Our project was an instructional video on how to be dope. We interviewed about two dozen NuVu affiliates (students and teachers) with four questions:
1. What does "being dope" mean?
2. Can you offer any concrete examples of dopeness?
3. How can one become dope?
4. Are you dope?
From there, we created supplementary material, like an interactive flowchart and a diagram showing the difference between Dope and Nope. The combination of interview and live performance demonstrates the evolution of our understanding of dopeness. The video's premise was for Sophia's and my character—students at VuNu, NuVu's sister school—to help Abbie's character in becoming dope, and it resulted in a deeper knowledge of our fellow students and the nuances of fitting in and being dope.
Our project was part of a studio-wide performance and film piece. Each group was given an open-ended "recipe" of sorts—one overarching message or instruction, one live component, one epic failure, and one epic success—and it was up to all of us to determine how each project would connect. Our group chose to teach NuVu how to be dope, and examine dopeness in general. The storyboards we made on the first day of work started with a shot of Abi, introducing her as a not-dope person and the general idea of the film. We wanted to start with a dramatic introduction of dopeness as a commodity that can be attained from a certain look or personality, to then contrast that with the more accurate definition of simply being and loving yourself. We knew we wanted to film interviews of NuVu students and their opinion from the beginning, to make the video more personal and relatable. We asked four questions: 1) What does "being dope" mean? 2) Can you offer any concrete examples of dopeness (e.g. clothes, aesthetics, people at NuVu, celebrities)? 3) How can someone become dope? 4) Are you dope?
The interviews formed the brunt of our research and we received a range of answers, from superficial and funny to insightful and inspiring. For our live components, we planned on our live commentary and supplementary material in between interviews: an animated, interactive flowchart designed to flippantly answer what an individual needs to do to attain dopeness; and a chart demonstrating specific instances of dope and not-dope things (affectionately referred to as Dope vs. Nope). After gathering all of our interview footage, we developed the greater context for our performance: VuNu, The Ingenuity School. As NuVu's sister school, Julie and Sophie (Jules and Sophia's characters) were part of the Youth Culture studio, and assigned with finding out what exactly it means to be dope. We also helped Abbie (Abi) in understanding dopeness. With this context in mind, we edited and compiled our footage question by question, animated the interactive flowchart, and designed and constructed a logo for VuNu. After writing a rough script and presenting our mostly-finished performance to our studio, we received a lot of helpful feedback which boiled down to making the videos much shorter and making the questions and the evolution of our perspective on dope clearer and more distinct. As a result, each interview question went from over 2.5 minutes to under 1.5 minutes, and we gradually made the insightful answers more prevalent (and the superficial answers less so) as the questions progressed, which made it a lot clearer. For our final performance, we put all of our videos and extra material into a software called Isadora, which allowed us to control the flow of our cues smoothly.
Jules wrote a short, mostly satirical academic essay further exploring dopeness, and handed out copies to the audience before our final live performance—that essay is attached.