We took our film to pitch at the Points North Institute!
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Read this great article about the #NewStoryWV event. Thanks to the Charleston Gazette-Mail for quoting my thoughts on long-form and "positive" and "negative" coverage in the media:
Asked what she was doing currently to “change the narrative” and what new stories she was working on, she outlined her new project inspired by West Virginia’s opioid epidemic.
“Right now, I am producing a film about four guys in recovery from heroin,” she said. “When I say I’m making a film about the opioid epidemic, I get a lot of eye rolls. And that’s unfortunate because I actually think these guys can teach everyone in this room a lot. They’re a lot like the state — they’ve hit rock bottom in a lot of ways, and they’ve seen a lot of hard times and now they are building themselves back up and becoming a new person.
“So, I hope that that story is one that will bring a different type of conversation around addiction and how we got ourselves into this problem. Let’s stop saying this is purely negative because when we say that’s a purely negative story, we’re quantifying those stories as unimportant, that we shouldn’t be telling those stories and those people already feel silenced. So let’s not do that.”
We're so excited to take "Rescue Breath" to BritDoc's Good Pitch NYC! Read more here.
Logline: When his son holds up a bank while high on heroin, a successful doctor who re-invented the urgent care system is forced out of retirement to battle the opioid epidemic that has swept through his home state of West Virginia. Now with his son's future in the balance, can he save hundreds of lives and families from a similar fate and change how we treat addiction in America?
I'm currently in-production on a new documentary project focusing on the farmers, researchers, politicians and business men and women that are reintroducing hemp back into Kentucky's (post-coal and tobacco) economy. It's a super exciting story to follow and watch the industry unfold. Kentucky's history with hemp is deep-rooted, but our nation's relationship is complicated. I will have more to share in late June, but follow me on Instagram for occasional field updates.
Last time we were back in West Virginia, we met up with our friends, Jonathan and Clara (Coat of Arms Post), to help film at the Swiss restaurant, the Hütte, in Helvetia. Jonathan and Clara have been working on a documentary project about Helvetia--Clara's hometown--for a while now. I'm excited to see what they come up with. Kerrin shot some sweet slow motion on the FS7 and flew his drone about...I collected audio and photos and explored the many books, photographs and artifacts in the tiny restaurant. If you haven't been to the Hütte to eat yet, go! It's delicious. Just imagine: homemade, fresh baked bread, mounds of swiss cheese and frothy hot chocolate. YUM.
I have spent the last three days with my family (distant and close) and was thinking about how quickly the places and people you leave behind transform. For some odd reason, you expect things to stay the same. I'm not sure why I have that perception, my life changes quickly. But I have always assumed that when I return home it would feel the same, it would look the same. But it never does. It always changes. The kids from up the holler are now in college. The dark-haired ones have greyed. The "little girl" I grew up with is pregnant with her third child. The names we once heard announced for prayer requests, have been laid to rest. Some have lost their vision, and others have found their voice. I'm glad things change, but sometimes you have to accept that keeping up with that change is impossible.
My mom sent me this treasure the other via a text message. I was going about my day, but this made me stop. Wow...I thought. What an amazing document to just be texted into your life. It's your blood line. Your family tree. Your roots. The people that made you...well you. I continue to be fascinated by my family's roots in Appalachia. Kudos to my Great Uncle Roy who created this beauty. I think I might update it soon...more to come.
We decided to take a Saturday drive through McDowell to visit with my second family. Ed got to meet baby August and Alan played us his new banjitar. Kudzu has covered nearly everything and more buildings have collapsed. I love that county and the people it holds.
"This baby is made of lead," Ed exclaimed as he struggled to get a grip on August.
Today is West Virginia's 151st year of statehood. While most Americans don't celebrate their native land's statehood, we West Virginians do. We're proud and weird people.
Last year, the Hollow team and I launched this baby into the world. It says everything I want to say about this state, so for today I will share some of my favorite (winter) photos of this place we call home.
This road didn't exist when I lived in Logan. When I drive through West Virginia I try to imagine the work involved to create roadways through these mountains.
Here I got my first fish, took bubble baths, wrecked my Barbie car, celebrated my 4th birthday, watched my baby sitter eat a whole jar of pickles, swam in the back of a pickup truck filled with water and built igloos when the snowed trapped us on the hill.
Downtown Logan, West Virginia.
Williamson, West Virginia.
Morgantown, West Virginia.
The building that used to stand here burned to the ground. Inside of said building was Saks Jewelry, my mom's place of employment. Today, they have relocated and a gravel lot occupies the space.
There really is nothing like a West Virginian sunset.
It's nice to take a moment and see the details.
My uncle built this house in the 1970s. He is one of the most intelligent and creative people I have ever known. He has never been married, never had a driver's license and lives alone. The house is built on, and in between, a huge rock cliff in Nicholas County, W.Va. He used to have a dark room in the house but has since converted it into his computer room. Times change.
Great Uncle Roy (said uncle of story above).
I'm named after this sweet woman. Great Aunt Eva Elaine Russell. Known in the county as a fantastic school cook for decades.
My Paw Paw Doy's woodstack.
Silver and blue.
Paw Paw Doy taking a break from the swarms of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The newest grandchild.
One day I will learn how to play the fiddle from this man.
My favorite view.
And one from summer. My favorite season is fall but something about these winter photos felt appropriate for WV's 151st.
Happy Birthday, West Virginia.
Blue skies and green grass for Easter weekend on the Sheldon farm.
Two of my favorite things: 1.) My niece, Emeline Jane
2.) Evening light and lens flare
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 way...it'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]