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.

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:

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.)  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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