As written for the Irish Bobcats blog:
It’s not a ‘goodbye,’ it’s a ‘see you later’
By McKenzie Powell
I have officially been back in the United States for a week now (when I wrote this that is), and it’s very difficult to put into words the different emotions that I am feeling.
Although the trip is still fairly fresh in my mind, thinking back to the beginning of our six-week study abroad program in Ireland really brings back a lot of crazy feelings – like nervousness, excitement, unpreparedness, etc.
I arrived at the Dublin Airport after spending four weeks in Senegal, with zero time to recuperate and think of my experience and time in West Africa. I was extremely nervous for what lied ahead of me, particularly regarding our screenwriting class.
It’s kind of humorous now when I reflect on how scared I was to adapt a short story into my own script. I had never changed someone else’s writing before, let alone changed it AND put it into a script. I am also not a film or media student, so I was automatically feeling anxious and unsure.
I had to consider the imaginary actors, the imaginary director, the imaginary set, how much to change, how little to change, what dialogue to use and when dialogue was just plain unnecessary. I had to imagine these characters as real people and not just actors or characters, thinking carefully about what this imaginary person would actually say in real life and the actions he/she would do – naturally.
Overall, it ended up being so much easier and enjoyable than I could have ever imagined, and it really opened me back up to writing creatively instead of structurally. I was free to do as I wished with the story – whether that meant adding five new scenes that I had completely made up myself, or keeping a scene and dialogue exactly as the author had written in her short story.
Our other main project – well, really our biggest project of all – was our documentary project. I paired up with the wonderful Lauren to research, interview, transcribe, and (somewhat) shoot video for our documentary script on traditional Irish fiddling within County Donegal.
Our project went really smooth throughout, and I was quite pleased with our finished product. Our biggest difficulties were finding good locations to film (ones WITHOUT white backgrounds) and people who were okay with cameras in their faces. Luckily, filming wasn’t included in the final project compilation, and we had a few successful, detailed interviews that really helped to guide our script and give it some shape.
Because our classes and projects did seem to take up a lot of our time in Ireland, it was hard to realize just how much we were also doing, seeing and experiencing through our excursions. We were lucky enough to visit Dublin, Ireland’s capital city, as well as Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital city. Our group also attended the Galway Film Fleadh in Galway, a city that was unarguably one of the favorites amongst our crew, Tory Island, a relaxing little island that was even better than Galway, and Derry, which is another city in Northern Ireland that underwent The Troubles, like Belfast.
I definitely had an exciting time in Ireland and learned so many new things in regards to scriptwriting and documentary filmmaking, as well as Ireland’s past and present trials and tribulations. I would recommend this trip to any student interested in developing or furthering their skills within media with a focus on film and writing – and exploring the beautiful Ireland, of course!