Hey D-Word Community -
Seeking an enthusiastic FCP editor to take on at least one episode of a limited series doc project intended for public television. If you or someone you know might be a good fit, I'd love to get in touch or hear any and all recommendations!
The Film: "The Times of John McDonogh" (working title) tells the story of the startling bequest to education that a single eccentric millionaire made upon his death in 1850, how that bequest led, by 2006, to the creation of both some of the most blighted public schools and one of the most privileged private schools in the US and how, in the current tumultuous moment in education, each of these disparate schools is now fighting to either re-make itself or protect the things that made it strong in the first place.
Creatively, the aim is to interweave two distinct narrative approaches. First are the stories, told via verite footage, of specific teachers and students at five of the schools that still bear this founder's name and legacy today (two traditional public schools in New Orleans, two more newly-chartered public schools in New Orleans, and one private school in Baltimore) as they live and teach over the course of one pivotal school year. The second is the historical narrative of how these five schools evolved from one man's very specific, utopian vision to such contrasting places along our contemporary spectrum of education. With these two stories intertwined, the twists, turns, and questions raised along the way lead straight through many of the turning points of segregation, political gamesmanship, neglect, and socio-economic inequality that have shaped US schools from the beginning.
Project Status: The wealth of material involved is both blessing and curse. We shot, over the course of the school year we spent in the schools, 300 (!) hours of verite footage of (and interviews with) a select group of teachers, students, and administrators. What's more, there's a rich and surprising array of archival material about the history of the schools to pull from, much of it already gathered together by the production. But there is also a very clear plan. Every inch of the footage is meticulously logged, all of the interviews are thoroughly sub-clipped and labelled, and a paper script outline is in place for the series from start to finish, scene by scene, both for the compelling contemporary characters and the historical narratives, and the ways they might well intermix. We have a work-in-progress-trailer (I can send it to you upon request) and there's a rough assembly of most of the first episode.
What We're Looking For: Over the next five months, our goal is to edit as many episodes of the series as we can manage (at minimum three, with the other three to follow thereafter). Though we could work with someone who could only foreseeably tackle one. To date, all of the editing work has been done by me, the beleaguered, lone gunman producer/director, and while my enthusiasm for the material runneth over, I am neither a very good, nor particularly fast, editor, nor do I have the distance from the material that would probably help the process most at this point. So we're seeking a sharp editor who'd be excited about helping shape this kaleidoscope of specific stories into something awesome. While I'm working on a first-time indie doc-maker's meager budget, I'm not expecting someone to work for free either, so we could talk more about what might make sense for a rate in the short term. Grant writing will soon be in progress. I'm in Los Angeles, and would prefer to work with someone local, though I wouldn't rule out other arrangements. The editor would need their own FC7 system. My hunch is this would not be the right undertaking for a first-time feature doc editor, considering the expansive and interlocking nature of the raw material (not to mention my own green-ness). But someone with a practiced hand and eye would, I suspect, find the way well-paved for a really rewarding collaboration, no ego involved. More than anything, I hope to find someone (this is starting to sound like a dreamy-eyed singles ad) who is passionate about social documentary storytelling, curious about looking at the same subject from different angles, and excited about young people, teachers, and the inner lives of schools.
If you'd like to find out more, or recommend someone, I'd love to hear from you. I'm at stephen.deline(at)gmail(dot)com or 410-960-2098. Thanks!