Shooting the Drag


Our weekly meetings are slowly drawing to a close, and by this point, the documentary group has essentially finished gathering footage of the iCreate project itself. Now, we have begun working on an independent documentary piece, proposed by one of our elders, Michelle. Together, we are looking at the tradition of shooting the drag, defined by Urban Dictionary as “a phrase used in Sydney, Cape Breton. This means to take a parent’s car and drive down Charlotte Street, make a left at the ‘ol Tim Hortons, take the next left, and continue through the evening. This is a high source of entertainment amongst youth in Sydney. ‘Hey, let’s shoot the drag before the dusk till dawn!'”

Is this phrase used anywhere else, I wonder?

Our group thus began our meeting by interviewing the two elders of our group, Michelle and John, about their memories of shooting the drag in downtown Sydney. This week, we also availed of two state of the art cameras from the 90’s, with retro, rewindable analog tapes! Three members of our group wielded cameras while another recorded sound, as we all listened in to our elders’ memories of the past.

As John (so evocatively) recalled it,

“Shooting the drag in my time, in the 50’s and 60’s in Sydney, was one location. Basically, it was on Charlotte Street. You approached it from a number of places, in a number of ways. The neat thing about shooting the drag was that there was no exclusivity. Some people went to show off. Some people went to have fun.  Some people congregated, just to meet up with friends from different areas. You went. You walked it. You drove it. You took your time, and you stopped along the way. You smelled the roses. Sometimes, you’d even drop into one of the restaurants. In those days, we didn’t have pocket money very often, so you might even go to the Diana Suites and order a lumberjack float— which was a glass of water and a toothpick.”

After we completed these interviews, our group continued filming some practice interviews with one another about their pets, their favourite stories, and their favourite sports. One youth talked about playing soccer with his friends, and pointed out that “with most other things in life you don’t use your feet, you use your hands.” As the youth filmed their interviews, one of our facilitators, Michael MacDonald, offered us some helpful filming pointers. I was surprised to learn that patterns often move through a camera lens of their own accord. Apparently, camera operators must remain ever vigilant in the face of moving patterns. If a patterned sweater begins to dance, one must solve the problem with a costume change. (…The more you know!)

In the coming week, some of our youth will continue filming for our piece about shooting the drag, others will work on an audio documentary of our gathered sound, and everyone will prepare to host and film the iCreate closing symposium. These are busy days!