This one-week camp invited students to learn the basics of making a documentary film. On day one, we brainstormed topics and chose to focus on a nearby farm in Pomfret, which we then visited, explained our project, and were happy they agreed to participate. Then, in conversation with the farmers, we began to plan our project and made a shot-list.
We spent days two, three and four shooting video footage, using multiple cameras to capture misty mornings, tractor work, feeding the cows, mucking out, milking and milk transportation, haying equipment at work, weeding the vegetable patch, a puppy playing in the dust, and interviews with three generations of Bassetts. We students – and our instructor – learned a great deal during our week documenting the workings of a small dairy farm. We learned about milk economics and government subsidies, migrant labor, invasive plant species, the relationship of cow feed to milk yield, and the benefits of barn feeding versus putting cows out to pasture.
The final day was the one day we had to edit our project: we reviewed our footage, made a simple storyboard, and then began cutting and sequencing the clips. The reward for a week of hard work was screening the film for Mr. and Mrs. Bassett in their living room.