The shot opens on an antiquated piece of machinery. A shrill whistle fills the air as the wheels of the machine begin to turn. The camera pans over a workshop and follows the sound of Doris Dixon talking about the year her husband died (1978, she thinks). She’s buried at her work desk, juxtaposed with colorful spools of thread and heavy, metal tools. She isn’t looking at the camera, and you get the sense the wily African-American woman doesn’t cares if it’s there or not.
Then she is standing beside her desk, in front of a backdrop of skewed, mismatched picture frames, a television topped with rabbit ears sharing the scene. We are meeting Dixon in her most natural environment: her shoe repair shop, which she inherited from her husband decades ago. Nothing is staged. The sights and sounds are far from manufactured.
This is the work of Adam Boozer, doing what he does best, capturing what he calls “the essence of a story.” “I just try and keep the spirit,” he explains.
He’s had a lot of practice. Though Boozer just started his production company Jewell and Ginnie (named for his grandmothers) this past February, he’s been in business doing film, photography, production, and advertising for 20 years now.
Starting with the skills he learned while interning during high school in Atlanta, Boozer has dabbled in a bit of everything: he was a freelance ad editor and made agency commercials, music videos, and Flash-based websites. Filmmaking came naturally to him, but the austere nature of the advertising industry burnt him out by 2000. That’s when he moved his wife and two children to Charleston, a place he’s always loved. An opportunity arose to “start fresh.” But he didn’t dig his heels back into film- making and video again until about 18 months ago.
Dixon will be a part of a series that Boozer is calling Storyography. Each segment covers a day in the life of a person. “Gil Shuler (who did all the Jewell and Ginnie branding) kind of found the word and pitched it to me, but it made sense,” he explains. “It’s one piece of a bigger biography. We like the play on words.” The work will be put in his online collection and later worked into a “grander scheme” involving film festivals or a television series. “I’m just really into capturing the vibe and the essence of what’s happening around me, really passively. I try to make as little intrusion on the people I’m spending time with as possible,” Boozer says of this project and his work habits.
Jewell and Ginnie has also been busy doing consistent work for Verizon Wireless, Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Charleston magazine, Hawse (a brand agency in Charlotte), and Kulture Klash, among others.
Watching one of Boozer’s spots for a company called Okuma (a client of Hawse) that sells machines, one can see why he’s hired repeatedly to work in international locales like St. Kitts in the West Indies and Doonbeg, Ireland (his favorite work trip). He even ended up in South Dakota interviewing a man who works with buffaloes. “People hire you to just do what you did before,” he says nonchalantly.
Even with rather dull content, Boozer finds the human element and reels in the viewer. In the Okuma piece, the video snakes around the main topic. The viewer never feels like they are being sold something impersonal. Before Okuma is even mentioned, they are knee- deep in a mechanic’s story of loving machines and starting his own company with his wife.
He’s very proud of his work, describing his final product as “high end.” Boozer’s tech- nique is sneaky that way, highlighting the real people behind a business first, with the film’s financial backers instead playing wingmen to the driving plot of the story — it’s not cold and calculated like most advertising we see. He chooses to differentiate his filming meth- ods from those of a production company, spending extra time with his clients.
“I like to shoot everyone in their natural settings and try to be as real as possible,” Boozer explains. “When I interview them, I try and act like a little kid, like I don’t know anything about anything.”
Understanding the language of advertising agencies has made him an adept collaborator, easily qualifying him for the titles he holds now — filmmaker, director, photographer, director of photography, and cinematogra- pher. With his own company, he can finally pursue the type of work he’s drawn to, whether it’s a documentary about friend and peer Tim Hussey, aerial footage of our fair city for the Visitors Bureau, Sully Sullivan’s vision for a fashion short in the Lowcountry, or real people like Dixon.
“I work with real people, real stories with a real message. I like things that are authentic, not fluffy,” Boozer says.