Living and breathing editing


It has been a while since I have updated you all on my coming progress for my New Orleans documentary. I have been hard at work trying to come up with a workable documentary and it has been anything but an easy process. I came back to Minnesota with so much amazing footage that it took forever to sort through and decide just which parts I wanted to use. I began the editing process by piecing together my entire interview with Wayne Bacquet at Lil’ Dizzy’s Cafe. Next I incorporated the b-roll and then moved on to the next interview. This one was with Sophie Lee from Three Muses. I did not have as much b-roll to work with in her cut so it did not take quite as long. 

After I cut these two interviews, I have since been faced with the difficult task of trying to combine the two interviews together. What do I cut out? What do I leave in? What information is the most important? Going down to New Orleans, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted my documentary to be out, or at least what I thought I wanted it to be about. What I have found out throughout this entire editing process is that maybe my story is changing direction a bit. I was able to capture a lot of great personal information in each interview that became more of a story about the owners, rather than the restaurants themselves. After my first “Final” presentation last Friday, I realized that there are some major pieces of information that are not as important as I first thought. 

As of right now, I am working to refine my edit by taking out a lot of personal information to focus more on the differences of the restaurant. Hopefully this will improve the meaning of my documentary and help me get closer to where I need to be 🙂



Back in MN~

Going down to New Orleans was the trip of a lifetime. I am so glad that I took advantage of the opportunity to go down and shoot a documentary. What “they” say about southern hospitality is definitely true. Everyone down in New Orleans is so friendly. People rarely pass each other on the street with saying hello or giving a smile. Not only is the atmosphere different, but so are the streets, the buildings and even the neighborhoods. Everyone morning a sunrise shoot was organized and while I did not pull myself out of bed every morning, I was able to capture some amazing photos. I decided to post a picture of New Orleans on the river and Minneapolis on the river as a comparison. Kind of fun to look at 🙂

Minneapolis vs. New Orleans

After meeting the owners of Lil’ Dizzy’s and Three Muses, I can say that I could not have asked for two better opportunities for filming locations. Both restaurants were very accommodating in allowing me to film the restaurant with customers around. I am excited to start digging into my footage and putting something together! Look for updates soon….

Goodbye New Orleans

Hello Minneapolis!

It’s Monday and it’s time to say goodbye to NOLA. I was sad to see it go, but had an absolutely amazing time while I was down there! The city is amazing and there is still so much to do that I just didn’t have time to do. Filming was a blast and I met so many wonderful people. It really is true what they say about southern hospitality. Everyone was so nice and treated me like I was family. I will definitely be going to New Orleans one day and I know that I will have friends to contact when I do 🙂 

Until next time…..<3


Photo Collage


(Gulf of Mexico) Pass Christian, Mississippi

A critter on a picnic table 🙂

* Devin, Colleen and I spent most of the afternoon with two young boys fishing. Colleen spotted a HUGE fish swimming near the rocks, so these boys grabbed their poles and ran over. They were fishing with shrimp on the end of their hooks and we thought one of the got stuck on a rock. He was tugging and tugging until the line came loose and out flew a crab on the end of it! Pretty much the coolest thing I had seen in a while.

Before we all took off to head back to New Orleans, we had lunch and this was one of the beautiful views. The clouds were just amazing!


5:30 a.m. Sunrise shoot at the lake (estuary)

9:30 a.m. Tour with Russell Carll

I connected with Russell Carll through a lady that I work with back in MN. Russ is her first cousin and he gives tours in New Orleans. I met him in Jackson Square and he told EVERYTHING he knows about the city. He started with some basic history and then dove into what he knows about food and drink. I had a great time with this man and am so glad that I was able to meet up with him.

12:30 p.m. I went to Devin’s shoot to interview Mykia, the next up and coming singer in New Orleans. I was fortunate enough to get to hear her sing for just a minute, but let me tell you, that is all I needed! Her voice is amazing.

4:30 p.m. I had an appointment to go back to the Three Muses to conduct a second interview with Sophie.

At 6 p.m.  I met with the head chef, Daniel Esses, asked him some questions and was able to get back in the kitchen and watch him cook some food. It was a very cool experience!


9:30 a.m. We all went to the Times Picayune to go out on assignments with some of the photographers. Colleen, Mataya and I got to out with a photographer by the name of John McCusker. We got to cover a ground breaking for a new television station and John’s assignment was to show this ground breaking happening without actually taking a picture of a ribbon being cut or shovels breaking ground. It was very interesting to be able to watch this event take place.

