If you enjoyed the program Docubloggers and/or you’d like more info about it, you’ve come to the right place. The videos live on across the web and on our YouTube channel, and you’ll undoubtedly see me post a few of them on this blog roll, but the Docubloggers website will now redirect here.
The show represents so many wonderful things to me. Throughout its brief run on television (and, of course, the web), I was able to meet and interview amazing people from all walks of life, experience creative and innovative submissions from both amateur and professional filmmakers, and work alongside some of the most talented professionals in my industry. To say working on Docubloggers was one of the highlights of my career – and my personal life – would be an understatement.
If you’d like to get in touch with me about the program, please feel free to click on my contact info at the top of the page. To learn a bit more about its history and highlights, read on!
A Brief History
Britney Spears was running wild, Vice President Cheney was setting the standard for shooting lawyers in the face, and somewhere in the dark bowels of a creepy old basement at KLRU-TV, the seeds of a new television program were being planted. The year was 2006, and the program was Docubloggers: Life in Central Texas.
I had previously carved out an office for myself among the ancient file cabinets of the aforementioned creepy basement, and was joined shortly thereafter by my good friend and producing partner, Domenique Bellavia. At the time, we were both Associate Producers for Austin Now, a weekly public affairs show on KLRU-TV, but we had been given word that our host/Executive Producer was leaving, and the current season would be the last. The two of us quickly set about coming up with a new show idea that would fill the void left by Austin Now.
We knew what we wanted – short-form documentaries about Central Texas, video content available online, and a blog component for interaction with our audience – but we were stuck on a title. After a few days of lobbing truly terrible ideas back and forth, we were joined downstairs by our boss for a quick brainstorming session. The words “documentary” and “blog” wouldn’t leave me alone. I’d bob and weave, but the two persistent words just wouldn’t go away.
I leaned back in my chair, frustrated, and just spat out “docubloggers”. Silence. It was an obvious mashing together of the English language, no different or less obnoxious than “Brangelina” or “jeggings”. I looked to Domenique and then to our boss, the back of my neck warm with embarrassment. After an excruciating handful of seconds, I saw nods. The show now had a title to go with its initial concept.
Naming the program allowed us to move forward in leaps and bounds. We saw the rapid expansion of social media and Google’s acquisition of YouTube as signs we were on the right track, and morphed Docubloggers into a truly interactive video forum for Central Texas. Domenique and I would produce stories, and then combine them with community submissions, both on our site and on the televised program. For the first time, a professionally produced television series could be an actual conversation with its own viewers.
We produced a few segments under the new masthead, aired them during the final episodes of Austin Now in March 2007, and then created a pilot episode of Docubloggers that aired in May. Domenique and I took a summer hiatus to produce a feature length documentary called The World, the War & Texas about Central Texans during World War II, and then rolled out our first season of Docubloggers in September.
The roll out of Season 1 began with good news, with the pilot episode winning a Lone Star Emmy award in the Magazine Program category. That year, I was also asked to present the show’s format to employees of PBS stations around the country at the PBS Development Conference. The buzz was good, and we had a full head of steam behind us.
That head of steam produced two seasons of Docubloggers, 49 some-odd episodes, tons of great coverage of the politics, art, and communities of Central Texas, and more viewer submissions than I could count. It was a great run, so it was with great sadness in May 2009 that Domenique and I received the news that the show was being effectively canceled and we were being laid off. Times were tough, and KLRU needed to tighten its belt. The show and our jobs were simply the casualties of a turbulent economy.
But Domenique and I were determined to do what we could to keep the show afloat. We were able to produce a few stories in the months to follow as we revived our personal careers and looked for a new home for Docubloggers. It was – and is – always refreshing when we’d encounter people that were fans of the show, which is what kept us going. It’s unfortunate, however, that such support isn’t always enough when it comes down to dollars and cents.
One Last Hoorah
By early 2010, Docubloggers was on a temporary hiatus as the folks still trying to make it work focused on other projects. I was volunteering my time consulting local cable station ME-Television in their production efforts, and threw out the idea of bringing Docubloggers back to the air for supplemental coverage during SXSW in March. They liked the idea, and with that, the show went back into production.
I teamed up with Virginia Hernandez, the creator of and writer for the local music blog AustinGirlMusicGuide.com (she’s also my lovely wife), to produce daily coverage of SXSW. Our two-man team spent the week interviewing, recording live performances, and capturing footage of the goings-on, and it all culminated in a 30 minute recap special that aired on ME-TV after the festival. We had so much fun putting it together, and it was a great sendoff to a great program.
Making the decision to put that proverbial period on the end of the Docubloggers sentence was a tough one to make, but all good things must come to an end. The world was a different place in late 2006 when the show was born, and I’m proud to say that Docubloggers was a part of the cultural transformation that is still taking place around us.
The YouTube channel still draws quite a crowd, and there will always be a reason for folks to tune in. We might not be producing new episodes, but so many of the stories we featured have had a lasting affect, which is why there will always be a Docubloggers presence online.