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Re: On the Media and Community Gardens

  • Subject: Re: [cg] On the Media and Community Gardens
  • From: "Deborah Mills" deborah@greencure.org
  • Date: Sun, 4 Dec 2005 12:09:43 -0800

Hello Everyone,

I guess it is time for me to speak up. I know I have been silent for awhile but I'm still here.

Hopefully I can shed some light on the situation from both sides of the fence "sort-of-speak".

I owned and operated a free-lance video production company for ten years and also have worked (and still do) for Television stations. I also have been very active in community gardens and gardening programs (Founder of Green Cure) as many of you know.

I can understand the independent video production company making their "pitch" to the list server and the most important aspect to understand that this production sounds like it is in its pre-pre production stage any may never even get off the ground. What they are up against is trying to raise the interest (and funding) to do a project like this which is commendable.

In the world of television I was lucky enough to have Channel 6 underwrite my gardening TV series where I was able to produce 52 episodes. Once the station was bought out, "bye-bye" went my program. I could not find funding anywhere to continue even though I was on the air for so long. I just couldn't compete with the broadcast stations when it came to advertising 30 second spots. If I was competitive I would only be making about $30.00 per episode. What I needed was a sponsor who took on the whole production and they are far and few between.

When producing my program I always tried to practice "common courtesy" (which often times is uncommon). I valued my guest's time and always kept them abreast of air-times and often supplied vhs dubs as my gift to them for their participation. I would also follow-up with a "Thank-you" phone call and let them know the response from my viewership. I would also include a way that the viewers could contact them directly if they so desired. It made everyone happy all the way around.

I can understand Adam's response. Even from this list server, I believe it was a couple of years ago, a husband and wife team was producing a documentary on community gardens and gardening programs. They were traveling across the country taping gardens along the way.

I ended up spending a day taking them to different project sites. I lined up volunteers etc. etc. My one Horticulture Therapy program I conducted at a women's facility was a little tricky and time consuming since these women were in recovery (some under the guidance of the court system) and a lot of "leg work" had to be put in place to make the shoot a reality.

I got several of the women to agree to speak about their experience in the garden and how it helped them with their recovery. For these women it was a leap of faith that their story would be told. It took courage on their part to "share" their emotions since they were at a pivotal point in their lives.

Needless to say, I never heard a word after the shoot, nothing, nada, zip, zero. Not one word. For all I know the footage shot ended up being erased or thrown away. This is where I think "common courtesy" comes into play. Even if the footage ended up on the cutting room floor, at least the producers could have sent a vhs copy of the file footage so we could see something from our efforts. Or even just a thank you card would have been nice.

It truly took a lot on the women's part to even entertain the notion of being a part of this and then to hear nothing back did not send them a positive message. It sent them the message that their contribution meant nothing.

As Adam clearly stated, "Like many Americans, you mention the world, "film, TV, documentary, media," everyone decides that it's wonderful to let the folks in so we can all get our Andy Warhol, " ten minutes of fame." it meant more to these women.

Even though I have been part of the Industry for years it chapped my hide because I was put in the position where I could not tell any of the participants what happened. I think even more so, I was offended because I was part of the Industry and the conduct to a fellow Producer was insulting.

Don't get me wrong trying to put a free-lance video project/series is tough, very tough. It may seem like there is a lot of money involved but in reality your lucky if you can anything for it but that should not be at the expense of anyone else. If you take on a project like this, as a professional you have an obligation to keep everyone involved informed and having them feel that their contribution was worth-while. I guess my bottom line is, it's all about communication.

I wish you luck on trying to get your program off the ground and if you do I hope my words resonate in your professional practices.

All my best,

Deborah Mills

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