On producing a short subject documentary film

This summer, Neal Abbott '15 and I are fortunate enough to be utilizing a student/faculty collaborative summer research grant from the Dean's Office to produce a short subject documentary film (12-15 minutes). Our subject is Kelly Ludeking, ironmonger, sculptor and teacher.

Through his company, KRL Metals, Ludeking (photo below) has participated in, facilitated, and hosted over 100 iron pours since graduating from MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art & Design) in 1997 with a degree in sculpture and furniture design. Most recently, he helped Chicago Sculpture International install 26 life-size figures in Solti Garden at Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois.

Kelly Ludeking

On Saturday, June 21, 2014, over 40 artists flocked to Northeast Iowa for Ludeking's 11th Annual Down on the Farm Iron Pour. This event, the preparations leading up to it, and Ludeking are key components of our film, allowing us to explore craftsmanship, community and contemporary art. 

As July begins, Abbott and I transition to post-production, which includes (in this order) logging and transferring footage, screening rushes, transcribing interviews, writing an editing script, putting a loose version of the film together (first assembly), choosing music, producing a rough cut, writing a narration script (not applicable in this instance), obtaining feedback based on said rough cut, color correcting/grading, sound mixing, and finally, producing a final cut.

Currently, we are involved in first assembly, which requires us to steer clear of digging into any detail. As we construct, we must let our film tell us what it wants us to do and we must continually recognize we are presenting pieces of evidence, one at a time, to build a case in the audience's mind. Often, this exercise requires debating ideas, setting aside original intentions, and confronting materials with an open mind. Yes, this can be difficult, but it can also be quite rewarding as we push toward a finished product in the coming weeks.

 

Thomas C. Johnson

Thomas C. Johnson, Luther assistant professor of Communication Studies, has taught critical media studies and media production courses at Luther since 2011. Along with teaching, his research interests include pedagogy, sport media, television studies, gender studies and documentary film.

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