Student documentary premieres tonight at Turnage

Published 8:18 pm Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A semester of hard work will culminate this evening for students in Washington High School teacher Damon Walcott’s visual arts class.

Following a reception at 6 p.m., the students will premier a documentary film project on the big screen at the Turnage Theatre, highlighting the economic impact of the arts in Washington.

Since February, the students have been working with local documentarian Clay Johnson to create the film. Serving as an advisor to the class, Johnson has helped students navigate every stage of the documentary’s production, from brainstorming topics, to shooting, to making the final edits.

“I started talking to them about the principles and practices of documentary production and then I gave them a tutorial on shooting,” Johnson said. “We talked about how to research a topic and how to identify people to interview.”

Johnson’s time in the classroom was funded through a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council. During his residence at WHS, Johnson worked with the group of 19 students to see the project to fruition.

With the topic decided, students hit the streets in April to conduct interviews and gather the footage needed for the eight-minute documentary. With that footage compiled, the group began the process of editing the film, resulting in the final product the public will see this evening.

“They used the script as a guide to put the shots in the proper order in the proper sequences,” Johnson said. “The way that is done in the classroom is we edited on a MacBook Pro using Adobe Premiere. Then we used Apple Airplay to show it on the big screen at Washington High, so as the editing was occurring, every student could watch, see what’s happening and make comments and suggestions.”

In addition to the documentary on the arts, students will also show a number of independent side projects sparked by their time in the class.

Tonight’s screening is free and open to the public.