(What NOT to take a picture of)

(The picture John got with the chairman of the board standing in front)

This hallway goes to the end of a wall and behind that wall is everything from the station that is old and wrecked from Katrina. After the ceremony was over, John took us out on a ride to the levee behind his neighborhood that broke from Katrina. He also showed us his home that had to be built 9 feet above ground as a result. John gave us a real personal story of his own struggle after the storm and it really hit home to hear about the storm from someone who actually experienced it. Overall, it was a really great experience!

After we left the newspaper, we made a stop…..


Once I got back from Pinkberry, I captured some footage from the day in my room and just took some time to relax.

DINNER at Cafe Mariposa where I had some pretty good jambalaya. After running back to the hotel in the rain, I came back to the room to edit and go through more footage!


5:30 a.m. Sunrise shoot at the French Quarter

Since I had skipped the sunrise shoot Monday morning do to lack of sleep the night before, I decided it’d be best to get my butt out of bed! I am glad I did because we walked all over the French Quarter and caught the sun rising at Jackson Square! There are way too many pictures to put them all up for you, so I just chose some of my favorites 🙂

8 a.m. Breakfast

10:30 a.m. Critique and Review of Footage

Showed the group the footage that I shot last night at the Three Muses

1:30 p.m. Lil’ Dizzy’s

Devin, Mataya, Colleen and I all met up around 12:30 p.m. to head over to Lil’ Dizzy’s to check out possible shots for b-roll footage and of course to grab some lunch!  These wonderful ladies were sitting outside the restaurant when we pulled up. We found out they were at Lil’ Dizzy’s for their 50th high school reunion! They were all so nice and agreed to  let me film them “hanging out”. I was even able to get an interview with Jeraldine Robertson who said a few words about why the ladies chose Lil’ Dizzy’s to eat at. Well worth my time 🙂

3 p.m. St. Katharine Drexel

Colleen and Mataya had to leave me right after lunch because Mataya had to get over to the church for an interview. Devin and I finished up filming around 2:45 p.m. and the Colleen swung by to pick us up and took us to the church to help Mataya.

6 p.m. Free Time

After Mataya was done filming the choir practice at the church, I was free to do whatever I wanted for the rest of the evening! It was wonderful to finally have a night to do whatever I wanted! Mataya, Jorah and I hung out in our hotel room for a little bit and then decided it was time to get out for a while and not focus on film!

CVS: Snacks for the room!

Then we decided to go and walk through the French Quarter and shop! Always a fun time!

We all decided to order the buffet and man was it like nothing I have ever tasted before! This is the cutest little place you could imagine. It has such a down home feel and the food matched! The gumbo and fried chicken was to DIE for! I cannot even begin to describe the gumbo! The red beans, which I had never had before were really good as well.

AND for my beverage……


(of course)

After lunch I met with owner, Wayne Baquet, who like many others here in New Orleans, is such a nice man. He sat down for an interview and had so many great stories to tell about his restaurant. He talked about growing up in the restaurant business through his father and how the business has evolved since he has been an owner. I was very pleased with the way things went!


7:30 a.m. Wake up!

Breakfast at the CountryInn and Suites is amazing! Pastries, toast, juice, milk, eggs, potatoes, meat and oatmeal! So nice to get up in the morning and already have it ready and waiting!

8:45 a.m. Call the airport

My missing million dollar bag has been found and ended up flying from Memphis to Atlanta, then back to New Orleans. The airline informed me that my bag should arrive at my hotel somewhere between 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. So glad that it has been found!

11 a.m. St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church

Devin, Tony and I went on Mataya’s shoot to help her capture her documentary footage of an interview with Father John.

2 p.m. Voodoo BBQ

Time to go eat some lunch (nom nom nom)

First restaurant on my stop in New Orleans! You go up to the counter to order your food and wait until it is delivered to you. Such a laid back place. I could definitely tell I was in the south.

Cajun Sausage Sandwich
(Reminds me of ringed bologne I used to have in my macaroni and cheese as a kid)

Sweet Tea! Haven’t had this since I was in North Carolina 🙂

4 p.m. My luggage is finally here!

