We at Torg Stories are excited to announce that our film On the French Broad River has been accepted to the Queens World Film Festival in New York City.
The film will screen on Sunday morning March 19th, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. in the Zukor Theater at Astoria Kaufman Studios. Click here for more information about the festival.
trailer features music from Jeremy Vogt and Erika and Shawn Wellman
The seventy-five minute documentary On the French Broad River follows the journey of we four Torgs as we raft 147 miles from Rosman, North Carolina, through class III and IV whitewater rapids, all the way to Douglass Lake in Tennessee. With environmental themes related to water quality and best management practices within watersheds, this film is about the river, the people who use it, and the social and political issues that surround it. Utilizing interviews with those connected to the environmental organizations RiverLink and MountainTrue as well as with experts in the fields of biology, wildlife conservation, and geology, this is an educational and heartwarming film for the whole family.
Charlotte, Bill, Izzy and Megan Torgerson on their Star Inflatables raft
When I’m looking to give my friends who work 9-5 jobs a hard time, I send them texts like this one:
Before texting my buddy, the plan for this post was to go on to explain that even though I technically don’t have to be back on campus for another 238 days, there’s actually a lot of work to be done. That thought was inspired by those who say to my wife, “Since Bill’s not working…”
There is an online course to teach this summer that involves a lot of preparation before it begins, and once it starts a lot of reading and responding to online texts and emails. I always say I like to read student writing, but sometimes there is just too much of it. However, nothing like a glimpse into my friend’s Office Space work life to spur me on to try and make the most of this opportunity I have to be away from campus.
one of my fav scenes from 1999 film Office Space
At St. John’s University where I teach, we faculty are fortunate enough that we still have the opportunity to be granted research leave. I was granted leave for the fall semester, and I’m feeling pressure to get myself organized to make sure I don’t misuse my opportunity. I know that I can be productive, but I want to be the right kind of productive. Below are some of the lists I’ve been working on so far.
Three Big Points of Emphasis:
Family time including coaching lots of girls basketball
Experiments in building online conversations around this website and the Torg Stories podcast
Projects to Work On:
Short documentary film about students who come to the United States to study
Article based on interviews done with students who are studying abroad in the United States
Essays for a collection perhaps titled A Yankee in the South: Tales of a Native Hoosier… I don’t know what the end of that title is. When I first started dating my wife Megan, her mother used to tell people her daughter was “dating a Yankee.” I’ve since learned that if you’re from places like Alabama, then the folks in Tennessee might be thought of as Northerners.
Pitching films to friends that might involve juice cleanses and lawn mower races.
Items for the Daily Schedule:
Write new stuff or edit film
Work the girls out
Teaching prep and reading student work (for summer)
Write reflections on reading
Professional development (Final Cut Pro X, sound mixing to start)
look for publishing opportunities for written not published work
Go out and about and meet people in Asheville
the master plan for research leave is still evolving
In order to spark conversation, I thought I’d take a quick run through my process of making the documentary film, For the Love of Books. I invite questions, requests for more of an explanation, and most of all suggestions for improvement.
While watching a block of shorts, I saw a film called Two’s a Crowd. It was about a Manhattan Jewish couple who had maintained separate apartments during their marriage but because of economic circumstances, they’d decided to finally move in together. I remember a line: “I can get married or move in together, but I can’t do both.”
Two brothers made the film. I thought it was funny and interesting about relationships. I turned to my sister and said, “We can do this.”
A plan was hatched to do a short film about my father and his morel mushroom hunting buddies. (now in progress)
I have a MacBook from St. John’s University I use for work. My wife has one too. I decided I would be an Apple guy and that I would look for a camera that worked well with Apple and the company’s software program, Final Cut Pro X.
I purchased an iMac with the largest screen possible. I purchased their video editing software Final Cut Pro X.
I might use the wrong computer jargon here, but I’ll do my best and correct me if you find mistakes. You’re going to need a lot of RAM. I think of this as working memory. The iMac often comes with 4 GB of RAM. I have since upgraded to 16 GB. It was very easy to do this myself. Just involved a few screws. Apple charges a lot for their RAM. Buy it and install it yourself.
You are going to need an external hard drive. Final Cut Pro X will work much better if your video is stored on an external hard drive so the desktop processor is free to run the video editing software.
Sometime after I bought my computer and before I bought the camera, I started to think about the crazy costumes of the Pulpwood Queens. I thought they’d look great on camera. I emailed Kathy Patrick and asked her if I could bring my camera down to Jefferson, Texas and film some of the events.
my camera: the JVC GY-HM150U
A couple days before my trip to Jefferson, I purchased the JVC GY-HM150U from B & H photo. I purchased memory cards, a bag to carry the camera in, and an extra battery.
I read Anthony Q. Artis’s book, Shut Up and Shoot. It gave me a lot to consider before I began shooting.
I thought a film needed a through story, something a viewer could watch from beginning to end. The only story I could think of (maybe the only story I had access to) was my own story of being nervous and travelling to Jefferson for the Pulpwood Queens’ party.
I decided to shoot at 24P. I kind of wish I would have just shot in HD. I may not have even described this right.
I did what I could to shoot footage of the journey. This included still photos and video of airports, my rental car, the state line, sites along the way, and the “Jefferson” sign as I entered town. Except for when my battery ran out, I videoed everything that happened at Girlfriend Weekend.
What story are you telling? How can you “show” it? I tried to feel out a story as the weekend passed. I knew I had to have an ending. I was on the lookout for it.
It wasn’t long until I wished I’d bought a tripod.
Other mistakes? forgot to white balance the camera, didn’t know my camera had a “stabilization” button, ran out of battery in the middle of great footage, and I once had the mic facing the wrong direction.
As you fill up your memory cards, where will you put the video? I had a MacBook and an external drive that I put footage onto at night. The files are enormous.
Kathy Patrick introduced me to the crowd as a documentary filmmaker. I had a camera. As far as anyone knew, I was a documentary filmmaker. I tried to start acting like one. I focused on trying to capture the experience of the Pulpwood Queens’ Girlfriend Weekend. The more I filmed, the braver I got and the more I was willing to stick my camera into the action. I asked people questions and filmed their answers.
I wasn’t determined to make a documentary film. I wanted to learn to use my camera and get some experience. My experience with the Pulpwood Queens motivated me to see the film to completion.
Having been introduced as a documentary filmmaker, (rather than a guy who bought a camera) I was approached by Brooklyn-based photographer Natalie Brasington. She offerred her still photographs to the film. I believe this is one of the key events that allowed the film to be completed.
I connected via Facebook with my old high school basketball rival and friend Jeremy Vogt. He offerred his music to the project.
I essentially wrote an essay about the Pulpwood Queens. I cut it in half and read the first half of it to open the film. I used Natalie’s photographs to illustrate it. I added Jeremy’s music. I did the same for the end.