Working title – A PART OF NATURE
Genre – short film/documentary
Duration – 5-7 minutes
Target Audience – DC locals; Rock Creek residents and park preservation activists; general public of all ages.
Outline – The black screen fades into a camera facing me as I tilt my head up and stare into it. You will see a green background simulating a forest, while an array of leaves are projected over me, making me one with the environment. Every 5 seconds, the screen will shift into black again while text takes over the screen. Small phrases that detail pivotal comments my film wants to make about Rock Creek (“urban oasis,” “nature in D.C.,” “D.C. in nature,” “green city,” and more) will show as the select text in white bulk letters. The film will interchange between me standing with the green backdrop as my voice recites poetry by Joaquin Miller overhead and the white text denoting keywords about Rock Creek Park. Finally, the film will close as the screen shifts from my standing position staring around me at the ‘trees’ to black and a collage of pictures is splashed on screen. Pictures of Rock Creek estates, such as the Rockefeller Mansion, the Joaquin Miller Cabin, the Pierce-Klingle Mansion and the Rock Creek Mansion (the wedding reception location in the park), and Rock Creek recreational centers will contrast images of animals trailing around the forest, water running along the park, and plants in the soil. As these pictures play fluidly and mold themselves into an intricate collage, soft music and lines from Prince Ea’s “Dear Future Generations” will play as my voice echoes them (the audience shall hear the sentences like “I am sorry our footprint became a sinkhole, instead of a garden” from two distinct voices, one male and one female). The whole point of the film is to make one think critically about Rock Creek in the present, neither negatively nor positively. Just see and interpret for yourselves what I am putting forth.
Character Breakdown – Rock Creek, a 150-year old member of the green city, is the resident D.C. National Park. The site believes in self-preservation, seeing as it has persevered in terms of existence in the middle of the wealthy city that is D.C. by providing a home for animals and native plants as well as the human race over the years. Rock Creek Park is homey; some may even call it home, seeing as the park houses many fancy estates, protects wildlife, and works to retain its “urban oasis” title by enhancing the experience in recreational centers, such as the Horse Center. Although it is not entirely accessible to everyone -considering the space it lives in (a wealthy Washingtonian community)- once you’re there, you feel embraced by the shadow created by the trees and the water cascading from a far-off corner.
Visual Elements – Lighting: not too bright but not too dark; the presence of leaves atop my body should be clear to make out. A Part of Nature needs to fade in and out of different scenes. Half of the film shall be the shot of the girl being “one with nature.” The rest shall be animated words and collages. The film is set in one room, but the audience should not be able to tell there is anything beyond the forest and the girl. One actor. No props. All white clothing.
Audio Elements – The background music will be relaxing but uplifting, enough to make the viewer want to get up and think or do something (possibly BTS’s piano music). When the film shifts into the final scene, with the images mounting up and Prince Ea’s voice collaborating with my own, the instrumental music should crescendo into something more powerful. After all, the end is the climax (visual representation of Rock Creek and words that deliver a message).
Rationale – Rock Creek, a park that sits in the heart of D.C. and takes up about half of the city, is commonly referred to as the “urban oasis” by resident Washingtonians. Doesn’t that make you wonder why? The first definition that shows up when you look for oasis is, “a fertile spot in a desert where water is found.” I think this holds tremendous meaning in regards to what Rock Creek Park could mean to the D.C. community. After all, the D.C. community gave the site this title. This nickname, and what it implies, must mean something when it comes to what Rock Creek means to Washington. I seek to make an observative statement about what Rock Creek’s relationship to D.C. is with the ‘urban oasis’ title pitching a fork. My goal is not to define the relationship between Rock Creek and D.C.; my goal is to shed a biased light on what it seems like the relationship is. In totality, whatever relationship the two have established, my film seeks to relate it back to how we must be one with nature in this ever-evolving urbanized society.
Requirements and Resources – I will need a projector, a forested background (potentially a green screen), one camera on a tripod, a video editor who will add in the dimensions of text and images into the split screen film (the first, second and third portions of the short movie), and a sound technician. I would just need an empty, medium-sized room to record the non-generated part of A Part of Nature.
Constraints and Contingency – It is a small project but requires tremendous amount of detail. The biggest concern is finding the available time for director and crew to come together. The best solution for allowing A Part of Nature to come to life is dedicating 2-3 stress-free days to the film: one for shooting, another for meshing sound and visual elements together, and the last for final editing.
