Colin Miller is a 20-year-old “dude with a camera,” as he endearingly refers to himself, originally from north-central Colorado. Six months ago, he met Tom Martin, Executive Director of The Free Books Project, at Cathedral Kitchen (CK), where Colin volunteers every Wednesday as he works toward his associate degree at Rowan College at Burlington County. It’s always so inspiring to see non-New Jersey natives interested in giving back to their communities.
Colin is working closely with Tom to produce 1- to 2-minute video segments that highlight The Free Books Project and its constituents, and I had the chance to interview him over the phone to get some of the juicy details.
On the CK lot and accompanying the main building where meals are served, there’s a small, open-space building in which CK volunteers distribute additional supplies and materials. Also on Wednesdays at this location, The Free Books Project sets up a Pop Up Library (PUL). Since crossing paths with Tom, Colin frequently peruses Tom’s collection of free books, and the two had the opportunity to build a meaningful rapport.
Not long ago, Colin and CK’s Coordinator Alex were talking about Colin’s interest in videography. He’d offered to create a video for CK to encourage other locals to volunteer and participate. Alex had recently spoken with Tom about his need to produce some video content, so he redirected Colin’s talents to Tom’s endeavors, and it was a mutual match made. “It’s the perfect combination of different skills and interests,” says Colin. Presently, Colin does most of his recording on the CK lot, speaking with the various CK guests who frequent The Free Books Project’s PULs.
Colin says his videography philosophy is “giving the person who’s speaking the full spotlight.” He goes on to explain, “although more manipulated video is probably better for marketing, I find this minimalist approach more respectful and authentic.” Check out his recent video of Robert ‘Rocky’ Wilson – talented, involved, and beloved American poet in Camden – reading his poem “Tom, the Book Man,” dedicated to you-know-who! Subscribe to the Free Books Project YouTube channel, where Colin’s subsequent videos will be published.
Although he’s “not a social media guy,” Colin understands platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are great opportunities to share his work, and may begin publishing through his own portfolio as he progresses. His origins in videography can be traced back to a film class he took in high school, which was his first experience using Premier editing software. “I tinkered around a lot and saw what I was capable of,” he says. The capstone project for that course was a short film, and – in addition to his upcoming work with the Free Books Project – he has a few recent works under his belt, too. “I feel really confident when I’m exploring new projects and getting new footage,” says Colin.
As they pertain to his partnership with The Free Books Project, Colin’s plans for the future include producing a 10- to 15-minute video documentary, which he envisions “having some nice B-roll of community members engaging with the tried-and-true PULs and The Free Books Place, a new program, interspliced with comments from Tom and other organization members” who’ve made The Free Books Project, previously known as the Camden County Pop Up Library, the initiative making in impact throughout South Jersey that we all know and love.