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Our First Documentary

There have been two types of video that are near and dear to my heart – biography and documentary. I like the idea of a biography, because it honors someone’s life. I love the idea of a documentary because it teaches and opens our eyes to something we may have know existed, but never given a second thought to.

My current project is the latter of the two. It is not only, I hope, going to open the eyes of others, but is opening my eyes as well. I’m learning things that are impacting my own life; things about farming, differences between seeds you buy at the local hardware store and seeds known as heirloom seeds. I’m learning how to make soap, Kombucha tea, more about recycling, solar energy, greenhouses, heirloom animals, and more, more, more. I feel like Oliver in the broadway musical, when he says, I’d like some more please.

This first project is strengthening my arms, because it just isn’t practical to drag a tripod or even a monopod around the farm. Sometimes I have to carefully follow my client out into the garden itself, following in her exact footsteps between rows so as not to compact the soil and decrease growth. I have to squeeze into the greenhouses or into the five sided enclosed area where the turkeys brood and newborn poults hatch. I’ve spent the night at the farm so that I could film the late afternoon and evening activities as well as early morning routines. I’ve eaten breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the farm on numerous occasions and the variety of foods I eat has expanded greatly. When I leave the farm, I feel good because I ate the way I should eat. In the afternoons we often go swimming in the farm’s pool, a treat I hadn’t experienced in years. I’ve grabbed up my cameras and jumped in the car with my client to follow her around to places where she buys food for the animals and picks up fruits and vegetables from the local Good Earth store – things that are no longer sellable, but make wonderful additions to the diets of Allen Heirloom Homestead’s sheep, turkeys and chickens. I’ve gone in a kayak for the first time, tethered to the rowboat that my client built, filming the two of them as they leisurely row about the lake, stopping for a picnic or to read. Frank likes to read aloud to Christina while she crochets. Back at the farm he reads to her as she spins wool or cotton or while she weaves.

Back at the studio, I’m capturing and cataloguing lots of footage and photographs. I’m getting ready to set up a huge spreadsheet that will list all of the subjects Christina wants to include in the documentary. As each one is successfully captured on film, I can check it off (perhaps date it). The spreadsheet will be laid out so that when I have completed each filming item in a segment, I’ll be able to edit that segment to completion. If its a segment on sheep wool, we may be able to create a mini-segment to release on just that topic. A few days ago I was able to create a theatrical trailer for the documentary.

I’m working on this project alone. I’m a one-woman company. That isn’t always enough, so when I have a project that needs additional manpower, I have a wonderful group of peers I can draw upon. I subcontract out for camera work or editing as needed. That arrangement works extremely well. I, in turn, also get called upon from time to time to help another in the same way. The documentary seems to need just one person though. It has been beneficial in many ways. It gives me total control, experience in all aspects of the project (filming, photography, post production), and it lets me get to know my client and they get to know me. By client, I mean not only Christina and Frank, but also the sheep, turkeys and chickens. We’re all getting to know one another. The animals are perhaps a bit more at ease with me as I spend more and more time there. Filming began in April and will continue for approximately eighteen months as we capture all of the seasons. Since I can’t be at the farm all the time, I miss important events. The extra months will give me two spring seasons of filming, which are critical months.

It’s my wish that I be able to help others learn at least as much as I’ve learned about sustainability farming since becoming involved with the project. If people who see the documentary have never farmed, I hope it will give them the courage and knowledge to begin. They can begin with containers on a deck or patio. If it’s someone who is on the other end of the spectrum and knows a lot about farming, maybe it will open their eyes about heirloom plants and animals, about making a smaller footprint on the environment. I hope the film teaches things that run from one end of the spectrum tot he other and everywhere in between. The goal is to help people take a step forward in healthier eating and living.

Here is the trailer for the documentary.

Here are some photographs I’ve taken at the farm.

2 thoughts on “Our First Documentary

  1. Hi Shelley – we met a few weeks’ back while I was taking care of Christina & Frank’s place. As promised, I’ve been keeping eyes peeled for organizations that would be interested in the documentary, or working on similar subject matter. Here are two to check out:

    Hope things are progressing well! -Colleen

    1. Thank you, Colleen. It was so nice to meet you and to get to know you. Thank you so much for following up and sending me the links for a couple of possible sites to look into. I hope all is well with you. Thank you again!

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