There is nothing I have been anticipating more than the final product for our project on Soraya Rendon, the owner and the brains behind Chilam Balam and Shaman. The day is finally here, and our video will be presented to the class. Alex and I may make a couple of changes in the next week before we post up the video online, but, rest assured, the video is coming soon. I cannot wait for everyone to see it.
I have learned a lot from working on this project. In terms of narrative techniques, I have become a better storyteller. Returning the fundamentals made an astronomical difference for us. In a story, you want to grab the attention of your audience, give them a little bit of background, have a significant conflict that builds up to a climax, and then have that conflict come to some sort of a resolution. It seems basic, but I can honestly say that for the hours of rearranging our story, it was when we went back to the ground rules of storytelling when we finally got the product we were looking for. It definitely takes more than one, two, or 15 tries before you get the product you are looking for.
I also learned a lot from listening to Soraya’s story. Soraya, as a restaurant owner and a Mexican immigrant, speaks from an atypical perspective in the Chicago food scene. Before doing this project, I thought of owners of most of the prominent Chicago restaurants as following a traditional path of obtaining a higher education in business and business owning, specifically restaurant owning. Here is Soraya, one of the most successful restaurant owners in Chicago, self-taught in English and previously in the mortgage business. Her food is inspired by her mother and traditions from back home, and her food is GOOD, so good that there is a line out the door on Saturdays and Chicago food critics are raving about it.
Soraya taught me about true hard work and grit. Both of her restaurants she pours her whole heart into, and it makes me happy to see the success it has brought her. It is amazing what language and cultural barriers she has overcome to get where she is today. She truly lives by the motto that you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it.
I cannot leave out what Alex has taught me. Working with Alex has been a real blessing. When your idea is not working out the way you want it to, sometimes a fresh perspective can change the whole direction of your project in a way that you never imagined. Two minds are better than one mind, and it is fun to work with someone who brings a different skill set to the table. Alex is a filming and editing master, while I prefer the writing components of journalism. Seeing him operate in his “zone,” I learned a lot about filming and editing that I did not know before. I hope I taught him a bit about writing as well. 🙂
I truly believe that with each person that you encounter, they leave a little gem of knowledge with you that in some way, shape, or form molds you into the person you will become down the line. With this project, I will carry many pieces of wisdom with me for the rest of my life. Special thanks to Soraya, executive chef Natalie Oswald, and the other forces behind Chilam Balam and Shaman that so graciously allowed us to take over their restaurants with all of our camera equipment for days on end. Special thanks to Alex for putting up with my craziness, and for going on this journey with me. Special thanks to my followers on social media and my blog, and stay tuned! The video is coming soon!