9 Things #ACAM350 Taught Me; 1 Thing It Didn’t

… And with our “final cut” finally done, I am extremely relieved yet somehow unsatisfied with the version we have handed in. Now that I have been through the whole process of creating a documentary, I can honestly say that the blood, sweat, and tears behind the production of our film was worth it, mainly because I had so much fun with my group mates (I swear we work when we’re together and not just eat! though twitter might show otherwise). Despite our group being the largest with 4 members, I felt like it was the perfect number to have. Everyone had their roles–– sound (Kaitlyn), main interview camera (Kathy), b-roll camera (Mimi), interviewer (me; excluding Vietnamese interviewees). As we proceeded with our 6 interviewees, we all fell into a rhythm of our own. It was a familiar yet exciting routine that I looked forward to every time, as I would anticipate what would happen when we asked our questions, what would be said, what sort of fun would we have while filming. As the important thing is the journey and not the destination, I would say I thoroughly enjoyed my journey as a member of my group, and as a short-term film student.

the pains of editing

Through the course of these past three months, I have condensed a list of things I have learned while being in #ACAM350.
9 Things I learned from ACAM350, 1 Thing I didn’t (not limited to the classroom):

  1. Editing sucks the life out of you.
  2. B-roll is random but is also not; you need to know what you need, but sometimes what you don’t think you need can become what you need.
  3. Translating is never really truly accurate.
  4. Patience is a virtue that will escape you––trying to find music and syncing the film to it will have you ready to give up.
  5. Interviewee’s opinions are important but ummm… uh…… sometimes it’s not relevant and we need to be ruthless.
  6. There are way too many files and content that naming becomes super important yet super random.
  7. I have FLAGGED1.prproj to FLAGGED8.prproj saved on my harddrive; premier autosave saves lives.
  8. Audio consistency and levels makes a big difference.
  9. Documentary film making is not as easy as it looks.
  1. Setting up lighting was like trying to wrestle with wires and frames.

The technical process of setting up pre-interviews, filming the interview, logging, editing, cutting, music hunting, audio tuning, b-roll filming… That wasn’t as difficult as the creative process. From brainstorming to proposal writing, then interview question making, constructing the narrative, cutting out stories, re-constructing the narrative; all of these took way more time and effort, and gave me an insight into the kind of thinking and analyzing that goes into creating a film. The nuances and the little details of each segment is broken down and analyzed by us to try and understand the film we want to create. There were many times when we would be debating about keeping or cutting a certain part, each of us having their own reasons for their decisions. The dialogues that we had regarding the impact of the interviewee’s voice, to the meaning of their words sparked interesting conversations about our own narrative direction and what we wanted to say with the film.

The learning I have done through interacting and speaking with our interviewees as well as my group members has made me aware of issues I didn’t know existed before. Looking back, my school just did the bare minimum of educating us about history, but what can you do. The struggles and the pain and hurt that our interviewees carry over from Vietnam or from their parents linger within them, and how each of them chooses to express that becomes a personal story about the Vietnamese. Sadly, because of the topic of our film we couldn’t delve deeper into a single person’s story. The use of the yellow flag is controversial because of what it represents, whether it be the “lost” Vietnam, or “Freedom and Heritage”. Our video only brushes the surface of the topic and what the flag represents to the different Vietnamese people in Vancouver. With each interview, I learned more about a history I have never come across, and through the creation of this video have become connected––to people, to history, to culture. And not just the Vietnamese, but also to Canada.

Canada has a reputation for being a nice place, somewhere you can go to for better opportunities, somewhere that’s nice to live. I found this motif to be recurring with a lot of our interviewees; and that really speaks to the kind of place Canada is, and to what Canada as a country has to offer to Canadians, whether they be immigrants or first/second/n-th generation. The conversations about being Canadian and living in Canada made me question what being Canadian means to me, and what do I see Canada as, whether its a country of opportunities, of open discourse, of community, or of beautiful natural scenery.

All in all, the film has become a way for me to learn not only about Vietnamese history, but also of the conversations around being Canadian. The technical skills are definitely something that will be helpful in the future, but the dialogues we have had and the stories we’ve shared are ones that I will continue to think about and investigate. I really look forward to the screening, to see how everyone’s films turned out! Thank you for an enjoyable class, and keep creating #ACAM350! (:

The Truth of a Lie

True or False: Mermaids have been proven to exist.

True, if you consider Discovery Channel’s  Mermaids: The Body Found  and Mermaids: The New Evidence.
False, if you read the post-script at the credits saying that it’s science fiction based on scientific possibilities and theories.


I remember watching Mermaids on TV because my mother loved animal documentaries, and it just so happened to be on, so I watched it. I remember it being a really big thing because all of a sudden, mermaids exist!! They aren’t just fantasy and they’re real! Oh my goodness!


