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Enjoy: Final Projects by Spring 2015 Certificate in Documentary Arts Grads

On Wednesday, May 13, 2015, six Continuing Education students at the Center for Documentary Studies presented their final projects to the public and received their Certificate in Documentary Arts. Nancy Kalow taught the Final Project Seminar in which they honed their projects for the night’s presentation.

The projects are below. Several students have requested their videos not be made public here, pending submission to film festivals; those projects have a photograph in place of an embedded video. Amy Nelson’s final project, a website with video oral histories, can be accessed by clicking on the link below. For his project, Houck Medford produced a video which screened at the presentation, as well as a substantial body of photographs, a selection of which will be exhibited at CDS in the Fall of 2015.

Congratulations to the graduates!

Morgan Capps | You Can Go Left and Come Out Right | Video
You Can Go Left and Come Out Right reflects on the mind and memories of ninety-two-year-old WWII veteran Glen Lee. Over the course of the last six years, Glen has spent nearly every day constructing an elaborate maze of sticks in a clearing of woods tucked behind a Dollar General and abandoned Kmart near the foot of Signal Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His flashbacks and sudden pulses of seemingly unconnected thoughts and stories loosely parallel the winding maze that he occupies every day.

After spending just a week at the Center for Documentary Studies, as a participant in the 2013 Documentary Video Institute, Morgan Capps uprooted her life in Chattanooga and moved east to Durham. During her time here, Morgan has collected upward of five jobs, some of which include CDS Continuing Studies intern, CDS night manager, nanny, photo booth operator, freelance video editor, and dog sitter. Morgan is heartbroken, and excited, to be leaving for Santa Fe, New Mexico, in June, where she will assist on the feature-length documentary film TURN!

Elizabeth Friend | Do’s and Don’ts for Bomb Disposal | Audio
Bomb disposal was a novel concept at the start of World War II. Here, seventy-four-year-old Michael Friend remembers his father, Sub-Lieutenant Peter Donald Friend, who was one of the first people to sign up for the British Royal Navy’s bomb squad.

Elizabeth Friend first fell in love with radio as a child listening to the BBC late at night. She now works as a reporter for a radio station in Chapel Hill and, along with an intrepid group of local audiophiles, curates Audio Under the Stars, Durham’s series of summertime audio storytelling events.

Don Heineman | Silent Sam—A Soldier of Discord | Video
Silent Sam is the nickname of a statue of a Confederate soldier on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s campus. No one is quite sure why the soldier is called “Silent Sam,” but his critics and supporters are anything but silent. To some, Sam is a memorial to those students from the university who fought and died for the Confederacy, often with personal courage and bravery. To others, he is a monument to white supremacy and an insult to the notion of a “university for the people.” This video documentary explores the origins of the statue. Was Sam an actual Civil War soldier? What was in the minds of those who erected the statue? Why has he remained near the center of so many social controversies at Chapel Hill: the Civil Rights movement, protests against the Vietnam War, and today’s discussions about diversity? The irony is that if Sam weren’t silent, if he could speak, he might just repudiate the intentions of those who originally put up the monument in 1913.

Don Heineman is a retired businessman who lives in Chapel Hill. Growing up in Chicago, he saw the Civil War through a northerner’s eyes. Now that he is a southerner, he has come to appreciate William Faulkner’s statement that “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Don first became interested in video documentaries when, as a volunteer, he filmed the activities of free medical and dental clinics in rural North Carolina, Costa Rica, and Honduras. He hopes to use the new skills he’s learned at the Center for Documentary Studies to explore the theme of intolerance.

Doug Klesch | Vic Hudson: The Real Thing | Video
This short film is an excerpt from Gate City Soul, an in-progress, feature-length documentary about the men and women credited with forming a vibrant soul music community in Greensboro in the 1960s and ’70s. “Vic Hudson: The Real Thing” focuses on the life and career of one of the community’s central characters, a musician, songwriter, and producer who influenced a generation of Greensboro-based musicians and record producers. While filming interviews for Gate City Soul it became apparent that the impact of Vic’s musicianship and mentoring reached far beyond Greensboro and into the fabric of the national soul music scene, touching renowned R&B pioneers such as Sam and Dave and L.T.D. This documentary short celebrates Vic’s influence and offers a glimpse into the rich musical world he helped create. Find out more about the project at www.gatecitysoul.com.


Doug Klesch arrived in North Carolina from the Northeast in the early 1990s with a vague sense of culture shock. He gradually acclimated to southern life, attending Western Carolina University and cobbling together a B.S. in political science with an art history minor. Regardless of the field of study, he always managed to find some way to incorporate music as a theme into his work. Since transitioning away from his decade-plus-long corporate IT career in 2009, Doug has begun to establish himself as a freelance documentary and portrait photographer, graphic designer, and videographer. In addition to creating projects for a wide variety of corporate and individual clients, his personal work includes the multimedia 99 Americans Project. After traveling over 13,000 miles around the United States by car gathering material for this ongoing effort, he decided to turn his camera on a subject closer to his home base in Greensboro.

Houck Medford | The Cotton Chronicle | Motion and Still Photography
The Cotton Chronicle is an excerpt from an in-progress, long-form documentary, Cotton Chronicle: Century Industry, Century Farm, Century Family, a story of advances in the mega-agribusiness by a South Carolina family that has been cotton farming on the same land for more than a hundred years. This family has been successful in staying ahead of the technology curve, planning for family succession, and perpetuating family values, but not without struggles and challenges. They have been dependent on their Lutheran faith for divine guidance. Any longtime farming family could stand in for the main characters in Cotton Chronicle—it would be the same story.


Houck Medford was born into a rich storytelling tradition. His father and grandfather, who were bear-hunting and fish-catching storytellers, instilled in him the values of good timing, visual description, and the power of a well-crafted story. Taking pictures, learning the craft, and embracing photography as an art form has become an extension of his compassion for others and his enthusiasm for life. His passion for still photography has evolved into motion photography and sound as a way to further strengthen his imagery. To learn more, visit www.houckmedford.com.

Amy Nelson | Inner Revolutions: Muslim Americans and the Legacy of Imam Khomeini | Multimedia
During the 1979 Iranian Revolution, many Americans came to know Ayatollah Khomeini as a stern, uncompromising political leader who hated America. The United States had helped to install the Pahlavi government in the 1950s and was completely unprepared for this little-known religious cleric’s quick ascension to the leadership of Iran. When it became clear that the Iranian people overwhelmingly supported Khomeini, the tone among U.S. officials grew ominous. At the same time, Muslim converts who were active in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s saw something else. This web-based oral history project brings their voices, their memories, and their narratives about Khomeini and the Iranian Revolution to light.

Click here to see the Inner Revolutions website

Amy Nelson is a Montessori teacher and independent multimedia artist. Her work as a reporter for NPR affiliate station WUNC has been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Press, the Radio Television Digital News Association, and the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation. Nelson is thrilled to have found such a talented and supportive group of teachers and aspirants at the Center for Documentary Studies. She lives in Durham with her family.

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