Summer volunteers bond while learning about Gullah culture

When you make a difference in the life of one, it creates a ripple effect. As we continue to put our creative minds to work and discuss the need for land preservation on St. Helena Island, seven students from USC and Columbia College collaborate with us each week and assist with creating a change.

180514_001_dam

The Gullah Project’s summer volunteers are, from left, Rose Steptoe, Jai-Anna Carter, Xavier Parker, Demetri Kotsinis; seated, Melvonia Taylor, Brianna Morales; and not pictured, Steven Tapia-Macias. photo by Denise McGill

These students make up The Gullah Project’s summer volunteer team. They do a wide range of tasks that are essential behind the scenes of the film. As they transcribe footage, create posts for social media, assist our director, write blog posts, and do production research, our volunteers gain valuable, first-hand experience to help them in their careers and learn more about the importance of the project.

They also acquire knowledge from the film’s director Denise McGill and producer Sherard Duvall, when they attend Film School on Tuesdays. Here they learn more about visual communication, public relations, media arts, and Gullah/Geechee culture. We sat down with the interns and asked them a few questions about the internship.

Why were you interested in becoming a volunteer for The Gullah Project?

  • Jai: I am interested in the art of film and how it impacts the viewer.
  • Brianna: I love documentaries and appreciate the work put into creating them. I was also interested in learning more about Gullah culture.
  • Steven: I am interested in The Gullah Project because I believe documentaries have the power to educate the public and be a catalyst for meaningful change and participation. I am looking forward to learning technical aspects of production as well as post-production. Getting to learn more about the Gullah people is also a major reason for joining the project.
  • Demetri: I wanted to learn more about the Gullah culture as well as the process of making a documentary.

As a volunteer, what are your responsibilities?

  • Brianna: I am responsible for viewing and logging footage.
  • Jai: I am responsible for assisting with social media platforms, gathering visuals, and writing blog posts. I also monitor Gullah/Geechee upcoming events and happenings.
  • Steven: My responsibilities are to log and tag footage in order to make the editing process easier.
  • Xavier: My responsibilities are to be an assistant to the director and producer and log clips.
  • Rose: My responsibilities are to help with production research and logging footage.
  • Mel: I’m responsible for logging footage, writing blog posts, creating character keys, and assisting Jai with social media.
  • Demetri: My responsibilities are logging, tagging, and editing footage.

What have you valued most from this experience so far?

  • Rose: So far, being on a team with multiple backgrounds, goals, and responsibilities has been valuable and insightful to me. I usually don’t have the chance to interact with other majors in a setting like this during the semester. It’s helped me see how important interdisciplinary work and working with a team can be.
  • Xavier: I’ve valued learning from others and being around like-minded individuals who want to work in or are working in media-related fields. Creative people feed off of one another, and that’s how we grow.
  • Mel: I have valued the opportunity to learn from a photojournalist, since I would like to be one in the near future. Also, I’ve enjoyed attending Film School each Tuesday and hearing what each of the interns and volunteers have learned from the footage they’ve logged or transcribed. Knowing the film may impact many lives, including mine, is empowering because, as a person who’s interested in social justice journalism, I feel the message behind the film, preserving land in St. Helena Island, is a relevant topic and the film could create conversations that can lead to change.

Film festival screenings bring awareness to Gullah/Geechee culture

Our team created a seven-minute overview of The Gullah Project to mark our progress. We entered the overview into film festivals as a short documentary. We are excited to report that out of nine entries, The Gullah Project overview was accepted into five festivals. It screened in five cities this spring.

The screenings have raised awareness about Gullah culture for audiences all over North America. There is little knowledge of Gullah history outside of the Southeast United States. At Toronto’s Female Eye Film Festival, few people in the international community had ever heard of the Gullah. Festivals hold a Q&A after each screening so viewers can learn how the film was made. Director/Producer Denise McGill was able to attend four of the festivals.

Film festivals are valuable because they provide feedback. Just to be accepted at so many venues is a very positive sign. Met professionals in the industry who take an interest in our project, offer good advice about further contacts, possible team members, next steps and distribution. Share ideas with other filmmakers and bond. Learn from their previous mistakes and successes. Spread the word about Gullah history and St. Helena Island. Learned what elements of our film are most engaging to the audience. How the film industry works. Set realistic goals. Join network of filmmakers with similar passion and causes.

Currently working on one-hour film with the goal of airing on public television. Since getting feedback, our team has made changes to the script, and continue editing. Nearly all the filming and field work is complete. Now we are fundraising. Funds will allow us to add major talent to our team, top professionals who can polish the visuals, audio, graphics, and soundtrack for the film.

Unfortunately, the overview is not available for the public online while it is at festivals. We’ll let you know when there is a way to see it.

 

 

The Gullah Project accepted to the 14th Annual Female Eye Film Festival

The Gullah Project has been accepted to the 14th Annual Female Eye Film Festival in Toronto, Canada.

