Ross School - Senior Project 2007-08
Mentor: Alexis Martino
Title: Life, As I Know It
Description: I created a multimedia presentation consisting of songs and illustrations. The illustrations are comprised of digital and moving images. The images and songs work together to tell a cohesive story. The themes that I am working with are transition, hope and love. My final product is four pieces in the genre of photo essays and songs. I wanted to emulate the story-like music videos of James Blunt and Jewel, incorporating those ideas with a far more conceptual approach to my personal themes. I used both photography and music as an expression of my personal story. I successfully raised awareness as well as money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in New York City by performing my pieces in front of an audience. I raised over $4000 for my organization.
My senior project was a journey for me. I explored so many different experiences within myself, and I feel that I accomplished much more than I had originally believed I could. My final product included a multi-media benefit performance, which displayed four original songs with photographic illustrations, as well as a CD.
I wanted to create something that was both personally meaningful, and something that would create an impact on my audience. I knew that I had to manage my time well…I am very last minute…I wanted to push myself beyond both my own expectations and those of others...I wanted to create something impressive. I was determined to combine all of my interests…this obviously wasn’t realistic, but I was convinced that I could do it.
The first step was to get all of my thoughts organized. I needed to choose which of my numerous interests I was going to pursue for this project. I decided that I was going to stick with three: composing and writing music, photography, and fund-raising. This meant that basically I was going to indulge myself in three largely different projects, and that I was somehow going to combine them.
I decided that I was going to compose my own music, illustrate all of my songs with photographs, and to ultimately perform these pieces for an audience in order to raise money.
First I wrote the songs. This was both a painstaking and wonderful experience…writing and composing music is what I love to do, except for when I am on a time limit. Being that I needed to finish all of the songs before I could do the illustrations, I was forced to speed up the process. This is especially difficult when I am trying to produce meaningful songs. I did, however, find a diary of both poetry and thoughts that I had written in a few years ago, and I used this as my inspiration.
The next step was to find my band that would be playing with my on my recorded CD. I had been taking voice lessons from a man named Gordon Grody who became my outside consultant, and I had been set up with my producer Kevin Bents. Kevin then introduced me to Sean, James, and Jack who then became my band. I was so fortunate to have worked with these incredibly talented musicians, and I became even more inspired because of them.
After writing and composing four about six months, I produced four songs. The titles of the songs are “When the Stars Fall Down,” “Sayin’ a Prayer,” “One Last Time,” and “You and Me.” Here is a clip of “One Last Time.”
Now it was photography time. I hadn’t realized how difficult it actually is to decide what is exactly right for illustrations. I didn’t want to be literal, but I didn’t want to be too metaphorical either…my mentor and I brainstormed for hours on end, and I found both the models and locations for all of my shoots.
I began shooting but nothing seemed to be very successful. I was so frustrated because I felt like nothing was coming out the way I wanted it to. After all this aggravation had passed, I finally began to have a clear vision of what I wanted my pictures to look like…both stylistically and what emotion I wanted them to convey.
My next step was to choose an organization that I wanted to raise money for. Right away I knew that I wanted to support Breast Cancer Research, because after I had experienced my mother having cancer, it was important to me to support families who were going through what my family had. I also knew that I wanted to find either a local organization, or one that was in the state of New York.
After a lot of research I found the breast cancer research foundation in New York City. I called the organization and spoke to a representative to learn more about them, as well as to inform them of my benefit. The lady I spoke to, Karen, seemed very excited and was very appreciative of my offerings. She then sent me brochures and ribbons to hand out at my concert.
After I had my final tracks of my songs and what I believed to be enough photographs, I began to create my multi-media DVD. This was a very tedious job that left little room for mistakes. I felt very pressed for time, and I basically stayed in a small room in my house for the first week of winter vacation. When I realized I didn’t have enough imagery to fully illustrate my songs, I panicked. But, my mentor assured me that we could get it all done over break and luckily we did.
I now had to organize my event. This meant that I had to set a date, time, and place, and I needed to get the whole thing approved. Luckily this was easily taken care of, and within two systems meetings the event was scheduled. I also wrote a Press Release to publicize my event, which was put into all the local newspapers as well as on a few radio stations. I also had to figure out all of the technology, which included sound and lighting among other things. In addition to the entrance fee to my concert, I thought it would be effective to raise money in other ways at my event so I sold my CDs, as well as t-shirts which I had co-designed with PJ.
I was very nervous before my concert, but I was thrilled with the outcome. I raised over $4000, which was $1000 more than what my goal had been.
Throughout this process, I both dealt with many challenges, and I learned from them. I overcame my challenge of time management, which had hindered me in many ways. I learned how to express myself both through my music and through illustrations. I learned how to fully commit myself to something without abandoning it, or leaving it half finished. I learned how to work professionally, and how to organize an event successfully. And overall, my biggest accomplishment was I achieved something I hadn’t believed I could.
Aerosmith. I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing. London, 1998
Arbus, Diane. Child With a Toy Hand Grenade. New York, New York.
Arbus, Diane. Identical Twins. Roselle, N.J.
Arbus, Diane. Teenage Couple on Hudson Street. New York, New York.
Beatles, The. Let it Be. London, 1969.
Beatles, The. Here Comes the Sun. London, 1969
Berry, Ian. Black South Africans on a Legally White-Only Beach. Unknown.
Temptations, The. My Girl. 1964
Community Member (Details)
My outside consultant was a genius man named Kevin Bents. Kevin was my producer for all of my music and I couldn’t have finished my project without him. He also set me up with my amazingly talented band, and I am so grateful for that. He helped me with organizing my concert, and gave me critiques on my songs in order to make them better. Additionally, Kevin produced all of my songs, including figuring out technical strategies to further improve the songs, and helped me figure out my backup vocals.