History of San Jose Documentary: A Peek into the Process
Jun 04, 2014
We’re in the midst of production for the upcoming History of San Jose documentary. We thought we’d check in with producer Tricia Creason-Valencia, on how things were going.

Give us a quick rundown of how much of the documentary has been filmed -- who have you interviewed so far?

Tricia Creason-Valencia:
We’ve had 6 production days “in the field” on the History of San Jose documentary. We’ve shot approximately 10 hours of footage, including interviews with notable people Terry Christensen, SJSU Professor, Judge Paul Bernal, City of San Jose Historian, Leah Toeniskoetter, Director of SPUR, and Jimi Yamaichi, of the Japanese-American Museum of San Jose.

The interview process no doubt uncovers fascinating stories known by only a few. Can you share a peek into a compelling interview you’ve conducted?

Jimi Yamaichi spoke movingly on camera about his Japanese American family’s life as farmers in San Jose and their subsequent internment in concentration camps during World War II. He was 19 years old when he and his family were forcibly relocated, so his memories of that painful time are very clear and shine through during his interview. Jimi was an experienced construction worker, so he was assigned the duty building barracks and, to his great distress, a jail for fellow internees. He talked about his return to San Jose after the war and the discrimination he faced when trying to join the labor union. We shot Jimi’s interview in the starkly beautiful reconstructed barrack that he designed and built inside the Japanese American museum in San Jose’s Japantown.

San Jose’s history is a rich combination of multiple ethnic groups; what other insights have you found into its multicultural background?

In producing this film, we are exploring how various ethnic groups have co-existed at different points in San Jose’s history. An interesting tidbit gleaned from Judge Paul Bernal’s interview: in 1777, 200 men and women and children arrived to settle the area called el Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe. These early pioneers included farmers, ranchers, candle makers—people ready to build a new city from the ground up-- and it was an ethnically diverse bunch: a mix of Spaniards, mestizos (Spanish/indigenous), indigenous and people of African descent. The threads of our current day multicultural population can be traced back to this founding period in our city’s history.

Any particular upcoming filming location or interview you are looking forward to?

We are looking forward to filming at History Park again because their meticulously curated spaces provide such a visually vibrant and historically accurate backdrop for our interviews. Finally, we are excited to execute several “action” shots using a quadcopter drone as it flies over downtown’s urban landscape and the Guadalupe River, capturing the essence of San Jose from the air.

A little bit more about Tricia Creason-Valencia: She produced the feature documentary Stable Life, which won "Best Documentary" at Cinequest, aired on KQED television's Truly CA series and is nominated for a 2014 Northern California Emmy. She has directed and edited several award-winning short films that have toured the national film festival circuit and aired on PBS.  Tricia is a fellow of the PBS/CPB Producers Academy as well as the NALIP Latino Producers Academy. She has taught film/video production at U.C. Santa Cruz, Santa Clara University, San Francisco State University, Drexel University and in collaboration with several community-based organizations. Tricia is currently producing a feature documentary on the "History of San Jose" in collaboration with CreaTV San Jose and Norm Kline Productions. Tricia founded her own production company, FLACAFILMS, located in San Jose, CA, where she lives with her husband and two children. In her spare time, Tricia skates roller derby with the Silicon Valley Roller Girls' Circuit Jerks. (Photo by Kate Schermerhorn)

Many thanks to Tricia for taking a moment out of her busy schedule to share these awesome updates on the History of San Jose documentary. We look forward to sharing more about the documentary team’s process as the film is created!

4 Responses to History of San Jose Documentary: A Peek into the Process

  1. Margie chiechi says:

    Please include Itslian-Americans.. My family had been farmers since the turn of the century in Willie Glen. My brother Mike is 80 and full of stories. My cousin Mike Chiechi is 96, sharp as a tack and could give a lot if details. We donated our homestead to Hustory San Zjose Museum… FYI Margie

  2. Ken Marquis says:

    I hope you will start the film with before San Jose was built. My ancestors were the first people to inhabit this area until the Europeans set foot on this soil and forced the Ohlones into Missions which were similiar to concentration camps. Most but not all of the Ohlone population was murdered by the Spanish. This is the foundation of how San Jose came to be. The Spanish people seen this rich fertile land and wanted it for themselves.

  3. Pam Kelly says:

    Really looking forward to the premiere on Oct. 9th!

  4. Suzanne St. John-Crane says:

    Today the team is interviewing Rob DiNapoli and Shirley DiNapoli Schiro about the Italian American experience in San Jose, as well as Jim Ruffo. I think you’ll be pleased!