Students from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University gathered at Music Maker's office to share final projects.

Students from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University gathered at Music Maker’s office to share final projects.

One of the great boons to being located in the Triangle region of North Carolina is the thriving cultural scene: museums, music and film abound, and this atmosphere naturally lends itself to the kind of work that we do at Music Maker. Not only that, but our musicians and the genres they tend to play also have strong roots in the surrounding community. Part of this is owed to a huge population of smart, eager students and professionals at three major universities – the driving force behind the Research Triangle Park and a huge opportunity to connect with a group of younger music fans.

We were able to team up with the great folks over at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, which offers undergraduate and continuing education courses in film, photography, audio and writing; we mentioned the class back when it first started on our website.  DOCST 460S: “Multimedia Documentary” is a course taught by Christopher Sims.  Students were granted access access to MMRF archives but focused on creating original content for our website through video, still photography and audio fieldwork.

The students came to visit us yesterday to show off their final projects (all but one, which was still in production due to some shooting done over the weekend at Shakori Hills.) They worked in groups of three or four to produce videos and ancillary materials about several local Music Maker artists – the pieces we saw focused on Ironing Board Sam, Ben Payton and Captain Luke.

Students were eager to talk about their experiences working with the artists and learning the ins and outs of documenting such dynamic people. The group that worked with Ben Payton became big fans – so much so that they decided to treat him to a steak because of a story he had shared with them about knowing he’d made it when he could sit down with a fancy steak.

As a former CDS intern, I was ecstatic to form a connection between the two organizations and gratified that we were able to engage the students with artists who are outside of the mainstream student canon. They were also able to fulfill one of our main mission goals – documenting our artists and their work so that they are more culturally accessible – while developing their documenting skills. We’re excited to share their work with you in the coming months!

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