TOPICS, PEOPLE AND SITUATIONS FOR AUCTION FILM Jay Ruby
THEORETICAL ANALYTIC AND METHODOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK FOR FILM
I have a vested interest in this film being reflexive. I am concerned that we somehow convey the rather complex process of making this film to our audience in an effective way. We need some distancing devices in addition to voice over and titles to state our ideas and theses. Here are some of the things I think we need to state in same way or other:
a. the circumstances of our research ethnographers. of visual scholarly communication who also happened to be interested in film
as/communication teaming up with filmmaker interested in similar things. b. The search for an event which was public, constructed to be seen; and which typified the core community values.
c. the idea that our analysis is complete and that the auction was selected not to explore and discover what it means but because it contains all of the salient features we have derived from our study. We are illustrating our thesis.
d The idea that our thesis and the native model are similar
e. Our main thesis the death of a household is a dangerous time for family, friends and community and that estate sales are cultural inventions to cone with these dangers. I am concerned with having to talk the film to death in order to convey such complex information. I am content to place some of this burden of information outside of the film. But I also do not wish to imply more than can be understood. We have to do ethnography of the making of this film but not do a Heider's ethnographic companion thing where all of this information is outside the film
a. general description of Juniata should mainly visual
b. more specific description of the pace where the sale occurs the neighborhood as it were, i.e., if possible convey a sense of the place. Honey Grove is different from McAlisterville in many important ways that effect the shape of a sale.
3. DECRIPTION AND EXPLANATION OF THE IDEA OF AN ESTATE SALE IN GENERAL AND OF THIS SALE IN PARTICULAR
This information is best conveyed through interviews with James McLaughlin(even if he is not the trust officer of the sale that we pick, he is the most knowledgeable trust officer in the county. So I would in any case want to interview him in the bank about sales in general), and a lawyer probably the attorney of the estate and/or Brown Fry; and the Long Bros. I would like to arrange an evening shoot with Larry, Ray, Ray, Jr. and the old man to discuss auctions I have know and loved. Such a shoot would also serve to show the values of the place. In each case the interviews would proceed from the general to the specific sale that is in our movie. If the executor of the estate is the bank officer or lawyer then he can become quite specific about the details of the sale. If the executor is a family member then the interview will take on another flavor (that is, the executor will not be a professional).
4. OBJECT AS FAMILY SYMBOL
a. description of the family, household and estate by executor family members, friends, and neighbors. This section cannot be planned except in a very general way until we know about which sale we film.
b. Description of "treasured" family objects both those in the sale and ones that are distributed prior to the sale thru the will or private family auction. Here we begin to locate objects that are likely to be objects of dispute among competing family members and/or those objects most likely to be obtained by the family. These will serves as objects of family identity which we will follow thru the auction and into their new home within the family.
5. THE OBJECT AS COMMODITY
a. DEALER I would like to use Earl Eaton of East Waterford because he is marginal to Juniata or at least not one of the better families. He talks easily about dealing. I would like to interview him and Joyce at home and/or in their shop about the dealer in general and the purchase and resale of objects via these dealers both in sales and otherwise. I would like to show the conflict between the local values of objects being valuable as family symbols vs the object as antiques - decontextualized commodity and how the dealer like Earl personifies the conflict. He should also go thru the sale house commenting upon the objects for sale. Ideally he will discover objects that he wants and/or thinks that the pool and other dealers will want. Like the auctioneer, executor and others we will get from him a sense of the cultural template because he will compare this sale to others. We will follow him with his objects thru the sale. Ideally he will purchase at least one of the items that he discussed in the walk thru the house and we can follow it up thru him.
b. THE COLLECTORS Teen, Michael, and Marian. They represent marginal people in that they have local values about home, family and family objects but also buy and sell objects as commodities. I would like to interview them in Michael's living room and perhaps in Teen's house. The setting and their discussion of sales will contrast nicely with the interviews of the Longs and other who have more central places in the value system. They should be walked thru the house to discuss the family, the sale etc. and then asked to describe objects. Hopefully one of them will buy something. Michael said he would save his money.
They will be characters in the auction who can be talked to easily and after the sale asked to comment upon it. The nice part of their place in the film is that what we will be asking them to do what they already do anyway, that is, we will be filming "naturally occurring events".
6. THE AUCTION ITSELF I am running out of steam and time at this point but have a few thoughts. We will have established a cast of characters already with footage of bank officers, lawyers, executors, family, friends, dealers, collectors, and us 'and the auctioneers. So we also have a series of objects described. This preliminary stuff should make the filming of the auction less confusing? The only new characters will be the food ladies from the lunch stand.
Quick thoughts on the real estate we need some comments about the selling of real estate. Is Hutch the best one for this? He is nice in that there is a tie in with Teen and we know him but his image might work again us. He is a bonefide red neck.
If the estate contains a farm, we will need a farmer to discuss it. James Patterson would be a good choice - I know him and he loves to talk.