Applauding local filmmakers

An Acts Matter Essay

As a documentary filmmaker, I'm a homebody. You might say that I lack the connections to take on big-issue films, but I believe that small, local films have a special ability to touch our lives. They reach us not just because we know the people in them or have a personal link to the topic, but also because the process of making the film forges a different kind of connection across the community.

Making a film about Dot Fisher-Smith changed me. Besides coming to know Dot and her approach to life, I was surrounded by a marvelous group of people who contributed their stories, know-how, music and moral support. They felt like a family who came together to give birth and I think the process changed them as well.

Ashland has many opportunities for such filmmaking families to develop, including Rogue Valley Community Television and Ashland Independent Film Festival's Launch project. Joining in making a film, like participating in other community events, draws out ideas and skills we didn't know we had; it brings us home.

What of the film itself? True, watching a low-budget, locally produced film is not like going to see a Hollywood film, or even an independent film from a well-funded studio. There aren't many special effects or big stars. But small films that you might see at the film festival or on the Internet can be a joy to watch because the source of their emotion and inspiration is the thread that links us to something in the film, so that we say, "Oh, yes, I've been there, that could have happened to me, I get it now."

Films can give voice to the voiceless and illuminate people and issues we thought we already knew. Local films may not change the world, but they can change our world.

Patricia Somers is the director and editor of "An Ordinary Life" as well as two previous award-winning films. She has a Ph.D. in experimental psychology and studied filmmaking at the Colorado Film School.

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Acts Matter is a series of essays written by community members about issues in Ashland.
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