Salt Institute for Documentary Studies

Located in Portland, Maine, the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies offers a 15-week immersion program for advanced undergraduate and graduate students in documentary writing, photography, or radio.
This blog is an update of current Salt students insights and musings.


You say pot-ay-toh, I say poh-tah-toh

I know you might think that the only time we talk documentaries (or "doc talk" as I like to call it) is while we're in class. But we actually talk about documentaries a lot around here. I live with two other Salt students right now, and I'm not gonna lie; sometimes we come home after a full day of Salt and we talk about...Salt.

We just can't help ourselves. I mean, most of us have spent our lives thinking about how much we want to do this as a profession or as a way of life, and for the first time in our lives we're with other people who feel the same way. People who aren't just interested, but really invested in the idea. And so we go out to the bar, or out to eat, or for a run and the topic of stories just sorta sneaks in and the next thing you know we're debating ethics or discussing angles. Yeah, it sounds dorky. But I've actually learned a lot about what I'm doing here through doc talk outside of class. We teach each other just as much as the professors do.

But too much doc talk and field work can make your brain go completely numb. I mean, here you are running around day after day talking to everyone in hopes that you make a connection, and at the end of the day your mind is reeling. After the high of the interview has worn off, you're left to analyze what you said and what they said and what it meant and what's the "why now?" angle and the "what's at stake?" question, and it really makes your head explode. It's like the worst parts of dating all rolled into one encounter.

So how do you wind down after a long day? Recently, it seems our best therapy has been YouTube. Ariel will be embarrassed that I'm making this public, but she has the most extensive YouTube knowledge of anyone I know. When I'm all burnt out on documentaries, sometimes I just go down to the second floor and she starts showing me the best stuff I've ever seen. I'll just give you an example of today's bill of fare:

Hooray for YouTube. Without it, I think my brain would have already melted.

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