The Gullah Project will screen in an International Documentary Program block on Wednesday, June 15th. Among the films in this block are The Nike Chariot Earring directed by Karen Audette and feature film Following Kina directed by Sonia Goldenberg followed by a Filmmaker Q & A session.

Female Eye Film Festival is an international film festival dedicated to women directors uniting film enthusiast, international women directors, celebrities, and industry professionals such as film and television screenwriters and producers. Their goal is to not only support the advancement of women directors but to promote equality and empowerment for women everywhere through cinema.

To learn more about the Female Eye Film Festival please visit their official webpage at http://www.femaleeyefilmfestival.com/

To learn more about future screens of The Gullah Project please visit our Screenings page found in our main menu.

The Gullah Project nominated for Best Documentary at Cape Fear Independent Film Festival

The Gullah Project was nominated for Best Documentary at Cape Fear Independent Film Festival in March. The winner for Best Documentary went to Lee’s 88 Keys, directed by Susan Robbins. She also won the award for Best Female Director.

Despite not taking home the award, Cape Fear Independent Film Festival was a huge success for our team. The small venue provided an intimate setting to meet like-minded individuals with a wide variety of experience. Through them, we learned a lot about the art of filmmaking.

It was useful to get feedback from festival-goers about our project. Viewers confirmed that the strongest element of our film is the people of St. Helena Island. We are truly gratified that viewers responded this way. People were very generous with helpful comments. It was a great affirmation for our work.

The Gullah Project will screen at Charlotte Black Film Festival this Saturday, April 9th at 10:00am. Make sure to visit our Screenings page for other listings.

 

 

The Gullah Project selected for two prestigious film festivals

The Gullah Project has been officially selected for two prestigious film festivals.

Cape Fear Independent Film Festival will be held in Wilmington, N.C., a destination located in the Gullah/Geechee Corridor, March 10th – 12th 2016.

Festival dates for the 6th Annual Charlotte Black Film Festival are April 6th – 10th, 2016 at the Charlotte Convention Center.

We look forward to attending both festivals and seeing the official 2016 selections.

School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Research Roundtable Series Presentation

On Tuesday, January 26th Director Denise McGill presented an update and discussed the process of making The Gullah Project at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Research Roundtable Series.

In attendance were fifty students and faculty members, all who have been following the progress of this documentary film. Also in attendance were two of The Gullah Project’s production assistances Ali O’Hara and Michael Tolbert. Both of which commented on their involvement with the film. O’Hara discussed the process of selecting the appropriate music that would resonate with Gullah/Geechee culture. Tolbert discussed obtaining a Magellan Grant, which allowed him to travel to the island to film as well as his involvement with building the multimedia site for the film.

McGill has been working on this documentary film since 2013 and has been employing students in order to give them real world and on location experience outside of the classroom.

School of Journalism and Mass Communications Research Roundtable Series

School of Journalism and Mass Communications
Research Roundtable Series presents

“The Gullah Project: Behind the Scenes and on Location” by Associate Professor Denise McGill

Date: Tues, Jan. 26
Time: 1:15 – 2:30 PM
Location: SJMC 318

McGill will screen the current draft of her documentary film The Gullah Project. She will discuss the process and contribution of students along the way. This project was awarded a 2014 Creative and Performing Arts grant from the Provost’s Office.

Refreshments will be provided. We hope you can join us.

The Penn Center 33rd Annual Heritage Days Celebration

Tomorrow starts the the Penn Center 33rd Annual Heritage Days Celebration held on St. Helena Island, SC. Authentic Gullah music, food, and customs await families and friends who return to the island to celebrate their Gullah/Geechee culture. PAGE_1_HERITAGE_DAYS_POST_CARD_FRONT

This year Saundra “Renee” Smith is Heritage Days Artist of the Year. She will be honored at a reception tomorrow with music by Mahoganee. On Friday the public is invited to the discussion Researching Gullah/Geechee Roots: A Genealogy Symposium with the keynote address by Michael W. Twitty.

Other festivities back this year are the Road to Remembrance play directed by Sara’ Reynolds Green, Friday Night Fish Fry, Oyster Roast & Crab Crack, Juke Joint Jam, and last but not least the Heritage Day Parade, which will close off Highway 21 from 8 am – 10:30 am on Saturday, November 14th.

If you’re in the area or have been interested in checking this event out we here at The Gullah Project highly recommend it.

To see complete program, guest speakers, and scheduling please click here.

An exclusive look at the Heritage Day Festivities 2014

Caught in action The Gullah Project team made sure to stop by the Johnson's booth at the Heritage Days Festival.

Caught in action The Gullah Project team made sure to stop by the Johnsons’ booth at the Heritage Days Festival.

Last week The Gullah Project team traveled to St. Helena Island to attend the 32nd Annual Heritage Days Celebration. From covering the Road of Remembrance play directed by Sara’ Reynolds Green, to climbing trees with a GoPro camera to photograph Ben Johnson’s produce booth, the team had an outrageously good time. Take a moment to visit this exclusive behind the scenes gallery from the Heritage Day Festivities by clicking on the photograph above.