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Telling Stories and Connecting Communities

August 13, 2020 | Features

By Aaron Pate | Local Takes Filmmaker

Local Takes - Six Documentaries About Southern Artists from Local Takes on Vimeo.

Making documentaries is a lot like watching documentaries, then being asked which one is your favorite, and then watching the others get locked away to never be seen again.

It sounds dramatic, but for every minute of Local Takes, our documentary series about Spartanburg artists, there are 25 minutes of footage on the proverbial “cutting room floor.” Part of the magic of film is this hidden process of culling, refining, editing, so I’m pulling back the curtain a bit here to tell you letting go of that footage is not easy. My co-director Trey Morrow and I learned so much from these six artists, on and off camera. Many times in the editing room we asked ourselves, how can we possibly fit this artist into a short film? I find a little comfort in this quote by the late Alberto Giacometti: “The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.” Editing documentary interviews is the delicate, painful, but gratifying work of being trusted to tell someone’s story on film with the same intensity you felt when you met them.

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The hours we spent chatting with these six artists last year, this experience of sitting down to meet new and diverse people in our community, was truly a privilege. I am especially grateful for those conversations now that I’ve spent most of this year at home during COVID-19. The connections have stuck with me. Right now many people are at home, social distancing, and it may feel more challenging to make connections with others and with our community. Meanwhile, for so many people, this pandemic is only one of many struggles they face daily. It is our hope that these documentaries can foster connections even at this difficult time. Stories have the power to strengthen our connection with each other, inspire us, and help us imagine perspectives that differ from ours. Staying connected can help us heal and work through our challenges together, united, as a community. This human connection, this understanding, is community. These stories are culture.

Filmmakers talk a lot about story “telling,” but the process starts with listening. There are so many voices in our global community expressing their need to be heard, to be understood, to be accepted, and if we open our minds and listen we can hear that people have a story they need to share. Telling your story, and listening to others, is powerful. TheMadddartist describes it best in his film: "Underneath we have so many layers ... if we reveal those things we'll see that we're so much alike. If [people] hear someone's story, that connects so much deeper."

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I believe we are all storytellers. Our lives are shaped by the stories we tell each other as well as the stories we tell ourselves. Like film editing, this is a mostly invisible process, but every day we are deciding what stories to tell and how to shape those stories. I think the important thing is to notice this process, then become more intentional about it, so we can tell stories in a way that cultivates respect, empathy, and connection with others.

I hope you’ll have some time this week to watch these films and connect with your community through the stories of these Spartanburg artists: TheMadddartist, Annette Giaco, Andrew Blanchard, Lucy Boland, Addam Duncan, and Beth Bullman Regula. The films are available as a 34-minute collection on Vimeo on Demand, at localtakes.com, August 14-23.

Then, join us Thursday, August 20 at 7pm for a livestream “Meet the Filmmakers” Q&A, where we look forward to conversations about art, storytelling, and these six short films.

Local Takes is a collaboration between filmmakers Aaron Pate and Trey Morrow. Follow, watch, like and share @localtakes on InstagramFacebookYouTube, and localtakes.com

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LocalTakes was a 2020 Chapman Cultural Center Community Grant Recipient. Chapman Cultural Center's Community Grants Program awards up to $5,000 per application and is open to both individual artists and non-profits/government agencies. Mediums supported include performing, visual, literary, crafts, and folk arts.

To continue to fund projects that support the Spartanburg arts community, we ask that you consider donating to the Chapman Cultural Center. 

If you would like more information or have questions about community grants, the application process, or other grant opportunities, please contact Outreach Coordinator Jennifer Barksdale at jBarksdale@spartanarts.org. 

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