Once students had built a foundation of the knowledge they would need to make the documentary, they then had to go ahead and make it! To do this, they were given a list of case study topics and asked to rank their interest in each. The results of this interest survey led to six research groups, each with its own case study. The Div 3 teachers provided them with a guide for how to develop a pitch for a documentary, and each team created a presentation to make a case for its issue as the subject of the film.
Throughout the process of making the film, students continually developed and honed their interpersonal skills. Groups had to work together, reaching common ground even if they had different visions, practicing negotiation and compromise. Each week, teams showed their progress to the entire class and solicited feedback, a daunting process for students but one which was necessary to reach quality. They learned to use available resources to solve problems: without one correct path forward or a teacher with the one right answer, they had to discuss and debate the merits of various decisions among themselves. For example, a team of six students did the major editing and shaping of the script that would dictate the structure of the film. They had to develop a system all could use, agree on a process they would follow and accept critical feedback from one another as they attempted to blend their styles into one coherent piece of writing. Beyond the technical skills and content knowledge, these “soft skills” were equally necessary for a successful project, and this was one of the areas where students consistently noted personal growth in their reflections.
"It's difficult to do a big group project, but eventually everyone pulls their weight and gets invested. Seeing what other people are doing makes you think 'oh, man, these are some really cool animations. I need to bring something really cool to the table as well, and do my job.'" - Kiernan
In addition to the qualities of character they needed to get along and to work well, they also needed a great deal of persistence, patience and optimism to complete the film. The filming schedule involved two very long, cold, and grueling days, spending hours in the vans and hauling their gear through the city, into office buildings, onto beaches, in an out of library conference rooms and on and off boats. During production, individual students edited sections of the film and others managed the tracking of each section in highly detailed filing system ; students learned animating skills by creating multiple drafts of clips, investing quite a lot of time to ensure they were of high quality only to have some clips ultimately cut from the final version. A lot of the work was tedious and repetitive but they understood that taking their time and being meticulous would make all the difference in the final product.
"I never did animation before, so that was new and hard. I made two animations and it took me two days to do it, but then we didn't end up using them because the script team made some changes but forgot to tell us. That was frustrating, but stuff had to get cut. I was pretty proud of the work I did, even if not all of it was used." - Mac
The final way character played a part in this project was in the investment of every student in the issue itself. They cared about the content of their movie and how it might help to shape the future of energy in Massachusetts. They wanted people to know what they knew. They weren't just making a film; they were making a film they believed mattered!
"This project had a huge impact on me and on many students in the class...I've obviously learned a lot about offshore wind and a lot more about environmental issues, things everyone should know." - Dylan