Q: What inspired you and your husband, Mitchell Davis, to create Organic Process Productions, a media company that has produced award-winning documentaries, books, video projects and multimedia events?
A: Our passion for media arts and our compulsive need to tell meaningful stories. It also lets us work together and mutually express the love we have for life, which is quite a blessing.
Q: Your first film, "Falling Together in New Orleans," about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, was the winner of Best Documentary at the 2007 ConvergeSouth Film Festival. How did this documentary set the stage for future projects?
A: I am self-taught and basically learned most of what I know about documentary filmmaking from the 18 months we worked on this film. It was a unique solo-journalistic experience. The day the city opened, I was riding a bike through the rubble looking for a story. And I found the story organically, meeting one person, then another, then another. ... As far as setting the stage, I think we learned that video can affect people. Not necessarily to donate money or something like that, but just to better understand life. All of the documentary video projects I've worked on are passion projects made for the love of the story alone. Fortunately, people are attracted by that approach and are interested in the stories we tell. Our production approach has always been to just get out there and do it. You really don't know the story until you are knee deep in it.
Q: In 2009, you became involved in a number of agricultural projects, including the Rosebank Farms Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and making your own "Giddy Goat Cheese." How has the move to a more agrarian lifestyle been different from the technology-driven media industry you had been involved in?
A: I think the most notable difference is physical labor as opposed to sitting in front of a computer. Now, I have the balance of both. In the agrarian world, you learn to work with the seasons, and there's very little down time. There is work to be done all the time, but it's a trade-off for the lifestyle. There also seems to be more of a predictability in my agrarian work than in the media world -- cheese is easier to sell and more accessible to the public than documentary video work.
Q: How have the two come together?
A: It's amazing to us that the two fields have come together perfectly. We are now more focused on agrarian-themed storytelling and use the profits from our cheese sales to help us tell the stories we find important. Currently, we are working with the nonprofit Lowcountry Local First to document their Sustainable Agriculture Initiative, "New Farmer Incubator Project," where they are connecting interns with aging farmers to learn the trade and modernize by using technology to connect with chefs in real time. And we are working on GiveGround.tv, which also marries the two worlds.
Q: GiveGround.tv is a video network that produces and curates documentary shorts and is supported by the sales of locally produced products, like Giddy Goat Cheese. How did you develop the concept of product-supported media?
A: Organic Process Productions began as a for-profit social venture. In direct contrast to a nonprofit, which writes grants for money to support its cause, we wanted to sell our products to raise money to support our storytelling cause. It's the same today, only the cheese is the product more than the documentary DVDs. My paintings and prints also sell to support our video storytelling mission. GiveGround.tv is an extension of that. When you buy our products, you help fund the gathering and dissemination of these stories about people, places and ideas related to local food and keeping old ways of agriculture alive.
Q: You have a passion for local food and encourage others to become involved in community supported agriculture. What do you feel are the benefits of eating local?
A: Fresh food tastes better and has more nutrients so is healthier for the body. Buying local supports your local economy, and it naturally creates a diverse community of people who value good food.
Q: What inspires the flavors of Giddy Goat Cheese, which can be found at the Charleston and Mount Pleasant farmers markets as well as local restaurants and retailers?
A: We were striving for unique and diverse flavors to set us apart from other fresh goat cheese. We decided to stick with four flavors: pure, salt-free chevre for versatility (people can add their own flavor to this or go purist); savory pimiento for a healthy alternative to the traditional Southern concoction; a sweet ginger cheese; and a classic sea salt and cracked pepper. The potential flavors for the chevre are endless, but we don't want to get too distracted by additional flavors as I am eager to develop different styles of cheeses. By 2011, I hope for Giddy Goat to be selling another cheese alongside our fresh chevre.
Q: How has your painting been influenced by your recent lifestyle transformation?
A: It's interesting how the changes are not just in the obviousness of more agrarian subject matter (lots of goats!) but on a deeper level, too. I'm having my first solo show at Bin 152 in September, and I'm excited to see what comes out for that show. My mood is vastly different in this more balanced lifestyle that we've created than it was when we were more technology-driven. My paintings typically reflect my mood, subconscious or otherwise, and it seems my paintings are more humorous and less frenetic.
Q: What is your greatest passion in life?
A: This is a really difficult question for me, but I think it can be boiled down to love. There is no substitute for the hard work required to see dreams actualized, but it has to start with a compulsion driven by love.
Name: Farrah Hoffmire.Job: Cheesemaker, painter, documentary-maker.Residence: Charleston.Family: Husband, Mitchell Davis; dogs, Freddy and Lucy; and cat, Natalie.Age: 39.Three hobbies: Yoga, running and listening to music.
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