STEPping to the beat of the music

My STEP project was all about exploring the social and economic phenomena that occurs at music festivals. When I was researching potential projects, a friend of mine who also completed the STEP program told me about this idea, and it seemed like too great an opportunity to pass up. We sought out to find the elements that have contributed to the popularity and centrality that festivals currently hold in today’s society. Personally, I saw it as a chance to combine two of my passions, music and film. I wanted to explore how music brings people together, and how people communicate with one another in an environment where there are less electronics. Somewhat ironically, I sought out to record my experience with a camera, and edit the footage into a documentary after the trip.
In college it’s far too easy to get stressed and confused about where your life is headed. We often feel a great weight on our shoulders. There’s a great analogy that I find very relevant on this topic. College is like a pond or even Mirror Lake, for example. The pond is full of ducks, and on the surface they seem to be floating gently and enjoying the water; but if you were to look beneath the surface, every single duck is paddling their webbed feet as fast as they can just to stay afloat. I found myself in this exact kind of situation this summer, and one major lesson that I took away from my STEP experience was not to sweat the small stuff. I remember walking with a group of people at Bonnaroo from the campsite to the main area where the stages were, and stopping to take a few pictures. When I turned around, the people I was with had dissolved into the crowd entering the gates, and I was all alone. When I got inside, I spent a couple hours going from stage to stage trying to find them, getting more and more anxious the longer it took. Eventually I had to confront myself, and realize that nothing good comes from worrying about things outside of your control. I had to make a choice: I could continue searching, or I could find my own path and enjoy the world around me. Choosing the latter led to my favorite day out of the four we spent there, and as soon as we left the farm, I couldn’t wait to go back.
I also learned plenty of lessons about being prepared. Before the first festival we went to, my STEP partner gave me a packing list with things to include. There were some useful things on it, but I shrugged off a lot of the suggestions because I didn’t think I’d need them. It wasn’t until we got there that we realized we didn’t have stakes to hold our tent down, or a method of shade to keep the heat from waking us up every morning at 7 am. If we weren’t camping with a big group, I would’ve simply been out of luck because I skipped bringing so many essential items. The first time I walked to get into Centeroo, the area where all the stages and events are, I was told that my camera was too big to be allowed in, restricting me from getting any footage from the liveliest part of the festival. I brought an extra battery for my camera, but it died on the second day along with my cell phone, and there are extremely limited options for electricity on a 700+ acre farm. Lessons kept coming when the hard drive on my laptop crashed in September and I lost all of the footage that I took while I was there. It goes without saying that I’ll never let that happen again, and now I have an external hard drive that everything is backed up on.
I grew up in a family that loves movies, television and pop culture. As a senior in high school, I dreamt of going to film school, but I was discouraged when I didn’t get into my college of choice. I constantly found myself contemplating what would’ve happened if things had gone differently, and I was able to test the waters of my filmmaking ability with this project. I was able to test different camera angles and experiment with my own style of capturing action. I went in with the idea to do a documentary, and came out realizing that my passion for storytelling works much better in a scripted forum. I’ve since joined the film society at OSU and am going with them on a trip to the Sundance Film Festival at the end of next month. I’m currently in the process of writing a screenplay that I plan on sending to Sundance in the hope of attending one of their screenwriting seminars. Losing the footage that I took really set me back, but I‘m still so grateful for the experiences that I had, and I’ll never forget the incredible time that I had this summer.

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