WFSU documentary tells a special FAMU story

Retro Local Special Screening event flyer photo courtesy

WFSU Public Media has partnered with PBS to produce a film titled “Retro Local” as part of the “Retro Report” series. The film depicts and analyzes the Smokey Hollow neighborhood of Tallahassee and what FAMU currently knows as Foote Hilyer.

JacqueLynn Hatter, a 2007 graduate of FAMU who is the news director at WFSU and a reporter for the “Retro Local” documentary, provided insight before the special screening later today at Florida A&M’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication.

Hatter said the documentary has roots in her undergraduate years at FAMU. She grew up in California. Coming to Florida, Hatter was able to learn and understand the hardships of HBCUs, which sparked her interest in how Foote Hilyer came to be on campus.

“Telling the story of FAMU can go so many different ways,” said Hatter.

Production took four months and consisted of seven different versions of the story. Hatter learned how to let stuff go for the sake of time and decided what needed to be told about the story this moment in time.

The team was a able to use a backward-looking technique to tell the story, which was critical and provided a broader view, because history not only happens in the present but truly repeats itself.

WFSU was able to provide a strong finish to the film and they were able to grow as a unit, Hatter said.

“This project harnesses and maximizes the storytelling power of WFSU,” she said.

“Retro Local,” which deals with the historical issues of Tallahassee’s black community, aligns with the mission of WFSU as it continues to tell the stories and recognize how much the past influences the present. The information presented is an ongoing venture to act as historians in the realm of journalism even when institutional memory is fading, Hatter said.

“I think it’s good that we are being informed of the history, this is what’s relevant to us,” said sophomore Dominique Smith.

WFSU will host a special screening of the documentary “Retro Local” in the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication auditorium at 6 p.m. followed by a panel discussion. Registration is required for the event.