CO/MIX: My Web Documentary Thesis

Way back in 2015, I was working on my Masters degree in Multimedia in Dublin City University. My thesis was a group assignment, to create something substantial using the skills we’d been taught in the two semesters of lectures. My team decided to make a web documentary on comic book culture in Ireland, having elected to focus on something with a visual element that would enable us to utilise as many different modules as possible in its production, from photography and image editing, animation, video editing, web design, and audio design.

The result is CO/MIX.

The above image showed up in my Facebook memories yesterday, which places us about two weeks from the documentary’s completion. Included on it are a number of the people we interviewed for the thesis, including Paddy Lynch, Anthea West, Emma Byrne (of O’Brien Press), Tríona Farrell, Nate Donnell, Cyanide Kisses and Widdle Wade.

The documentary consisted of four chapters:

  • Convergence – focusing on new technologies, the internet and social media
  • Connection – focusing on relationships that came out of a love of comics
  • Community – focusing on the sub-communities within the Irish comic book scene
  • Commerce – focusing on the business side of comics

We travelled a lot for this project, going as far north as Belfast for Q-Con, and as far south as Ballycotton in Cork to interview Will Sliney. (Who, if I remember correctly, we interviewed after the image above was made – he was out last interview!)

The documentary brought us to Anime Dublin, Ireland Cosplay Con, Q-Con, ArcadeCon and Dublin Comic Con, between April and August 2015, as well as in front of over a dozen different people from across the community, including cosplayers, small press artists, publishers, and one of Ireland’s best known comic creators, a comic market, a drink-and-draw and a regular workshop series.

Though we were advised to limit ourselves to 22 minutes of content – a half-hour broadcasting slot – we ended up with about 27 minutes of video, after extensive trimming and removing any audio that just wouldn’t sound as clean as the rest of the documentary.

The crazy thing was trying to fit everything in while two of us worked part-time, and the other two worked full-time. Myself and Matt Ashe – the de facto Producer and Director, respectively – ended up needing to tackle some of the interviews by ourselves, covering three in one day and filming in two locations. A big part of my job was trying to find times that suited the interviewees easily enough, occasionally trying to locate a spot we could record in, and trying to ID other people who I wasn’t familiar with as an outsider to the community – Eoin McAuley of Lightning Strike was a late addition to our roster, and Paddy Lynch only showed up on our radar because our web design lecturer is/was in a band with him.

Still, our efforts earned us a 1st in the thesis, and it brought me into the comic scene so fully that I couldn’t leave even after we’d handed in our finished production.

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