United Way of Southern West Virginia takes over three new counties
The United Way of Southern West Virginia will now be serving Mercer and McDowell counties as well as Bluefield, Virginia. The three remaining Virginia counties will be served by the United Way of Virginia Highlands.
At the beginning of the summer I applied for a $5,000 grant to develop a farmers market in Northfork. I also applied for several other grants to benefit the town in the future. I’m happy to report that my application was…
Hi! We haven’t had anyone ask to bring us there yet. Any town can host a screening if they raise a $600 screening fee, a venue and cover our travel costs (around $200 for gas + lodging). We are doing two screenings this week. One in Blacksburg and Radford this week. If you’re interested in hosting one we can help! Email email@example.com
Every year IFP (Independent Filmmaker Project) holds a week-long conference with filmmakers around the world flocking to New York City to attend panels, network and pitch. This year, Independent Film Week took a turn into the future of filmmaking and presented a case study of a web native interactive project for the first time.
According to the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office, deputies and West Virginia State Police troopers were dispatched at 9:45 p.m. Sept. 26 to a shooting complaint in Mohawk, W.Va. Harry Arnold Edwards, 63, of Mohawk was found dead of a single gunshot wound…
Director’s note: From the very beginning, we knew that sound would have to play a vital role in creating an immersive experience online. We hope that the sound behind Hollow helps to move the narrative along and creates rich environments that give users a chance to feel like they are traveling to McDowell County. It was such a pleasure to work with Billy who literally made the site come to life with sound. —Elaine McMillion
The role of sound in HOLLOW
Written by Billy Wirasnik, sound designer
With Hollow I took a very naturalist approach to the sound design. Whenever possible I used the sound Elaine had recorded in McDowell County and then added subtle layers over it to fill out the sound. If there is one thing very clear from listening to the stories of the residents of McDowell, it is that the environment, the mountains, the sounds of the area are an extremely important part of why they feel so connected to the area. I wanted to bring that connection to the viewer.
Much of the music on the interactive portion of the site was made by creatively reusing musical recordings that Elaine had captured. Through a process called Convolution Reverb I combined, for example, the sound of Alan Johnston playing the piano in an abandoned church with the sound of an approaching thunderstorm in Kimball, W.Va. This process not only blurs the original music, but when combined with the right sound can reveal hidden musical ideas and also create a composition that reflects the rich musical culture and natural environment of this county.
A large challenge for myself was the process of designing these sounds before the website was live and for a timeline that is variable. Using still images as my visual aid to making the sounds, I created ambiances and sound effects for an animated website that had no restrictions for when sound happens and for how long sounds play for. By creating an effective sound mapping workflow (below) with our developers and some luck in my foresight, the pieces fell together beautifully.
Visit hollowdocumentary.com to hear all the sounds for yourself.
The One Thing: An Exploration of Small Town America
A collaboration between Cowbird, SOTRU and Hollow
People keep leaving rural America. According to U.S. Census figures from 2010, just 16% of the country’s population lives in rural areas, down from 20% in 2000, and down dramatically from 72% about a hundred years ago. Behind those statistics, though, is a whole collection of stories, both of the people who left their rural hometowns—- and of those who’ve stayed, that small percentage of Americans who still live in the hollers, backwoods, and ranches of this nation.
There are stories, too, of people who’ve returned, drawn back to the small towns they left for myriad reasons. We want to know those reasons, and the story of rural life that they tell.
In this partnership, State of the Re:Union, Cowbird, and the interactive documentary Hollow are working together to gather stories of small town America, and the narratives behind both the exodus and the forces that keep people from leaving.
We ask people from these less populated corners of the U.S.: What’s the one thing that made you leave your town? What’s the one thing that made you stay? And also: What’s the one thing that made you return? Through these personal stories— told in image, text and sound— we’ll develop a patchwork portrait of rural America in all its traditions and fluctuations, the tenacity and passion that people who live there display, and the complex feelings of those who’ve left for cities and towns.
2) Sign in and click “Tell a Story” in in the right hand corner and tell a story starting with the line, “The one thing that made me stay…” or “The one thing that made me go…” or “The one thing that made me return…” Keep your story short — 50 to 250 words.
3) Find a photo and/or some sound (in mp3 format) to illustrate your story, and add them to your story by clicking on the photo icon/microphone icon on the right.*
4) Before you hit publish, click on the tag icon on the right and write “The One Thing” (it should pop up as an option, which you can click). That will help us to find your story. HELPFUL HINT: You should also click on the globe icon on the right to tell us “Where” your story took place.
5) Hit publish and share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or through Email. Congratulations! You’re done.
