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Filmmaking in West Virginia

Event Promo for the 2019 West Virginia Filmmakers Festival

Click here for the film Mountains + Movies (53 minutes).

Okay, so maybe this should be on (our film site) instead of, but I think it’s important to showcase it here. In 2018, after showing my film End of the World Rocks at the West Virginia Filmmakers Festival, Renée Campbell, the festival organizer, mentioned that 2019 would be their 20th anniversary. My wife Cathy suggested that we shoot a documentary about it. Usually it’s me volunteering us for projects like this, but this time she did it. And so it began.

I saw this as a story that had legs, but wasn’t totally sure what direction it would go (as with most documentaries). We began by interviewing all the filmmakers we could find who had been named Filmmaker of the Year by the WVFF and went from there, and a common theme emerged.

Besides the fact that we met some really talented and interesting people, we learned that the difficulties faced by filmmakers in the state are daunting. But they persevere. There are so many tales to tell—as Chip Hitchcock put it, “You can’t swing a dead cat without finding a great story to tell.”

So Mountains + Movies was born. So far it’s been picked up by five festivals (waiting on decisions from several more); it’s a tough year for festivals.

Exmark’s Backyard Life

Backyard Life 30-second promo

We had been producing content for Exmark for several years, and they always liked the productions—they held audiences and provided relevant information for the target market.

For 2020, we went all-in on original content for Exmark’s Backyard Life mini-site (, and the content became more varied, including everything from done-in-a-weekend how-to videos, to a cooking show (Prime Cuts), a travelogue of beautiful properties (Dream Yards) and even a reality show (Country Livin’ With The Morgans).

Additional videos from influencers have made the site a central hub for Exmark’s audience of rural- and outdoor-lifestyle customers.

Lowrance Brand Story

In 2013, Lowrance asked us to produce a brand video for them. There were a lot of caveats: It needed to speak to Lowrance’s worldwide presence, the budget was very tight, and the top brass of the parent company (Navico) were watching closely as they needed a way to get the Lowrance story told in an effective, powerful way.

With the budget being so tight, we limited the live-action video to three interviews (and some stock) that our very small crew could capture in a short road trip to Florida. We started with bass pro Mike Iaconelli in Kissimmee, where he was for a tournament, then swung down to Islamorada to catch TV host and guide Rich Tudor, then back up to Titusville, where we interviewed the company’s founder, Darrell Lowrance.

It was especially rewarding to interview Lowrance. As we talked, it became evident that his interest in promoting his product, the electronic fishfinder, was to promote people fishing together. Going out on a fishing trip with your dad or friends is one of the best ways to reinforce relationships and create long-lasting memories—especially if you catch fish. We talked through several ending lines before settling on the right one. He looked straight into the camera, with his friendly eyes and said with all sincerity: “Technology makes fishing better, thanks to Lowrance. And traditions will continue, thanks to you and me.”

Post-production was equally gratifying. Still photos from photographers around the world were combined with ours, then creatively rotoscoped at Crawford Post, who also created the striking and beautiful sound design, as well as the voiceover. Quotes from Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea were added (ask me about the licensing on that!). In the end, it was a terrific and satisfying production from every perspective.

On our next trip to Navico headquarters in Tulsa, everyone told us how much they liked it. But the real validation came when Leif Ottosson, the CEO, sought me out to tell me what a great video it was. Darrel Lowrance, who passed away in 2019, talked about how fishing creates long-lasting memories; creating this video made many for me as well.