18 April 2007

Documentary Research


The first week of the new term we launch straight into a teeny-tiny documentary project. The Wellington Museum of City and Sea has an exhibition called Telling Tales, which covers one story per year for the last 100 years up to 2000 A.D. using a single exhibit and a short description of the event. These range from the arrival of the lion that caused the foundation of Wellington Zoo to the Anti-Springbok tour demonstrations in 1981, from the burning of the National Archives to the building of the first windmill.

 Last year a group of photography students from Victoria University were asked to create still images in response to one of the year exhibits, and this year it is our turn to create a one-minute movie. For a documentary maker like me it is a heaven-sent assignment. Here is a huge supply of real stories, pre-researched, and all I had to do is react to them. Great! After humming and hawing over the years I was most interested in I was still left with about 20, so I ruthlessly cut them down till I was left with two possibles that I felt I had opportunity and material to tackle considering the tight deadline and the very short duration of the film.

 So far I am loving the research aspect of the assignment, calling contacts to get an interview with someone who was involved with the anti-springbok tour demos and trying to come up with material to illustrate the first Reclaim the Night march in Wellington in 1979. Today I have been at the library recovering my research skills which have disappeared after ten years out of college. I even used a microfiche machine! Despite the joys of the internet I still find it so useful to research in a library, where there is helpful staff even if the storage medium is a little antiquated. Come on Google Books!!!

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