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.
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 As the story unfolds, the documentary prompts viewers to access an impressive amount of historical documents (photos, documents, audio recordings, etc.)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.
Workshop 3 participants! These folks are working toward a more positive future for McDowell County.
(Left to Right back row) Shawn Penwarden, Tom Acosta, Brenda Goodson, Ron Serino, Mary McKinney, Gilbert Nash, Alan Johnston, Linda McKinney. (Left to Right front row) Michelle Miller, Matthew Goodson, Megan Bowers, Patricia Blevins, Renee Bolden, Elaine McMillion.
The Power of Storytelling: Youth in McDowell Express the Meaning of Home via video #WV #documentary
I went into HOLLOW without any background on how to teach a community to tell their own story and long story short, I have learned alot. The fact is I don’t need to have experience in teaching storytelling. The people of McDowell County know their story and they know how to tell it better than anyone else. Beyond some basic skills I have taught about interviewing, framing, audio and lighting, the youth here have truly embraced the chance to use the tools of video to communicate their story of home, hope and change.
One thing I have noticed is that kids older than 14 or 15 show less interest and confidence in filming. Those 10 to 13 years old seem to be drawn to the idea of HOLLOW and have been producing thoughtful and beautiful content without getting hung up on the quality.
As I sit here this evening, I am literally in tears over video a 12-year-old Coalwood resident shot yesterday. Tyler (pictured above) is the grandson of Reba and Bill Bolt and took one of the cameras up to Homer Hickam’s launch site yesterday. Below is an excerpt from the conversation Tyler and his friend Nick filmed.
NICK:Well here we are again. We are at the launch site in Coalwood, West Virginia in McDowell County. So Tyler, how do you like Coalwood buddy?
TYLER:It’s alright. Nice place to live, pretty view. If you’re from the cities you can’t live over here. Ya know you got to get used to these roads and it’s wild…there’s lot of wild animals running around through here and it’s just a good place to live.
NICK: I heard that we used to have stores, barbershops, everything. We used to have a clubhouse, well we still have it, and it’s still standing now it’s just not in shape enough to open it back up. They said it might have to take $1.6 million to fix it back. We got a pool, we got a park, and we got a store still. It’s called Country Corner, its good food down there, real good food. But usually we have to go to Welch to get other food like groceries and other stuff. So Tyler what’s it like to be in Coalwood?
TYLER:It’s a miracle.
NICK: Do you think we will ever get all the stores back?
TYLER:We might. I mean it’s going to take a lot of money. If I ever hit the lottery I would probably fix this place up. Do some other stuff to it. I love living down here.
NICK: I do too but it’s just…the environment these days is not too good.
This conversation is just a small insight into the footage youth is creating for HOLLOW. I am so grateful that so many people-both young and old-have taken ownership of this project and started to create content about places that are meaningful to them.
Very proud of Katy, a 12-year-old resident of Welch, for putting alot of thought and time into her story for Hollow. She spoke about how bullying has affected her family, what she wants to see McDowell become and offered fresh ideas for abandoned buildings. She filmed her family’s story in McDowell and Charleston.
“This place has so much potential but it’s taken forever for someone to realize it and actually start to do something with it,” Katy Justice.
(photo above by Katy)
Special thanks to John and Jolene Justice for encouraging their children to get involved with Hollow.
Saturday we hosted the first of three Community Workshops for HOLLOW. There were about 15 participants, as well as volunteers and team members from around the state.
This workshop provided a chance to discuss the various roles community members could take in the project and provide feedback to the team on what has been shot so far. In part one, we talked about the ways McDowell County has been portrayed by other filmmakers and journalists, listing the negative or frustrating words we’ve all heard.
Words that describe how McDowell County residents are portrayed on the left and words that they feel identify their community on the right. (from @hollowthefilm workshop #1)
There wasn’t a single community member who talked about these negative words without immediately providing the counterbalance—words like pride, warmth, diversity and resilience. With those concepts in mind, we reviewed the first clips of footage and talked about what to shoot next. They were happy to see a visual montage of themselves that no one had created before—images of everyday life in restaurants, fishing holes, church Sundays and fairs.
Many people talked about how they wish their others from the community, specifically local leaders, would have joined them for the workshop and agreed to take responsibility for turning them out in July.
In the afternoon, HOLLOW team member Eric Lovell explained balloon mapping. He showed some test images he’d taken of Linkous Park, talked about his plan to bring young people into the project through balloon mapping and asked for feedback about places to map.
We closed the workshop with some video camera training, reflection on the experience and discussion of what to do for our next workshop. Community member and volunteer fire fighter, Ron Serino, took a camera home with him that day to start shooting and everyone committed to bringing three others along with them for our July meeting.