Our Town is a “day-in-the-life” video scrapbook that features stories of the people, places, and happenings of the particular town as seen through your eyes as the filmmaker. There are no restrictions as to age or experience and no cost or compensation to participate - just enthusiasm and willingness to be part of the project.
Community members - residents, business owners, school teachers and students, and town officials, as well as other interested parties in the vicinity - are invited to attend a volunteer planning meeting to learn about Our Town. The meeting takes place before filming begins and anyone interested in the production is invited to attend.
At the meeting, local residents discuss which landmarks, people, events, and local stories the program should include. Residents are especially urged to participate, but you don't have to live in the particular town to participate - just have a great town story to tell or be willing to help record town stories.
Rhode Island PBS will answer questions about the project during the meeting and ask volunteers to brainstorm a list of subjects and events to videotape. The volunteer filmmakers will later videotape the footage for the documentary, with guidance available from Rhode Island PBS.
There is no compensation to the videographers involved for time or materials - filming and other participation in the project is strictly voluntary.
After Filming: Interview Day
Videographers deliver footage and shooting logs to Rhode Island PBS on “interview day,” which is scheduled for the end of the filming period. A brief on-camera interview will also take place, during which the filmmaker describes what he or she filmed and why, putting the story into context.
Creating the story and editing together of all videographers' footage is done by a Rhode Island PBS producer and editor.
Anyone interested in being a storytelling videographer - or in being paired with a resident to record a story for the program - should contact Rhode Island PBS at 401-222-3636 or by emailing email@example.com.
The Rhode Island PBS Our Town project is based on the popular and successful series started by central Pennsylvania's public television station WPSU in 1996. Now, with more than 55 productions in their Our Town library, WPSU is clearly the ideal model for our own project at Rhode Island PBS, and we are grateful to them for sharing their wisdom and experience with us.
Watch the Our Town orientation video at right. It includes instructions as well as tips and tricks to make yours a rewarding and enjoyable filming experience, as well as to produce the best possible footage for a great audience viewing experience.
Tips for video shooting
It’s wonderful to be part of an energetic and committed team, especially when it involves your neighbors and friends. What better way to nurture a sense of belonging and pride in your community than telling others why it’s such a special place? To help you tell the story more effectively we’ve asked our station videographers to share some of their secrets and strategies for successful videotaping:
Nothing looks better than a beautiful day. Best to shoot on days with lots of clear skies and sunshine if you can.
Pick subjects that show off your town’s uniqueness. Remember, this is your chance to show off your town to the people in a television audience who have never been there. Make them want to visit.
Landscapes and landmarks are great, but remember that people make a community unique, too. Don’t forget to show us some of the faces of the people in your town.
Remember, you won’t be telling the story of your town all by yourself. Lots of your neighbors will be helping you. Instead of giving the audience a general view of everything, pick a few places or events and give us as much detail as you can. Shoot them from a variety of angles. Shoot them at different times of the day, or even on different days. Give your subject as many different looks as possible.
Keep a shooting log
On the day of the shoot, we ask you to keep a log of what you shoot. This is used to help the producer ask you questions when you return from shooting video for the day.
You don’t need to keep a second-by-second log, just a subject by subject one.
The link to a log file template you may download is found under Resources on the right side of this page.
Our Town Orientation Video
Welcome to Our Town! In this ongoing WSBE Rhode Island PBS community project, neighbors become filmmakers to describe life in their beautiful Rhode Island town and its villages. This video provides project information quickly and early in the process, so you can enjoy yourself while recording a great story about your town.
Our Town Tripod & Camera Training Video
Need a little help with correct assembly of the Rhode Island PBS tripod and camera? Watch this video for easy instructions as you prepare to tape your story for OUR TOWN.