UNC Multimedia Bootcamp is where I got my first taste of journalistic documentary video storytelling. Not that this was my first video ever; I will confess to having made some terribly sophomoric sketch comedy using a video camera rented from the local mom-and-pop equivalent of Blockbuster Video back in the day.

While it wasn’t a boot camp in the “drop your *something* and grab your socks” kind of way, it definitely was a crash course. Remember that scene in Wayne’s World 2, where they had roadie training, and the veteran roadie who had bludgeoned a sweet shop owner to death with his own shoes to get brown M&M’s in order to get a band on stage was introducing himself? And he said, “You will hurt. You will have aches and pains. But you will get good.”

We got … well, competent enough after one week.

Afterward, I got a LOT of practice shooting a road trip to ancient Navajo and Hopi ruins in the Southwest with my father, an interview with a fascinating lady who is a muzzleloader shooting champion with a passion for creating Indian beadwork, and a piece on a mixed martial artist in Syracuse. So come to think of it, given the demands of producing research for academic presses on a regular basis, I’ve gotten more experience at this game than I thought.

UNC Multimedia Bootcamp is what got me up and running.

In just a week, we learned best practices for online video shooting and editing, basic html coding, interviewing for video and audio projects, and how all the elements of soundbites, natural sound, room tone, and voiceover-less editing combine with video footage to let the characters tell the story while the reporters stayed behind the camera or off to the side while conducting the interview.

We learned to become, as I tell my Multimedia Journalism students, Men in Black.

Our only presence is the standalone answers and reactions from interview subjects that we prompted with our carefully worded questions and by biting our tongues, smiling, nodding, and using the “dumb dog” expression while keeping our mouths shut and resisting the temptation to say, “Uh-huh … interesting … go on ….”

My assignment partner Tom Salyer, a freelance photographer from Miami, and I hit up a dozen businesses in downtown Chapel Hill and Carrboro, N.C., before we found someone willing to talk on camera and let us into their lives for a couple of hours of interviewing and B-roll filming.

This is the result.

Barry “Sid” Keith is just the best for letting us in. From one Tar Heel to another, thanks, Sid!

Barry "Sid" Keith's secondhand shop Sid's Surplus has been a fixture in downtown Carrboro, N.C., for decades.

Barry “Sid” Keith’s secondhand shop Sid’s Surplus has been a fixture in downtown Carrboro, N.C., for decades.