*Please no copyrighted material: only original photographs and recordings.
by Renee Bolden, McDowell native and Hollow participant
Many McDowell County residents were in attendance to last week’s County Commission meeting, which was held in the courthouse annex courtroom, concerning a proposed 9% tax increase. This courtroom is the site of official court trials. It is now, however, the site of an unofficial one as well that consists of priorities and will. Commissioners Ray Bailey, Harold McBride, and Gordon Lambert appeared to be a three-judge panel seated at the front of the room and McDowell County residents crowded into the jury seats, the plaintiff and defendant tables, the observers seats, and yet, many were left standing.
Tensions were eased somewhat when county commission president, Gordon Lambert, stated, ”I appreciate all of you being here. I hate that the wrong information went out in the paper and on TV that there was going to be an increase, proposed increase of 9%. What was looked at was .09%, not even 1%. …Since we see the turnout here today there won’t be any rate increase.” Immediately, there were cheers and clapping.
Following this statement, residents took the opportunity to question the commissioners on many different topics. The main issue of the day, however, was that of Sheriff Martin West’s budget. Sheriff West announced that his department was in much need of basic equipment: uniforms, guns, ammunition, protective gear, and vehicles. West brought to the commissioners’ attention a spending reduction and cost-savings plan that had been drawn up by County Manager Clif Moore. West stated, concerning the plan, ”He has about 12 things that he said would save the county money and that we wouldn’t be to this position today, that we wouldn’t even be talking about raising taxes in a depressed county, such as ours.” Lambert responded that they had not adopted Moore’s proposal.
Sheriff West and residents mentioned the need for the county to get their priorities in order. In order to protect and serve the county, the sheriff’s department needs to be properly equipped and accordingly compensated. West and his deputies are battling the biggest enemy known to the county: drugs. If the county can keep more people off drugs, there will be more able-bodied workers within the county. This, in turn, will assist with county financials as they will be paying taxes within the county.
Lambert recognized the work of the Sheriff by stating, “I think the Sheriff has been doing a great job.” This statement was followed with applause and proclamations of, “Yes, he is!” by the crowd. Sheriff West addressed the commissioners, stating, ”We’re asking y’all to back us, back the county, and do what’s right.” Debbie King concluded, ”We should have people like this at every meeting, … We need to keep coming after them, not after them to be mean, but to speak up and to hang in there together.”
The constituents of McDowell County expect the commissioners to work with them to better the county and to support the Sheriff. During this trial, it was clear that the people desire to be heard. McDowell County is constantly battling poverty, health issues, dental problems, educational needs, transportation difficulties, teenage pregnancy, and drug addiction. We have faith that the commissioners will work with the people to overcome these stumbling blocks. This is a trial of will to overcome which seems to be growing stronger.
The jury members of this trial will deliberate for some time as we anxiously await what the future holds for McDowell County.
Hollow featured in “New Digital Storytelling” series in Filmmaker Magazine: The fine folks at the MIT Open Doc Lab asked us to contribute to the series and we’re super excited about the final piece. The series will continue throughout the year!
"Beautiful McDowell County" photo exhibit has moved from Charleston to Bramwell, West Virginia: The exhibit, which features photography by Betty Rivard and myself, will open on March 18 at the Coal Heritage Interpretive Center in the Bramwell Depot. The exhibit will be on display through May 11.Tomorrow (Tues. 3/19), an artist reception with Betty Rivard will be held from 5:30-7:30 PM at the depot.
2013 WVU Short Film Fest: This past weekend I traveled to Morgantown to screen two short pieces fromHollow and take part in a panel discussion about Appalachian identity. It was great to meet Martha Stephens, a talented Appalachian filmmaker and writer/director of Pilgrim Song.
Tribeca Film Fest: In late April, we will be attending the Tribeca Film Festival to represent Hollow. I will provide more details closer to the date!
SXSW Interactive and Film Festival: Last week, I had the pleasure to serve as a digital media and film mentor at the SXSW film festival in Austin, Texas. The trip was an amazing experience and I was so surprised to meet people who already knew about Hollow. It was also great to be able to meet several of our Kickstarter backers in Austin, including Mike Andrick and Dan Mistich.
"These photographs focus on people not commonly shown in media depictions, as well as those working to contribute positively to the city, whether through community leadership, arts and culture, neighborhood development, or other such venues. Hopefully, these images leave the viewer with a sense of a Youngstown beyond the headlines of crime and economic collapse. For Youngstown is not yet a city abandoned; instead, it can be a place of both struggle and joy for those who still call it home.”
On the 50th anniversary of the crisis, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum has released an interactive documentary called Clouds Over Cuba. Narrated by actor Matthew Modine, the film vividly explains the events before, during and after the historic crisis. As the story unfolds, the documentary prompts viewers to access an impressive amount of historical documents (photos, documents, audio recordings, etc.) that add real texture to the story. Clouds Over Cubaiseducational. It’s impressively put together.