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Filmmaking / Directing : Is this worth a doc? by Lucia Cascioli

Is this worth a doc?

Hi All. I'm not looking for money. - How's that for a grab? I just wanted to share this interesting true story to see if doc filmmakers think this is worth delving further into. I think so. A few months ago, I met Trevor Plint. Trevor is working on his Ph.D in Chemical Engineering at the University of Toronto. He is also a Junior Fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto. In 2008, on a whim, Trevor bought a tiny journal measuring all of 5 1/2" high and 3 1/2" wide off a table at the Gloucester Green Bus Station in Oxford, England for the bargain price of £2. He thought the tiny graph paper on the inside was neat. He discovered, however, that it wasn’t completely blank once he boarded the bus. You see, once Trevor sat down and flipped through the journal, he discovered the attached page and a bunch more that followed. Not being able to read Italian, Trevor asked former professors for leads in helping with the translation. Professors in the languages dept. turned him down - they said they couldn’t read the handwriting. (It’s very small and not like North American cursive.) Through connections, his request for assist came to me. I took one look at it and instantly knew the shape of the letters. My grandfather, who was born in 1889 and with whom I lived for 18 years, wrote exactly the same way. I volunteered to translate it and Trevor graciously entrusted it to me. Turns out, the journal is a diary of a soldier (a telegrafista) who fought in WWI. It’s also much more than that – it also contains all the transmissions he sent over the wire while a soldier. By comparing the dates in the diary to the entries of the transmissions, I was able to determine the name of the soldier, where he was during the war and other notable war figures of the time. It’s a curious story. How did this diary end up at a bus station in Oxford? Are there any family members out there now? It's also a piece of history. Trevor and I would ultimately like the diary to go to a museum for safekeeping and for more people to see. There is no selfishness here. Anyone want to take this further for a doc?

Stacey Bradford Schaller

Wow! Very interesting. I actually could see that as a war/mystery narrative project as well. Do I read the date correctly? Is it 1915?

Liam Lacy

Really cool! I wish I could find something like this.

Shaun O'Banion

It's intriguing for sure. Here's a thought: use someone's iPhone and document yourselves unraveling this "mystery" yourself. Since you have no idea where it's going to go it could be a really fascinating journey. Check out any article you can find on Sean Baker's narrative film TANGERINE. They shot on an iPhone and there are a ton of pieces about HOW they pulled it off. Alternatively, look into getting a Canon 5D or 7D. But be prepared. Shooting a doc can take a loooong time.

Brandon Buikema

You have a very interesting story with a little mystery mixed in. I know I would want to watch it.

Jennifer S. Wooleyhand

Loved your story, Lucia! Thought Shaun had a generous and exciting suggestion in your filming the doc yourself; that just makes it even more interesting. Such history is meant for respectful and gentle--loving--hands. Excited for you and in seeing where this goes. Hope you keep us posted.

Joe Becker

excellent find! it does spark curiosity. whether or not your make a documentary from the story depends largely on what story you find and how good of a storyteller you are. alternatively, you could tell a fiction story based on what you find, and that could be even more exciting. and I love Shaun's idea. definitely document your search for the story.

Lucia Cascioli

Thanks for the feedback! Much appreciated.

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