When we were first handed the assignment sheet about creating our own digital essay, I was at a loss for what to do. For starters, I wasn’t entirety sure what a digital essay even entailed. Then there was the issue of what I cared enough about to devote such a significant amount of time to. When I forced myself to sit down and concentrate on something I cared passionately about, however, the answer was simple: The Boss.
As my digital essay will explain, The Boss’ music is rooted deeply in my family’s history. Every time my dad picked me up from a friend’s house in high school, I made him turn on the intro to Backstreets for the car ride home. I vividly remember sitting in Chili’s with him when Thunder Road came on and he asked me if I knew what song was playing. I didn’t know much about Springsteen then, but it became an instinct for me to value the meaning and the passion behind his lyrics.
As chance would have it, I was planning on attending the Springsteen concert in Washington DC in the first week of April. Though I could come up with endless things to say about Bruce in my own words, I thought it would be a unique experience to interview other fans and gain their perspective on Bruce while evoking the intensity they felt for this rock-and-roll wonder. I wanted to create a movie that would capture the multitude of ways that Springsteen’s music has influenced and changed other peoples’ lives.
I started this project with the interviews I documented at this concert at the Verizon Center in Washington DC. Before the concert began, I asked both fans and family members four basic questions:
- What was your favorite Bruce Concert?
- What is your favorite Bruce song?
- Has Bruce changed your life?
- What makes Bruce different from other artists?
Although I have never conducted an interview about any other musician, I find it hard to believe it would have compared with this one. People love to talk about this guy. While the fans answered the questions I prompted them with, they couldn’t wait to go off on a Springsteen tangent with anecdotes of their own. These fans gave me exactly what I was looking for.
I combined these interviews with various clips of the concert I filmed myself. I also included famous quotes about the Boss and a Jon Stewart speech from the Kennedy Center Awards in 2009.
I initially struggled with how to combine the interviews to create a cohesive story. I eventually added a voice recording at the beginning of the movie explaining the content of my project. I also included two voice recordings of my college essay (which I also wrote on Bruce Springsteen).
One affordance that really set this project aside form what I would have been able to do with print was the use of music. I think music supplies peoples’ speech with a whole new level of power, especially Springsteen’s music. I initially had the interviews playing by themselves, but later decided to add music in the background. The difference this made was huge. It brought life to the words of these fans and created a sense of utter devotion and dedication to the Boss.
I had a lot of fun creating this project and I hope you all enjoy it!