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You Should Read: Bending the Frame


You Should Read: Bending the Frame

All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.
— Richard Avedon

Fred Ritchin asks "What do we want from this media revolution?" in "Bending The Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary, and the Citizen."

He takes us through the history of visual storytelling, and reflects on changes in media curation and distribution, including the 24 hours news cycle, the disappearance of the front page, the role of photo editing in dictating what photos get witnessed, stereotypes, and participatory content, among many other topics. 

"Bending The Frame" is a must-read for any media maker who wants to explore the role of images today. 

Below are some excerpts that I'm still thinking about:

Challenging the responsibility of editors: "Images that might provoke new thinking, or that might aid in the search for even a partial solution to societal problems, tend to be displaced by those that are more vividly exotic and render problems as somewhat remote, concerning 'others.'"

The role of journalism has shifted: "Journalistic expertise is disparaged by many as a manifestation more of corporate branding than of knowledge. With reduced budgets, journalism's role becomes increasingly reactive, waiting for the next eruptions; its responsibility as governmental watchdog and societal glue is diminished..." 

The craft of storytelling: "Anyone can write--amateurs and professionals alike--but very few can take us to visit worlds external and internal, tie them together, melding facts and suppositions while creating a narrative flow that functions like a great piece of fiction..."

The importance of having connection and perspective: "Although it is not really possible to see 'objectively,' the tension of being both insider and outsider simultaneously is potentially enormously productive, allowing the open-minded photographer to function along the translucent membrane where the two worlds overlap."

An idea for future media makers: "Why don't we have a more developed photography that explores in some depth the move from pain to it's resolution, creating reference points for those striving to more forward, rather than continually searching for, and dwelling on, the cataclysm--reminding us of traumatic moments for the sake of the visceral shock. Why do so many young photographers want to become photographers of war when nearly every one of them, I have little doubt, prefers peace?"

How small experiments can push an entire field forward: "Innovative visual journalists could be urged to experiment with new media strategies that may be of value not only to readers of this front page, but to the entire documentary field."

Where do we want to go with media? "As we consider where we want to go with our media, we need to think about what models will serve not only our needs but also our values, and then experiment to see how such models can be implemented."

Truly understanding the role of (multi)media: "...Innovators will undoubtedly discover that 'multimedia' is not a process of simply adding more media, but of implicit relationships made resonant among the most divergent of media..."


Recent Awards and Honors


Recent Awards and Honors

The past month has been a fun whirlwind of events that I have succinctly distilled for you in six bullet points and one gallery!

  • Hollow won the Excellence and Innovation in Visual Storytelling award at the Online News Association Awards! See Tricia and I accept the award here.
  • Sarah and I have started interviews for She Does podcast (coming in Early 2015).
  • The Hollow team was nominated for a News & Documentary Emmy for the New Approaches in Documentary Category.
  • I taught a workshop at FoST 2014 and met my hero, Robert Krulwich.
  • We won the Innovation Award at the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma in Montreal!
  • I spoke at the Magnum Foundation Photo Ex Symposium about Hollow and using film and photography online.


Screenings, Updates and T-Shirts

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Screenings, Updates and T-Shirts

We sold out of the first 100 t-shirts and have ordered more! If you place your order now, expect your t-shirt to arrive in 3-4 weeks.

The Revivalist gives their thoughts on the [app-uh-latch-uh] tees

Luckily, there’s no need to correct anyone’s pronunciation anymore. Just slip into this instructional t-shirt the next time you’ll be around folks who insist on saying Appalachia that other way, and they’ll get the picture pretty darned fast.

MEDIUM: Inside the World Press Photo Multimedia Jury

Including some great tips for storytelling and a mention of HOLLOW

The Hillville writes about [app-uh-latch-uh] t-shirts

For many citizens and natives of Central and Southern Appalachia, watching the meteorologists on the Weather Channel pronounce the name of our mountain range is a cringe-worthy experience: “There’s a storm system making it’s way across the midwest and will hit the Appa-LAY-shun mountains of Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.”

HOLLOW will be exhibited at the American Museum of Natural History

The project will be in the Grand Gallery from October 23-26 for the Margaret Mead Film Festival.

HOLLOW is a finalist in the Online Journalism Awards

Winners will be announced in Chicago on September 27.

We moved to Miami!

Just a personal update, Kerrin and I moved to Miami Beach last week. We will be based here through January working on our next documentary and interactive project. More to come! Follow my Instagram for daily snaps.

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Hollow nominated for an Emmy

What?!? This is crazy and exciting. CONGRATS to our whole team and the residents of McDowell County on this HUGE honor.

We are Emmy nominated in the category of New Approaches: Documentaries.

Press Release

Also, don't forget about our screening next week at the US Capitol. Information here.



Hollow named Honoree for Webby Awards


NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Hollow an interactive documentary that explores the issues and future of small-town America, was named as an official honoree in the Community Category in the 18th annual Webby Awards. Established in 1996, the Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet. Hollow, which launched June 2013, tells the story of 30 residents living in McDowell County, W.Va., a once-thriving community in Southern West Virginia. The interactive documentary merges cinematic techniques with web-based storytelling to encourage a dialogue about the issues that small-town America faces.

Hollow was created by group of Boston-based designers, editors and developers. The development and post-production team included Elaine McMillion Sheldon (project director and editor), Jeff Soyk (interactive designer and architect), Robert Hall (senior technologist), Russell Goldenburg (interactive developer), Billy Wirasnik (sound designer and editor), Tricia Fulks (associate producer and research), Sarah Ginsburg (editor) and Kerrin Sheldon (editor).

