Hill House

Hello everyone! This is just a reminder that due to a lack of wifi and poor cell reception I have been unable to update my blog and that the date these posts were written will be listed first and followed by the day they were posted in parentheses. Thank you!

March 7th, 2018 || (March 11th, 2018)

Today my father and I traveled to Ardara to meet my Uncle Allen Given and his wife, Silva. I say Uncle Allen, but in fact, he is my first cousin twice removed, since my great-grandmother Rebecca was his aunt. Anyway, Uncle Allen is the only living member of the Given family who knows where our family homestead, Hill House, is located. After a short five-minute car ride from the quaint town of Ardara, we drove out to the center of a peninsula on an extremely steep one-way road called Loughros Point road. However, the view of the cliffs that lined the south side of the peninsula was beautiful and the pale blue waters of the “wild Atlantic” were rolling up against white sandy beaches. Likewise, the coast of the north side peninsula was nearly a perfect semicircle, which showcased the raw beauty of the sea. It was in this moment of observation that I finally understood why my grandfather had visited Ireland so many times and why my father had come back here so many times. It was the most beautiful sight I had ever witnessed. More beautiful than the Giant’s Causeway. Continue reading “Hill House”

It All Comes Together


Week three was the finale of my internship, and what a week it was! I have a lot to cover, so I might as well just jump right in. Here it goes!

The biggest change that happened this week was that I switched residences from my relatives in New York City to my relatives in Plainsboro, New Jersey. Although this meant that I would have to learn a new route to and from my internship, I welcomed the change since I knew that it would be a good experience that would teach me more about commuting into New York City. Although the daily commute by train was somewhat longer (roughly an hour each morning and evening), it was still pretty simple and allowed me to see some new parts of the city when I traveled to and from the train station.

Now, if you read my post about the first week of my internship, you might have gathered that there was a bit of a learning curve in terms of transportation. My new commute by train actually went quite well. There was only one time when something went slightly awry and it was out of my hands. On Thursday, the train I was taking into the city was heavily delayed and stopped at a station on the outskirts of New York City. The conductor announced that it would likely be 30 to 40 minutes before we started moving again, so if we needed to get into the city quickly we should use the express subway that also stopped at this particular station. I didn’t want to be late for my internship, but I also had no idea where the express subway would let me off and if it would be anywhere near Jigsaw. After some thought, I decided that I would rather take a chance and see where the express subway would take me as opposed to waiting for the train to get moving again. I exited the train and got on the subway, intent on checking which stops were available. However, only about 30 seconds after I got onto the subway and started looking at its stops, I heard the telltale hiss of the train, as it closed its doors and drove off, well before the announced, “30 to 40 minutes” of delays. Fortunately, through the kindness of some New Yorkers and some careful observing, I found that there was a transfer subway that would take me very close to Jigsaw. And so it all worked out in the end.

My work at Jigsaw Productions went very well during my final week of the internship. For the most part, I was continuing my work with photo logging and scanning pictures, but I also was able to take part in a few more activities throughout the week. The newest sort of activity was shooting some B-Roll footage for one of the other Jigsaw documentaries. B-Roll is used to overlay footage when people are talking for extended periods, and it isn’t necessary to see them speaking the whole time. For instance, if somebody is talking about Babe Ruth and how he was the Home Run King for many years, the editor may choose to show footage of Babe Ruth hitting home runs and scoring while this person is talking so that the viewer can visualize what the speaker is saying, as opposed to just seeing them tell their story. Anyhow, the B-Roll that I was helping to shoot was of a paper ball being thrown at a trash bin full of crumpled paper, which would result in several pieces of paper falling out of the bin. Now, this may sound incredibly easy and simple to you. You may be thinking that this sort of footage would only take 5 minutes, at most, to shoot and have ready to present to the editors. In reality, this process can actually take much longer. There is a lot to think about when framing any shot, and this B-Roll was no exception. From a technical stand point the lighting, angle of the shot, background, and position of the object all have to be taken into account before the footage can be taken. Then, it is important to consider how the shot will look to the viewer. Should the ball travel with an arc towards the trash bin, or should it be thrown directly at the bin for greater impact? Is there a way to make the shot more dramatic by changing the lighting, angle, or focus of the camera? How would the shot look in slow motion? All of these factors were very important to think about, and as a result, taking this seemingly simple B-Roll actually ended up taking around an hour to shoot. This was one of my favorite experiences from week three. It really helped to show me just how much work goes into every shot of a film, and how much care was put into even the simplest of tasks.

The other amazing experience I had during the final day of my internship was that I had a chance to see the rough cut of the documentary that I’d been working on. Rough cuts of a film are essentially what they sound like, versions of the film in which the editors test out various constructions of the story to see what works and what doesn’t. I felt very privileged to see an edition of the film that nobody else would ever view, and to see where my work had been going. I saw some of the pictures I’d logged being put to use in the film, and how the story went together. It felt like a true culmination of everything I’d done over the past three weeks.

In addition to taking B-Roll footage and seeing the rough cut of the documentary I’d been working on, I also got to work on filming my own short documentary. I wanted to capture some of my experiences on film by interviewing the staff at Jigsaw whom I’d worked with to ask them why they joined the film and media industry, where they’d learned the most, and what advice they had for aspiring film makers. It was awesome to get some personal experience filming my own short film, and I’m excited to start editing and putting together my footage.

Now that my Senior Project is finished, I look back on the past three weeks and realize just how much I’ve gained from my experiences. I learned so much from everyone I worked with over the course of the project. Whether it was only for one day or for the entire three weeks, each person taught me something different about the film and media industry that I hadn’t known prior to my Senior Project.

Although my Senior Project may be finished, I will take these lessons wherever I go. They helped me to learn more about where my interests lie, and about an amazing industry that I am very excited about. It’s been a wonderful three weeks that I will never forget. Thank you to everyone who made it possible! I cannot tell you how much I appreciated this opportunity. You have my deepest gratitude.



Getting Ready

I can’t believe that senior projects are only eight days away and I will be heading off to the Philadelphia Airport with nineteen other seniors to experience a whole new culture. The Israel Palestine conflict is on the news all of the time, but not many people, including myself, have a good understanding of what the conflict is about.

I chose the Israel Palestine faculty led senior project because I knew that it would be an unforgettable trip that I could never do on my own. T. Melissa and her husband John Evans have connections on the Israeli and Palestinian side that will make this trip full of first hand encounters. I am especially looking forward to the home stays with students from our sister school, Ramallah Friends School. To include my interest in photography, I will be taking photos throughout our journey and composing a photo journal when I return. Continue reading “Getting Ready”