Watch: “Anytown USA” Student Video Projects on Liberty, North Carolina

Still from “Sustaining Liberty,” by Christine Ryan Harland

Still from “Sustaining Liberty” by Christine Ryan Harland

Anytown, USA is a class offered once a year through the Center for Documentary Studies Continuing Education program, in which students produce and edit short videos related to a small town in North Carolina. Developed by longtime CDS instructor Randy Benson, previous Anytown courses focused on the towns of Pittsboro, Bladenboro, Smithfield, Star, and Scotland Neck. For this year’s class, seven students traveled to Liberty, North Carolina (population 2,668), to make videos on topics of their choice. The films were screened at the Freedom Family Church in Liberty as well as the Full Frame Theater on the American Tobacco Campus in Durham.

Now available for your viewing pleasure, all of the 2014 Anytown, USA student films:

Kyra Burton | An Awesome Find
Carol Wall shows up every morning with a 
smile to greet her customers at her thrift store, Awesome Finds. After a life of travel, today Carol 
is a major contributor to the small town of Liberty, where many people are downsizing and abandoning “bigger is better” lifestyles to simply enjoy their surroundings and the company of friends and family.

Kyra Burton started her career as a teacher in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. After four years of teaching, she moved to Florida and began a career as a television scriptwriter. She has written a variety of segments that have appeared on regional and national television, and for several years served as production manager at United States Media Television. She currently resides in Raleigh and works as the program director for Today in America, hosted by Terry Bradshaw.

Morgan Capps | That’ll Do
A portrait of Henry Kuykendall and Louanne Coulter,
 sheep farmers and border collie breeders living near
 Liberty. They train a special line of purebred border 
collies whose lineage dates back to the 1960s. Their 
reflections on their work and their relationships with
 their animals reveal the contentedness that comes from a lifetime of dedication to their craft.

Morgan Capps is a recent Durham transplant from Chattanooga, Tenn. After completing the Documentary Video Institute at CDS last summer, she was inspired to uproot and enroll as a Certificate in Documentary Arts student. Morgan is currently the intern for the Continuing Education program.

Random Gott | The Curtis Theatre
A look at the town movie theater as a source of shared experience for the citizens of Liberty. Stories told by the employees, patrons, and the family that built and ran the theater illuminate its history.

Random Gott works at the School of Government at UNC–Chapel Hill, where he currently resides. He attended California College of Arts and Crafts and majored in painting. He has held staff positions at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Yale Repertory Theatre, Spoleto Festival USA, and the High Museum of Art. He is currently pursuing a Certificate in Documentary Arts at CDS.

Christine Ryan Harland | Sustaining Liberty
Steve Tate of the Goat Lady Dairy made a choice to grow his business, honoring his sister’s legacy, at a point when others might have chosen to wind it down. His ethos of sustainability drives innovation and growth, and ensures that his land, animals, and employees are well taken care of.

Christine Ryan Harland has worked in international film and television for HBO and other networks. In 2010 she moved to North Carolina with her husband and daughter; she is currently pursuing a Certificate in Documentary Arts at CDS.

Houck Medford | Not on Our Farm
A devoted couple retired from academia and found a new way to contribute to the world and connect people with each other.

Houck Medford was born into a rich world of storytelling traditions. As an award-winning photographer and documentary artist, he builds community by celebrating others and finding the extraordinary embedded in the ordinary. Houck is a CDS Certificate in Documentary Arts candidate.

David Persoff | As Though It Never Was
In 1965, there were two high schools in Liberty: Randolph High School for black students and Liberty High School for white students. When Randolph County schools were integrated, Randolph High was closed, even though it was both fully accredited and newer than Liberty. Interviews with Randolph alumni tell the story of its closing.

David Persoff is a producer and post-production supervisor in commercials and television. He moved to the Triangle from Los Angeles and is currently enrolled in the CDS certificate program. He is grateful to the alumni of Randolph High for sharing their story.

Kelly Sims | One Day at a Time
An exploration of the past and present of ninety-one-year-old Liberty resident Guy Troy. He competed in the modern pentathlon in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, and remained an active participant in the Olympics for thirty years thereafter.

Kelly Sims developed an interest in identity and cultural influences during her fine art studies at the University of Florida. She decided to study filmmaking before undertaking a journey to Finland to uncover the life of her grandmother, Irene Surraka, a couture seamstress in Helsinki. Attracted by the Center for Documentary Studies’ reputation for community involvement, she moved to Durham, fulfilled her dream to work as a lead baker, and now plans to stay. One Day at a Time is her first film.

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