It is Day 23 of being full-time researchers and documentary makers. Interview #11 today demonstrated how seamless we have become in identifying a good location, approaching a potential participant, and building rapport as we simultaneously unfold the tripod, locate the best lighting, focus the camera, and set up the audio recording and microphone. At this point Ange and I can improvise like the jazz musicians we had the privilege of seeing play at Preservation Hall in New Orleans.
Our days begin and end with downloading and tagging data in our external hard drives, which are roughly the size of an 8-track. We have documented an estimated 6,000 photos and 300 minutes of HD video footage. The Deep South presented a range of opportunities from National Geographic like nature of an alligator in the swaps of Alabama to the journalistic realism of seeing countless For Sale signs of properties devastated by Hurricane Katrina along the white sand beaches of Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi.
We have shot B-roll of world class jazz and lost and forgotten chones on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, as well as two huge Harley Davidson events at Wednesday night Bike Night on Beale St. in Memphis and the Lynchburg Motorcycle Rally at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery located off the beaten path near the border of Tennessee and Alabama.
The absolute highlight of the Deep South was the people. Janette from Reminisce Antiques in Columbia, TN took $30 out of her cash register and directed us to have lunch at Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse, where the servers and staff are professional country singers in nearby Nashville. Joel, a Fitness Specialist with the City of Birmingham, was generous enough to give an interview in the scorching sun outside of the historic 16th Street Baptist Church (where moments before Ange and I both encountered our first declined requests for interviews). Our final interview of the Deep South was with Lisa, who we met in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Lisa and her grandkids would literally cast a line into the lake and seconds later reel in little 4-5 inch fish that her husband would use as bait for bigger, delicious specimens. Lisa’s interview was the most profound we’ve experienced thus far. Replete with stories of "huntin', fishin' and killin' - but only after many hours of just sittin' in the woods watchin' the animals", Lisa embodied a quiet patience that we are learning as researchers. We are learning to ask questions and then wait and listen for the answers, without judgment. Like Lisa and her family, we have to be willing to cast our line into the water, appreciate the moment, and wait for the magic.