VIDEO: Interviewing the Interviewer NOTES: Sandy Wells is a beloved, legendary reporter and profiler at the Charleston Gazette-Mail in Charleston, W.Va. In her ‘Innerviews’ column, the 76-year-old writer has been profiling people of all walks of life weekly since 1988. Head out on assignment with her in this video as she interviews a 102-year-old woman, who may be hard of hearing but is anything but clueless. This is a companion video to go with a story I wrote about Wells’ career in the April 14, 2018 Gazette-Mail, for a column which she once summed up this way:“I’ve learned how extraordinary ordinary people can be. I’ve learned how ordinary extraordinary people can be.” RELATED:Read up on Sandy’s long career.
VIDEO: Crowdsourcing the 2018 WV Teacher Strike : PART 2 NOTES: I will admit: I love the dumb bunnies set-up in this video. Of the hundreds of videos I have created, this is one of my personal favorites (including timing the piece to Lucas the Flow’s killer soundtrack “Angelic”). This crowdsourcing technique is a fascinating way to tell a complex story, although when you get nearly 500 submissions it is a LOT of work sifting through them. The newspaper would never have been able to show-and-tell all that’s covered in these crowdsourced videos with just staff content. It was like having eyes and ears everywhere. Plus, a whole lot of the reader-submitted content was shot with smart phones held vertically, as opposed to the usual horizontal aspect ratio of most feature videos. But here’s the cool thing: strip three vertical smartphone photos (or videos) together and you cover the horizontal screen. Layer and fade and you can get some pretty interesting effects — dumb bunnies included. Take a look. RELATED:
— Crowdsourcing the 2018 WV Teacher Strike : PART 1 — Day 8 of the 2018 WV Teacher Strike: Bands, banjos and honks
— The Charleston Gazette-Mail’s 2018 Teacher Strike Roundup Page
VIDEO: Crowdsourcing the 2018 W.Va. Teacher Strike : PART 1 NOTES: I shot a video of the massive 2018 W.Va. Teacher’s Strike on its eighth day in late March 2018. I awoke the ninth day feeling out of sorts and didn’t get to work until noon. That, of course, was the day the strike was settled to much jubilation and national coverage. Drat! Blaspheme! Curses! But….. wait! There were thousands of cameras there, if mine was not. Why not ask readers for their (literal) view of the strike? Facebook and newspaper solicitations resulted in a torrent of submissions: almost 500 photographs and videos. I lined up a green-screen studio shoot , courtesy of the EDC co-working site in Charleston, interviewed a key reporter covering the strike and wove in reader submissions and staff photography and video. Here’s the result. NUMBERS: This video got more than 22,000 views on Facebook and was shared widely nationally, especially as teacher strikes took hold in other states such as Oklahoma and Kentucky. RELATED:
—A Crowdsourced look at the 2018 WV Teacher Strike: Part 2
— Day 8 of the 2018 WV Teacher Strike: Bands, banjos and honks
— The Charleston Gazette-Mail’s 2018 Teacher Strike Roundup Page
VIDEO: Time To Deliver NOTES: I often try to tell somewhat complex stories in the confines of the short time period/window of engagement that people give to social media videos. Sometimes, it’s nice just to try to do one thing. For aspiring video producers, that might make a nice Guiding Principle for Short Videos: Tell One Thing (TOT). So, this video exemplifies the TOT manifesto. My colleague, Bill Lynch, has a series called ‘One Month at a Time’ in which he spends a month learning some new skill. For February 2018, he learned how flower shops operate. After designing some floral displays, the final step in his 30-day apprenticeship was to deliver. And so he does, but not without a few wrong turns. Tell One Thing: Bill trying to deliver flowers in a Charleston skyscraper.