Legal and Ethical Considerations – Rock Creek Park’s official website; Rock Creek Conservancy; Prince Ea’s “Dear Future Generations, Sorry;” Joaquin Miller’s “To My Log Cabin Lovers;” and my personal research.
Rock Creek Park means entirely different things to whomever you ask. Some will tell you, “I love walking the trail every other morning.” Others will say, “My house is just a few minutes that-a-way!” while pointing to a distant corner where you can make out the shape of a lavish home embedded into the forest’s skyline. You will get the occasional, “I love bringing the family and dogs to play in the Horse Center and just around. It’s really nice.” In my “Green City” project, I chose to present my research and findings in various ways (a YouVisit experience, a movie treatment outlining what a film about Rock Creek would look like from my perspective, and a sound recording of a valuable environmental sentiment) because I thought they best fit with what I mainly wanted to get across, which is that there is no main or sole interpretation of what Rock Creek Park means to D.C.’s residents except that it will always be a part of D.C. and, consequently, themselves. Although I want the interpretation of my final project to be entirely open for anyone who encounters it, there is obviously a certain sentiment that I expect to get across from my approach at a curated vision about Rock Creek Park, one that encompasses the many layers the national park has.
I want to say that the national park has grown alongside the city. This is part of the reason why I created a YouVisit experience in which the visitor observes different images of Rock Creek and locations surrounding the area and paints the own picture for themselves. The specific points in which I decided to cast every image were intentional; my goal was to, for the first stop, Urban Oasis, to have the pictures coincide with specific details of the featured media. Thus, a patch of darkness along the tall grass designates the findings of Levy’s remains in Rock Creek. For the Green City stop, my main focus happened to be levels; the pictures I liked the most (namely of estates in Rock Creek) are higher up in the stop than the others I included. I additionally included one pin that asks the visitor to find something in the park in order to make the experience even more interactive. Originally, I had intended to accomplish this objective of allowing the visitor to interpret the images for themselves by creating a virtual art gallery, but restrictions were against my favor. However, the YouVisit experience gets the job done.
Another platform I used plays a similar role to the YouVisit. As a Theatre major, my art comes in the shape of using my voice and body to send a message for the world to hear. With this line of thought, I decided to practice my skills in the acting world by developing a movie treatment for Rock Creek Park, something I had never undertaken before. I can see everything that goes into making a movie while also furthering my research for this final project. I wanted to make a statement and add my claim to the conversation in the best way I know how: acting. While the movie has not yet actually been shot due to time and crew restrictions, the film treatment itself demonstrates the feeling I get from Rock Creek Park pretty perfectly. I chose this median, since it is one of the easiest ways to reach an audience as well. You give people a pamphlet, and they may be entirely disinterested. But, you post a video on Facebook, and the public will be much more willing to listen, intrigued by the visual and auditory experience. What I hope to get across with this movie treatment is that the “urban oasis” title means something; this ‘something’ is that, in an ever urbanized setting, Rock Creek still lives on, fighting to breathe, fighting to live. I am really passionate about what the movie treatment represents because of the current challenges threatening our world, namely climate change and animal extinction, which brings me to my last platform in this “Green City” project.
The voice recording consists of BTS piano music playing that transitions into The Blackbyrds’ “Rock Creek Park” from 1975 in the background as I read aloud a compilation of Joaquin Miller’s “To My Log Cabin Lovers” with Prince Ea’s “Dear Future Generations, Sorry.” I blend the poem and the words from the “…Sorry” video together, for it shows two dimensions: Rock Creek as a home for humans and different species alike, and Rock Creek as a space to be considered far beyond the urban setting (Rock Creek Park as nature). I used BTS’s piano music because it is soothing yet captivating, forcing the audience to tune in to the words being recited. The piano songs change over into The Blackbyrds to highlight the presence of Rock Creek in the music culture. The track has been used by other artists like Ice Cube and Wiz Khalifa. Surprisingly enough, this sound recording is my favorite element out of the whole project. I feel like it is the one that would most appeal to an audience because it is the one that makes me most fascinated.
With all of the content here outlining my choices in “Green City” and what makes me so passionate about it, I hope you will see the spiritedness that streams from every pore of this project. I also hope it makes you think. And it makes you maybe even want to do something. Whatever ‘something’ is.