Under a set of red rope lights in the basement of the Communications building, the red editing suite is occupied. Soft German filters into the hall from the open sliding glass doors, and the computer screens are tiled with video clips waiting to be watched.
Marion Aitcheson sits hunched over the table, scanning back and forth between the screens and a thick binder of notes in front of her. “Right now I have eight sequences complete, then down to four and then into one piece,” she said, glancing away from the screen for a moment.
The project on the screens is a documentary about a children’s home in Germany, where Aitcheson grew up. It’s called “On Our Own: Prepared for Life, Through the Help of Others.” It hits home in more ways than one for Aitcheson. “Here’s a reflection of my life.”
As the office manager at Elon Television, Aitcheson was encouraged in her quest to give back to the program that gave her so much. “It’s important to tell my story in order to tell the children’s story.”
Aitcheson spent the past month of June in Germany, capturing 28 hours of video and interviews. “Everything captured in Germany is in German,” Aitcheson said. “The end piece will be subtitled.” Several of the interviews were familiar faces: “That’s Mrs. Ritz and Mr. Hagen; they were there when I was there.”
Aitcheson grew up in a home run by social workers in Germany. She learned how to be a teacher’s assistant there, and moved to the United States 1995 and married an American soldier she met in Germany. After moving to North Carolina, Aitcheson started as a teaching assistant and moved up to working at Elon for the past three years.
“I’m telling my story but I want to pass on the message to social workers to teachers.” Aitcheson’s message: that their work is appreciated and valued.
Her hopes are to someday be a social worker. Aitcheson said she likes working with young people and hopes to continue to give back to the community and help others just like she was helped.
She has high hopes that her documentary will help the children at the home where Aitcheson grew up. To the children in the same home she grew up in, Aitcheson said never give up. “There are people there to help them, they will be fine.”
Putting in time to work on the documentary has been no easy task. Usually arriving in the office between 7:30 to 8 a.m. and leaving at 5 p.m. doesn’t leave much time for editing. “I try to put in two or three more hours after that,” Aitcheson said.
Right now Aitcheson has been working on what the program is today. Building on the topics is the hardest part, Aitcheson says because she has so much footage from her trip as well as three hours of her own interview. “It’s a lot of work to make the decision on what’s important to show. I love everything that I have.”
Aitcheson says she hopes the 45-minute documentary will premier in late summer 2006. “It’s going to take a while to get the essential material.”
Having the opportunity to give something back to a place that had given her so much was a big motivator. “I just watched other people do great things through Project Pericles.” She wanted to make an impact too.
“There are people out there willing to help others,” Aitcheson said. “I just wanted to give four hours of work and it’s just gotten bigger.”
Her time will be well spent. Aitcheson says that the end product will be shocking. “My husband said it broke his heart.” Aitcheson’s personal interview revealed details of her life in the home that she said many had never heard before. “They’ll get to see a different side of Marion”
Ultimately the main goal is to give back. The teachers and social workers that helped give her a leg up are vital to making the lives of children everywhere successful. “I want to send out a positive message saying the work is important that you do.”
The intense work Aitcheson has put into the documentary will pay off, not only giving back. Going back to her roots will help others in the future and help her deal with her past. “It’s not closure, it’s good for me too.”