We are deep into the process of editing our documentary, Seeking Solutions: Immigration. We’re excited to present the first trailer to give you a taste of things to come. (Push the expand button in bottom right of the video to view in full-screen)
We’re excited to be at this step of the process, and will continue to post updates as editing moves along. If you’d like to read more about the process so far, keep scrolling to read earlier posts in this blog.
SXSW 2019 was an amazing experience. The precision with which every session was coordinated by the volunteer staff was incredible and the information provided at the session I attended was great. I attended several speaker panels on marketing, immigration and variations on purpose driven businesses. Providing insights for my own business and good tips for my clients as well.
Big shout out to my fellow panelists Nina Vizcarrondo (our moderator), and Pilar Timpane. Theo Rigby was scheduled to be on the panel as well, but at the last minute needed to attend several sanctuary activities in Denver related to his ongoing Sanctuary documentary project. He did send a short video of himself and Ingrid, a woman in sanctuary, that was shown during the discussion.
The panel was attended by people who are passionate about immigration and Sanctuary. (other panel discussions related to immigration had similar audience size). Also in the audience were several people from the Austin Sanctuary Network (ASN) and Sarah Masters and Macky Alston from Auburn Seminary. Their support was very much appreciated. Pilar described her 26-minute short documentary which is currently in festivals and set for broadcast, providing an intimate look at a mother and her family struggling with the strain of separation and the possibility of deportation.
I described the videos I made with the four Colorado women in Sanctuary to help promote their call for immigration reform through the People’s Resolution. The conversation then turned to how the medium of video is an effective tool for transforming a situation that is by its nature confined, into a public platform. The hope is to inspire change through uplifting someone’s struggle and framing the conversation.
A story of the retaliatory actions against the Sanctuary movement by ICE in North Carolina was tempered with hopeful news in Colorado as a People’s Resolution created by women in Sanctuary was scheduled to be presented on the floor of the Colorado Senate on the same day as the panel discussion. For the last 10 minutes of the presentation, Austin resident Hilda Ramirez came on stage and spoke of her firsthand experience of sanctuary. And of course there was a little time for some good questions at the end. If you are interested, SXSW made the audio recording available on our panel’s page.
While at SXSW Polly and I caught a few documentary films. Two really stood out in my mind, and now knowing how much time and energy it takes to make a documentary, I feel it is worth giving them a shout out.
The River and the Wall is a beautiful movie that follows a group as they travel by bike, horse, and canoe down the Rio Grande river while making the most concise, and well laid out argument against building the border wall between the US and Mexico I have come across.
Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World follows the leader of a new citizen journalist group as he and the Bellingcat group perform some very impressive investigative journalism, all using information available on the web. The catch: they needed to spend months looking for it. In my opinion, you will be very happy if you get to see either of these movies.
We were of course scheduled to come back from Austin TX on Wednesday when the bomb cyclone was hitting Denver, so we happily stayed a few days longer than planned in sunny and warm Austin.
Back in Longmont, Colorado we are busy finishing off some videography projects for clients, and are in the early stages of editing our documentary. Polly is also working on some coding and web projects, which she’ll have to update you on at some point.
2019 is off to a busy start here at Distant Peak Productions. So busy in fact that we are just now having time to get the first blog post of the year up. The breather comes because we just finished a video for a very cool company Full Circle Fitness. Kevin White has spent years developing his pain reduction fitness program, and after having spent many hours filming workouts, I am impressed with the care he puts into creating a personal plan for each of his clients and the results it produces. Learn more at trainfullcircle.com (and watch the new video).
We have also done quite a bit on the documentary since our last post as well. We had a chance to catch up with Helen Raleigh, author of “The Broken Welcome Mat.” She is conveniently located here in the Denver metro area. As a Chinese immigrant who after many many years became a U.S. citizen, and a very well researched author on the subject of immigration, she brings a fascinating view of the U.S. immigration system and ways to change it for the better. It was a very thought provoking and deep interview, with beautiful Chinese calligraphy all around us.
Last week we met with Hans Meyer, an outspoken immigration lawyer here in Denver. He shed light on the reality of just how complex our system is and a how hopeless it is for some. He challenged us to consider that there is a system in place of our own creation which creates this dichotomy. Since we created this system, we can also change it.
Also last week we met with State Senator Julie Gonzales and got her view as a policy maker. We found it very reassuring for one thing that the people of Colorado are have such enthusiastic and driven people in its legislature. Our interview brought up creative ways in which state governments can move forward on immigration policy, while the federal government is apparently stuck in gridlock on immigration and other issues. Her own story of growing up near the border touched on many issues we as Americans are still talking about today. I loved hearing that her family has been living in the Southwest for 7 or 8 generations; so long that as she said, “the border crossed us.”
