In any university or college, one of the last things you do before fully graduating is to produce a thesis that you could present to a group of people serving as your panel, showcasing your research on a topic centered on a particular subject that you have to defend.
There are certain cases where we have to make outputs other than what we can present on paper. In the case of people like me who pursued a degree in Multimedia Arts in my old college alma mater, it takes a little bit of creativity, wit, and luck to pull of both sides of the coin. But it’s never always easy.
It’s never easy to actually choose a topic you feel comfortable researching and defending from the very beginning. As far as getting good ideas to tackle is concerned, you have to pick one that you will stick with all the way to the end.
Unfortunately, being any at all ambitious with the topics you choose is already risky. For one, you have to make sure you can get your thesis advisor to approve it. Wait, make that three advisors since the process of producing a thesis is stretched across three 14-week trimesters. In the first term, you have to get your advisor to agree with your chosen topic, the rest will be easy sailing basically with the actual production. If you get the type of advisor that is too nitpicky and scrutinize your ideas so much, you may not be able to end up with the eventual topic that was streamlined and condensed by the advisor.
It happened to me during the early stages of planning my thesis. I was supposed to go with a documentary-type hypernarrative-based thesis that was to focus on a facet of a well-known industry but not only did my advisor shut it down, she wanted me to “simplify” it down to a point beyond recognition.
I was disappointed to be honest. My chosen topic became something that I don’t think I can even manage to do given how it seemed like my advisor wanted me instead to make a fictional hypernarrative over a documentary. I was kinda mad but I couldn’t muster the balls to defend my original idea. Not only that, my idea for it being a hypernarrative was also shut-down by her discouragement so I had to make due with what was recommended to me, an online comicbook.
Sure, I could do that. However, knowing my peers who are doing the same thing, I don’t think I’ll be able to compete them to produce something that not necessarily my strong point. I actually considered utilizing photography over drawing panels to stand out in a way. That way, I was able to at least get something good over a terrible predicament come defense time.
Over the next two phases of production, I realized that I made a huge mistake letting my advisor dictate what I should and shouldn’t do. Thus, I had to salvage whatever remains of my original idea and put my thesis project on the right track. While I can’t change my topic by then, I did however managed to revert my output back to doing a video hypernarrative over doing a web comic.
People thought I was crazy doing this, considering how a hypernarrative (an interactive branching storyline) requires two people to work on it alone. But I felt confident that given the right budget, equipment, a tighter screenplay and decent enough actors, I could somehow pull it off. While a webcomic allows me more legroom, having only to build a website and everything that comes with it at the comfort of a personal computer, I thought it would be more efficient that I focus instead on two different aspects of my project separately if I go with doing a hypernarrative.
While many of my colleagues have back-ups to support their projects, mine was a little MacGuyver-ish. Much of the budget I had for the production came from savings I accumulated over my four years in college with some additional funding in the 100’s coming from my parents for food and transportation. While I couldn’t afford actors who doesn’t take stipends and only accept industry-level salaries that one certain artista claimed he received as an extra working for a “group of state university students” doing a student film, I managed to get people who, while not the most talented bunch in the world, can commit to the timeframe and locations I have provided. While directing proved to be difficult, I have managed to make the most of the difficulties encountered to get as much as one can hope fore. Resourcefulness is key in making the worse of situations work for you in a positive way.
I have to defend my established workflow as I am very much aware that this was not an easy thing to do given I’m on my lonesome. While I got a lot of support from people I can count on the most, my dad of all people could not even give me a sliver of encouragement. I can’t understand why my own father even thought that I will fail on this. I just can’t comprehend the context behind it.
In the end, I proved him wrong and I proved everyone who were doubting me wrong. Heck, my other brothers took quite a long time to finish their thesis, longer than what I did with mine.
While I did managed to get a good enough grade to lock in my ticket to graduation, I did have regrets over the things I should have done knowing that doing them so would have saved me a lot of trouble to begin with. For one, I should have stand by my ideas from the very start. While it is hard to argue with an advisor who is supposed to be from the industry that you will be a part of, as long as you know what you’re saying and you know how you can make it happen then fighting to keep your idea is all worth it.
Research plays a huge role in a thesis. As I’ve mentioned already, you have to know what you’re talking about. If you do, then advisors will be confident enough to let you run with it for you know what you’re doing. Research does not solely involve in reading facts and statistics on books alone, but you also have to make go on the ground, by way of doing surveys to people in the street and the like so that your output is closer to reality. That was one of the mistakes I did with mine as I never got to survey people which would have made a huge difference with the way I executed my ideas.
Nevertheless, what’s done is done and regardless of the circumstances, I’m proud with what I have managed to accomplished in such a short amount of time.
So for any one who is facing some similar dilemmas, like being unable to get your ideas approved and your ideals compromised, don’t let the rejection letters get you down. Fight and defend your ideas for as long as you know what you’re doing, then for certain you’ll be able pull it off from start to finish.
(Originally written October 12, 2014)