I told myself all day that my luggage was going to wait until the last possible second to arrive at the hotel, and it did. I shouldn’t complain because at least now I have it!

4:30 p.m. Three Muses 

Thanks to Joanne Fischer for suggesting to me to interview Sophie Lee who is the owner of the Three Muses. The restaurant is such a great place and the people there, including Sophie could not have been more nice! Upon arrival I took about an hour and a half to check out the restaurant, set-up equipment and talk with Maggie, an employee there who was just wonderful! Around 6:15 p.m. Sophie and her husband arrived and we were ready to go for the interview!

After we were done with her interview we all stuck around because I wanted to get some b-roll of the restaurant and Tony was going to get some video of a band playing called the Hot Club. Sophie was gracious enough to offer us some lamb sliders, feta fries and nacho popcorn which were to die for! So yummy! Later Devin and I ordered some broccoli rabe bruschetta!

9 p.m. Critique and Review of day

1 a.m Time for bed!

Arrival in New Orleans

So I made it to New Orleans yesterday evening around 9 p.m. Pretty exciting to finally be here! I had a long day of riding in the car back to the cities from Warroad, MN. A 7 hour drive at that to make it to the airport for my flight out of Mpls at 4:45 p.m. I flew out to Memphis, TN and had a short layover before making it to NOLA. I have been wanting to go to Tennessee for a long time, so I wish I would have had a longer layover to maybe go out and explore but that’s alright. Now I will just have to come back on my own! My flight to New Orleans was short and sweet, 45 minutes. I made it to the baggage claim to pick up my two bags and only one showed up. As of last night my bag was non-existent in the system. I have been tracking the baggage report online non-stop and it looks like my bag has finally been checked and put into the system. Now all I can do is sit and WAIT….some more.

1 Day and Counting!

In approximately 37 hours I will be arriving in New Orleans! While I am getting very excited, I am also very nervous. It all just doesn’t seem real yet. Sophie Lee from the Three Muses has agreed to let me come and interview her on Monday night, and Leah Chase from Dooky Chase’s restaurant, I still cannot get a hold of. I have been emailing back and forth with a few different ladies that also know Leah Chase. Sarah Roahen who is the main New Orleans SFA oral historian has told me that she never has much luck with the phone or email. My best bet is just going to be to show up at the restaurant. That’s the New Orleans way! Sarah also suggested I try to get in touch with a man by the name of Vance Vaucresson — the man who makes the chaurice sausage that goes in Leah Chase’s gumbo? He’s on the Gumbo Trail as well. So, on Tuesday afternoon I will be making my way over to Dooky Chase’s restaurant in hopes of being able to interview her! Eek :/ . That makes me nervous, but I guess it’s the New Orleans way! Here I come!

Equipment List

(1) Canon7D

(1) Canon 5D Mark II

(3) Canon EOS Batteries

(1) Canon EOS Battery Charger

(1) Litepanel for 7D Video

(1) 4-in-1 Reflector

(1) Video Tripod

(1) H4N Next Zoom Audio Recorder

(1) Sennheiser Wireless Recording Device

(2) Power Strips

(2) 8GB CF Cards

(2) 4 GB CF Cards

(3) SDHC Cards

(1) Shotgun mic w/ medium XLR cable

And I think that might be it! That’s nothing right?!?!


After Joanne emailed Sophie and told her of my wish to come and interview her at her restaurant in New Orleans, she was thrilled! I gave Sophie a call immediately and set up a time to meet with her on Monday, June 20th at 5 p.m. I will have roughly two hours to interview and will then be able to stay and film her husband’s band playing as well.

(Tony, if this is something that you are interested in, I recommend maybe coming and trying to catch an interview??)

* I forgot to tell you guys that when I went up to Joanne’s office yesterday to talk with her, there was another woman in her office that knows someone in New Orleans! Russ Carll is a man in New Orleans who teaches a history course and also gives licensed tours of the city! I emailed Russ yesterday and told him a bit about what our travel study program is doing. He responded right away and is more than willing to give me, or our entire group a tour of the city. He knows about everything from food, to music, restaurants, festivals and of course the history of the city itself! I spoke with Russ a little bit ago and he told me to get ahold of him on Monday and we can set up a time to meet with him. He is thinking it will likely be sometime on Wednesday or Thursday. All we have to do is decide what we want the focus of the tour to be and that is where he will take us;however, if not everyone in the group is able to go, I can just have him give me a tour and tell me everything he knows about the restaurants and such!

