with support from the corporation for public broadcasting

The Walls We Build

February 26, 2009 by Dave

The podcast starts off the story of Sam Slavin describing the video montage that he and Usef participated in at Parkland College. I would have that video start the documentary with the voice over of our narrator. As we are told about how much he fears Muslims, video of Muslim students could be used as the backdrop of the narrative and then move into seeing Sam talk about Muslims. As he spoke about his time in Iraq, I couldn’t stop thinking about what he looked like while he was talking.

I didn’t really need nor want a visual on the things he described rather I very much wanted to see his face, eyes, hands or anything that gives emotional cues. This story is about things that have already happened and he has changed greatly since then. I don’t feel that trying to portray these things as a reenactment, would work for me. I close my eyes and see a frame filled with lots of negative space. This space (say, just black space) helps focuses me (the viewer) to Sam and the emotion.

We soon find ourselves in more lighthearted scenes in the story with things such as magic tricks and a 5k run. These types of scenes could use video of them interacting and footage from the news of the 5k. But we soon get to talk with Usef that could be shown in the same fashion as Sam, with the negative space. I feel this would be most effective way to humanize the characters, by close up shots with clean, uncluttered backgrounds to focus the viewer to the emotions of the characters.

I truly enjoyed the story of Sam and Usef. Not only did Sam overcome the fears within him, he also showed others that they have built up walls around themselves and have become just as prejudice as he was. Many people can relate to this fear even if it isn’t as serious and dramatic as in the case of Sam Slavin. Because it is portrayed in a way that we can relate to, the story does a good job telling the story and making us think about ourselves. Not only are we intrigued with our characters, we can get a new sense of ourselves by comparing their story with our own lives.


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