Friday, April 08, 2011

Scrappers -- Savannah / East Tennessee State / Clemson

Whoa. The Southern Circuit just jumped from DC to AC ... or some equally cheesy metaphor for electricity getting stronger.

After our leisurely start in the Carolinas, we kicked up the pace and hit Savannah, GA, Johnson City, TN, and Clemson, SC in three days, in that order. A glance at a map will give you an idea what that entails. We’ve now conquered the rock-cut pass through the smoky, luminous Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians on Interstate 26 three times, rising and falling 3,600 feet. I feel like Napoleon in the Pyrenees, Alexander the Great at Mount Taurus, Arthur Conolly in the Hindu Kush... et cetera.

We’re just about to hit 3,000 miles logged on this trip, on the road somewhere near Welcome, SC.

Savannah saw Scrappers at the impeccably restored Lucas Theater, a 1920s movie palace whose praises you will see sung by other filmmakers all over this blog. But let me do it again: this screening was definitely the finest digital projection, largest screen, and classiest seating that this film has seen – or likely will see!

We pulled into Johnson City only days after it survived its first Zombie Attack:

Which could also explain this gnomic message high above the town:

Thanks to the students of ETSU and the residents of JCTN, we had the biggest audience and longest discussion on the Circuit so far. Ben and I were most excited to learn of the existence of nearby Elizabethton Metal & Herb:

Being a college town, I naively assumed this might be the name of a record store / head shop. Nope, it’s a local recycling center, catering to peddlers of scrap metal as well as to scrappers of an older variety in this part of Appalachia -- people who forage the woods for ginseng, other herbs, and rare morel mushrooms, referred to as “land fish”. Obviously, this kind of agricultural extension of the scrap economy appealed to us, and we hoped to visit and shoot interviews. Alas, three years ago E-town Herb & Metal was absorbed by metal giant Omnicorp, and has ceased the forest product-buying branch of its business.

Thanks Angela, Amanda, Rad, Shara, and Dan for all the good times and local knowledge. Let us know when it’s time to put that warehouse full of shiny new video equipment at your school to use through an artist’s residency program. You work on Little Chicago, we’ll handle the big one.

Another huge, eager, and surprising crowd at Clemson U. Just to name a few, we had students from Sexuality in Film, engineering, and geology. (I always thought this project had something to say to aspiring metallurgists – so thank you, Clemson Professors of Geology!) There were filmmakers from the indie scene in Greenville, Southern Circuit die-hards, somebody looking for the film “Snappers”, and I don’t know who else. We also heard some powerfully earnest testimonials from students to the value of Southern Circuit – the phrase “only cultural outlet” emerged more than once. Happy to be at your service, Palmetto State!