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? A curious airlift ensued.
RELATED: Read the Gazette-Mal story that went with this video. The story won 2nd place in Feature Writing in the 2017 West Virginia Press Association awards.
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
VIDEO: The Clementines perform Hazel Dickens’ classic song “West Virginia, My Home.”
NOTES: A definite “lo-fi media” production. First-take to iPhone recording by the briefly reunited duo The Clementines, slightly touched up in Garageband, then married to a slideshow of apt imagery in FCPX.
LENGTH: 4 min 18 sec
VIDEO: This Bud’s For You
NOTES: After his wife died in 2013, Bud Sears was looking to channel his energy in the community. He found a rocking thing to do.
LENGTH: 1 min 17 sec
VIDEO: Making a game of it.
NOTES: Serial inventor Aaron Simmon finally nails it with an inventive adaption of cornhole, adding extra layers and a more complex point system.
LENGTH: 2 min.
VIDEO: An ornamental operation
NOTES: At The Bear Wood Company, they specialize in hand-hewn wooden images in the shape of West Virginia, often made from reclaimed wood. Three years ago, they began making ornaments in the shape of the state. They sold a few dozen. Now, they sell thousands.
LENGTH: 59 seconds
RELATED STORY: Bear Woods is a cool and innovative wood products company. Here is a 2017 Charleston Gazette-Mail profile of its founder, Matt Snyder.
VIDEO: How the Charleston Gazette-Mail won a Pulitzer.
NOTES: A behind-the-scenes look at how a small newspaper in Charleston, West Virginia won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, for dogged reporting on the flood of opioids poured into West Virginia by drug companies. Co-produced by Maria Young and Douglas Imbrogno.
LENGTH: 6 min 50 sec