VIDEO: Surprising Miss Francis NOTES: Sometimes, the most mundane stories are the ones that resonate with a public hungry for a little—just a little!—respite from the drumbeat of awful, disheartening news in the world that day. So, it was that we got word a local elementary school in Belle, W.Va., was going to spring a surprise on a beloved custodian named Frances Buzzard, a k a ‘Miss Francis.’ The odd thing was, Miss Francis had never in her life had a birthday party. Could this be? And what would her reaction be to her first surprise party and a big one at that? To quote the credit card commercial: Priceless. NUMBERS: You’ll notice I do not list social media view counts for most videos on TheWebTheater, except for when they are unusual. This is because sometimes a video may have only a couple hundred views, but that’s just fine as the business or persons or organization that needed to see the video saw it. But the ‘Miss Francis’ video went modestly viral on Facebook, wracking up more than 91,500 at last count, with about 1,000 shares and more than 200 comments, with an additional 89,000-plus views on YouTube (which is unusual since the Gazette-Mail’s channel is hardly promoted and we are happy to get 200 views for a video there). More significant still— last I looked, not a single comment was negative or snarky from among those 200 comments. Now, that’s news. RELATED:Here is the companion Charleston Gazette-Mail story to the above video.
VIDEO: The Curious Case of the Nicholas County, W.Va., Mystery Paintings NOTES: I was going to phone this story in—literally. It was a freezing December day and I was just going to do a phone interview to check up on a Facebook tip on some supposedly intriguing paintings in a 19th century farmhouse in the West Virginia outback. Am dearly glad I went out on this one, as encountering these amazing works made the story. Plus, the iPhone video I shot to go with the story went modestly viral on the newspaper’s Facebook page, with nearly 45,000 views as of January 2017, more than 500 shares and hundreds of comments. A fascinating backstory that resonated with readers and viewers. Did a Dalton Gang brother on the run paint these remarkable works and then flee? And if not, who did? And who will preserve them now? SOUNDTRACK: “I Can Feel It Coming” by Kevin MacLeod RELATED STORY:Read it here. PS:Here’s a family video shot years ago about the mysterious paintings, uploaded because interest in this story was so intense. PSS: The cinema verite handshake of the iPhone B-roll is not the greatest. Time for one of these!
VIDEO: A start-to-finish look at a chocolate-covered cherry cottage industry. NOTES: In a tiny quilt shop in Barboursville, W.Va., a woman has perfected the chocolate covered cherry. No, you can’t have the recipe, even for $100,000. Co-produced by Maria Young and Douglas Imbrogno SOUNDTRACK: “Brightly Fancy” by Kevin Macleod LENGTH: 2 min 23 sec
VIDEO: Crowdsourcing Appalachian imagery NOTES: ‘Looking at Appalachia’ is a crowd-sourced project that aims to depict life in the 420-county Appalachian region through user-submitted photographs, in an attempt to counter the “visual narrative” imposed on the region by the War on Poverty and other sources. LENGTH: 2 min 30 sec SOUNDTRACK: “Against All Odds (ft. Zack Markham)” by Lucas the Flow
VIDEO: The Great Gitmo Cat Rescue NOTES: When the Meades decided to retire from life as government contractors at the Guantanamo Naval Air Base — better known as ‘Gitmo’ — they had a problem. Well, 25 problems. What to do with their cats? An airlift ensued. SOUNDTRACK: “Expressive PHNK VP” by Lucas the Flow LENGTH: 2 min 58 sec
VIDEO: So, what CAN you do with a bag of carrots in rural West Virginia? NOTES: This video was featured in the 2016 national 100-Second Festival, showcasing short films and videos from around the world and was screened in Somerville, MA., at an Exhibition of International Super Short Films. SOUNDTRACK: An excerpt of “Centerall” by Lucas the Flow, featuring N8. Check out the full version at soundcloud.com/the-flow
VIDEO: Why art can’t hurt you NOTES: During All Together Arts Week in Mercer County, West Virginia, in Spring 2011, singer-songwriter Albert Frank Perrone had a few important things to say about art while painting this window of his Mercer Street building. The line on the window comes from a painting by Fred Babb. NOTE: This video was one of four finalists in the “Micro-Film” category (under five minutes) of the 2012 Appalachian Film Festival in Huntington SOUNDTRACK: Excerpt of “I’ve Got a Little Voice” by Albert Frank Perrone LENGTH: 2 min 52 sec