‘Love Is In The Fair’ dir. Kelly Creedon

Boy meets girl. Boy buys girl candied apple. Boy and girl kiss on top of the ferris wheel. Destiny awaits. Follow along as teenagers illustrate the delicately nuanced rituals of courtship and mating at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair in Dudley, North Carolina.

Directors: Kelly Creedon, Callaghan O’Hare & Sami Jorgensen

C8: The film was shot the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair in Dudley, North Carolina. Had you been to the fair before and at what point did you realise you had a documentary on your hands?

KC: This was actually the first time for all of us at this fair, though we had been to county fairs before and had a bit of an idea what to expect. We were hunting for stories for our documentary narratives class and initially thought we would find good characters among the performers and carnival workers. But as we scoped out the fair, we started to notice the abundance of teens, giggling, primping groups of girls peaking over at packs of boys, who were in turn trying to look tough and smooth while they snuck peaks back at the girls. As we eavesdropped and eventually approached the teens and started asking questions, we were let in on this whole nuanced world of courtship and romance playing out before us, culminating in the ultimate moment: the kiss at the top of the Ferris wheel. We were hooked.

C8: How did you work with your partners Sami Jorgensen and Callaghan O’Hare to shoot the film?

KC: Once we had honed in on our general direction for the project, we brainstormed a list of what we were looking for, both visually and thematically. We had a limited window of time to shoot as we only had a couple of nights at the fair, so we would make our shot list, divide up priorities, and then head out in different directions for an hour or two at a time before meeting up again, sharing notes, and deciding what we needed to focus on next. Once we realized the ferris wheel was a big hub of activity and that there was a huge line of teens waiting to ride, we kept one person stationed there doing interviews and sweet-talking the couples to let us ride to the top with them. We just kept chiseling away at our shot list, occasionally refueling with funnel cakes and French fries, until we ran out of time and had to hope that we had what we needed.

C8: Do you have any funny or amusing anecdotes from your time filming at the fair?

KC: We had lots of priceless moments play out in the making of this project, and a lot of pretty hilarious and tender content ended up on the cutting room floor. But one that sticks with me is Callaghan’s interaction with two young teen boys who considered themselves quite adept at wooing the females. When she asked them for their favorite pick-up lines, one immediately responded with this: “Are those space shorts? Because that booty is out of this world.”

C8: What was the biggest obstacle you faced during the shoot and how did you overcome it?

KC: We faced a number of obstacles, but I would say the biggest technical challenge was the physical environment of the fair. On the one hand, it’s wonderfully visual and dynamic and there’s so much to shoot. But at the same time, it’s so loud and bright and frenetic.  As documentarians, we’re used to looking for a quiet room or at least a quiet corner to conduct interviews, and that just wasn’t possible here between the music and the crowds and the ride and game workers hawking on their PA systems.

We worked to overcome it by trying to place people in any spots that were slightly less loud and crazy for the interviews. We used multiple lavs to capture the best sound we could given the circumstances, and tried to make sure we got good ambient sound so we could mix it well in the end.

C8: What has the reaction to the film been like? Did any reaction surprise you?

KC: The reaction has been super positive and the film has gotten way more attention than we anticipated. People seem to be universally charmed by the film, and it’s been exciting to see it resonating so much with audiences. I think we were fortunate to find a way to tap into a very universal experience that brings people back to their own wonderful, painful, awkward, exhilarating memories of butterflies in the stomach, hand holding, stolen kisses, and endless crushes.

C8: What had you done in your career up until this point and what have you done since?

KC: At the time we made this film, we were all students in the Visual Communication program of the journalism school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (I was an MA candidate, Sami and Callaghan were seniors). Since then, we’ve all graduated and ventured out into the world in different directions. I recently finished an internship with the video team at the LA Times and am working as an independent short documentary film producer based out of Charleston, Callaghan is currently in NYC doing a video internship at Time’s LightBox, and will be headed to the LA Times for the summer. And Sami is coaching track and field and cross-country at Brown University as well as pursuing still photography work.

C8: What makes for a good collaboration?

KC: For me, good collaboration relies heavily on good communication, as well as a hefty dose of solid organization, especially in filmmaking! On the technical side, working together on this project was a bit of a learning curve for us as we had to overcome the hurdles of collaborating in Premiere across multiple project files and hard drives. But putting aside the technical challenges, I believe good communication, where each team member’s input and perspective is sought and valued, is essential before, during, and after the process of creating the project. One of the challenges and opportunities I find in collaborative documentary work is recognising your own and each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and being open to teaching and learning from each other. I find it incredibly valuable to be in the field and in the editing room with others and get an inside, behind-the-scenes peak at how they do what they do.

C8: What’s on the horizon for Kelly Creedon? Any interesting projects lined up?

KC: I’m currently finishing up my next short film project, In This World, which is also a coming-of-age documentary piece, though with a much different feel than Love is in the Fair. It’s the story of 15-year-old Courvosier Cox, a self-proclaimed “triple threat” performer who knows his destiny is to perform sold-out shows in LA. But growing up in inner-city Durham, NC, he first has to navigate a challenging adolescence and find his place in a complex and contradictory world. The film follows him as he plans the talent showcase that he’s sure will launch his career and help him escape into the spotlight. Stay tuned.