Just one or two more interviews which we are scheduling now and production phase of the documentary will be a wrap!
A few weeks ago we were asked to talk with a group of high school students here in Denver about the process and experience of interviewing people. The presentation was related to the final assignment for the unit the students were working on. They were to pick a topic related to some pretty heavy stuff they were studying: US History through ethnic conflict with a focus on four major conflicts: political ideology, the Middle East, immigration and institutionalized racism. They were then to find someone related to that topic and interview them. No small task given only a few weeks to conceptualize and complete! During the presentation we talked about what makes a successful interview based on our experiences while making a documentary and Polly’s background in print/web journalism. We started with the need to do research on both the topic and the interview subject. We emphasized that the interviewer needs to have enough command of the topic to ask intelligent questions during the interview and know enough about the interviewee to ask questions they would know the answers to. We also stressed that every interaction leading up to, including the interview, and afterwards are opportunities to develop rapport and trust with the subject. And finally, we talked about strategies for helping the students and the interview subjects feel at ease during the interview. Things like being prepared, breathing exercises, smiling, asking simple questions first before moving into harder questions. One student wanted to use the topic of the reaction to police brutality by professional athletes. He had thought of reaching out to some big name athletes but he said he didn’t think it was worth it because “they will never want to talk to me.” We advised him that you never know what someone will say unless you ask. Someone very unexpected might be happy to speak with you. Days later we experienced this ourselves. During the process of making our documentary Seeking Solutions: Immigration, we have needed to reach out to experts we do not know personally. So basically we are cold calling and asking for up to an hour of people’s time. So far we have found that about 40% of the people we reach out to never reply to our requests. The next 15% reply with either a “no” or saying that the next time they are available is so far in the future that it wasn’t feasible for us given our travel plans. The last 35% of potential subjects say “yes”. So the lesson learned is that you need to ask at least twice as many people to appear on camera as you need. But also we had no idea who would say “yes.” Following the advice we gave to the students, we reached out to four subjects recently, at least two of whom we considered long shots that would not agree to interviews. True to the statistics above, two have not replied, one we are still conversing with, and the fourth, who we figured was the longest shot, wrote back within 10 minutes of our initial email and within 30 minutes we had a date, time and location set for the following week. The date was yesterday when we had a fantastic interview with the former Governor of Colorado, Richard Lamm. He has written several books and articles, and been interviewed countless time by local and national journalists on a wide range of subjects including immigration. We were grateful that he took time out of his life to speak with us.
We felt the interview helped us live up to our goal to find people with a range of viewpoints. The interview touched on many subjects we had spoken to others about but he offered a fresh twist and perspective, and brought several new angles to the discussion. Overall, this interview, like the others we have conducted, demonstrated just how complex this issue of immigration, with so many variables that need to be balanced.
We are grateful to Gov. Lamm and everyone else who has trusted us to present their point of view in the documentary.
One of our last stops on the way home was at the Hidden Haven Farms in Tennessee. I could not resist following some of the animals around for awhile. So as promised, here is a short video of all the goings on.
Current Location: Evergreen, Colorado High Temperature since last post: 80F in Pueblo, Colorado Low Temperature since last post: 30F in Evergreen, Colorado Most Striking event since last post: Mountains!
After 9 weeks we are back in Colorado amongst our Beloved Community of Family and Friends in the Rocky Mountains. The end of a long journey is often met with a mix of emotions: relief, satisfaction, sadness, joy, wonder. And this trip is no different. We are tired from traveling over 8000 miles across 20 states and 4 Canadian provinces. And we’re happy to be able to rest in one place for a while.
We’re grateful that the trip was completed safely and with relatively few crises. And we’re pleased with the footage we have so far. But sad that the adventure has come to an end. That being said, we are looking forward to the comparatively short trips needed to finish the interviews for the documentary.
The simple pleasures of cooking for ourselves and our generous hosts is a delight. Plus as we travel around the Denver area, it is nice to not need GPS for every turn.
We missed fall somehow. It seemed like everywhere we were traveling, the trees were just starting to change color, but now that we are in the Mountains the snow is falling!
We have a couple more overview videos from the trip that we will post soon, and will continue providing updates on the progress of the documentary.
Speaking of which, we’d be remiss not to mention a last call to support our funding campaign, which concludes Friday, November 2. We’re pleased to have received the support of 32 backers. By donating now, you will get continuing updates delivered to you by email, get a digital or DVD version of the film, and other perks depending on your donation level.
Current location: Little Rock, Arkansas High Temperature since last post: 75F in NYC Low Temperature since last post: 42F in Montgomery, Alabama Most striking juxtaposition since last post: The Dexter Street Church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the Pastor for five years, just a block away from the Alabama state capitol building. Over the years, state government buildings have been built up around the church building. The church’s historical building status protects it from being redeveloped. To us it now stands as a physical representation of the importance of speaking truth to power.
