Revisiting a Portrait of the Ozarks Inquiry

Here is an excerpt from the Ford Foundation regarding one of its grants we applied for. We choose the Ford Foundation because its mission is in line with our mission here at Carbon Trace Productions.

Across eight decades, our mission (at the Ford Foundation)  has been to reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. We believe that social movements are built upon individual leadership, strong institutions, and innovative, often high-risk ideas. While the specifics of what we work on have evolved over the years, investments in these three areas have remained the touchstones of everything we do and are central to our theory of how change happens in the world. These approaches have long distinguished the Ford Foundation, and they have had a profound cumulative impact.

 

This piece was written by Missouri State University Writing Student, Erika Larkin:

I’m delighted for this opportunity to tell you about Carbon Trace. They are a non-profit organized to give college students hands-on experience in producing quality, thought-provoking documentaries. They respectfully request your consideration for a grant of $20,000 to support their next film, “A Portrait of the Ozarks,” in pre-production—a documentary revisiting Shannon County, Missouri nearly 40 years since the first film.

Carbon Trace is a certified 501(c)3 non-profit that has been in action since 2014. Their mission is to provide students with real-world experience in documentary filmmaking. Through Missouri State University (MSU), students earn school credit as they gain practical skills and explore topics of social importance. They travel to filming locations, interview people, craft stories, and are deeply involved in production from beginning to end. We have seen success in previous films, like their 2016 feature-film “Downtown” that won an award for Best Urban Sociology Film at the New Urbanism Film Festival in Los Angeles.

The main objective of Carbon Trace is to provide students with hands-on experience in documentary filmmaking. Students who work in the film are mentored by our staff who are experienced in the film industry. For this film, we want to make a documentary with inspiration from the famous Ken Burns but taken to the next level by incorporating archived video footage of Shannon County residents from the original 1981 film. We will be using footage from both the old film and the new film that we are currently developing.

Not only are students gaining workforce skills, but also greater cultural competence.  With your help, Carbon Trace can commit to pre-production on its next project, “A Portrait of the Ozarks”. We have already contacted locals, historians, and filmmakers to begin the process. The goal is to determine what life is like today for a small, rural community in Missouri, to see their way of life in an intimate way. Shannon County has a population of around 8,000 people. Life in small, rural towns can be difficult to understand as an outsider.

A documentary would allow Shannon County residents to have a voice and to explain the changes that have occurred since the first film. Understanding this small community can help us to think about rural populations around the country. Rural communities are often seen as antiquated as if they are a rare occurrence. And, yet, one-fifth of Americans live in a rural community. One of the goals of the film is to express the unique but valuable experience of those who live in rural communities, to show that they live full and valuable lives, despite any preconceived ideas of economic worth.

According to a report by the Pew Research Center, all community types—urban, suburban, and rural— agree that rural communities are underfunded. Rural residents know what they need to succeed, and their counterparts seem willing to listen. Plus, the survey results also show that all Americans are aware that rural communities are less economically supported. But, do we know how this actually affects their life? Carbon Trace has an opportunity to give rural residents, specifically those of Shannon County, a chance to proudly show their way of life as a community of people, not defined by stereotypes or statistics.

We should hear back within 30 days. We will be sure to keep you updated.

Carbon Trace can provide significant guidance in developing, funding, producing, and distributing a documentary film. For high school students wishing to learn more about documentary filmmaking, Missouri State University offers degrees in digital filmmaking, media production, journalism, and other associated areas.

To take part in the documentary education provided through the Carbon Trace Team we encourage you to apply for a filmmaking internship, submit a documentary idea, or apply to become a volunteer using the forms below.

Join Carbon Trace as a student volunteer

Apply for an internship

Submit a documentary idea

Support Nonprofit Documentary Filmmaking

Check out our Patreon memberships. At the $5 per month level of support, you get free VIP codes for all Carbon Trace pay-per-view movies, including the right to download a copy to keep! It’s a great way to watch our documentary films while supporting our nonprofit mission of documentary education and humanitarian service.