Building 640 at the Presidio in San Francisco

Building 640 at the Presidio in San Francisco
Information Source for the Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center

Monday, August 12, 2013

$20 a Day in Japantown

For the project called $20 a Day, we interns were given $20 altogether to spend however we wanted in Japantown. We could go to any stores and select anything we wanted to buy, just as long as the total cost added up to $20 or less. Later we would go back to the "chosen" stores and film ourselves to make a mini movie, which would be posted on Youtube. The video would advise people who have never been to Japantown on what they could do with just $20. We started out by just walking around Japantown. We visited various stores and shops like Ichiban Kan, Daiso, Playland Japan, etc. In each store we picked one item out that we would like to buy and wrote it down on a list. We made sure the total cost added up to around $20, or at least close to that amount. Afterwards, we used the list to write a script for the movie. Stores were assigned to different people, and the people assigned certain stores wrote his/her own parts. The order of the stores were switched up so that the stores closest to each other were in succession. Each section of the script was only a few sentences long. We included general information for each store, what we were planning to buy, and the cost. When the script was almost finished, I was taught how to use a big, complex video recorder. I had to film two of the interns and their sections because they were not coming back to the internship after that week. Before we filmed inside every store, we had to ask permission, which could take a while. I filmed Ichiban Kan, Playland Japan, May's Coffee Shop, and the "goodbye" scene in Buchanan Mall. I liked holding the video recorder because it made me feel like a professional. When I was filming, though, it got very heavy and my arm started to ache. After the script was completely done, I showed one of the interns how to use the video recorder because she would be filming me. Then we went outside and shot Daiso, Soko Hardware, Sanko, Paper Tree, and Benkyodo. Originally we were going to do Nijiya Market instead of Soko Hardware, but the manager saw our machine and didn't let us film. He probably thought it was going to be on TV or something, even though we said it was just for a project. In the end, we ended up buying a black notebook, cat sauce bowl, chopsticks, washi paper, and mochi that day. I kept the notebook because it was cool, and it certainly didn't look like it cost only $1.50. An intern and I started working on the movie in Final Cut Express, which took about two days. We trimmed the clips and added transitions, music, titles and credits. For the clips in which people moved too slow, we sped them up. Sometimes the program didn't cooperate with us on the transitions and speeding up of the clips, and I got frustrated. However, in the end the movie turned out good. I especially like the music that plays throughout the seven minutes of the movie, because it gives it an upbeat tone that the movie was lacking before. In conclusion, I think the point of this project was to show that $20 can take you all across Japantown, as long as you know where and how to use it.

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