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Paul Kirby in "Lodestar," which has a busy film festival schedule

SOU student’s documentary on recreational therapy hits the film festival circuit

“Lodestar,” a short documentary film by SOU graduate student and Army Ranger veteran Paul Kirby, has a busy schedule on the film festival circuit.

It has been selected for the St. Lawrence International Film Festival, the Miami Independent Film Festival, the 2019 Impact DOCS Awards, the First Time Film-Makers Review and the Digital Monthly Online Film Festival.

Kirby wrote, produced, directed and acted in the documentary during spring term, as part of faculty member Chris Lucas’ Advanced Documentary Production class at the SOU’s Digital Media Center. Two other SOU students – Evan Johnson (editor) and Dustin Saigo (cinematographer) – assisted with the production.

The film focuses on coastal access and nature experiences as an under-used intervention for mental health issues, and describes the role of then-Gov. Tom McCall in ensuring public access to all Oregon beaches in 1967.  McCall described Oregon as a lodestar – a star used in shipping navigation to point the way.

“Oregon is unique, in that it is the only state other than Hawaii that has unrestricted public access to the entire length of its coastline,” Kirby said. “Oregon leads the way in terms of public coastal access, but I felt strongly that we need to celebrate our state’s unique status in order to reinforce the existing legislation.”

“Lodestar” touches on a suicide epidemic among veterans and the restrictive coastal access laws of states such as Florida and California. It invokes images of Kirby’s own experiences with PTSD and depression, juxtaposed against his experiences sea kayaking along the Oregon Coast.

The film tackles a topical issue – the federal “Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act” (HR-2435) is under consideration during the current session of Congress. The bill, currently awaiting a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Health, would require an interagency task force to identify opportunities for recreational therapy by veterans on public lands and other outdoor spaces.

Kirby has also been selected as a guest presenter at the Arctic Futures 2050 Conference at the National Academy of Sciences this September in Washington, D.C. The research focus of his presentation is Inuit self-determination.

“One of the great things about the interdisciplinary grad program is it provides the skills and flexibility to make a documentary about the suicide rate among veterans and also conduct research on other marginalized groups with similar issues – like the suicide epidemic among Inuit youth,” Kirby said. “I wouldn’t be able to do that without synthesizing Native American Studies with Documentary Production.”

Jeffersonian-SOU-remembrance

SOU’s student-produced “Jeffersonian” news magazine to air on public television

(Ashland, Ore.) — It’s a show with the feel of “Oregon Field Guide” and the personality of Charles Kuralt’s “On the Road” segments of the late 20th century. It features in-depth reporting and richly colorful subjects. And each segment of “The Jeffersonian” is conceived and produced by students at Southern Oregon University.

“Life on the Margins” – the sixth roughly-annual episode of SOU’s student-generated news magazine – will premier this month on Southern Oregon Public Television. The show, with one segment about two veterans who have suffered traumatic injuries and another about an artistic couple who are aging together, will air on SOPTV at 9 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 14, and at 11:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 21. It will also be shown in a pair of overnight slots – at 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 16, and at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 23.

The new “Jeffersonian” episode will also be screened in a free, public event at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 14 at Meese Auditorium in the SOU Art Building. The student producers and subjects of their films will offer a Q&A session following the screening.

“The Jeffersonian” is a project of SOU’s Department of Communication and the university’s Digital Media Center, in collaboration with SOPTV. It’s described by the station as a “program that captures the multi-faceted blend of people, places and activities that comprise the unique vibe of life in the northern Siskiyou Mountains and Rogue River Valley of Oregon and California.”

Its first episode – “Harvest,” about the region’s food culture and wine industry – was introduced in May 2013 and was followed by episodes on trails, filmmaking, marijuana and local mysteries.

“The episodes have been almost entirely student-produced, delivered by student teams in SOU courses, with a little post-production help from SOPTV and audio production vendors in the community,” said Erik Palmer, a faculty member and chair of SOU’s Communication Department.

“We’ve averaged about one episode of the program per year, and hope to continue the partnership as long as students keep bringing their A-game to the craft of television production and storytelling,” he said.

Students in SOU digital media courses last spring produced and submitted five short documentaries to be considered for the “Life on the Margins” episode of “The Jeffersonian.” Two were selected, and finished over the summer.

The first story included in the new episode is “Remembrance,” about two Purple Heart recipients – one who served in Vietnam and the other who served in Afghanistan. It was produced and edited by student Nathan Comer, while Teresa Spalding served as executive producer and other work on the project was done by Nick Garrett-Powell and Cam Pierce.

The second story, “Here, We Are,” is about a Talent couple whose creativity and love for each other help them through the challenges of aging. Student Nicole Gullixson, who narrated the “Life on the Margins” episode, also served editor of the second segment and helped with photography. Samae Chlebowski was the director and cinematographer, and Jade Martin served as production assistant.

“The amount of work by students varies by episode, but on this episode the shorts were researched, reported and produced by students, and the host is a student,” said Christopher Lucas, a digital cinema instructor at SOU. “SOPTV’s staff assembled the final program with SOU’s supervision.”

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