* On the downside, I am still waiting to hear from Dooky Chase’s restaurant, but have emailed back and forth with two different ladies who know her and say they think that Leah would be more than willing to meet with me. I did leave a message with the restaurant again today, so I am hoping to hear back ASAP!

I feel as though I can take somewhat of a breather now that I have at least two interviews nailed down for my trip! I know that I will have my work cut out for me, but it is a challenge that I am ready to take on!

A Chance Meeting!

Yesterday while I was working at Caribou, I had a woman come through and talk to me while I was making her drink. She is a regular named Joanne who I see almost daily. She began asking me when I was done with school and we got to talking about how I am traveling to New Orleans next week. She was very excited and told me that she has a nephew who lives in New Orleans and his wife just opened up a restaurant on Frenchman Street. I thought this a perfect opportunity to talk to her further and get some information on the restaurant. I went to Joanne’s office after my shift and she was thrilled to talk with me about New Orleans, as she has been there many a time! Her niece just opened up a restaurant on Frenchman Street called ‘Three Muses’.

536 Frenchman Street

New Orleans, LA 70116

Sophie Lee opened the restaurant in October of 2010 and it is known as the first ‘tapas’ style restaurant in the area. Many people in the area of New Orleans were not used to having to walk up to the bar to order their food. Everything on the menu is very southern and intriguing, as well as relatively priced.

Joanne was more than willing to shoot Sophie an email describing to her what I will be doing down in New Orleans. Not only did Joanne mention Sophie’s restaurant, but her nephew John Rodli plays in THREE jazz bands down in New Orleans. As we perused the website to the restaurant, we found out that on Monday, June 20th, John’s band the Hot Shots, will actually be playing at Sophie’s restauarant. In addition to John’s band playing at the restaurant, they have music every night that starts at 7 p.m. Overall, the atmosphere of the restaurant is really quaint and seems to be a unique place where people of the city enjoy going.

In an earlier post to you all, I told you about how I am trying to set up an interview with Leah Chase who owns Dooky Chase restaurant in New Orleans. I am very hopeful to be able to have the opportunity to interview Ms. Chase and talk with her about her years of experience in the restaurant business as well as the tragic things that she has been through in New Orleans. Interviewing Sophie as well would serve as a nice comparison being that she is a newer restaurant owner in New Orleans, as well as finding out what drew her to the city.

Zeitoun – Rebuilding After the Storm

Abdulrahman experienced so much by choosing to ride out Hurricane Katrina at his home in New Orleans. He was able to protect a lot of his family’s belongings and keep watch over the house. Once the storm had passed, Zeitoun took what was described as a very peaceful canoe ride through the city to survey all of the damage. The city was in a state of quiet after the hurricane. Zeitoun was all about going around the city of New Orleans saving those who were left behind and making sure that things are intact, including his own home.

One afternoon when the police came to Zeitoun’s house, he thought they were offering help, not coming to arrest him. They arrested Zeitoun because they believed him to be a terrorist and threw him in jail. He was not given any contact with the outside world, including his wife Kathy. Because of the circumstances I think that it is very important for Zeitoun to rebuild his company after the storm. He suffered a lot of mental and physical issues and rebuilding will show how much strength he had as an individual before the storm, as well as what he garnered after the storm. In 2009 Abdulrahman and his wife Kathy developed the Zeitoun Foundation which was created to aid in the rebuilding of and ongoing health of the city of New Orleans, and to help ensure the human rights of all Americans.

Reading the story of the Zeitoun family during hurricane Katrina really gave me a deeper understanding of exactly what happened during this terrible time. Granted, not every family went through what the Zeitoun’s did, but being able to read about their experience was very significant. In the beginning of the story, we learn that even though there were many reports of the storm coming, a lot of people in New Orleans did not take it seriously. The storms always passed or brought no more than just a little rain with them. Once the storm became more and more real, the people of New Orleans started to panic and realized that they needed to get out and find safety somewhere else. This panic that the whole city went through really made things more real for me as an outsider. I was pretty young when the whole incident happened and really had no grasp of the severity of the situation. The description of the storm and how it tore through the city really opened my eyes. The experience that the Zeitoun family had, made everything seem like a reality to me because these are real people that I was reading about. Real people that were not treated the way that they should have been, and real people that still face racism and discrimination in our world.

