so this one day, i decided to make a documentary

September 28, 2011

by — Posted in Genealogy

yes.  that’s really how it happened.  no, really.  lol

William S. Atlas, Sr.’s mark on a land lease during Reconstruction. Mortgage Book, East Carroll Parish, LA Clerk of Court

well, i actually got tired of seeing things around me that made it seem like all you had to do was google your name and you’d have a family tree magically appear.  now, don’t get me wrong, for people in my own family, it’s like that.  for most people, it takes many hours, days, months, and years to build a decent size tree with a lot of valuable information.  so, i’ll admit that i was hating a bit on the folks who can google their name and out pops up a website with their ancestors going back to methuselah.

i had no idea how i’d do it.  how in the world would it be organized?  what if I don’t get the right footage?  do i have the right tools?  all these things ran through my mind.  once i got over myself, and my lack of the latest, greatest technology, i decided to go forth and conquer the genealogical world.  i had never seen anything like what i envisioned.  period.

 

Susan, worth $125 above, is my great great great grandmother. Claiborne County, MS Probate Court (Labeled Orphan’s Court) Book K, Page 397. Inventory of William Bush.

so, in april 2010, i set out to create this piece while our research team was on their annual trip.  my goal was to show what it is really like to capture information on your ancestors.  finding stuff.  not finding stuff.  meeting new people.  getting a huge break.  getting a huge let down.  seeing your ancestors with numerical values next to their names and learning that they were worth less than a pair of nike’s.  yeah.  that sort of stuff.

it took me more than a year to create the framework, write the copy, read for the copy, edit it, and more.  hours and hours of time.  i don’t know how my husband made it.  lol  i think i made him view the thing at least six times before i really said i was done.  render.  make a change.  render again.  oh no!  i misspelled something in a title.  change the title.  render it again.  lots of rendering.

in july 2011, i released the final piece to our family at our 2011 reunion.  it was like i had bared my soul to the world.  it was a really personal thing for me.  outside of family, and friends, i had never really let anyone in on our process as a team and why we did it.  once i screened parts, and family members watched the whole thing, people came to me crying.  for real?  yes.  i couldn’t believe it.  telling me how much it meant to them that i’d done what i did.  wow.  a cousin submits it to the pan african film festival.  really?  my little doc?  ok.

a large portion of the finished piece will be shown at the upcoming black family history day that i’ll be volunteering at.  am i scared?  not so much.  i think i’m ready.  i’ll take a friend’s offer up to submit it to some other film festivals too.  maybe this is a new area for me to explore?  we’ll see.  🙂  for now, here’s a teaser…

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Nicka Smith
Genealogist, Photographer at Who is Nicka Smith?
Nicka Smith is a professional photographer, speaker, and documentarian with more than 18 years of experience as a genealogist. She has extensive experience in African ancestored genealogy, reverse genealogy, and family reunion planning and execution. She is also an expert in genealogical research in the Northeastern Louisiana area, sharing genealogy with youth, documenting the ancestral journey, and employing the use of new technology in genealogy and family history research.

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