Louisiana Heritage Media Award – “A Place Called Desire” Leonard Smith III
- Recognizing outstanding works published or produced within the last two years (journalism, films, books, websites or other media) on Louisiana historic preservation themes, topics, issues, projects or local history and architecture.
Filmmaker Leonard Smith III’s documentary film highlights and shares the stories of the New Orleans Lower 9th Ward Desire community. He recreates the historical memory of a community and documents the legacy of pride by those who lived in this post-World War II development. Smith enables the viewer to look beyond unfair stereotypes and see the thriving, loving community of Desire’s public housing community.
The Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation recognizes 11 new award recipients for their impact on historic places, build pride and foster engagement in their communities. Awardees have been nominated by the public and selected based on
- Significance and magnitude of the nominee’s contributions and/or achievements.
- Consistent or innovative involvement with and commitment to culture.
- Benefit of the nominee’s contributions to Louisiana’s cultural understanding.
Creative and unique storytelling techniques in film will keep your audience on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what happens next. Imagine your family history becoming an interactive story with scanned and organized photographs, restored and ordered to keep on display; films restored, reorganized and transferred for easy viewing on social media, computer or digital frames. Those old mementos from a forgotten time can be brought out of the dark and incorporated with your photographic storybooks or displayed in some other fashion. We guide you on how to bring your family story to life!
Every family is unique, of course, and each family has a different story to tell. Just because certain items do not seem to go together, does not mean that they shouldn’t. For example, a reinvented family history album can include both antique and new photographs of your present family. New insights can be made when viewing these pictures side by side. Who knew, for instance, that your daughter resembled great-great Aunt Esther to a tee? Or old film reels from the early part of the twentieth century can be incorporated into a present day digital story of your family. Imagine the comparisons that can be made. What a rare and one-of-a-kind way to keep your family history on view for everyone!
Perhaps music was a part of your family’s history. An entire video family biography or personal story can be designed in a personalized way to reflect who your ancestors were with music, animation, unique titles, narration, new and old photographs, film, important papers can all be put together to create a specialized family biography. If you’ve ever viewed a Ken Burns documentary on PBS, you’ll get what a family video biography can be like. As the narrator speaks, the viewer is looking at old film footage, static photos of days long gone by, some present-day interviews, perhaps newspaper headlines or brief articles are shown, and there is music weaving itself throughout the entire production. This is what your family history video can be like if it is produced by our studios.
Classic Storytelling Techniques
The storytelling filmmaking techniques we use at LS3 Studios are unique. We have added a twist to the classic storytelling techniques. While creating the personal stories for people from all walks of life, LS3Studios has discovered that each family has a unique story to tell, many of which are emotionally touching.
We conduct video interviews with your family member using our proven narrative techniques. It should be in a comfortable and familiar setting where he or she can relax and tell his or her story with no nervousness about being in front of a camera. When all the elements are put together to form a touching visual story for the family to own, it can sometimes be so close to the heart, they often bring tears to the surface. These can be tears of joy at seeing loved ones tell their powerful stories or upon viewing those on film who have gone to the other side. Either way, it thrills each family who has a video biography created by LS3Studios to have a piece of the past now and forever.
Many people just stop here with loads and loads of data about their family history. But the actual value of any research is evident when it is published. Yes, you can pass it on to everyone to read, but not all will spend the time to go through it. And since you have invested so much time and effort to reach up to this stage, present your work in a movie that every member of your family will enjoy.
In this article, we will tell you everything about making a documentary about your family history. This is a one-stop spot for your genealogy documentary questions. The definition of incorporating the research, preparation, selection of gears, data collection, interviewing, shooting, and many more points will be covered in this article.
The idea of spending a pleasant Sunday afternoon gathering your family to see an excellent documentary about your family history is a good one! It will be entertaining and informative for the younger generation in the family. Creating a documentary about your family history will be a jewel to be treasured.
Family History Video
Let’s understanding the basics. Family history videos are the compilation of recorded interviews of your family members in which they share their stories of the past. An essential part of your genealogical research is the interview you take of every family member. It is better to record these interviews as a reference to your research. And when you compile these interviews and the photographs to form a video, the result is simply breathtaking.
Once you have all the data in your bucket, it is easy to design a family tree. Various online databases and family tree designing software are available to create an elaborative set of information about your family. It is then convenient to scoop out the information from these databases and put them in a video.
A movie on one’s family history is an inspiring enterprise. The papers or the souvenirs may or may not remain in the family for years, but an optimized and well-compiled movie will stay in the family for generations to come. Let’s illuminate some points as to why creating a documentary is essential and a fun task.
1 – It is always great to hear the stories from the ones who lived it. You don’t have to rummage through the papers and newspapers every time you want to revisit the stories. In fact, you can keep the video as we as the papers or documents you have collected to enjoy the best of both worlds.
2 – Videos create a sense of belonging to the person and establishes an effective connection with the story, which is otherwise missed in offline historical records. Watching a movie for, say, one hour is preferable to spending hours and hours reading and decoding the historical events of your family.
