Football Player, Cowboy Artist Subject of MSU Senior Documentaries

Cowboy culture meets "Friday Night Lights" when two short documentaries will be screened at Midwestern State University at 3 p.m. Friday, May 13, in the Lamar D. Fain Fine Arts Center Theatre. The documentaries are class projects of graduating seniors in the Mass Communication department. Admission is free and open to the public.

Former Nighthawks offensive lineman Solomon Orr is the subject of one documentary, which follows Orr from high school football star in Mesquite to playing for the Tarleton State Texans and semi-professional teams, through his transition to arena ball with the Wichita Falls Nighthawks.

Robert Hillard, Shambreka Jones, Hunter Porter and Harley Warrick documented Orr's rocky pro-football career and his planning for life after he leaves the game.

The second documentary examines fine craftsmanship and cowboy culture in the digital age. Taylor Coffman, Elascha Davila-Hicks, Zena Patel and Cody Samples explored the career of "Cowboy True" founder Dan Shores as both a cowhand and artist. In addition to herding cattle and horses across the north Texas plains, Shores handcrafts fine metal art for traditional cowboy equipment, such as spurs and saddles.

Each team was responsible for producing the entire 15-minute film, from idea development to camera shoot to final cut. The documentaries have taken the students four months to produce for their capstone course, Senior Production.

Creating documentaries has been the showcase project for mass communication majors since 1986, according to Dr. Pamela Morgan, MSU director for the Center for Continuing, Professional and Distance Education. Morgan, a May 1986 MSU mass communication graduate, said making a documentary back then was difficult because the department had only a couple of cameras and one editing bay.

"The group I was in did The Making of Mark Twain,'" she said. Morgan said a theatre student in her group was preparing for the role of Mark Twain in a play, so her team followed him around to shoot the documentary. When it was time to edit their work, the team had to leave campus.

"I remember editing the documentary at Channel 6. That was crazy," Morgan said. "Another documentary done that year was The Kell House.' I know that Kell House docents used that documentary for years as part of their historical tour."

The department's senior documentaries have won numerous awards in state, regional and national competitions, including Best Special Broadcast from College Broadcasters Inc., and the Barbara Jordan Award from the [Texas] Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities.

For more information, contact Jonathon Quam at 940-397-4849 or jonathon.quam@msutexas.edu.