Tuesday, February 4, 2014


The quality and types of camera movements and the quick cuts between shots are all visual aides in portraying the fear that the characters feel during a shark attack in Jaws. The choice of high or low camera angles and the use of lighting, especially during the night scenes, also help to tell the story. The significance of these elements is seen on the boat while the three main characters are trying to catch the shark.

The close-ups or quick panning and sharp cuts work together to portray their fear and determination. Some of the shots on the boat also send a message of who is the most comfortable at sea. To be more specific, let us focus on the scene when Police Chief Martin Brody, Quint, and Matt Hooper are preparing to leave on their expedition to find the shark. The one particular shot in mind is the one that is seen taken from Quint’s self-made mini-museum of shark jaws. The camera is looking out from a window or door and what the audience sees is Quint up on the top deck singing, certainly very comfortable with what he is doing. Hooper is seen on the lower deck preparing some of his gear, but seems a little nervous, especially since the boat is rocking a bit next to the dock and it looks like he’s about to fall. Brody is still on the dock and doesn’t appear to be anywhere near comfortable going on the boat yet. It also appears he is holding some of his personal belongings close to him because that is what is familiar to him.

Throughout this scene, the medium and medium long shots and soft camera angles let the characters and the mise en scene do more of the storytelling. Later in the film, when the three are out to sea, the camera shifts as the characters move. One particular shot that comes to mind is when Quint is down at the very front of the boat sitting on a lawn chair with a makeshift vest and a fishing pole that he cast. He had just had an encounter with the shark taking the bait. In this shot, Brody is standing behind him, with kind of a half-smile, half-worn out look on his face. His body is kind of turned away from the camera, telling us that he is not comfortable with what just happened. Hooper is sitting relaxed on the edge of the boat with a smile on his face, about as big as the smile on Quint’s face.

This shot helps to support the original shot mentioned in also portraying the comfort level of each character. Quint is obviously the most comfortable, especially since it is his boat. It appears Hooper is not as comfortable as Quint because he does not seem to be as at home on a boat such as Quint’s. Hooper is comfortable with what is going on because of his background as a shark scientist. Now, Brody is certainly the least comfortable of all considering he is a police chief who is originally from New York City and is visibly not at all comfortable with the water, let alone shark hunting.

Each of the shots on the boat tell a story. The sequence of action shots tell a bigger story as the film progresses when they are pursuing the shark. Where the camera is positioned to portray where each character is in the shot, shows how each character grows, particularly Brody. At the beginning of their expedition, Brody was so uncomfortable he did not even want to get in the boat even though he knew he had to. By the end, once Quint is gone and Hooper is presumed dead as well, Brody is left with no choice but to protect himself. In the mise en scene, how he is seen in the water and on the mast of the boat, it appears that he has been forced to face his fear of the water and the shark. At this point, it is a matter of life and death. In turn, the sequence of shots portraying the mise en scene helped tell the story of character growth.

Surrogacy in Kansas

A few weeks ago an interesting piece of news came out of Kansas. The Republican Senator, Mary Pilcher-Cook, has proposed Senate Bill 302 which would make it illegal to use or be a surrogate mother, also known as a gestational carrier. A Washington Post article reads, "If passed, it would make all agreements, whether oral or in writing, with surrogate mothers null and void. Anyone involved in hiring, or working as, a surrogate could be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable with up to a $10,000 fine and a year in the county jail."

To read the full article, please visit the Washington Post website. Another article on a different website mentions how the Senator did live sonograms in front of legislators - read that article here.

Below is a letter written to the Senator in response to this proposed bill. I'm sharing this letter by Kristy Zieman with her permision:

To Whom it May Concern,

I would like to share my concerns regarding the proposed bill SB 302 which would ban surrogate pregnancy in the state of Kansas. My name is Kristy Zieman and I was born with Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser (MRKH) Syndrome. This syndrome, in its simplest description means that I was born without a uterus; I was however born with my ovaries which are fully functioning and ovulating eggs. I was diagnosed when I was 14 years old and I am now 34 years old. This syndrome is extremely hard to accept and cope with as it completely affects one’s psyche on what it means to be a “normal” woman.

Most people, especially women, blindly believe that it is a woman’s natural born right to have children. In living with MRKH, you have to live with the fact that you will never be able to become pregnant and carry your own child. This is beyond heartbreaking in a way that I cannot explain to you, and am sure only those who cannot have children will ever fully understand. MRKH shattered my self-worth as a woman, at least until I fully understood what my options actually were. My ability to cope with my syndrome was in part due to the fact that my specialist explained to me that I should not give up my dream of having a biological child because it was still an option for me through the use of surrogacy.

Since I was born with my ovaries that do ovulate eggs, it would be possible for me to have my eggs retrieved. Through in vitro fertilization, an embryo made of my eggs and my husband’s sperm could be implanted into a Surrogate. Words will never express what this type of hope gave to my life as a young woman trying to cope with the world of infertility that was thrown at me. Nature may have taken away from me my ability to carry a child, but science gives me the opportunity to have another woman carry that child for me; I can still have a biological child if I choose to.

