A group of Muslims in Chicago gather in the city's south side to clean the block and invite people to Islam. Here's a video recapping what the event was all about, the problems faced along the way, and how the team went about dealing with them.
Behind The Scenes
In 2007, there was an organized street cleaning and Da'wah event from the brothers and sisters of Islamic Oasis in Chicago, IL. A bunch of Qabeelat Wasat students went to go help out, and Wasat Studios was there to make a mini documentary out of it.
This was actually my first attempt at a documentary. It seemed simple enough, and in post-production, turned out to be simple, indeed. Film some all of the action (B-Roll Footage), and at the end of the event ask a bunch of people to comment on what happened, to use as means of interview in the documentary (A-Roll Footage). Put it all together and voila: instant documentary! Just add water.
I was even able to slightly do a Three Act Structure based on our experiences while volunteering. Stage one, setup of the street cleaning and the Da'wah that was done. Stage two, confrontation from the Christian groups out of church on Sunday. Stage three, resolution as to how we dealt with it and how the event went altogether.
I had two minor issues in all of this.
Firstly, it was a bit of a trip to walk around with a Canon XH-A1 6 lb camera on 79th St in the south side of Chicago. Besides the fact that I was a clearly Muslim and Desi guy who really stood out, a lot of people didn't like my camera. They thought I was going to expose them or something (for standing on the corner at 1pm? I didn't understand, either). I even got threats! But alḥamdulillāh I managed to keep it low profile throughout the day. It was kinda fun.
Second issue, it was sometimes tricky dealing with footage with bad background visuals. For instance, there was a lot of footage I took of our volunteers speaking with the heated Christian debaters. Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment, I didn't realize there was a Payless Shoe Store in the background with an inappropriate sale poster in the window until post-production.
I had to decide to either ditch all the footage, or find a way to block it out. I ended up ditching most of it and using some while blurring out the poster, which you can see in the video.
Alḥamdulillāh I had other footage to use instead that didn't have the poster in the background (the gentleman had a LOT to say about Christianity and against Islam, hehe), but that was a coincidence. And it just so happened that the unusable footage was more debate oriented while the usable footage was more showing the Christians' faults. I felt showing too much debate was not good, especially in light of the verse 46 from Surah ʻAnkabūt where Allāh (SWT) says:
And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best
In any case, the extra footage did the job, maybe even better than the unusable footage. But a lesson was also learned: Next time gotta remember to be careful of what's in the background inshā'Allāh!
All in all, a great event, a great cause, and a great load of fun filming and editing it for Wasat Studios. I encourage all Muslims with camera skills to step up and film your event. With a little bit of editing, you can make your event footage into a solid promo that can serve as a great means of advertising, inshā'Allāh.