Overall, reading this story gave me a greater sense of how much Katrina actually effected the people of New Orleans. It allowed me to learn from the Zeitoun family, how the rest of the city has dealt with and reacted to this terrible tragedy. Upon going on my trip to New Orleans, I am very anxious to be able to go through the city with a newfound respect for what everyone there has gone through and is still going through today.

Possible Interview Questions and Topics for Leah Chase

1. Brief intro about herself and involvement in the restaurant

2. Still involved at 87 years old.

3. Effects of Katrina and the levees on the restaurant

4. Treme neighborhood

5. Home life- what is her kitchen like at home

6. Rise to fame- how?

7. Evolvement of her restaurant

8. Southern Gumbo Trail- Why Dooky’s?

9. Making one of her famous dishes/favs on camera

10. Patron interviews- What makes Leah and the restaurant so special?

11. B-Roll: Old archival footage

* Leah talking to patrons at the restaurant

* video clips of cooking show

* magazine covers

* restaurant opening and turning on of the lights

~ I am sure I will be adding to this list as the week progresses so be on the lookout for some updates!


Leah Chase


Last time we talked, I left thinking how cool it would be to go down to New Orleans and do a documentary on Emeril Lagasse. The more research I did, the more I realized how difficult something like this would be to pull off. So, I continued to look around on the New Orleans website and I came across the story of Leah Chase.  She married into the family who owned Dooky Chase’s Restaurant and now she has taken over ownership. Here are some interesting facts I have found out about her so far that have attracted me to her story:

* Called the Soul Food Genre’s pioneer/ Queen of Creole Cuisine

* Been cooking in NOLA sine 1946 at Dooky’s

* During Civil War, when African Americans were still banned from White-owned restaurants, some of the nation’s most prominent civil rights leaders gathered at her restaurant to eat and discuss plans for integrating “White’s-only” facilities in NOLA.

* Ray Charles was a frequent patron

* Dooky Chase’s 5th Ward location was flooded by Hurricane Katrina and was not scheduled to reopen until the summer of 2006. To save Chase’s African-American art collection from damage, her grandson placed the art collection in storage. The New Orleans restaurant community got together on April 14, 2006 to hold a benefit, charging $75 to $500 per person for a gumbo z’herbes, fried chicken, and bread pudding lunch at a posh French Quarter restaurant. The guests consumed 50 gallons of gumbo and raised $40,000 for the 82-year-old Mrs. Chase. Dooky Chase restaurant was scheduled to open April 5, 2007. It opened mostly for take-out and special events due to shortage of trained waitstaff.

Leah was born in 1923 and still actively takes part in the Dooky Chase Restaurant. I am also attracted to Leah’s story because of all of the things that she has accomplished in New Orleans in her time. At 87 years old, she is still making an impact today. I could not be more curious to be able to be given the chance to interview Leah and learn more about her life.

In order to make this happen, I got in contact with a woman named Amy who works at Southern Foodways Alliance and is also an artist and documentarian involved in a project called the Southern Gumbo Trail.

The Southern Gumbo Trail collects stories about gumbo. There are many varied styles, traditions, and tastes. They share stories of okra-only gumbo, seafood gumbo, chicken and sausage gumbo, turtle gumbo, and green gumbo, too. Dooky Chase is a featured restaurant on their trail and I would love to know what it is that attracted the Gumbo Trail to her restaurant. SO MANY QUESTIONS AND THINGS TO FIND OUT ABOUT THIS WOMAN’S LIFE!

Amy informed me that interviewing Leah would be a great idea and she thinks that Leah will be more than willing to talk with me. Now I just have to be able to get in contact with Leah and set up some days that I can meet with her when I fly down to NOLA in 11 days! Eeeekkkkkk!

Time is Running Out!

I apologize for the fact that I have not been updating my blog as often as I should be! While I have been super busy with other school things, New Orleans is still very much on my mind. As those of you in my class may know, I have been wanting to film something about food or the endangered animals from Katrina and the oil spill. I had been trying to find information about instances with animals from the spill but I was having a very hard time coming up with any information. I decided it was best to say goodbye to that idea and just focus on the food. Everyone loves food right?? I have always had quite the passion for food (and was almost going to major in culinary, had I not chosen film), so then I started thinking about what makes the food in New Orleans so unique.


