Farewell New Orleans: The End of my Summer Internship @ NOVAC

In mid-August, I left my temporary shotgun home in the Upper Ninth Ward after making videos and collecting footage on Downtown New Orleans. Since my last blog post, I attended several of NOVAC’s film workshops and networking events. One of my learning goals this summer was to meet independent documentary filmmakers. One of the people I met was Lily Keber, the director of Bayou Maharajah, at her workshop she co-taught with one of my supervisors, Biliana Grozanda (see photo below). Since they are both documentarians, they offered an Interview Techniques for Documentary workshop. The workshop was part of a larger course, the Documentary Production Project, that brings a group of indie filmmakers together to craft a documentary on a subject of their choice. I left this workshop knowing how to ask my future subjects questions to lead to a good story and I also learned how to prepare for an interview—research your subject, plan to meet them in a space conducive to dialogue, etc. bayouAfter taking this workshop, I felt comfortable interviewing subjects for my first video but I still felt I needed to work on my production and editing skills, which was another one of my learning goals this summer. I was assigned to a Virtuous Video assignment. For those that forgot, NOVAC’s Virtuous Video Program brings filmmakers and non-profit organizations together to produce videos to spread awareness about their cause. For my Virtuous Video assignment, I worked with Core Element Hands On STEM Camp, a summer camp for children and teachers in Jefferson and New Orleans Parish that focuses on increasing interest in science. I worked with an independent filmmaker and assisted him with sound. That project was a huge learning lesson; I messed up the sound on numerous occasions and I kept entering the frame. However, I now know how to act on set and how to properly operate sound equipment. I was also allowed to make the first rough cut of the video and that certainly aided my editing skills.

STEM_summer_camp_logo_FINALSince I received more experience, I started collecting footage for a short documentary that I am in the process of editing. I interviewed Eve Abrams, a writer that created her own audio-documentary called Along the St. Claude, for her experience with gentrification in the Bywater, Lower Ninth Ward, area. Then after I collected some footage of her, I interviewed a student at Clark Preparatory High School, a student from Tulane University, a native of New Orleans, and an artist that may be considered a gentrifier. Usually when people discuss gentrification, things become black and white: a group of people, usually young white people with money, comes into a space that is predominantly black and low-income. However, based on the interviews I conducted over the summer, I realized that the gentrification process crossed into different racial, class, and age groups. Plus, New Orleans is a port city, so different people have always entered New Orleans. Although New Orleans was segregated until the 1960s, I think New Orleanians were used to people from different backgrounds entering their city. Personally, I think people notice the different class groups entering different neighborhoods first, then I think the intersection between race and class becomes more apparent, especially since poverty is sometimes matched with the black experience in America.

True New OrleansI decided to take all of my footage and split it into multiple parts around a theme. My first video is a pair of people that were at Shotgun Cinema’s first film festival, True Orleans. True Orleans is a film festival dedicated to celebrating innovative non-fiction/documentary films made by New Orleans’ filmmakers. Aside from screenings, they also offered free panel discussions centered around non-fiction storytelling. When I was not filming the attendees for my project, I managed to sneak into a couple of the panel discussions. At True New Orleans, I asked a couple of people at the theater if they could describe gentrification in New Orleans in one word or what word would they associate with gentrification in New Orleans. I broke up their responses into two videos. You guys can watch the first one here!

KarenInternshipOverall, I think I meet all of my learning goals: I met some cool independent filmmakers and even a stop motion animator; I learned how to conduct interviews, which could help me with my sociology interviews and with my future documentary projects; I learned how to use some applications in the Adobe Creative Cloud; and I learned how to use basic video and audio equipment. Plus, I was in the same room as Ava Devarnay, so I definitely had the best summer ever. Thank for reading my summer blog!

Karen Seymour ’17

Social Justice WOW Fellow

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