THE entire crew from Scientists with Stories, workshop-ers included, have safely returned from a wildly successful week learning and practicing the documentary form in Manteo, NC. Surely everyone left with their own adventure stories, new media skills, and certainly a lot of new friends. I encourage all of them to write-in with their own tall tales. Below are just a few of my own thoughts and reflections after an extraordinary week learning the art of science communication. Modified and reposted from Hack My Science. ~ Lomax
Having just returned from a weeklong science documentary filmmaking workshop, let me be clear — filmmaking is hard work. Some of the most grueling, yet rewarding, satisfying, soul-fulfilling work I have done in recent memory. Organized by the student run group Scientists with Stories — me and about a dozen other folks co-produced five short documentaries on coastal communities in the Outer Banks, NC and their relationship with the environment.
Our work will be featured as a web series on the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary website in early Spring 2014. That said, in less than a 6 days time, we shot, edited, and rough cut our docs for a community showing on the final day of the workshop. Did I mentioned that we shot, edited, and presented our work in 6 days? Just checking.
Led by scientist filmmaker Neil Losin of Day’s Edge Productions, we all learned the art and science of making compelling documentary films. As a scientist, I often feel distanced — both emotionally and physically — from my research subjects. Probably for good reason. But shooting documentary films forces you by necessity to connect and engage with your subjects. It’s your responsibility to represent individuals, even entire communities, both fairly and honestly. You must listen, understand, and respond in order to garner their respect and candid perspectives — the foundational elements for documenting life.
We were warmly welcomed by the fisherman (and fisherwomen) that call the Outer Banks home for generations. Hour long interviews were often followed by gracious invitations from our subjects to join them on the next day’s fishing expedition, or family potluck. It was truly an honor to be welcomed into the homes of people who define the word community.
After long days of preparing for interviews, scouting locations, collecting B roll, clam racking (yes, that’s right), boat rides, and fishermen tall-tales, I increasingly felt refreshed and renewed with a sense of connection. I started to ask myself — where is my community — I think the answer was standing all around me.