West Virginia Storytelling Project is LIVE

Please visit www.wvstorytellingproject.com to explore the initial launch of the project.


WV Storytelling Project: Editing and Site Development in 2012!

Hello again!

Much time is passed since my last post, but it has proven quite productive.  I got swept up in my last semester of classes at Emerson College and also started teaching…in all it was a hectic and excellent semester.

It also consisted of loads of research into HTML5/CSS3 (the coding language I am using to create the website for the project) and a lot of thought/scheming about the structure this project is going to adopt for its final format.  I am very excited and can’t wait to share it with you…and it all comes together in the next few months!  So far, I’ve been practicing creating animations with code…you can see an example of these efforts at the future home of the project:  www.wvstorytellingproject.com  .  (Internet Explorer has difficulty rendering animations, so you may want to try it in a different browser for the full effect.)

A still from my interview with Bil Lepp.

So far, I have revisited Jimmy Costa, Granny Sue, Adam Booth, and Bil Lepp in my editing.  I love the opportunity video affords for you to relive and more fully analyze some of the stories (and the stories about the stories) and can’t wait to share some of the sometimes humorous, always poignant life views and lessons that these tellers shared with me.  Each teller offers a unique perspective on a different form of WV storytelling and life.

Talkin with Granny Sue

I’m going to get back to work editing…there is really no better way to spend a rainy day than to review my time with these people and translate their wisdom for a wider audience.

Thanks for checking in, and I’ll keep you updated with any new and exciting progress!

“Come Home to West Virginia”

7 AM, driving to Elkins

August 6th, I once again left Boston for West Virginia.  Location?  The Augusta Heritage days in Elkins, WV.  38 years running, Augusta offers music, dance, and traditional art classes for people from throughout the country.

I took a class in woodcarving & letterpress printing, hoping to utilize these styles in the design of the project’s website and the animations I intend to make.  RP Hale and Jim Horton provided rather freeform instruction and much of the week was spent carving away on a 3×5 wooden block (print details to follow as I unveil my Kickstarter reward crafting later in the year).

In all, Augusta provided a week of relaxation and focus in a beautiful setting, surrounded by many individuals from throughout the country that loved art and their craft. I am truly happy to have had the opportunity to attend.


As for now, I am back in Boston, started my last semester of actual classes (that and moving are largely responsible for the amount of time elapsed since my last post…something for which I am very sorry).  I am starting to sort through the 16 interviews and other footage that I shot this summer.  I am going back over the interviews, making lists of b-roll footage that would be nice to have that I wasn’t able to capture when I was filming this summer, and preparing to return to West Virginia in early October to shoot some more of that.  Rough cuts are being assembled, and all the pieces are being sorted into middle and edge pieces, waiting to come together into the puzzle.  As I start editing individual interviews, I plan on posting a reflection on my experience with that person, so stay tuned!

End of my West Virginia tour (for now, at least)


I heartily apologize for not posting more in the last few weeks…I was on the road most every day, seldom near internet, but working hard on the project and meeting some truly wonderful people.

In all, I was able to get 11 full interviews in addition to full coverage of Vandalia weekend and some shooting at the Storytelling Institute at Fairmont State University.

In the last week, I have been readjusting to Boston life, started working at a Digital Media Academy at Harvard University (teaching filmmaking with teens), and preparing to begin editing.  It is going to be an interesting process, to dig through the hours of interview footage, and crafting it tell the unique stories of each of my subjects.

Here are some stills and pictures I pulled from my interviews to use as photos in an article that is soon to run for a feature on my project in the Roane County Reporter, my hometown newspaper:

Adam Booth spins his tale that won him "Biggest Liar" at the 2011 Liar's Competition.

A still I stole of Adam looking pensive during our interview.

The Earl plays a tune during our interview.

The Earl's Guitar (signed by Chuck Yeager and other noteworthy people in his life)

A man of many hats, he even let me wear one.

Porch talk with Granny Sue Holstein and I.

This is only a tiny glimpse of the material I got.  As I go through the footage this summer and start assembling , I will make a post about each of these individuals, my impressions of them, and a few favorite stills/audio clips from my time with them.

In all, I had such an amazing experience meeting these wonderful tellers.  I go back to West Virginia August 7th to attend Augusta Heritage Days and pick up a few more interviews.  Stay tuned!  And thank you!

Vandalia Update and First Interview!

What a weekend!

I am still processing all the footage and images I got from Vandalia and the Liar’s Competition last weekend, but I figured I’d tell you a bit about my first interview with the creator of the Liars Competition and emcee, Ken Sullivan.

Ken’s interview was a little bit different than the others, for Ken is not a storyteller-he is a historian, and also is the editor of the WV Encyclopedia, an online and print resource for cultural exploration of West Virginia.  We had a great deal to talk about, and although I am still reviewing the wide amount of content we discussed, I am very excited by the breadth of topics we discussed, from the history of the Liars Competition to the place of storytelling within the culture of West Virginia.  I couldn’t have asked for a more knowledgable subject.

I met with Ken at his office in the WV Humanities Council office, which is also the third oldest house in Charleston WV.  The Hubbard House, a house that was totally renovated and updated by the Humanities Council when they acquired it a few years back, is celebrating its 175 year this year!  What a cool place to have an office (see more screen shots of my filming of the inside of Hubbard House below).


Tomorrow I am hitting the road for my next round of storytelling.  Here’s what I’ll be up to (so far):

Interview Schedule coming up:

Friday- An interview with Marc & Cheryl Harshman (judges of the 2011 Liars Competition, and a very talented husband and wife team of storytellers)

Monday: John Wyatt, The Appalachian

Tuesday: Jimmy Costa, celebrated Liar and musician, and the John Henry Tunnel

Thursday: Adam Booth, the 2011 Biggest Liar!






I just got to Charleston and I am SO EXCITED for the Vandalia Gathering this weekend.  In about 20 minutes I am heading over to the Capitol to locate where tonight’s festivities are.  I hope to be posting more updates in the coming days, providing pictures of this, the first leg of my journey.

Next week I start my first round of interviewing with Mr. Ken Sullivan, the creator of the WV Liar’s Competition and a renown West Virginia historian.  He is also the emcee of the Liars competition this year.

In all, just looking forward to having a great weekend of filming and meeting excellent storytellers!


A hearty thank you to the following individuals that took our campaign the rest of the way.  We reached $3953 on my 25th birthday, thus ending our fundraising efforts.

  • Josiah Powell
  • Liz Partlow
  • David Levine
  • Lanakila Alexander
  • Nancey Veldran
  • Eric Angevine
  • Lisa Zizzi Bain
  • Tyler Oyler
  • Tom Smith
  • Matt Hassan
  • Rachel Rynderman
  • Tominda Adkins
  • David Haas
  • Joseph Pickenpaugh
  • Cory Rieck
  • Ida Stewart
  • Greg Lam
  • Heather West
  • Karen Botkins
  • Nicola Fairhead
  • Kathleen Benson

Now comes the fun part!  I spent the last week traveling to West Virginia, getting situated.  I am now home, practicing lighting setups, lining up interviews, and planning research trips.

Pictures and updates to come, as well as Kickstarter gift updates (I am working with limited Internet access, so hang tight for more updates!)