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: Do you?
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.