AUDIO: A Conversation with the Makers of the Interactive Documentary ‘Hollow’

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Hollow is an interactive documentary that merges cinematic techniques with web-based storytelling to encourage a dialogue about the issues that small-town America faces. The project examines the lives of 30 individuals living in McDowell County, W.Va., an area that is representative of many boom-and-bust areas across the country. McDowell County has lost almost 80 percent of its population since 1950 and continues to lose more young people every year due to a lack of economic opportunity. This rural brain drain has left many counties across the nation with an ageing demographic and failing infrastructure. However, many people—approximately 22,000—continue to live and work in McDowell. They feel a great sense of pride and belonging and believe they are there to help improve and move the county into the future.

Focusing on the residents who have stayed during the tumultuous times, Hollow is a story of hope and home and strives to not only address the issues through storytelling but help provide potential solutions. Using HTML5 to merge cinematic and emotional storytelling with the web, the stories of residents have been brought to life for the outside world to understand the often overlooked sector of our society. The interactive documentary provides a “lean forward” and “lean back” experience and encourages each user to not only consume media but also be an active participant and contribute to the narrative.


Elaine McMillion: Project Director
Elaine McMillion is a documentary filmmaker who uses techniques gained through journalism, in addition to experience in research, audio/video production and photography, to express a story visually through multiple mediums. Her work has screened and won awards nationally and internationally and explores how digital storytelling and participatory media can empower local communities. McMillion strives to bring the voices of people and places that are often underrepresented or misrepresented by the mass media to the forefront through powerful and authentic storytelling. Filmmaker Magazine named McMillion one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film for 2013. McMillion has a B.S. in News-Editorial Journalism from West Virginia University and an M.F.A. in Visual and Media Art from Emerson College.

Jeff Soyk: Art Director/Designer and Architect
Jeff Soyk is an award-winning media artist with experience in new media design, motion design, animation, photography and film/video. His passion for meaningful storytelling and multiple mediums has lead him to interactive documentary, as he recognizes the potential for engaging transmedia experiences that create a positive and lasting impact. He strives to work on projects that explore the possibilities of modern media and address important social issues. Soyk has a B.F.A. in New Media Design from Rochester Institute of Technology and an M.F.A. in Visual and Media Art from Emerson College.

This conversation took place with Grant Scott the founder and curator of the United Nations of Photography via Skype and is therefore not professional recording quality.

© Grant Scott 2014

You can read more of Grant Scott’s insights into the world of professional photography in his new book Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained published by Focal Press and available form

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