Mill Creek Valley – Raised and Razed

Mill Creek Valley is a landmark, an important part of Saint Louis history, yet very little information exists. In the final segment, Lois Conley warns us to be wary of the information we do find as it may not reflect the full story of Mill Creek Valley. Similarly, Kenya Ajanaku reiterates the importance of knowing your history and making it relevant in today’s society. Upon, embarking on filming this documentary thorough research was crucial. We had the minimal facts of the Mill Creek Valley (numbers, redevelopment plans, maps, etc.) but the information did not seem to describe the vibrant neighborhood that existed, many questions lingered. Why was it raised only to be razed? We are able to dive deep to explore the connected and everlasting soul of Mill Creek Valley. Through the memories, feelings and stories of the people who resided in the Mill Creek Valley, we are able to establish a history that will forever keep this area alive and thriving.

Lights, Camera, Action!

When it comes to capturing good footage and interviewing, one must consider the lighting, and adequate audio. Only through this process are we able to build the connections between the audience and documentary. When observing Kenya Ajanaku’s interview, we can see the genuine emotion, but what takes it further is his setting and nonverbal cues. From the explanations to his knocking on the table, we can gather that he is a great storyteller, but we also capture him in a light where he reflects on good memories, nostalgia. His voice heightened when he gets excited talking about people he knew and his twinkling gaze as he reminisces of the past, all captured by the camera. These captured authentic reactions give the audience a way to connect and relate sentimentally with the interviewee.

Set the Mood…

The historic archival footage used in the onset of the documentary, is generic information that has been repeated time and time again. By using these clips and narration we are able to set the mood, but as the interviewees are introduced, we realize that there is more to be told about the Mill Creek Valley area. One realizes that the people that lived there have a differing point of view, that the reports of a “slum” area are indeed, untrue. This was a connected community, an anchor of African American culture and a prominent business hub. The use of archival footage in connection with first-hand accounts, allows the audience to get to know the Mill Creek Valley area on a personal level. The documentary captures the ambiance and the atmosphere of a connected, thriving Saint Louis community, which lives on through the people.

Mode- à la mode

The use of the expository mode in the documentary allows the interviewees the role to narrate and explain the film’s rhetorical content. With the use of this mode, we are able to collect footage that functions to strengthen the spoken narrative. The audience is able to follow the story through the use of voiceover, with images illustrating the past. The audience can establish for themselves the rise and fall of the Mill Creek Valley area. By incorporating historical images and modern footage, we hope to create a link between Saint Louis and the audience. The connection that is formed should allow the audience to find their own solutions and become informed of the Mill Creek Valley history. We aim to educate the audience and evoke a desire to know about Mill Creek Valley on a deeper level. 

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