Documentary Production 5050


Talking Freedom


A Research-Creation Project Portfolio





Ten years after 9/11, and coinciding with the Occupy movement in America, a muralist with a passion for vintage cars embarks on a road trip across the United States, visiting major historical landmarks in a personal quest for freedom. Driving a 1967 Ford Fairlaine Ranchero, Canadian mural artist Bill Wrigley asks, “What is freedom? What does it mean to you and me?” 

“Talking Freedom” is an interactive documentary composed of photos, videos, and audio segments drawn from a five-week journey on the road across America. It forms the basis of my Master’s thesis: a Research-Creation Project and MRP (Major Research Paper). This portfolio compiles together elements that form my research with elements of inspiration for my creative treatment of the subject.

The Road to Wounded Knee

Here is a preliminary edit of one of our first scenes for the film. We visited the memorial site at Wounded Knee on the sixth day of our journey, and met Jarret Jealous, an Oglala Sioux man from South Dakota who bestowed on us a beautiful blessing for our journey. This short sequence provides a sense of the aesthetic “look and feel” of the film overall, complete with music by Do Make Say Think.

Artwork by Bill Wrigley

Talking Freedom will feature the work of mural artist Bill Wrigley, as we visit the places he has painted across the United States. Visit his website for a sample of some of his work that celebrates various motifs of the freedom ideal in American popular culture. The film will follow the aesthetics of Bill’s designs, employing soft colour palette, with a cinematographic treatment that draws the viewer into an immersive and more subjective experience of the environment and historical sites visited on the road.

2300 Miles of America (web doc)

This web documentary describes itself as “an independent cross-media documentary” and “an itinerary on the american dream’s footsteps.” It presents for me everything I don’t want Talking Freedom to be in the interactive form. From the menu, there appears to be only one link: “Habitacle”. It seems we should start here, but the link takes us to a static image of the inside of a vehicle, with audio playing — is it a station? A map stands out brightly against a greyish background. Rolling over the the images reveals links to the content. Starting with “En Route” the documentary seems to begin. Recorded audio plays over an abstract panning shot. From a quick glance, the content is perhaps interestingly similar in terms of what we have to work with, but the aesthetic is different from our approach. The short sequence ends with a still frame image of the person speaking with a request to comment or engage in the discussion. I am more inclined towards an immersive approach to i-documentary.

Hunter S. Thompson’s study of the Hell’s Angels reveals insights into the politics of Trumpism

In Hell’s Angels, a book by Hunter S. Thompson about the renegade group of the same name, Thompson discusses “left-behind” people and the “ethic of total retaliation” which can be today compared to the alienated voters who helped Trump rise to power. In this article, Susan McWilliams argues that Thompson “foresaw the retaliatory, right-wing politics that now goes by the name of Trumpism.”