Date of Graduation
Master of Arts in Journalism (MA)
Larry D. Foley
Second Committee Member
Robert B. Cochran
Communication and the arts, Documentary, Original film, Ozarks, Poetry
The goal of this Master's thesis project was to document the life of my maternal step-grandfather, John Ross Rule, in a visually compelling manner. Using equipment provided by the Lemke Department of Journalism at the University of Arkansas, I shot and edited a half hour long documentary film comprised of interviews and footage of John at his home near Winslow, Arkansas. John is a talented poet, and segments of his poetry are woven throughout the film.
The inspiration for this project is deeply rooted in place: the remote farmstead in the Boston Mountains of northwestern Arkansas that my grandparents called home, Frog Bayou. I spent many summers and holidays there as a child and I developed a deep love for the land and for my grandparents' rugged way of life. Tied to this love of place is my love for John. John and I have always had a special bond. Likely it started out as a mutual love for the land when I was a child and later blossomed as I came to see John as both a philosophical and creative mentor in my adulthood.
I have wanted to tell this story for a long time. In fact, this may very well be the reason I got into the field of documentary filmmaking in the first place. It has taken me over a decade to get to the point where I felt that my skill and talent as a filmmaker were equal to the beauty of Frog Bayou and the talent and intellect of John Rule. It is my hope that by showcasing John's poetry in the film, it will be introduced to a wider audience and will receive the kind of attention it so justly deserves.
Chyrchel, S. M. (2012). Witch Hazel Advent, The Story of an Ozark Poet. Theses and Dissertations Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/etd/601