The website that I found that has been the most helpful to me is It has a wealth of information about tourist attractions and other such things that make New Orleans the city that it is known for.

These are some of the ideas that I had in mind to do a documentary on concerning food:

~ Competitions/Old restaurants

~ Traditional/passed down recipes

~ Inspirational Food

~ Tourism favs/Native favs

~ Food Network Chefs

~ Edible School Yard

* The first thing that stuck out to me on this website was a page about famous chefs in New Orleans. Emeril Lagasse has three restaurants in New Orleans and has multiple cooking books as well as shows. I decided I was going to see how much information I could find out about him, hoping this may lead me to some contacts.

The American Experience: New Orleans  PBS

To most that are not familiar with the city of New Orleans, it is best known for Mardi Gras, Hurricane Katrina and the oil spill which occurred off the coast a little over a year ago. I, myself, did not know much about New Orleans, until I decided to take a school trip down there for school in late June to shoot a documentary. Since the beginning of January, I have been reading books and watching documentaries to try and learn as much about this city as I can. The first obvious fact about this city is that it is surrounded by water on three sides. But most may not know that the city is a crescent shaped bend in the Mississippi River, making it the best and worst place to put a city. New Orleans was a French colony before even being considered American, and was home to the first place where blacks and whites lived freely together. One interesting fact about New Orleans is that cemeteries are a place of celebration rather than mourning. They celebrate the living, not the dead and often have picnics right next the graves.The American Experience: New Orleans, a documentary put on by PBS, explains the history of New Orleans and all that makes up this great city. There is much more to it than colorful beads and great food. The culture and heritage is what makes it so special.

New Orleans was founded as the capital of French Louisiana in 1718 and then became the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. At this time in New Orleans lived the Free People of Color. These people were wealthy African Americans who made a name for themselves in the city and enjoyed having nice businesses and nice things. They did not act as though they were better than the French or the other white people that were living there. In a place called, The Old Square, is where whites and blacks lived side by side. While the African Americans living there were called the Free People of Color, there were also Creoles, and Cajuns. Creoles were French speaking Roman Catholics, and Cajuns were French Canadian immigrants.

What surprised me most about this film, was finding out that while the French and African Americans were the majority in New Orleans, it was the Americans who were trying to invade and take over the land. They were trying to impose their ways on European civilization. The city of New Orleans was also a major international port between the states and Europe. They were heavy on exporting grain and manufactured goods. Soon the Americans slowly began to make their way into the city and set up housing. They lived in the Garden District and the canal was the neutral “line” between the French and the Americans. On each side of the canal both the Americans and the French each had their own things. They had their own churches, stores, and even restaurants. They rarely intermingled and kept everything as separate as possible. During the Mardi Gras celebration, Rex is appointed the king of the carnival. The parade is traditionally a religious holiday with pagan roots, but most only know it as a celebration with costumes, masks, beads and alcohol. The colors that the King of Rex wore were purple, green and gold. This holiday originated with the Creoles and was a grand celebration in the city. Once the Americans moved into the city and saw this Mardi Gras parade the decided to celebrate bigger and better. The Comus people were a large Mardi Gras group that made fun of Darwin’s theory of evolution by wearing animal head masks in the parade. At the end of the Mardi Gras celebration the Comus group then crowns a gorilla.

In 1868 the Reconstructed Constitution was out into effect. This constitution granted everyone equality and was something that the Free People of Color highly pushed for. Even though they were wealthier, educated and more self-confident, they were not always given the same rights. Then on February 25th, 1873, the Civil War broke out on Canal Street. A group known as the Pic Wic Club were the crescent city white league that were the elite groupe before the war and did not like that these Free People of Color were giving them competition. Their aim was to end the reconstruction because they believed the constitution was an invasion of relations of race. The governor of New Orleans at this time was a black man by the name of Grant. The Pic Wic Club had asked him to step down after the constitution was put into effect and when he refused, the league opened up fire on him, marking their new control over the city of New Orleans. Black sufferers in the city began being lynched and were wrongfully attacked. This period of negative rule for New Orleans seemed to go on forever and was not a time of remembrance.

In conclusion, New Orleans is a wonderful city that holds people who will never leave it. While it may seem run down and urban, the people that inhabit it are very close and passionate about where they live. There are people playing music on the street just because they can. Neighborhood barbecue get-togethers just because they can. People that shout to one another on the street to say hello, just because they can. Despite all of the hardships that New Orleans has endured over the years, the people that live there come out strong and remain faithful to one of the most memorable cities in the United States.

