Hollow is an interactive documentary that merges cinematic techniques with web-based storytelling to encourage a dialogue about the issues that small-town America faces. The project examines the lives of 30 individuals living in McDowell County, W.Va., an area that is representative of many boom-and-bust areas across the country. McDowell County has lost almost 80 percent of its population since 1950 and continues to lose more young people every year due to a lack of economic opportunity. This rural brain drain has left many counties across the nation with an aging demographic and failing infrastructure. However, many people—approximately 22,000—continue to live and work in McDowell. They feel a great sense of pride and belonging and believe they are there to help improve and move the county into the future.
Focusing on the residents who have stayed during the tumultuous times, Hollow is a story of hope and home and strives to not only address the issues through storytelling but help provide potential solutions. Using HTML5 to merge cinematic and emotional storytelling with the web, the stories of residents have been brought to life for the outside world to understand the often overlooked sector of our society. The interactive documentary provides a “lean forward” and “lean back” experience and encourages each user to not only consume media but also be an active participant and contribute to the narrative.
While Hollow is a storytelling project at its core, the team also strives to encourage change and growth through new media. Using a WordPress blogging tool that feeds into the main experience called Holler Home, residents will continue to update their stories and initiatives to keep users updated and potentially encourage them to get involved.