Reflective Writing – Non Fiction Project

My first trip to Tecoma

My first experience of getting into the action of documentary making didn’t go exactly according to plan.

I decided to venture down to Tecoma to hopefully get some vox pop footage, interviews and photos of the town etc. As I approached the town I wasn’t sure what to expect, while the issue had been in the media a lot and it was clear the town’s people were not going to give up on the cause, I didn’t expect people to be out protesting everyday so I wasn’t sure what kind of material I was going to be able to obtain. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of approaching people who were just going about their everyday business and shoving my phone in their face to record a conversation with them.

Luckily for me when I arrived there were some people at the protest site waving signs and getting attention from passing cars. I was relieved to see this as it made my job a little easier, I preferred to idea of talking to people who are invested in the cause and want to spread their message and garner support, rather then attempting to pester people just going about their everyday life. I went into Tecoma with the intention of recording some audio interviews on my phone, simply getting some material to start the documentary off with. When I spotted the protestors at the building sight I thought I had it made easy, I assumed they would be more then willing to talk to me considering how much the media have covered the entire issue.

After walking around for a bit and getting a sense of the beautiful atmosphere in Tecoma, a beautiful view of the mountains, I finally psyched myself up and approached the protestors who were waving signs at the motorists passing by, some beeped their horns in support of the protest. I approached the three ladies holding up their signs and introduced myself; I asked them if I could ask them some questions, they seemed a little reluctant but agreed never the less. I was a little thrown off by this as I was expecting that they would be eager to talk to any interested parties to gather support for their cause. However I pressed on, but when I asked If I was able to record the Q and A the ladies expressed discomfort and ultimately refused. I understood their position, however my confidence was a little shaken at this as I had really thought people would be more then happy to talk to me about the issue. I honored the ladies wishes and didn’t record our conversation, we spoke candidly for a few minutes about what was happening in the town, why they felt so strongly against McDonald’s presence in Tecoma, how the campaign was going and what kind of support they were getting etc. It was a good chat and even though they had declined to be recorded the ladies were extremely friendly and helpful.

I thanked them for their time and proceeded to explore the protest site area, I didn’t get very far doing this as the security had most of it roped off. Not long after that I went home and reflected on the experience. I found that it had been interesting for me, as I had gone in very sure of myself yet encountered some troubles which momentarily shook me, but I was still happy with the experience overall. Even though I didn’t obtain any recorded material I found it gave me good practice in building the confidence to approach interview subjects and think on my feet about what questions to ask them.

POV Fictionalised Account of Event

Mainly I spoke with one woman when I went down to the protest site on that trip, as she preferred to have her name withheld I will refer to her as Jane.

I feel Jane may have felt unsure and anxious about me approaching her to get an interview about the issue. McDonald’s have sued some members of the town for obstructing the construction site and it seemed like some of the town residents may be on edge as a result of this. She expressed that she was sorry but she was just not comfortable being recorded. I feel like the legal battle with the other town residents was weighing heavily on her mind and that she was scared if she spoke out against McDonald’s she would wind up in a similar position. There is also the issue she doesn’t know who I am, I introduced myself as an RMIT University student but that still doesn’t provide full proof of my character and where I may distribute the material to. I think after I had asked her a few questions and chatted with her about the cause she warmed up to me a little and she did apologise again at the end of our chat for not letting me record the conversation.  It seems the legal battles are weighing heavily on all the town members who are involved in the protest.

I understood her predicament and felt obliged to respect her privacy.


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