We just received word that we received a small grant from Humanities Texas to continue working on the project. We plan to use the funds to hire a story editor to help us shape a paper cut of the documentary. A little about this process: With over 100 hours of footage (and after spending nearly two years a day or a weekend at a time in Marlin) it is very difficult to narrow down the story line and characters for the uninitiated. A talented story editor can help me to step back, gain perspective, and find a through line that will make sense. The assistant editors can help with compiling segments and organizing footage, and then we'll have to raise more money to bring an experienced editor back in to really work with the segments. It will really be a process over the next year.
Since I joined the faculty at Southern Methodist University, the administration has allowed me to set up an independent study course for the film and interactive project. Now I can work with students who get credit for helping work on the film. We will have help from a couple of student assistant editors and researchers. Thank goodness because with a full teaching load, plus shooting and producing and staying in touch with events in Marlin, my plate is overflowing!!
On the interactive front: Kai made an executive decision to code the site in Ruby on Rails - a great way to keep the back end streamlined and clutter-free. Although it looks simple, the interface is more complicated than you'd think, and its taking a bit longer than we'd hoped. He was able to get an internal beta up and running and now we're just smoothing out content and fixing some bugs.
The grad students from the University of Texas' Digital Writing and Research Lab have made three trips to Marlin over the last two months to work directly with the kids in the after school program. While the experiences were great from everyone's perspective, it has been very difficult to incentivize the kids to be engaged on their own time, by taking video of things in their community. They come from - at best - impoverished homes, and at worst - very troubled homes. This is my first time really working in a community, and I'm learning a lot about the difference between sitting in an ivory tower and working on the ground. So, I've been consulting with various folks here at SMU to figure out how to deal with that. The adults in Marlin will be easier - the Historical Society is chomping at the bit to start making their own videos. ;-)
That's all for now - hope that all of you who gave us your physical addresses got our thank you post card from Marlin. If you'd like one, just send me your snail mail address and I'll get one out to you!!
Best wishes for the Thanksgiving Holiday, and thanks again for your support!!
Lisa, Chris, Kai and Lee