I meet a lot of interesting people in West Hartford. I am always pleasantly surprised by the amount of talented and creative types that I run into here and in the greater Hartford area.
The other day I was talking to Katherine [Ripley] Frisoli, a recent transplant to West Hartford from Los Angeles. Katherine is an archival researcher, particularly for documentary filmmakers. Ever wonder how on earth they dig up old, forgotten footage to put into films? That’s Katherine’s job.
Talking to her, I found out that she worked on recent documentary projects for Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. As a Gen Xer whose formative years coincided with grunge and alt rock, that certainly scored points in my book. She also mentioned to me that she just finished up working on a short Obama documentary that was going to be used by the campaign.
A few days later, I was reading in the New York Times about an upcoming Obama documentary. Called The Road We’ve Traveled, it was directed by Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman) and narrated by Tom Hanks. Was this the same one Katherine was talking about? It was. No matter what your political leanings are, from Ron Paul to Bernie Sanders, it is pretty cool to be involved in a project that is part of the national conversation. As of today, the video has around two millions views.
Reaching out to Katherine to find out more, I also learned that she is in post-production (as co-producer) on The Jewish Partisan Film Project: The True Story of Armed Jewish Resistance during World II. Katherine was also a co-producer for California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown, which will be appearing on various PBS stations soon. She is currently working on a documentary about the rise and fall of Suge Knight, which will air on Showtime.
I interviewed Katherine to find out a little more information:
Tell me a little more about what you actually do.
I find archival footage and photos for documentaries. Archival footage and photos can be anything in the past to what is happening today. Some directors have a specific vision of what they want to see and some have ideas. We try our best to find what they request. Basically we are history detectives for documentaries and become experts on what every the film we are researching at the time.
What has been your favorite project to work on?
I find all the projects I have worked on interesting. I would say my favorite has been the last film I worked on, The Road We’ve Traveled. It was amazing getting to work on a project directed by Davis Guggenheim. I learned so much more about the economy, housing, health care, etc.
Besides filmmakers, do you work with any other groups?
I would love to work start working with authors. I think it would be really interesting.
What is it like to see something you worked be so widely viewed (Obama
I love it! I am very proud of this film. More people are going to see this than any other film I have worked on.
How did you get into this as a career?
I fell into it. I work with an archival researcher and producer named Susan Ricketts. I began interning for her on a documentary she was directing. She needed help with archival on some projects and asked if I would be interested. I always loved doing research in school and wished there was a job where I could do all the research and then hand it to someone so they could write the paper. I didn’t actually know there were careers like that.
What would be your dream project?
I have been really lucky so far and feel like I have worked on my dream projects!
Tell me a little more about the Jewish Partisan Film Project.
Right now I am co-producing a film called The Jewish Partisans – The True Story of Armed Jewish Resistance in Eastern Europe and Belarus during WWII. The film will candidly tell the story of those who fought the Nazis and their collaborators from the forests of Eastern Europe and Belorussia. Men and women, some barely teens, became soldiers living and fighting from bases deep in the primeval woods.
There they organized scarce resources: food, supplies and munitions and took up arms, both defensively and offensively, in Jewish militias, and alongside brigades of Soviet Partisans and the Russian armies. Jewish resistance fighters faced wrenching moral questions, while carrying out deadly acts of sabotage and participating in strategic ambushes.
How has West Hartford been treating you so far?
I love it! Right now I am all about discovering what thereis to do here. I’m joining a few different groups, getting to know more and more people.
I am always looking to interview people with interesting stories, careers, etc. Know someone? Contact me.