Please think on the following when reviewing bill SB 302… What right does anyone have to take my ability to have a biological child away? I was dealt a hard hand but found acceptance of it because of the possibilities science gives me. Now I’m being told that against all of the odds I have overcome to live with MRKH, it may be illegal for me to have a biological child if I want to. This notion is unacceptable and appalling. I have devoted my adult life to the study of science and medicine. I am an upstanding and law abiding citizen of the state of Kansas; I pay my taxes, I hold a full-time job, and so does my husband. I am in no way a drain on society, but a contributor to society. I am a Professor at Butler Community College of Human Anatomy & Physiology and Microbiology for Nursing/Pre-Med students. I devote myself to teaching future healthcare givers of this state, which I would say is an asset to our state. I am the type of person that is going to be unjustly hurt and affected if bill SB 302 passes.

Now tell me in what world is that fair and acceptable? MRKH affects around 1 in 4500 women; what if your daughter or granddaughter was born with MRKH? Would you still be okay with a law that you voted for, telling them that although the ability is possible, they still can’t have a biological child because they would be fined and/or imprisoned for using a surrogate? Would you like productive members of society like myself moving out of the state of Kansas because of such a law? It is horrible that I have to actually write this letter in the first place. When this bill was proposed last week it made me feel worthless as a woman again for the first time in almost 20 years.

My name is Kristy Zieman, I am an MRKH Warrior, a voice for the voiceless, and I am the type of person that this bill will hurt. I do not deserve, nor does anyone, such a personal reproductive choice to be made for me by someone who has never met me, who has never lived a day in my shoes, and whom probably has their own biological children without having to struggle for it. I appreciate your time in reading my testimony, and hope that the rights of all women in Kansas that cannot carry their own children are heavily and fairly considered when voting.

Kristy Zieman

Blog Author's Note: To learn more about MRKH, please visit www.mrkh.org and www.beautifulyoumrkh.org.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Things I Wish I Knew at 17

I had a realization today that in June of this year, it will be 10 years since I've graduated high school. (And yes, I realize that to those of you who are older, 10 years is nothing.)

I've accomplished A LOT in the last 10 years and learned a lot too. If I could share some lessons I've learned with my 17 year old self, I would share these:

1. Follow your instincts instead of letting other people try (and succeed) to dictate your future. It's your life, your future, so grab the wheel with both hands and drive!

2. Driving a car isn't nearly as scary as you think it is.

3. It's true that petty high school dramas won't matter 10 years after graduation, or even 1 year afterwards.

4. Those petty high school dramas? They turn into petty college dramas and eventually petty workplace dramas. Deal with it, learn how to deal with it, and accept that "drama" is a part of life.

5. A person is intelligent, but people are stupid. Accept that people will say ignorant things about your situation. Accept that they just don't know your situation and their words weren't meant to hurt you. It's a reflection on them, not you.

6. Falling in love is joyous and worth the pain of losing said love. It's possible for it to happen more than once. Know that it will happen more than once and it's great every time.

7. You will never "get over" the pain of losing a loved one through a breakup or death or "get over" a painful diagnosis. You will learn and grow from those experiences to become a better person and recognize that every individual is fighting their own battles.

8. Try to keep in touch with more of your childhood friends. They understand where you come from because they were there through the best and worst times of growing up.

9. Realize that people change. It's okay if your childhood BFF's are not your BFF's now.

10. You're way ahead of the curve in accepting who you are and liking yourself. Keep it up!

11. The popular kids won't always be popular. In fact, they may turn out to be the least successful people of your graduating class.

12. Mean girls will always be mean girls.

13. You don't need to have life figured out at 17. That's what the rest of your life is for! You won't have it figured out at 27 anyway.

14. Never apologize for who you are. Don't change to get someone to notice you.

15. It's okay to be different, even if you're teased. Teasing only means that person doesn't understand and it's a mask for their own insecurities.

16. Pay attention in class, especially math. You will actually need to use some of that stuff.

17. Start taking care of your health now. Start by eating healthy and continue exercising often.

18. Stick with softball or another passion. It's easier to stay with it than to get back into it.

19. Financial aid is more than important than you realize. Spend more time researching and applying for scholarships and grants! College won't pay for itself.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Be Kind, Always

Think about a time in your life when you were going through something difficult, such as grieving the death of a loved one or a job loss or bad breakup, etc. Think about how it felt when someone unexpectedly said or did something positive for you. Even if it was a small gesture, it made your day, right?

Now say or do something like that for someone today, and every day. Even a simple, "you look good in that color shirt" or a "hope you're doing well! I'm thinking about you" will suffice.

Last night after a long week, I had 2 friends unexpectedly tell me I'm strong enough. It made me feel important, appreciated, and loved.

Never underestimate the power of positive thoughts and kind words. A positive attitude and reinforcement from friends, family, or even strangers, will help you through the most difficult times and even affect your health in the greatest way possible.

As Minor Myers Jr. said, "go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good."