15, 2012, 7:31 a.m. permalink


I think Eric summed up all of my thoughts on the story. Just one other observation-perhaps you could have included one of the voice messages of the parents checking to see if they were okay.
Good job.

Rep: 1
Chris Ware Feb. 22, 2012, 7:39 p.m. permalink

Thanks for taking the time
to watch and critique my piece. To answer a few of your questions, Newsday
hired me in January of 2011 to help with their September 11th, a
Decade Later, documentary project.

Our goal was to make feature
pieces and stories about Long Islanders who lost their lives on 9/11 during the World Trade
Center attacks. It was a
very difficult and emotional project sitting down with families reliving that
day. By far the hardest project I've ever been
involved with.

I mostly worked on my own
and without tight deadlines. However, the Gies piece was slightly different
then the grouping as a whole. For this story, I worked with talented reporter
Chau Lam on deadline.

It was really nice to have a
reporter to work with. It allowed me to run two cameras during a three person
interview. I was also able to operate an audio mixer, which powered a boom
microphone and a lav. Based on who was speaking, I was able to adjust
accordingly. Operating two cameras, and microphones for three people, would be impossible
to achieve without a dedicated person as the interviewer.

We anticipated it running
for an upcoming Sunday cover. Since time was limited and I was shooting
stills and video simultaneously, it didn't allow for as many creative
perspectives as hoped.

I did want to go on an
emergency call while they fought a fire, unfortunately it didn't occur on the
one visit to the firehouse. Over the course of the project, we learned more
about the brothers. This brought us back to document additional aspects of
their story. The entire project was shot in three sessions.

The interview, which included the portrait of the three brothers on

The firehouse, which included the portrait with the helmet.

Finally, the scene at the cemetery, which included an additional sound

Mom didn't want to be on
camera. And the theme of the story was Sons Follow Father. I do agree that it
would have been nice to include her. But being a sensitive story, I asked but
didn't want to push.

For the outside firehouse
shoot, I used a Steadicam Merlin. It works, but I'm not thrilled with the
results. I found that the smaller Steadicams have a tendency to sway. Good for
boating scenes, but that's it.

This was shot in the summer,
so the brothers were wearing shorts. I used the framed photos to block knees
and legs. Good idea about using a photo of the three of them with dad. I unfortunately
didn't see that when I was at the house.

I worked with a video editor
on this. Brendan Awerbuch, a talented editor who is now working for a Glenn
Beck website in NYC. After his edit I did make a
few very small changes, adding the stills we used for the paper.

The good news is, the entire
project as a whole was just nominated for an Emmy in the category of Web
Interactivity. We entered it for the 2011 NY regional Emmys. We will find out
the results on April 1st. There were several folks involved in the
project and they really did a great job.

I recently posted this on Facebook:

Chris Ware

Exciting news!
Just left NYC from the Emmy nominations. Newsday was nominated for seven Emmys
this year. Four went to my friend and colleague Alejandra Villa, one to Erin
Geismar, another for our 911 project as a group, which included, Jim
Staubitser, Mike Roy, Mario Gonzalez, Arnold Miller, Bobby Cassidy, Meredith
Daniels, Matthew Golub, Brendan Awerbuch, Daryl Thomen, Jessica Rotkiewicz and
Jessica Kelley. The seventh was a piece I shot about Father's Day in jail in
the category of Societal Concerns. Congratulations to the entire Newsday
multimedia and photo departments.

Although a very
difficult project, it was a privilege working with all the families and the
Newsday crew.

Thank you for
your time.

Chris Ware........

Chris Ware Photography, LLC

315-569-7729 - cell

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Feb. 22, 2012, 8:22 p.m. permalink

Cool man, glad we could help out critique it and give you things to think about in the future.  

Good luck in the regional Emmys. Keep us posted and let us know if you get one of those marvelous golden ladies :-)


Rep: 1
Chris Ware Feb. 23, 2012, 5:38 a.m. permalink

Thanks Eric!

It's great just to be nominated.


Rep: 1
Chris Ware April 2, 2012, 8 a.m. permalink

Just won our first group Emmy
for the 9/11 interactive project. Congratulations to everyone involved.
A special thanks to the families who shared their story.

Thank You.

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