Farewell & good luck San Manuel

Today is our last workshop day at San Manuel, our final day of the three weeks workshops here in Arizona and our last chance to tweek and tune work and upload it to the internet; today will be a busy one.

Things start at 8.00am with an interview with Geoff Parker, a representative of BHP, the mining company that closed in San Manuel 2 years ago leaving the majority of the workers here without jobs. Nirit, Jon and Raquell get a tour of the mine by Geoff Parker and are given the company line on the past present and future of the situation. From a 3600 workforce there are now 36 employees here. Mostly they are involved in administration and in the company’s attempts to clear up and re-landscape the immense layered quarry that sits at the side of the town and is evidence of past industry.

Meanwhile at the school Murray, Annabel and Gill work with the other students on post production. Annabel is editing the footage for the students video- “When the Clock Stops…”, Gill is working on titles for the film and Murray is producing more weird and dark sounds for SFX. We have a 3.00pm deadline and a screening in the auditorium at 6.00pm with students, family and members of the community- it’s touch and go whether we’ll make it.

Nirit, Jon and Raquell return and Jon sets off to do all those geeky things that enable the web site to expand and work- compressing footage, editing photos, grabbing audio, uploading and so on. Gill organises some last minute poster making with the students whilst Nirit and Rauell set to work on the gargantuan task of trying to make sense of the many hours of footage that has been filmed around the mining issue. There’s tons of good footage but she feels we won’t have time to do it justice with so little time left, a rough cut is called for.

A huge and welcome Mexican lunch of deep fried chillis and refried beans goes down well but the food and heat give us all a bit of an afternoon food coma. Murray and Gill go off for some “Mountain Dew”, a fizzy drink reminiscent of cough medicine but with enough caffine in there to wake the dead.

Back in the school it’s much of the same, by 3pm the students start to drift off to get ready for the 6pm screenig, we have a couple of quiet hours to tidy and finish things off.

The auditorium is huge semicircular affair, the stage goes back at least 20 metres, Annabel and Bob set up the projector and sound, Gill has a dance around the stage, imagining she is Elvis, Luke and Chris make popcorn and set up stall at the enterance. Meanwhile Nirit is working frantically to get her rough cut on to tape as poeple start arriving.

After a short intro from Bob we show the weeks work and talk about the workshops, the students bravely get on stage to explain their own roles and opinions on the weeks work to many rounds of applause.

As people leave, we shake hands and hug and there are at least a few tears. The students have been amazing this week, full of energy and so keen to participate.

With well deserved beers we spend an evening with Bob Shogren (the guy that invited us over here) discussing the prospects of furthering what we have done. Already the school has been offered funds to buy equiptment and potential sponsors have also shown interest in supporting digital media education.

It seems to have been a great success, respect to the people of San Manuel who welcomed us openly and with such enthusiasm.