I just sent a pitch to Weekend America for four of the audio docs (that came out of the "Our New Orleans" class I taught with Pam Broom this spring) to potentially air around the whole "Katrina anniversary" time. The pitch is below.
Ok, so maybe they'll take a piece, or all of them, or none of them. But I sent the pitch! I just did it, and there were even typos (as I noticed upon re-reading after hitting send). Anyways, the moral of the story is I moved past inertia and did it -- didn't just talk about it, but did it. Writing and sending the email feels like its own success.
Here's the email:
We emailed back and forth briefly last fall after meeting at Third Coast, and I'm writing now with a pitch for a series of audio docs that were produced (or are in production, to be finished soon) as a result of a class at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Pamela Broom (a Katrina neighbor who moved to Durham with her family from New Orleans) and I co-taught a course titled "Our New Orleans" that partnered Katrina neighbors with documentary artists in our Certificate in Documentary Studies program (this is an open admission program, with students from varying backgrounds and skill levels, ranging in age from 16 to 70-something).
You might remember that I was one of the (foolhardy) individuals who pitched stories during the Third Coast session, "You Had Me at Hello: The Art of the Pitch." On the panel, Jeremy Skeet said "We're not doing any more Katrina stories," and then clarified that Weekend America wasn't interested in telling the same Katrina story we'd already heard over and over. Jeremy's statement had a real impact on the way I went about helping to design the course and the way I thought about telling stories around Katrina in general.
We asked the collaborative pairs to decide jointly on the topics to be covered and made it clear that the stories did not have to focus on anything Katrina related. The Katrina neighbors could be full artistic partners (editing/printing in the darkroom/etc.) or be involved to the extent they were comfortable and had time. In many cases, collaboration meant that both of the participants shared their stories -- mixing up the relationship between the storyteller and the "story listener" -- and both individuals became part of the final pieces.
To get to the actual pitch -- there are four potential pieces from the class that I think would work well with Weekend America's approach and format, and would present a distinct and creative alternative to the barrage of "Katrina Anniversary" stories we'll be hearing in a couple of weeks. Each piece also involves different members of the Broom family -- Pam (50), the mother of Hei-Yesh (23) and grandmother of Shanti (5). The pieces range in length from 4-8 minutes.
My piece, in collaboration with Pamela Broom explores the ways we connected after meeting on a 37 hour bus ride (to and from New Orleans), and how much the relationship with her an her family has meant to me. It also explores our creative and professional collaboration, and the transitions she has gone through over the past year. A second story threaded through the piece is her relationship with her father (who was murdered in New Orleans when she was seventeen years old) and how her initial experience of fleeing New Orleans after his death came back to her in surprising ways as she worked to make a new home in Durham, NC. Incidentally, I'm participating in an audio intensive at CDS with John Biewen and Deb George for the rest of this week, and a version of this piece will be completed on Saturday morning (8/19/06).
Bria Dolnick and Hei-Yesh Broom, both in their early twenties, recorded their stories (both fiction and non-fiction narratives) about the cities they call home -- Chicago and New Orleans, respectively. This fast paced montage explores themes of missing home (whether leaving by choice or through circumstances out of one's control) and what distingushes home from other places -- sounds of the trains, a particular radio station, streets walked and routes taken every day. Both Bria and Hei-Yesh are excellent writers, and it's a compelling piece both in its content and rhythmically -- sound of both cities are also part of the piece.
Kavannah Ramsier collaborated with five year old Shanti Broom on an audio documentary and a picture book that Shanti drew and Kavannah compiled. What Shanti misses, and what she remembers about Hurrican Katrina, are stories I have not heard before -- what do home, community, spirit, and memory mean to a five year old? Kavannah also considers what it means to collaborate a young child. She has a complete script of her piece and is currently in the editing process.
The final piece is a spoken word essay called "After the Tears" by Hei-Yesh Broom. I recorded her reading her writing and with editing, I think it could be a very powerful story. Her style of is deeply emotional and electric.
Please let me know if you are interested in this series as whole or in any of the individual pieces. I hope you are having a good summer, and I look forward to hearing from you.