It’s been a while since I’ve posted on the site, and I suppose that is good, because I have been insanely busy during that time. When I finished my WGC internship in The Listener’s writing room at the end of February (which I will eventually write a proper post about), I started work on editing the web capsules for the interactive web project “Burgundy Jazz“. The project launched last month, and it is safe to say this was one of the most rewarding jobs I have done in my career. The subject, the history of Jazz in Montreal told through the lens of the black community that lived in Little Burgundy, was one that urgently needed to be told, and I am proud I could have been part of it.
The project itself has a lot of elements; it’s part web series, part interactive historical document, and part time capsule. It can be experienced in a web browser, in an iOS app, and in an e-book. Each platform has different content focused on what that medium is best at. Truth be told, I had little to no involvement in anything other than the 14 short docs we made (directed by David Eng), with the rest of it being handled by a fantastic team brought together by producer Katarina Soukup of Catbird Productions. I did however wear several hats (cinematographer, motion graphics artist, and editor). Tamara Scherbak (assistant editor) and I, along with our encyclopedia-like director David set out to make short (3-4 minutes each), dynamic, informative films, that would capture the essence of the personalities, the community, and the music that made the district special. After getting a hugely positive response at the screening and cabaret show at the Corona Theatre for the launch, I can safely say we succeeded. It has given me great joy to be a part of telling this story, especially the story of people whose fame didn’t reach out past the confines of Montreal.
It was especially rewarding to find out that so many people we interviewed or talked about found their roots in the Caribbean, with some having family from Trinidad & Tobago, where my dad’s from too. I became fascinated with how their immigration stories compared with my family’s experience. I got lost in daydreams of what it must have been like to be a young man or woman from the islands, and then to be suddenly thrust into the biggest party town in North America during Prohibition. These daydreams are slowly forming into fictional stories I am developing, melding my life as a documentary filmmaker and fiction writer together in a way I didn’t expect. I feel like I’ve always had my feet in two different professional worlds, and three different countries, and sometimes this has made me feel unfocused, and lost. It’s nice to have moments where things become clear, and you feel at home no matter where your feet are planted.
If you haven’t already, please take a look at Burgundy Jazz on the Radio-Canada site by clicking on this link: http://music.cbc.ca/modularpages/dynamicPage.aspx?pageUrl=Burgundy-Jazz&permalink=Burgundy-Jazz
You can download the free iOS app here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/burgundy-jazz/id658159457?ls=1&mt=8
You can buy the e-book here: https://itunes.apple.com/book/id663804807?mt=11
And the soundtrack (essential for jazz lovers) is available on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/burgundy-jazz/id659705582