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The Past Presents The Future

My last official project for the week is to choose at least one work from a previous participant of DS106, and describe how it falls under the “digital story” banner. My nomination is the short film, “3,000 Miles in 30 Seconds(ish)” by Emily S. May. In all sincerity, I like this because of how it feels like a tourism ad, but doesn’t outright spoil the entirety of the trip. The song chosen for the film sounds like a commercial jingle, and by focusing on the road ahead, and not the local monuments, it provides us with a feeling that a stay that long should be seen to be believed. It feels like a digital story because it speaks of a woman’s want to see the world, and although she doesn’t tell us the whole story, she gives us just enough for us to fill in the blanks for ourselves, without too much trouble along the way.

Another advantage of this particular video was its use of subtlety to get its message across. While the real-life backstory of the film mentions a point of despair in Miss May’s life, had you presented the movie to someone with no previous knowledge of her woes, they would suspect that she was someone who liked to go sight-seeing, and was taking her audience along for the ride with her stop-motion photo collection. You see, the thing about storytelling, as Kurt Vonnegut pointed out in my last entry, is that not all stories have to be bad for long. Some can have a bad ending, but not everything has to be bad all the time.

As I’ve previously implied, a good digital storyteller has to be willing to exaggerate life, in order to prove their point. In this case, it’s the fact that we’re traveling 2,800 miles, from New Jersey to California, in approximately twenty-five seconds. Given how fast you have to speed up the slideshow, to actually make the week-long trip feel that quick, that’s no easy task. It does make sense, considering everything Miss May had been through in New York, but I digress.

While it does work well on its own, for the visual aesthetic, it’s actually stronger if it were a part of a larger story arc. In this case, I’m referring to Miss May’s road to recovery as a whole, given that the aforementioned troubles she went through in New York City included, according to her, “a job I hated that kept me in the office way past my bedtime, a commute I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and a severely broken heart.” If anything, seeing new sights might be what someone needs to cheer up after an extended bout of depression, like what Miss May had. Overall, I hope she’s made peace with her past life, and I hope she does well in her new one.

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