Doc Talk Podcast Digs Deep Into Archive With Filmmaker Debra McClutchy, Delves Into Incarceration And Redemption Story ‘Songs From The Hole’

Archival producers spend their days immersed in history – cultural, political, or personal, depending on the project. Yet, historically, their specialized work has often been overlooked, even though it’s key to the Ken Burns canon and other great documentaries like Man on Wire13thThe Fog of WarApollo 11How to Survive a PlagueThey Shall Not Grow Old, and so many others.

The recently formed Archival Producers Alliance is helping to address this fundamental lack of understanding of what archival producers do and how they do it. And it’s also alerting the doc community to foundational challenges posed by the rapid emergence of AI.

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In the latest episode of Deadline’s Doc Talk podcast, we speak with Debra McClutchy, a member of the APA who earned an Oscar nomination for co-directing the archive-driven short film The Martha Mitchell Effect. She discusses where archival producers find the rarities that make a historically focused film stand out – and the potential threat and potential opportunity posed by artificial intelligence. She also shares insights on her archival expeditions for a remarkably entertaining and endearing documentary Swamp Dogg Gets His Pool Painted, a mind-bending exploration of the musician and singer Little Jerry Williams Jr., perhaps better known by his alter ego Swamp Dogg.

Our conversation with McClutchy was recorded before a live audience at Nō Studios in Milwaukee, the production hub created by Doc Talk co-host John Ridley in his hometown along Lake Michigan. At Nō headquarters, Doc Talk also sat down with hip hop artist JJ’88, star of the exceptional documentary Songs From the Hole, as well as the film’s producer Richie Reseda.

As ’88 openly says, “I took a life at 15 and discovered the power of radical forgiveness and accountability.” The radical forgiveness has to do with ‘88’s encounter behind bars with the man who killed his brother. The stakes of Songs from the Hole could not be higher.

This is part 2 of Doc Talk’s coverage of the Milwaukee Film Festival, which concluded earlier this month in the place known as “Cream City” (for the color of the bricks of many historic Milwaukee buildings) or, if you prefer, “Brew City” (a nickname needing no explanation for those who have sampled Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz, Miller or other beers).

Doc Talk is co-hosted by Ridley (Oscar winner for 12 Years a Slave) and Matt Carey, Deadline’s documentary editor. The pod is a production of Deadline and Nō Studios, presented with support from National Geographic Documentary Films.

Listen to the episode above or on major podcast platforms including SpotifyiHeart and Apple.

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