The 2013 Navajo Oral History project films are nearly complete.
Since the Winona State University students returned home to Minnesota, the team members have met with their Diné College counterparts via interactive television and video conferencing. They've edited their videos, tweaked the scripts, an added still images or b-roll footage.
Groups have spend time at Professor Tom Grier's home with Grier and Robbie Christiano, the grad student teaching assistant for the class, going over every second of each film. During this arduous process, the film-makers look at each frame and listen to each sound. They've edited little clicks and background sounds and tightened transitions between scenes.
They've added narrations and title slide transitions between "chapters" of each film. And, they'd added credit slides at the end and music at the beginning and end of each film.
Every step takes time, both in deciding what to use and how to use materials to engage the audience-- also in waiting for software to catch up to decision-making. In many ways, this is the most important work of film-making. Of course, gathering materials in the field is important. It's in the editing phase where narrative structure is built and put-together so the story flows for the viewer.
The work is amazingly good. It's fun to watch the students using tools and terms confidently and making decisions like seasoned pros.
The films will be great. Two of the groups have turned in all three parts of their film projects. The other teams are working and should have their projects complete by the end of June. The three parts: Oral History - the full interviews with the elders; Living History - a 15- to 20-minute film about the elder's lives; and Media Feature - a 5-minute film on one main story of the elder.
The projects will be mastered for DVD duplication and sent to have discs professionally burned and printed along with DVD box inserts. This takes several weeks. The finished projects will be back by the start of fall semester, and will be available at the premier-reception events planned in September.
The first reception is scheduled at Winona State University on Friday, Sept. 13, beginning at 5 p.m., in the Science Laboratory Center Auditorium. The Diné College students and faculty involved in the project will be in Winona for this event and will also visit a few WSU Mass Communication courses and enjoy some local tourism while in Minnesota.
The second reception is planned for Monday, Sept. 16, at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona, at 5 p.m. (location to be determined). The WSU students and faculty will travel to Arizona for this reception. At this event, on the Navajo Nation, the featured elders and their families are invited. It's quite a moment for student film-makers to watch the elders view the films for the first time.
Both reception events are open to the public. The Navajo Oral History project team hopes family members and friends of the participants will attend to see the films and join in the celebration and appreciation of the student's hard work.
Following the reception events, extra copies of the 2013 DVDs will be available for sale at $20 each... and all the proceeds go directly to a Diné College scholarship fund.