My internship involved helping with the film Written on Water – a documentary about the Ogallala Aquifer and the farmers and communities that use it. I helped with various tasks over the course of a year. While I was based in Amarillo, Texas, my supervisor and the film director was based in Montana. I had a great time getting to know her and working on the film and am excited to see the film soon!
The first project I took on was for the Kickstarter campaign for the film. I helped manage a spreadsheet for thank you items and to keep track of donors. It was a challenge starting out my internship without having ever met my supervisor in person, yet with frequent email exchanges and phone calls the rest of the internship I was able to communicate with my supervisor.
One of the main projects I worked on next was visiting Olton, Texas to look through the museum for photos and archived materials about water in Olton and the drought. The museum holds an extensive collection of Olton artifacts, old newspapers, yearbooks, photos and paintings to use in the film. They had recently had rain damage so items were not all on display when I first visited the museum. This made it a little difficult searching through items, but it was also very fun to uncover bits and parts of Olton history whether it be from old newspaper clippings or yearbooks. For someone who loves history, this was a great experience! I visited Olton when the museum was functioning again and I was fascinated to see many new items I hadn’t seen before. I realized that the people that upkeep and maintain small museums in towns like Olton across the Panhandle do much work in keep history alive in their town.
To plan the promotion of the film I researched various film festivals and created a spreadsheet with information on applications and dates. There is a lot that goes into applying to show a film at a film festival but it is a necessary step to reach audiences.
Another part of my internship dealt with finding and connecting with experts who could give information on water topics. These experts were from universities, government agencies and the community. I got to connect with several of them and learned quite a bit from each. One expert was from the NASS – the National Agricultural Statistic Service. I got to search the USDA and NASS databases for information on agricultural output in the U.S. This was fascinating because I got to see how much effort goes into tracking output and how useful this information is for researchers and planners. I called TV stations to hunt down TV clips and also dealt with some licensing and copyright information – this was a learning experience for me and I am glad to have some experience in this area now.
I had an interesting and varied time working with my supervisor and on the tasks involved. They were varied tasks but I did get to see the many areas that go into producing a film – be it from gathering funding, filming, presentation, technology, writing, researching and promoting. The best part of it was that it dealt with something very precious to our area — the Ogallala!