The True Meaning of Pictures

Never really having seen a docu-drama on photography, I did not know what to expect when viewing this film. The type of environments and people that Shelby Lee Adams captures in his photographs blew me away. My initial reaction to the first images presented was that they looked “old”, antique and of people that were not so well off. There was my first example of a way that Shelby’s photography had been misrepresented. Cutaway from the photographs to the actual video footage of Shelby setting up a photography shoot and my reaction instantly changed. Yes, it was very apparent to me that these people that he photographs do not have a lot of money, and are not a representation of a glamorous life, but are actually real people. They live a very isolated life down in the hollers of Kentucky. Their houses look like rundown shacks, their clothes are very worn and appear old. Most do not look like they have showered in a week, and they have a different way of talking. It is this realness and closeness that Shelby strives to capture in every photograph. He can very much relate to these people that live down in the hollers, because Shelby, himself, grew up this way. His family also moved around quite a bit growing up and he finds it important to share the story of these people and the way that they live. These people are what give him the passion to do what he does and bring life into his photographs.

One family that Shelby focuses on quite a bit in his photographs is the Napier family. At one point in time there were 16 people in their family, and now through time, there are only four members left. Some have died in childbirth, some have died from illnesses and another one in particular was run over by a train. This family understands that their lifestyle is different, but it is all they have ever known and they all choose to stick together. Money is definitely not something that grows on trees but food does for this Appalachian family. They grow all of their crops, harvest them, and turn them into meals. Shelby connects with this lifestyle and because of that, a lot of Appalachians, the Napier family included, understand the message that his photographs are meant to convey.

Coming from my background and way of life, I had no clue that there are people in this world who come from an Appalachian family and live in hollers. If I were to be walking around in a gallery viewing the artwork of Shelby Lee Adams, I would assume that these people are poor, live in a village and are there because they have no other place to go. These pictures are displayed so that I feel sympathy for the people in the hollers and want to reach out and help them. The Appalachian people agree to pose for these pictures so that other people who are more fortunate than them are aware of the way that they live. This is all a huge misrepresentation, misconception even, when viewing these photographs if you do not know the background of these people. One interesting thing that I did notice when watching this documentary, is that Shelby chooses to publish his artwork in black and white. Doing so gives these photographs a very antique look, which is also why I immediately assumed that the introductory photos were archived. This is just another example to add to the list of how photography can be used as a tool that misrepresents.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this documentary drama to anyone that is interested in film and photography. While I do not focus on photography, as a film student, it had made me more aware of how the footage that I capture can easily be interpreted in a number of different ways. It is important to know the story that you have to tell and the necessary steps to make it happen. The Napier family is not living in the hollers of Kentucky because they have no other place to go, it is simply the lifestyle that they have chosen. They know that they do not have a lot of money, but it is not an object to them. Being surrounded by family is what is more important to them and they are just as happy with their lifestyle as I am. I have learned that in filming my own documentary in New Orleans, the “glorified” life is not always what is important. Who’s to say that somebody’s life in New Orleans is more or less glorified than mine? I want my documentary to be about the people and about something that matters, without any misrepresentations. At the end of the day it’s about feeling that connection to your work, and I think in order to accomplish this, all stereotypes and pre-conceived notions must be pushed aside to get at the heart of what really matters.


I am beyond excited to be able to have the opportunity to travel to New Orleans next month to shoot a documentary of my choice that showcases something about this amazing city. While I have never been to NOLA, I have been learning numerous things about this city for the past month. I have read a few books and watched a few documentaries and still have no idea what I want to film.

Here a few of the books and documentaries that I have watched so far:
Letters from New Orleans
Zeitoun (Which I am still in the process of reading)
When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts-Spike Lee
American Experience: New Orleans-PBS

Based on the wealth of information I have taken in, here are some of the ideas that I have come up with for documentary possibilities:
Krewe du Lewd
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
Lighting of bonfires on the levees
Gennifer Flowers Kelsto Club
I-10 Interstate
The Desire Line
St. James Infirmary

While this list is quite long, I am sure I will be adding to it the more I get into Zeitoun. So I leave you all with this list for now and hopefully within the next week I will have narrowed my decision down to my final idea!