Official Honorees’ work exhibit remarkable achievement that was not selected as a Nominee in the Webby Awards. Out of 12,000 entries submitted from more than 60 countries and all 50 states, the Official Honoree distinction is awarded to only the top 15 percent of all work entered.

Future screenings of the film will be held at Shepherd University (Shepherdstown, W.Va.) on April 11; Wheeling Jesuit University (Wheeling, W.Va.) on April 15; Nyon, Switzerland from April 27 to 29; and Vermont College of Fine Arts (Montpelier, Vt.) from April 30 to May 3.

To experience the interactive documentary, visit

To purchase a DVD, visit

To see a full list of awards and screenings, visit:




Hollow wins 3rd Prize in World Press Photo Multimedia Awards

I am so excited to announce we have won 3rd Prize in the World Press Photo Multimedia Awards in the Interactive Documentary category. It is such an amazing honor to be chosen for this award as an independent filmmaker and journalist. Congrats to the whole Hollow team and McDowell County community. Check out the winning projects here. Below, a jury member reflects on why Hollow was chosen for 3rd Prize:

"Some of the most impressive elements of Hollow are the depth of the content, the richness of the content. The characters that are portrayed are totally believable and I think it's these small stories told in a big's not a large production piece but it has that feeling, it feels very much as if it was created by people who care about the subject that they are documenting." [vimeo 89865336 w=500 h=281]




New Awards & Opportunities for Hollow


Over the past couple days, some pretty cool awards have been announced. Check out the images/links below and thanks to everyone for your continued support of Hollow! HOLLOW is a finalist in the SXSW Interactive Awards in the "Activism" category

Green, governmental and non-profit projects striving to make the world a better place.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 8.14.43 AM
Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 8.14.43 AM

Congrats to the team (especially to our sound designer, Billy Wirasnik, and music composer, Lee Strauss) for winning two Platinum AVA Digital Awards for Creativity (Web Video)/Original Music and Radio.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 8.43.03 AM
Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 8.43.03 AM

Hollow is featured for Eastern Oregon's Film Festival's Online Selection.

The rise of digital cinema has shown that 20th Century exhibition models are increasingly insufficient. Cinema is in constant flux, and without adapting to changes in the distribution landscape, most filmmakers cannot survive. We believe that festivals’ inclusion of online works is progressive, and vital to independent cinema. The Internet also serves as a temporary home for some of the more intimate, experimental works that move us.

I have also been invited to lead a discussion and screening at the following places, this spring:



Hollow: Our Lessons Learned, Your Guide to Producing an iDoc


SYNOPSIS Do you have questions about producing an interactive documentary? The makers behind Hollow, an award-winning interactive documentary about small-town America, are holding a live discussion to help you kick off your interactive projects in 2014.

The team will be available to answer questions about Hollow's fundraising and community building model, as well as design and development. Come with questions and be ready to learn from the team's successes and failures.

REMEMBER Google limits 10 people in the "room" at once. So come with questions and then let others in. The entire discussion will be posted on YouTube at 1 pm after the chat ends. After that point, you can reference it, revisit it and post it as you please!


Find us HERE on January 21, 2014 from noon to 1PM (EST).


TEAM MEMBERS IN HANGOUT: Director and Producer - Elaine McMillion Sound Designer - Billy Wirasnik Technical Director and Senior Developer - Robert Hall Art Director/Designer and Architect - Jeff Soyk


MODERATOR: Opeyemi Olukemi - Program Associate, Digital Initiatives at Tribeca Film Institute


HOW WILL IT WORK? When we go "live" there will be a Q&A sidebar on the video. You can post your questions there OR tweet at #hollowdocchat


FESTIVALS: New York Film Festival - 2013 Camden International Film Festival - 2013 Doc Lab at International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam - 2013 Future of Storytelling (featured in the Story Arcade) - 2013


AWARDS: Adobe Creative Edge Award - FWA Site of the Day - FWA Site of the Day - CSS Design Awards Selected for Doc Lab (Hollow was nominated as one of the top 3 projects out of 15 projects) - International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam Research and Documentation Award - National Coal Heritage Foundation


FEATURES AND REVIEWS: LA Times Huffington Post Filmmaker Magazine PBS Media Shift



LA Times:

Filmmaker Elaine McMillion’s project "Hollow: An Interactive Documentary" bridges that gap between the storyteller and the audience. The project is practically a living, breathing thing; viewers can subscribe for updates on individual people. Such connections create insight and understanding.

Huffington Post:

Anyone who saw promise for the future of web-based journalism after watching/reading The New York Times’ highly innovative "Snowfall," will positively be drawn to the work produced at "Hollow." It is next level. Maybe the most magnificently presented, web-aware journalism I’ve ever seen. But more important than the visual achievement is what it does — documenting the lives of people who live in a mostly ignored rural community, far from the traditional media bastions and bubbles.


I can say with confidence (Hollow) wins the Internet for 2013.Beautiful documentary execution of both film and interactive. Put down the #netflix and watch this. #hollerhomeExploring the greater tensions of modern America.Everyone–historians, students, designers, developers–drop everything you’re doing and watch this interactive doc.Hollow, the story of the American 20th century; the opening interaction is worth the price of admission (free) alone.Beautifully arresting. Stereotype-busting. An interactive documentary about people and a community.Hauntingly beautiful web-based storytelling@hollowthefilm is a game changer for interactive storytelling. Stunning!






Hollow was selected for the International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam’s Doc Lab! The project was on display throughout the festival at De Brakke Grond. Out of 15 projects, we were named among the top 3 and nominated for the cash prize. Congrats to Jonathan Harris who won the DocLab award!