Reading the articles assigned for this week reminded me of the mockumentary, and the fact that it generated Discovery Channel’s highest viewership ratings since it’s creation still astonishes me. The reputation of the Discovery Channel as a documentary channel (at least in my perception of it) caused the world to jump in on the hoax, believing in the existence of mermaids even when it was completely made up. The form of the story, in this case a documentary, had a huge impact on its reception and believability. With the production of Mermaids, Discovery Channel used the idea that documentaries are factual and grounded in reality to successfully draw an audience. The seemingly opposing form of the story and the content of the story caused an uproar in the online communities that have watched the film. The effects of this use (or misuse) of form and media generated discussions surrounding the question of viewer and filmmaker responsibility, a question we kind of touched upon in class. Is it the filmmaker’s responsibility to create content that is true, factual, accurate, and believable? Or is it the viewer’s responsibility to fact-check and make sure the content they are consuming stems and originates from credible sources? Where does the responsibility fall? The tensions between a formally represent “documentary” and the expectations of a documentary can be highlighted in a quotation found in our Winston reading Claiming the Real, where Discovery is essentially “grounding the documentary idea in reception rather than in representation” being “exactly the way to preserve its validity” (253).

The responsibility argument reminds me a lot of the “trigger warnings” that have been a prevalent in social media as of late. The idea of “trigger warnings” suggest that it is the creator’s responsibility signpost their content to protect others from viewing it. Is this the solution though? Is it not a kind of censorship? I ask a lot of questions in these blog posts that I don’t know the answer to. (:

My Whole New Mind? I’m Thinking I Don’t Want To Think Anymore

The journey is over. Another term is coming to an end. I’m sure most people have heard the phrase “It’s about the journey, not the destination” or something along those lines, but I am so happy to have reached the destination because Christmas (!!) and winter break! In all seriousness though, the road we have taken in creating design briefs and solutions was an adventure, and I am glad to taken part in it.

Life is a journey, not a destination. It's up to us to connect the dots.:

I had an epiphany when looking at the Compelling Experience Map when it was being taught in class, where I caught myself thinking “THIS is what I’m talking about!”. The questioning is where pain points and solutions present themselves, and being someone that prioritizes efficiency and presentability, the map gave me a way to name the process I intuitively carry out, while also providing me a detailed, step-by-step questioning that can help me refine the process. My group would always come back to the big WHY, the HOW, the WHAT as well. The Compelling Experience map evolved into what our design solution eventually embodied, taking the form of a data mapping system that placed emphasis on touch points at every interaction between the client and Creative BC.


Creating the design brief was the most difficult part of this whole project, because our topic of “sustainable business model” encompasses the entirety of Creative BC and its clients, the creative sector. The reading from A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the World categorizes our journey really well during the first phase of problem finding, because we essentially had to steer away from the left-brained thinking (facts, logic, analysis) to concentrate on the right-brained thinking (bigger picture, synthesis, emotional expression). We spent a whole afternoon trying to map out the possible design brief ideas, finally coming to terms with the scope of our topic by successfully envisioning and piecing together the whole picture. If we were too caught up in all the information and details of the project, we would definitely be swept away by the sheer amount of factors that contributed to the problem, instead of spending our time creating a solution. We decided to categorize everything we’ve learnt of Creative BC into key phrases to help us with our organization. The result was a presentable design brief, but even with all the information condensed into a 10 minute presentation and report, there was so much that still could be included. I feel this speaks to the cooperation or the simultaneous workings of left-brained thinking and right-brained thinking, because you can’t help but consider all the details, but synthesizing the data is what brings solutions to the table, tying everything together nicely.

[I’m right-brained, apparently. So… when do I get to rule the world? (; ]

Our process in collecting the necessary information for the design brief and mapping our possible solutions led to the simple and understandable design solution we provided Creative BC. The design brief was where we completed a large portion of the groundwork, and the ease of creating the solution was all thanks to that, and the experience mapping. The realization of left-brained thinking and right-brained thinking reminds me of the convergent and divergent thinking we talked about in the beginning of the term: the brain is constantly zooming in and out, focusing on the details then the big picture, but you need an equal balance of both, or the photo will simply be out of focus… So, what did I learn after all this? I learned that good design, really good design, solves problems (smartly, beautifully, easily). (:


b l u e .

Cherie Au.

Hong Kong.

About me:
– I was born in Toronto.
– I love traveling & exploring, especially the feeling of getting lost in exotic places.
– A city girl but I love nature too, which is part of the reason I chose UBC.
– It takes me awhile to get used to new people & environment, which is why I’m quiet most   of the time…

Fun facts:
– I have been in the same school (a Canadian international school) for 13 years before           attending UBC.
– I don’t like soft drinks; I’m really picky with my food…
– I’ve never watched Titanic.
– I tend to remember people’s birthdays.
– I have an unhealthy addiction to milk candies.

“When something goes wrong in your life, just yell ‘PLOT TWIST!’ and move on.” -fb/joy of dad

… nice to meet you (: