Rick became involved in documentary work in 2003. After telling a student of his at the 2003 Cork Dulcimer Festival about having found his ancestor's house and the ruins of a linen mill his ancestor and his ancestor's brother ran in the mid to late 1600s, that student said, "You are the perfect person to make a video documentary of the history of the hammered dulcimer in Co. Antrim!"
Not knowing what that meant, nor how to do it, Rick began searching for a place to find out what that meant and to learn how to do it upon returning home. He found that place 30 miles from his home at the time - the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, Durham, NC.
That Fall, he enrolled in the Certificate in Documentary Studies program through Duke's Continuing Studies. Having taken courses in video interviewing, video editing, project management, use of video equipment,lighting for interviews, and copyright issues for this program for roughly 4 years, Rick graduated from the program on December 7, 2007.
Currently, he is working on the video documentary project about the hammered dulcimer in Co. Antrim, No. Ireland from the 1920s to the present. The story centers on John Rea, Ireland's most famous dulcimer player who was from Glenarm, Co. Antrim, and those who play dulcimer because of him.
Rick travelled to No. Ireland each year from 2003 through 2008 interviewing folks who were influenced to play dulcimer by John Rea and other musicians who knew John. He has finished up his fieldwork, and is now in the process of getting final permissions, and editing and producing the documentary. Rick has no idea when the project will be finished, but hopes it is in this decade.
What is documentary?
The answer to that question has been discussed at length in many places by many people. In the introductory seminar Rick took (see below), the students discussed this in one of the classes, and he began to see how complicated it could be to define documentary, or to explain concisely what a documentary film was. Here are a couple of good definitions found online that he believes state what he thinks documentary and documentary films to be:
Refers to film or video that explores a subject in a way
the public expects to be factual and accurate.
Documentaries may be balanced by including various
viewpoints, or they may be subjective, offering the viewpoint
and impressions of one producer.
Documentary film - A film that presents a version
of events that viewers are intended to take not as a work of
imagination but primarily as fact. Material and
techniques can be very varied - documentaries may or may not
involve a narrative and may or may not present an argument
explicitly (e.g. with a voice-over commentary). Materials
may comprise newsreel, historical footage, interviews with
witnesses or other 'authoritative' figures, or
even dramatised re-enactments. Documentary is often
presented or seen as the opposite of fiction.
From 233_cinematic_terms.doc, formerly at the Lancaster University site.