On the road with Virginia Voices
“It sounds like a monumental task: Ask Virginians to submit short videos, select a representative sample and whittle it down to a 25-minute film narrative that captures Virginia’s essence.” – Tammie Smith, Richmond Times-Dispatch
Smith is spot-on in this latest mention of the Virginia Historical Society’s documentary film project, “Virginia Voices.”
How does one entice Virginians from every corner of the state to submit personal videos to a public website? A website where their thoughts and dreams will be archived for all time and become a part of the state’s most prestigious keeper of history? In the year of the “selfie,” perhaps this doesn’t seem like too much to ask. As Smith points out, certainly the editing of this film into a succinct and concise portrait of Virginia will be the true challenge.
In the digital age, we use e-mail, social media, and online calendar listings as the best channels to get the word out. But with this very personal project, we decided to offer something more. We scheduled five public meetings across the state, so that folks would have the chance to meet the producer of our film, Jeff Boedeker, in person, and learn more about the project. Virginians would have the chance to ask questions in an informal setting and get answers in real time. They would not have to wait for a digital reply.
And so the road trip began. I’ve traveled with Jeff and with Marshall Rea, Jeff’s production assistant, to three different locations around the state: Roanoke, Farmville, and Fairfax. Next weekend we will be in Abingdon. At each meeting we explain the project and encourage Virginians to submit videos to the website, www.virginiavoices.org. All selfies and social media aside, the old fashioned way of spreading the word has not gone the way of the rotary phone. Virginians still appreciate meeting us face to face. We make friends along the way, and we sometimes have the chance to interview a few folks after the meetings.
I’m really proud to be a part of this project. The response to the idea of this documentary has been overwhelming. Just this morning, Jeff was interviewed by May-Lily Lee on the Virginia Public Radio show “Virginia Conversations.” The phone was ringing off the hook−so many listeners wanted to be a part of this conversation. They all wanted to share their Virginia story with the world..
Meet us at the Washington County Public Library in Abingdon on Saturday, May 10, at noon. The final Virginia Voices meeting will be at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond on Saturday, June 7, at noon. If you can’t make it to the meeting, please visit the website and submit your video online at www.virginiavoices.org.
Lizzie Oglesby is the senior officer for public relations and marketing at the Virginia Historical Society