3 – The younger generation and the future ones deserve to know about their family. They deserve to know their grandparents, great grandparents, and their ancestors who designed the structure and beliefs of the family. Their mannerism, thoughts, humor gives a glimpse into the personality of the ancestors. To see and listen to the elders’ voice telling their experience or stories of the family is a thing to cherish among the younger generation. This establishes within them a connection with their family and ancestors. And it is an enjoyable feeling.
4 – With your documentary, you can even reach your long lost relatives. How? By sharing it on various social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Documentaries are on-the-go and enjoyable information if uploaded online. It is engaging and enjoyable.
5 – Every family builds its legacy. A legacy that trickles down the generations. The morals, values, beliefs, and principles, everything intertwined in one, create a treasured legacy by the family. Some choose to write lengthy memoirs left to be read by future generations. The uncertainty of its accessibility or readability differs from generation to generation. In such cases, if there is a video covering your experiences and anecdotes, it can be watched more. These were some points to elaborate on the advantages of creating a documentary on your family history. However, the preference might differ to access family history. Some might still prefer to go old school, which is also good. But looking at the history in a creative, interactive, and influential way in a video may become the favorite of many.
A Place Called Desire offers unforgettable history lessons applicable to American history, Louisiana history, African American history, urban history, racial history, studies of neighborhoods, studies of survival, and memorable stories of love and community. Somehow the filmmaker manages to share hard truths with a gentle touch.
~ Dr. Al Kennedy
Winner 2020 Silver Telly Award | 2020 AVA Gold Award | Finalist Best Documentary San Diego Black Film Festival | Official Selection San Francisco Black Film Festival | Award of Recognition Impact DOCS Awards | Semifinalist Rootstech Film Festival | Nominated for the 2020 LEH Humanities Documentary Film of the Year | Official Selection New Orleans Film Festival | 2021 Winner of the Best Documentary and Winner of the Audience Jury Award in the Black Film Festival of New Orleans | 2021 Winner of Louisiana Heritage Media Award.
“Nobody can dim the light which shines from within”
as penned by Maya Angelou, is the perfect metaphor for Desire.
“When you look at the times we’re in, Desire is the perfect storm of black America’s plight. Nixon, landfill, shoddy construction, war on drugs, geographic isolation, police showdown, incarceration. And it all started out as just a place where families were trying to nurture their kids in an affordable location. What a story.” LJ
The story of A Place Called Desire is one that will resonate with most people trying to find strength in a tough place. The story of trials and tribulations teaches us, as only a few stories can, about the essential wisdom of pushing through when times get tough, learning to fight against all odds. How many people in Desire preserved with grit and courage.
Those outside of the community told the stories you may have heard. We will present this film from a unique vantage point–that of insiders. Since 2008, we have interviewed over 60 individuals telling the stories of their lives in the Desire Community. They speak of a place that is not the same story that the press often portrayed. There were struggles, many struggles, but there were also strengths and positives in this tight-knit community of thousands.
Testimonies from attendees that participated in my Genealogy Storytelling Blueprint Workshop.
“Leonard Smith‘s Genealogy Storytelling Blueprint Workshop at the New Orleans Public Library was such a huge success. Attendees enjoyed the workshop so much, that when it was over, people did not want to leave! The workshop was not only informative, but fun. Attendees stated that they would like the workshop to be an all-day affair next year. We look forward to inviting Leonard back for future programming.”~ LaToya, New Orleans Public Library
“I attended Leonard Smith’s Genealogy Storytelling Blueprint Workshop held at the Whitney Plantation on July 19. He helped me focus on my many years of family history research using the building blocks of documentary filmmaking, including how to take those all important first steps. His lively and engaging presentation was enhanced by useful snippets taken from documentaries that his company LS3 Studios produced covering diverse family stories. “ ~ Dolores, New York, NY
“Leonard Smith’s presentations come to life in front of your eyes! His expertise and use of technology encompass all of the necessary tools to create a documentary that all can appreciate. He teaches his audience how to write the story of one’s ancestors and emphasizes the importance of writing that story. Anyone attending his seminar will definitely appreciate the knowledge on how to bring one’s family to life that will be preserved for future descendants.” ~Kathryn, New Orleans, LA
“I’ve had the pleasure of attending Genealogy Storytelling Blueprint Workshop and several genealogy sessions presented by Leonard Smith of LS3 Studios. They were phenomenal! The information presented was relevant and geared to a variety of audience members from the novice to the well-seasoned family genealogist. Leonard is always very helpful and open to questions. Once your research is complete he can teach you how to turn all that information into the keepsake of a lifetime! Your final research can be used as a teaching tool or show and tell as he demonstrates how it can be preserved and presented as a documentary! It was such a moving experience for me. We all have a story to tell; let Leonard guide you through what can be a lifelong journey through many hours of research! Well worth the time you’ll spend!” ~ Dianne, New Orleans, LA