No pastry on this path to documentary film


My transition to full-time filmmaker was supposed to start with cake.

Me standing before the newsroom, waxing poetic about the noble mission of journalism.

Applause. Hugs. Freeport Bakery Fruit Tart.

My film account freshly flush, I’d kiss The Sacramento Bee goodbye. Maybe I’d even write some insider film blog for The Bee as I poured full-time into my documentary “Do the Dance.”

For those new to this blog, I’m Ed Fletcher a now former reporter for The Sacramento Bee.

I didn’t leave with a cake. I left in mass. The victim of one of the largest per capita layoffs in The Sacramento Bee’s history.

I grew up in the Sacramento suburb of Orangevale, which was also home of the topless beer bar at the center of the documentary. After attending college in Louisiana, I returned to Sacramento in 2000 and started a nearly 18-year run at The Bee covering state, regional and local government as well as many years as a general assignment reporter.

Since I’d learned of the crazy 1969 Pink Pussykat indecency trial through an editor at The Bee, I’d always hoped my creative side project would align with the newspaper’s goal and create a win-win for us all.

I won’t go into why The Bee didn’t support this project, but it’s safe to say historically The Bee has not been a place where new ideas are embraced or side projects are supported.

Over the years, I’ve had dozens of good ideas die without the support they needed, thus I turned more of my energy and ideas toward projects outside of the office.

Giving life to a project of this complexity while working major metro daily newspaper is not for those without stamina. I’d moved the project along nicely, raising $10,000 last year to support the effort, but there have been struggles.

One challenge has been raising the money needed without threatening my journalistic integrity. Being a reporter that sometimes covered The Sacramento Kings meant not taking or asking for money from the team’s wealthy owners. The same scenario applied to Sacramento developers. Asking them for money, created a new potential conflict-of-interest to report to management.

The upside of being a former reporter is that I now have the time and motivation to attack this project like never before and as my own boss, I’m suddenly conflict-free.

In the short-term, a expect a Sacramento interview date to be announced soon and a renewed (conflict-free) charge at fundraising.

Let’s go “Do the Dance.” We’ll have cake later.

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#filmmaking #layoff #news #journalism

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