Our documentary making process was an incredible experience, each of us grew as individuals as we learned how to bring our own qualities and knowledge to the team. One of the hardest aspects was getting started with the entire project, being a group that had never worked together before, especially on such an emotional project, was a bit intimidating. However, as soon as we got things started every step continued to fall into place, and our strength as a team continued to grow. The idea of creating a short documentary on a Syrian refugee came from our editor and director, Johnny Rafter. Prior to the project Johnny had worked on an award winning SBIFF film. Shaina Goel is also an experienced film maker, who also was simultaneously working on a film which was screened at the SBIFF. As for me, Kassandra Gutierrez, I am a news reporter with experience in covering film events, real life stories and conducting one on one interviews.
As a group, we met consecutively to plan for our shoots and brainstorm our overall goals for our project. We then took a trip to Los Angeles, to meet Fadia Afashe, the main subject of our documentary, for the first time, and sat with her for a couple of hours, to interview and film her. J
Johnny Rafter, shot directed and edited the film. During our first shooting session he set up the set location and filmed the interview, making sure sound levels and shots were all intact. Rafter, went down to Los Angeles for a second time to film Afashe in a painting studio, where he was able to shoot some b roll of Afashe painting for the documentary. After these two sessions, we also filmed our music talents, SiJie Loo, Ziyad Marcus and Salem Khattar. Once we had the complete footage, along with the music, Rafter started to edit parts together and come up with what we see now, a moving and emotional piece of art in its whole.
During our first filming session, despite it being her first time, Shaina Goel conducted a powerful and emotional interview with Afashe. Goel, acted as a natural throughout the entire interview and was extremely relatable, making Afashe feel comfortable and asking questions that followed what she was saying. During the music recording session, Goel also helped with setting up the set and making sure the necessary equipment was available.
I, Kassandra Gutierrez, worked on contacting Afashe, as well as our musicians and working out scheduling shooting sessions and locations with our artists. I also had the opportunity to ask Afashe some questions as part as the interview. During the music recording session I too helped with the set up, and was in charge of the sound levels throughout the performances.
The process of this project was a great experience, as we all learned new things about ourselves, Goel was able to execute her documentary filmmaking and interviewing interest, Rafter was able to create a documentary similar to his inspiration, My Aleppo, and I, Gutierrez, was able to practice sound levels in film and bring my fields of studies together, film and music.