Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Olson Creative Project

Endless Stops

Trains. In Henry Ferrini’s Polis Is This, the train station scene is an image imprinted in my mind. In the scene, a message scrolled across the digital display on the platform: “You’re your own train. You’re your own tracks. You can go anywhere”. I have not actually been on the commuter rail before. For my project I decided to film a video conveying the possibilities and tracks a typical person can take in life. I decided to work with Quan Tran and Kevin Tang; collaboration was required to meet the deadline in time

While watching the train scene in Polis is This, I wanted to find more about the train that leads into Gloucester, the commuter rail. I started researching the history of the rail found that it traveled in several different directions. With my research information, my partners and I had to think of a way to incorporate parts of it to convey our message of life. It was a difficult process. We decided on the opening scene for quite a while, as it is significant to the video. To the audience, it is what impresses and captures interest. Each scene filmed was just as difficult. They had to have meaning and integrity. The finishing scene needed to achieve our moral of the video. Thus, we ended with the protagonist grasping life and taking control. The next part of production was the scripting. This was slightly easier than filming because we could act more natural. This way, the audience, most likely teenagers, is able to relate to the situation. The final step in processing a video is the editing. The editor has to time each sound as well as check the quality of the video. Adding the finishing touches creates coherency to the video. After all this, the video is completed. Ferrini said in class film production is a difficult process. He was correct.

The internet was the best resource I could afford to use to research about the commuter rail. Observing the actual train itself was not within the limits of my schedule. We combined individual research and then initiated on the project. The general public may call it the purple line because of its color co-ordinance as with the colored subway lines. Well, that’s what I called it. It appears that the MBTA commuter rail started operating in 1974. It runs on tracks from the 19th century owned by the Boston and Maine Railroad, which was later then acquired by the MBTA in the 1970s. Management of Boston’s Commuter Rail has been passed down from Guilford Transportation Industries to Amtrak to the current manager, the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company. Transition between management is typically unnoticed by the general public because the MBTA owns the tracks as well as the 465 trains that run on them. Today, the railroad system services 13 lines to 125 stations that extend as far north as Newburyport; as far west as Worcester; and as far south as Providence, Rhode Island. With terminal stations at North Station and South Station, which are close by, I can travel a fair amount of ground for a few dollars.

My group’s video, “Endless Stops” portrays an uncaring eighteen year old, Quan, who learns a life lesson. First, we came up with our title “Endless Stops” because we wanted it to relate to trains. This title is ironic as well, as many teens such as Quan come to certain stops in life. In the first scene, Quan wakes up in a cluttered manner to walk over to the mirror and judge himself. While browsing the web, Quan’s brother, unnamed, yells at Quan to progress in life. Quan is the only character that has a name in this production, as we want the focus on him. Tracking back to the title, people can take many paths in life. Some, like Quan, may take detours and possibly end up at a different destination. Dialogue incorporates train-relevant phrases such as, “Stop being so stationary,” and, “stop being so stationary”. Open to interpretation, the audience may find limitless meanings. The protagonist Quan ultimately comes to an epiphany while waiting for the commuter rail. In the final scene, a mysterious figure, possibly a representation of god or his conscience, lectures Quan about life with an analogy to trains. This figure, me, briefly talks about the commuter rail to Quan, before I slam a newspaper in his face. Almost coincidentally, this newspaper contained an image of a train as with other moments of the film. This figure vanishes after indicating that Quan must “start his engines” and move in life.

Stopping is part of life. Death is ultimately one of the final stops. Our film, “Endless Stops”, was inspired by the message of endless tracks in life and the endless stops there are. As long as one keeps moving onward, a destination will be reached. Quan is inspired by the mysterious figure at the train station, demonstrating how a small event has the power to influence one’s thoughts. A person can choose to stop or continue traveling on the tracks of endless possibilities.