Category Archives: Videojournalist

The Agony of Surviving- Travis Fox -Washington Post

From Travis Fox

I was standing on a mound of debris more than a dozen stories high. Behind me was half a mountain, its face brown because a landslide slivered off the other half. In front of me was the ruined town of Beichuan, China, where not a single building remained standing. And under my feet was a mixture of dirt from the landslide, stones from the buildings, and dead bodies.

It had been several days after the earthquake that I arrived in Beichuan, but the scene was like nothing that I’ve seen before. In Aceh, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka, I saw absolute destruction after the tsunami. And there were plenty of dead bodies littering the ground of Iraq during the invasion. What made this story different was the access we had, not only to the ravaged areas like Beichuan, but to the agony of the survivors.

I used “The Agony of Surviving” as the title of my video from Beichuan that day. It seemed like an apt description of the women that I ran into on top of the mound of debris. It was a frightening scene. She was digging with her bare hands, trying to find the remains of her daughter. Her screams echoed across the flattened town. At the time, I was too preoccupied with making sure my camera was functioning properly to fully grasp what was unfolding in front of me. Only later, translating the footage and watching it over and over, trying to transcribe quotes like “Mommy is here to pick you up,” did the pain fully hit me.

I was surprised at how articulate the Sichuanese were in describing their pain. Many of the victims were poor, some illiterate, but nearly everyone I spoke with was able to express himself or herself well. Believe it or not, this is one of the most difficult parts of being a videojournalist. Often people just don’t have anything to say. I remember riding in a rickety bus with a group of Afghans who were returning home to their village after a 20-year exile in Pakistan. When we arrived, I asked… What else?.. “How do you feel.” No matter how many different ways I phrased it, the answer was always, “We are fine.”

Li Shan Fu’s expressions were almost poetic. He lost his only daughter when her school collapsed in the town of Juyuan. Li’s wife saw their daughter pulled from the rubble, but since then theye weren’t able to locate her. Li spoke about being so sad that his legs barely functioned during his 10 day-long search for his daughter. He allowed us to be there when he reviewed pictures of dead children. His expressions told us everything about what he was going through. His legs no longer supported him.

Posted by: B Foster


The Archive -Sean Dunne- Very Ape Productions

From Sean Dunne(Very Ape Productions): 
I first became interested in Paul’s story back in February ’08, when I heard about the highly publicized eBay sale of his collection. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of him or his collection until then. So I researched him a little more and found out that it was declining sales in his store and health issues that were causing him to sell it. Unfortunately the sale fell through. I contacted Paul in June and asked him if I could make a short documentary about him and he agreed. Surprisingly no one else had contacted him about doing a profile. As a side note, this taught me a lesson to never assume that someone else is already covering something, find out for yourself. 
I thought the story would be important for a number of reasons. First, because it was timely. His lease was ending and the collection hadn’t sold, there was a sense of a ticking clock surrounding the whole thing. Second, because his story seemed to serve as kind of a microcosm of a failing record industry and economy. And lastly, to try and bring some much needed attention to the collection and try to help him get it sold.
I happened to be passing through the Pittsburgh area later that month on another shoot and I arranged to shoot a day with Paul. Due to a schedule conflict we only had around 7 hours to shoot both Paul and his collection. It was tight but we got our shots. The initial edit took close to a week with another week for revision, tweaks, color-correction and mix. We didn’t really have any plans for it after that. Maybe sell it to a network like Current TV or sell it as web content for another network. I posted it on Vimeo to kind of test the waters and get a sense of whether people liked it. From there it kind of took on a life of its own. The Internet has taken this thing to places that no other forum could have, not even TV. The whole experience has been fun. I like instantly hearing feedback on the piece. It’s been encouraging and makes me want to pursue some other story ideas I have.
Posted by: B Foster