Sooner or later every documentary filmmaker finds themselves sinking in details. For me it was hundreds of 1908 Newspaper articles. I’m seasoned veteran so I didn’t think it would paralyze me, but unfortunately, it did. Yup I was in deep overwhelm hell but thank god, Author Ron Hughes saved me from the devil.
See the Video Below
When I decided to take this project on I planned on working in stages. I would either make a very small documentary designed for a local audience or if I found that the project generated momentum then I would invest more time and more money.
So, after about six months of doing interviews, researching Hazel’s murder and shooting a small amount of reenactment footage I decided to jump in with both feet.
And, not too long after that, I found myself in deep shit.
I was totally overwhelmed with how many newspapers covered this story and I was concerned with how I was going to sift through the duplicate stories and find the articles that would visually support the story I wanted to tell.
I foolishly thought that by simply reading Ron’s book, as well as a cross-section of newspapers – I would have all I needed. It wasn’t until I settled into writing the script that I failed to realize that I needed access to newspapers Ron referenced but didn’t name in his book.
I needed a high-resolution scan of these newspapers
Excerpts from a 1908 vintage newspaper will give the spoken word a visual layer.
Seeing the actual newspaper and highlighting the important text from the article adds texture and intrigue because it gives the viewer something credible and authentic to look at.
A topic or event can be covered with narration but an audible narration needs a visual counterpart, hopefully, this is also adds value to the unfolding story.
My choices are:
- Archive photos
- A reenactment scene
- Abstract emotive video
- A talking head interview clip
- A newspaper image
Ideally, it would be some combination of the above.
I can’t count on interview subjects carrying the load one hundred percent of the time. So that means I would need to find the specific newspapers that matched the narrative points I was making.
My heart sank when I thought about how many days or even weeks I might spend looking for these needles amongst the humongous online haystack.
God Bless Ron Hughes
In a state of despair, I reached out to Ron and asked if I could buy his collection of newspapers. I was hoping that he had been downloading the papers from a digital archive.
But, he said he did have photocopies and that I was welcome to them at no charge.
At this point, anything would be helpful plus it would be great to see Ron. But I was also slightly disappointed that these were hard copy photocopies and would likely not be of a resolution good enough to be used in high definition video.
I meet Ron for lunch and to my surprise, he showed up with a box that solved all my problems.
Check out this video and find out what was in the box and why Ron Hughes is my hero.