Considering the Treatment: Sound and Vision – Thu November 20, 2014

This week I managed to stick to my film-making plan a little better than some other weeks.  I began by starting to look for appropriate hymns that could work as my foundation music for the film.  I proposed three pieces to my pianist friend.  The first is Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour, written in 1868/1870 (lyrics/music) and it stems from the Methodist hymn tradition, of which Mary Ann Shadd was an adherent.  It was written by white people, so I kept looking for something by a Black composer. Also, Shadd actually left Canada around 1863 so this music was not even in existence when my film story ends.  Nevertheless, I included the song for my friend to consider. (Note: I’m only planning to include the piano part, so…)  Here’s the link to a plain version of it, but if you google it, you’ll find that it has many versions, some of which are quite spiced up.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lR0ecJfnS0.

Another one is called Steal Away (To Jesus). It was written before 1862 so is the right period, and it is thought to have been composed by enslaved people.  Here’s a link but there is an ad that you have to skip past: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpJP51FGp-o.

Another one that I like is called There is a Balm in Gilead.  The link below shows how one pianist did a lot of different variations on a theme, although they are a bit too schmaltzy.  I am asking the pianist for a straight version with a more powerful verse and maybe a really quiet verse. (This idea of three versions – straight, powerful, quiet – would apply to whichever song I choose.)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bi45N2jjMvY  This hymn makes an interesting reference relating to slavery in the Old Testament which I could also put in the film.  Jeremiah 22:6 and 13 “The Lord says… Though you are like Gilead to me, like the summit of Lebanon, I will surely make you like a desert, like towns uninhabited… Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, making his countrymen work for nothing, not paying them for their labour”. All that said, I think I’m leaning toward the second song: Steal Away.

I also spent some time this week looking for sound effects and downloaded some of bulldozers, buildings collapsing, and wind in a corn field.  As well, I found a good archival image of African American abolitionist, William Still, with whom Shadd corresponded.  I have requested permission for its use in my film from the Temple University Library in Philadelphia.

Finally, I began work on the Treatment document.  It’s not due until January 22 (2015) but by putting my mind to it, I can start to think more precisely about the images and sounds I need, and to clarify questions remaining in my research.

This coming week I am meeting with my research supervisors, Dr. James Miller and Dr. John Walsh, to discuss the Concept Proposal and to confirm timing.  I will also continue to work on the Treatment, and to look for additional sound effects and more archival images.  As well, I haven’t heard back from the Ontario Archives about an archivist for me to interview.  I may check in with them in a few days if I haven’t heard back from them by then.

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