Since our last post, we had a chance to explore Baltimore with Tom & Nettie, have dinner with Susan and Greg, and get in a football game and one last sail with David and Esther in Annapolis and St. Michael’s.
After finishing up some interviews, we headed into the South. We were able to visit Laura and her farm animals outside of Chattanooga TN, and see a bit of the surrounding area. Video compilation of that adventure coming soon!
As mentioned above, we took the opportunity to embark on a civil rights tour of the south focusing on Atlanta, Georgia and Montgomery and Birmingham, Alabama. This leg of the trip was inspirational in multiple ways. We saw evidence of how much progress this country has made on civil rights but also saw examples of how deep the wounds of white supremacy are, and how much work is left to do.
The King Center in Atlanta was very moving, as was having the opportunity to visit both the Ebenezer Baptist Church and Dexter Street King Memorial Church, where Dr. King preached and protestors gathered.
The Equal Justice Initiative’s thought-provoking Legacy Museum and devastating National Memorial to Peace and Justice were to us the most effective at conveying the history of civil rights work, and the legacy of racist structures in the current system of mass incarceration.
We’re thrilled to announce some amazing news. This spring, following the work we did with American Friends Service Committee to create a website, and record and edit interviews with each of the women in Sanctuary in Colorado, we received an invitation to meet with a group of filmmakers all of whom were working on films around the sanctuary movement. Adrian was able to attend the “Sanctuary Media Makers Collaborative.” He had an amazing few days in June meeting with filmmakers in Detroit, Michigan at the Allied Media Conference, sharing experiences, ideas and resources. We are grateful to the AMC for finding space for us to meet, to the Ford Foundation for covering travel expenses, and to Auburn Seminary for connecting all of us.
Deciding to continue collaborating together, the group of filmmakers submitted two proposals to the South By Southwest festival (SXSW) to present panel discussions. And we can now report that one of those panels was selected to be part of SXSW 2019! Adrian will be participating along with Pilar Timpane, Theo Rigby, and Allison Week in a panel discussion titled “Documenting Faith Based Social Movements.” The panel will be part of the Social & Global Impact track. The SXSW festival takes place March 8-13, 2019. If anyone is planning on going to SXSW or will be in Austin, Texas at that time, both of us will be attending and we would love to meet with you then. We are humbled by this opportunity to share and learn, and will be posting more about the panel and event in the coming months.
We have reached an exciting milestone for our documentary project: Five interviews completed with four organizations in three cities over the past two weeks. We filmed interviews in Easton, Maryland; New York City; and Washington DC. Thank you so much to Matthew, Estela, Ravi, John, and Hannah for taking time out of their busy schedules to meet with us.
As hoped, each individual provided unique viewpoints on potential paths forward for immigration policy in the United States. Most of them were recommended to us from supporters like you, we are always open to connections and recommendations for interview subjects. We’d also like to offer a big shout out to everyone who has helped support us along the way in big and small ways: from a random stranger in NYC who showed Adrian that his metro pass was backwards, to friends and family who let us crash with them for a night or two, and everyone who has contributed to our crowdfunding campaign. Projects like this are always a team effort, and we could not be doing this without the help we have received from each and everyone of you. We will now begin to work our way back West, and more interviews are in the works. We will keep you posted right here as things progress. Also stay tuned for an exciting announcement about an upcoming event!
Current location: Baltimore, Maryland High Temperature since last post: 85F in Lancaster, Pennsylvania Low Temperature since last post: 3C in New Brunswick, Canada Craziest sighting since last post: Standing in a parking spot with some friends while waiting for Polly to make a U-turn and park where we were standing. I am told this is a normal activity in NYC. We spent several days in New York City for a few days meeting with clients and friends. Thank you to Sarah at the Auburn Institute for meeting for lunch. And thanks to our hosts, Walker, Sona, Zadie, Aine, and Farai.
New York City was fascinating, loud and crowded as always, and a little overwhelming after the quiet of camping and cottages in Canada.
We recovered with a couple of nights with Quakers: a night in Brenda and Allen’s “tree house,” and another in Martha and Lynn’s new community.
Here in Baltimore, we’re staying with Julie and family today, then tomorrow with Tom and Nettie. Hope to visit a Quaker Meeting tomorrow. We’ve been able to resolve a concerning rattle in the car that we could hear while turning at low speeds. Turns out it was a Canadian rock stuck in the brakes!
Monday we head further south to Saint Michael’s, Maryland and the Washington, DC area, where we have interviews scheduled. We will return briefly to New York for an interview on Thursday.
So the documentary is gaining speed! Thanks again to all who have supported our crowdfunding campaign, and everyone who has spread the word about the project and provided us with contacts.