April 13, 2020
Q&A with “Hometown Media” Filmmaker Ryan Gleeson

Learn more about "Hometown Media" from filmmaker Ryan Gleason.

Earlier this year we toured the INseparable Films to eight cities and towns and now they will be available to enjoy from your home. On April 14, Hometown Media premieres on Facebook at 7 p.m. ET. Tune in here: https://bit.ly/HometownMedia

Documentary filmmaker Ryan Gleeson is based in Chicago. Born in Richmond, raised in punk rock, and moved to tell stories of people from the Heartland, Ryan found his home at Kartemquin Films and has spent the last eight years there helping craft stories about real people in and around the Midwest. He served as co-editor on Atlanta Documentary Film Fest’s Jury Award-winning Raising Bertie, post-production supervisor on Oscar-nominated films Minding the Gap, Abacus, and Edith + Eddie, as well as editor and post-production supervisor on many other documentary features, shorts, non-fiction television and special featurettes. In 2016, Ryan was selected by Sundance Documentary Lab as a contributing Editor Fellow for 2019 Peabody Award nominee “Whose Streets?,” an intimate look at the community of Ferguson, Missouri following the death of Mike Brown at the hands of the Ferguson police.

Before watching, learn more about Hometown Media filmmaker Ryan Gleeson:

How did you choose the story/topic of your INseparable film?

I’ve been obsessively trying, and failing, to make something in my hometown of Richmond for a long time. Over the last couple years, I’ve focused on finding a way to tell a story about how local media is consumed, and in research I learned that a small newspaper about 20 miles from Richmond, Western Wayne News, had recently expanded to selling papers in Richmond. The sprawl of a traditionally small, rural paper suggested to me that they might be growing, so I subscribed and started asking around. After getting to know the paper’s style, its readers’ appetite, and the approach the staff was taking to writing about their community, I realized that I found a real treasure.

What was the toughest challenge of making your film?

Shooting in a community that isn’t used to cameras being around required me to be as lean as possible in my production, which practically ended with me as a one person crew covering camera, sound, directing and field producing alone, while also fielding lots of questions from folks in the spaces I was recording. As an editor by trade, I wouldn’t say any of those skills are my strongest suit—this resulted in a little extra energy exerted in the edit to cover some of the deficiencies. That said, I wouldn’t change anything from the process, as it provided an intimate experience I don’t believe would have been possible otherwise.

As a director, what kind of stylistic choices did you make, and why?

I love the ability short film has to throw the viewer into a space with minimal exposition and just experience what’s happening, and then the whole thing is over before they can question it. I hope that it doubles as both a way to see ourselves proudly as Hoosiers and a way to express a small part of the Hoosier experience to folks not from our parts. The two most distinct parts of the film, Millie and Dan reading their articles, was never originally intended but was something that came much, much later, after realizing that we never actually demonstrated the most important part of what they’re doing: the writing. I tried a few versions, some without voices, one with my voice (yuck) and one with a voice actor but at the end of the day we needed to hear their voices and I think that detail really helped punctuate their beautiful writing.

Was there anything that got left on the cutting room floor or you couldn’t include for some reason that you’d like to share? 

I shot a scene with Joe, who mostly works as the staff graphic designer, as he writes a story of the local Pick Strawberry Farm’s opening. The farmer is a beloved local hero with an incredible personal story and the scene provided my favorite shot of the film: Joe interviewing folks on a little rise with the beautiful green strawberry patches below. Ultimately there were some complications with some community members that wished to not be on camera, and unfortunately had to cut my darling. 

Tune in to our digital INseparable Film Fest on Facebook on the following dates:

April 7: From Sundown to Sunrise (Valparaiso)
April 14: Hometown Media (Wayne County)
April 21: The Earthkeepers (Bloomington)
April 28: Raised in Contrast (Lebanon)

After making their premieres on social media, the full films will be available to stream at inseparablefilms.org.

Posted In: INseparable

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *