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Digging In: A Documentary Retreat
July 29-August 4, 2012

Big Shed and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke are partnering to bring you this working getaway. Whether you're an audio producer, photographer, writer, filmmaker, or media maker of any stripe, we've designed this retreat to help you make meaningful progress on your own projects. If you have a story you’re trying to finish, a project you're researching, a proposal you need to write, or maybe you just want space to think about your creative trajectory; spend a week as part of a great group of creatives, all of whom are doing the same thing. And oh yes, there will be homemade ice cream on the porch.
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LONGER week - an extra day of documentary fun!
IMPROVED creativity-sparking content!
ENHANCED work strategies to add to your toolbox!
MORE unstructured time for work or relaxation!
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Time To Focus – Most of your time will be available to work independently on your project -- editing, reading, researching, writing, strolling about, etc. Throughout the week, we will help you think about how you're spending your time, but ultimately what you do will be up to you.

Keeping on Track –
To help meet your goals we have a few ways we'll help you make the most of your time.
  • Daily check-ins: Small groups where you'll share what you're working on and how it's going; taking time to identify next steps and set goals.
  • One-on-one coaching: Schedule time during the week with Shea, Jesse or Kara to help you work through specific issues, if necessary.
  • On-the-fly: One of the greatest assets you'll have as a participant is the expertise, creativity and input of other participants.
  • You, too: Of course, that means you'll have the opportunity to help others think about their work, too.
Rubbing Your Creative Shoulders – We want to make sure that you're inspired, restored, focused and having a good time. Towards that end, here are a few things you can expect:
  • Creative Cuisine: We're planning a bevy of short, idea-generating workshops to keep your creative juices flowing.
  • Cutting Loose: From field trips to barbecues, expect several opportunities to take a break and have fun with all of the great folks who have come.
  • Space: A variety of work environments to choose from
  • Nourishment: Sharing a healthful, home-cooked lunch each day
  • Cherry-on-top: Hand-cranked ice-cream on the porch
The Basics – We take the little things seriously.
  • Food: We'll share a tasty and healthy home-cooked lunch each day. And you'll have access to a full kitchen if you'd like to prepare evening meals for yourself or with others. We've been known to throw a cookout, and of course … there will be hand-cranked ice cream.
  • Space: CDS has a variety of workspaces you can use throughout the week. There are plenty of places where you can work with others or by yourself.
  • Time: Most of the retreat work time happens between 9am and 6pm each day, followed by (optional) evening activities. But if you're an a perpetual early riser or a confirmed night owl, the workspaces will be open to you from 8am to 9pm.
Arrival / Departure Times – For planning your travel.
  • Begins: 5pm on Sunday (July 29) with dinner and a relaxed evening session.
  • Ends: 1:30pm on Saturday (August 4) after a closing lunch.
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Focus On A Specific Project – Before you arrive, you should decide on a particular project you'd like to focus on. It can be as broad or narrow as you like. You'll get the most out of this retreat if you know what you want to focus on long before you arrive. (If you aren't sure what we mean, drop us a line).

Closing Session – At the end of the week, you'll have an opportunity to present your work. Whether this is a deadline to help you finish producing a piece or an opportunity to review what you've accomplished and what you're going to explore after you leave, this will be a brief but important time to share your work after a week of working together. Then we'll have lunch and say our fond farewells.

Bring What You Need (Or Ask For It) – You should bring any software or hardware you might need for your work. However, we can make a mac workstation available to you. Let us know ahead of time if that's something you're interested in. CDS has a pretty robust library of media production software. If there's specific software you need, give us a heads up so we can find out if they have it. It's better to figure that out ahead of time.

Professional vs. Production Training – This retreat is designed for media makers who already have their basic technical chops down -- enough to employ them in service of you own projects. Of course, it's fine to hone your software skills at the retreat. We just want to be clear that this isn't a replacement for production or technical training.
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Housing: There are a wide variety of housing options at your disposal while attending summer sessions at the Center for Documentary Studies. CDS has created a list of local supporters who welcome participants from CDS summer institutes as guests at very reasonable rates (I think around $30 a night). After you register for the course, CDS will make that list available to you. Also, there are a number of reasonably-priced hotels and airbnb options accessible to CDS.

A home-cooked lunch will be provided each day, but you'll want to have money for dinner, breakfast and any snacks you want. Refrigerator space and coolers are available during the day for snacks. And you'll have access to a full kitchen if you'd like to prepare evening meals for yourself or with others. Maybe budget $15-40 a day for food.  

Other Expenses: There will be several opportunities to socialize with other participants during the evenings. We might try to take in a baseball game one night, or you may choose to spend time with other participants at a local pub or coffeeshop. Those activities are at your discretion, but you might want to bring an extra $100-200.

Transportation from Airport:
RDU airport is a 20-30 minute drive from CDS. You are responsible for your transportation to CDS. It's a $30-40 cab ride between CDS and the airport.  You can find other participants to share a cab. There are SuperShuttle vans available at the airport and pickups for return filghts. And there's a bus route from the airport to a bus station near CDS - (The bus route doesn't run on Sunday, unfortunately). There is also a taxi stand at the airport.

Transportation around Durham: There are several ways to get around Durham while you're at CDS -- carpooling, cabs, walking and buses. We've never seen transportation be a problem at CDS events. Folks with cars seem to help each other get where they need to be. Walking is an option for several dining and even housing options. There are several bus routes to/from CDS and the rest of the city. And worst case scenario, Durham has a good, reasonably priced, cab company called Durham's Best.
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THE RINGLEADERS: Supporting your work
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Shea Shackelford is an audio documentary producer and creator of Place + Memory, a public media project mapping a landscape of remembered places. When he isn’t producing his own stories, Shea's busy training producers and helping organizations design and create their own media projects. His awards include a Bronze for Best Radio Documentary at the 2010 Third Coast International Audio Festival. Shea has been part of the CDS Summer Audio Institute team since 2005.
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Jesse Dukes has been working as a journalist since 2005, producing audio and multimedia stories for radio and the web. He also writes magazine articles. His radio work has aired on Studio 360, Weekend Edition and Day to Day and other national and regional radio programs. Print and award-winning multimedia work has appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review and Global Post. When he isn’t working from his home in Charlottesville, VA, Jesse’s frequently reporting from places as far and wide as central Alaska, Downeast Maine, or Tanzania.
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Kara Oehler is a radio documentary producer, media artist, and interactive designer. She is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Zeega, an open-source platform for creating interactive documentaries supported by the Knight News Challenge. Since 1999, her stories and projects have received Peabody, Third Coast Festival and other awards, aired on shows such as RadioLab, Morning Edition, Hearing Voices and Studio 360 and been exhibited at MoMA and other venues. She is currently a Radcliffe/Film Study Center fellow at Harvard University and a Rockefeller Fellow with United States Artists.
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CREATIVE CABAL: Making engaging events even more so
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Ben Pagac is an entomologist, musician, and independent producer living in Annapolis, MD. His early audio epiphanies include: discovering stereo while listening to Led Zeppelin's "Whole lotta love," discovering bird sonograms in the Field Guide to Birds of North America, and watching Brian Depalma's 1981 film "Blow Out", in which Travolta plays a sound collector. In Ben's spare time he enjoys pretending to teach zydeco dance and unprotected beekeeping.
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Lulu Miller is a contributing producer of Radiolab. She believes in the Porch. She struggles with Punctuality.
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Greg Antrim Kelly is an artist and the co-founder and Executive Director of The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative in Charlottesville, VA. His studio work consists of a wide range of mediums including illustration, collage, sound, and performance. At The Bridge, he explores the use of the arts as medium for social engagement, community building and personal transformation. He holds degrees, babies and a soft spot for the next generation.
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(IN)FAMOUS GUESTS: Folks who might drop in for dinner
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John Biewen is the audio program director at CDS and has been making beautiful and thoughtful radio stories since 1983 -- including a current project called Groundwork. John's been known to stop by for lunch or to catch a Durham Bulls game with us.
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Sean Cole is an inimitable public radio producer, poet, and musician with a yen for Culture Club. Little birdies tell us we might enjoy another visit from this karma chameleon again this summer.
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Travis Dove is an award-winning freelance photographer, shoots lobsters, and plays third base. In anticipation of this year's retreat, Travis donned a new Durham Bulls chapeau while his dog took this picture, just for you!
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THE MUSCLE: Behind the scenes and by your side, making sure you have what you need
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April Walton + The CDS Crew make all of this possible. Their well-oiled machine make it possible for us to have such an amazing week. And 90% of what they do is practically invisible. But trust us … they rock. And be sure to ask April about the Certificate in Documentary Arts.
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Noah Rubin-Blose is a cook, baker, organizer, gardener, and capoeirista. Born and raised in the North Carolina Piedmont, he works to build a just food system, loving communities, and a world for all of us. Noah makes our AMAZING lunches.