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The Process Behind: beginnings by Carissa Salazar

When we first decided on the theme of our project, I knew I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and create a video. I am not a videographer nor a cinematographer, so this was no easy task. I hadn't touched Premiere since college, so all I had in my toolbox was an extensive video library I've taken over the past year and an idea.


Phase 01: The Concept

I knew I wanted to use my personal experiences in this project. Beginnings are something deeply personal to each individual and I thought it would be fitting to create a video using words, imagery, and music. At the start, I had an idea of what types of feeling I wanted to convey with my video: hopefulness, drive, and a sense of gratitude for what has passed. This is how I start most of my projects, I am driven by pure emotion and my artmaking is purely intuitive. Even if I may not know how to do something in the first place, I will try to get there.


After writing about my creative influences with Simplex the past year, it was clear I gravitated towards art that explored the human condition and self-reflection. With Rachel Nguyen being one of my biggest influences, I studied her art as an admirer and a student. The way she filmed and edited had such careful intention, there was no fluff. Her spoken word, videos, and music choice were married to create one body of work. Like how she pieces the things around her, she gathers all that inform her ideas into a harmonic mirror of her experiences. I knew that is exactly what I wanted to do, but with my own voice and my own vision.


Phase 02: Music Choice

While a lot of people might start with a script or a skeleton outline of their projects, I felt like I wanted to set the tone by choosing my music first. It only felt right since music informs much of my emotions, which inform my creative processes. Personally, I have to get into the mood to do anything creative, and the right music taps into that state of mind.


To write I listen to a lot of Blood Orange or modern compositions. However, for this project, I had several songs in mind that fit the mood I wanted to achieve. In the end, I chose It's Nice to Be Alive by Vegyn since I felt like the title was as fitting as the sound of the music. It was hopeful, unique, and the sound had different parts to it, perfect for storytelling with rising action and a climax. There were also parts of the song with words, "Don't Cry Baby" and "I Love You" which I felt were words I've always reassured myself. I was worried about how it would fit in the video at first, but like the way I do things, I chose what feels right in the moment and figure the rest out later. (Which worked my way in the end!)


Phase 03: The Script & Voice Recording

With the music chosen, I decided to write out a rough outline on Google Docs of my vision. Here's the exact script and outline my video went off of. It's really nothing fancy, the most important thing is to get your ideas written down on paper.

With the music already chosen, I started to visualize in my head where certain things would flow with the music. I knew I wanted to incorporate the moment I listened to "Life Goes On" by BTS live with the purple ocean, it was just symbolic of the transformation I went through during 2021 and how life went on despite all the hardships and feelings of hopelessness. It was a small homage to a group that helped me during the pandemic, and it's also really fucking meta to experience that live after quarantine.


The concert clips start at the beginning of the video because it represents the present, which hopefully is perceived as a high point or where I wanted to be. However, I thought it was fitting to rewind that moment and go back to the BEGINNING to where it all started (before the feelings of contentment and happiness) to how I struggled to get to that mentality. The video officially starts after the music goes "Woah!" and when the monologue also begins.


(Also to note: Here is the tutorial I used for the rewind effect since I will not gatekeep... I am seriously a Premiere noob!)




I am not sure how long it took me to write the monologue but I had to record myself reciting it around 7 times. I assure you, how it sounds in the video was not how it sounded at first. It was very dull like I was reading off a script. At first, I was confused about how Rachel Nguyen is able to make her monologues sound natural, so I listened to her clips again for inspiration and realized how much it sounds like she is having an actual conversation with you. There were specific intonations where it is like you expect a response or you laugh at yourself like you are expecting someone to say something to you back. That was completely missing from my recordings and I realized in order for my monologue to sound better, I had to act like I was speaking to someone! It was definitely hard and made me feel silly, but when I finally recorded "the one" it felt good to hear myself speak.


Phase 04: VISUAL

The next phase was to finally piece it all together on Premiere. I had a big library of videos I've taken this past year without the project in mind as well as videos I've taken with the project in mind. This video definitely had a mix of both. It made me realize how important it is to RECORD EVERYTHING! I had to buy more space on my phone with iCloud but it's completely worth having video recordings of anything you hold with significance in life. During the reflection part of the monologue, I decided I wanted to showcase what I did during quarantine which was spending time with family, going outdoors, and developing hobbies. I think it is significant to note in the video I was not planning to show much of my face and do mostly b-roll... but that didn't feel right. I knew I had to put myself in there even if I didn't want to (as someone who is more comfortable being behind the camera) but it was worth following my instinct because the montage of the clips of myself supported the concept of growth... you could physically see that I changed, with different hair colors, different scenarios, different smiles.


The last part and the hardest part was figuring out how I wanted to end the video. There was a part of the song that felt like a resolution, and it obviously had to be filled after the end of the monologue. In my head I visualized it to be some sort of montage of pictures, like those film TikToks I really like, so I decided to go for it.


I took pictures for a couple of months on my film camera with this project in mind. I don't usually snap pictures of my friends and loved ones enjoying themselves enough, but I knew that those high feelings of togetherness needed to be shown in the last part of the video. It pushed me to really capture the moment without compromising being in the moment and it was a valuable exercise to not be afraid to snap. The photos turned out so well, that even though I took them with this project in mind, they ended up being my favorite rolls yet. It's funny because I also think that I was (and still am) at a very high point in my life in those film pictures.


Concluding Thoughts

Everyone approaches their projects differently, but I think what is important is to have a clear idea of what you want to convey in your artwork before you start. While the way I do things may not work for you, I hope you found it interesting how other creatives make their artwork. :) Again if you missed the video from last week, here is my Beginnings Project!




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