Spotlight: Small towns

June 20th, 2015 12:03 pm

First Posted: 2/22/2012

If you've ever lived in a small town such as Clarks Summit, you've likely heard—and laughed at— the common stereotypes encompassing it, such as, "Nothing ever happens there."

Filmmaker Carol Windham, from the small town of Clyde, Texas, heard the same and decided since there is so much "nothing" happening in small towns all over America, she would make a movie about it. Her company, Zumafilmz, made Clarks Summit its third out of six stops for the project, interviewing more than 25 locals during its visit last weekend.

Windham said she got the idea for the film as she observed her own town, got involved in various projects there and realized how inaccurate the stereotypes are.

"I believe small towns feed creativity into the culture," she said.

She found plenty of creativity, patriotism and growth in Clarks Summit, and said she was amazed at the variety of skills displayed by its residents, from artists, to musicians to athletes.

"There's just people everywhere who do interesting things in this town," she said.

Ricky Long, of Zumafilmz, who worked the cameras during interviews and filmed various scenes at the Clarks Summit Festival of Ice, said, "There are incredible stories everywhere you go, and incredible people doing incredible things." He pointed out, however, that doesn't always mean doing something on a national level, but more often simply helping one's neighbor.

What he enjoyed most about filming in Clarks Summit was meeting all the people. "You'd never know you'd find so much warmth on a street during an ice festival," he said, adding that he was impressed by the unique atmosphere of friendliness among people walking the streets of the town. As a visitor, he felt he was welcomed with open arms.

"That same kind of feeling of a big old hug is what we hope the film does," he said.

Windham said the film, titled "My Place on the Planet," will be a short documentary covering different aspects of small town life over various areas, ethnicities and economic levels. It will place an emphasis on the significance of small towns to American culture.

She said the company plans to enter the film into some film festivals and hopes to eventually have it aired on a travel or history channel. It also plans to have showings in each of the six towns featured sometime at the end of next year.

Windham said she chose to film in Clarks Summit partly because of a longtime friend of hers who lives in the area, Johnny Braz, of Clarks Green. Not only did Braz introduce Zumafilmz to the town, he also helped work the cameras as part of the filming crew while they were here.

The film crew's next stop will be the small town of Greensburg, Kan., and others towns included will be Social Circle, Ga., Port Townsend, Wash., Anthony, N.M., and, of course, the filmmakers' hometown of Clyde, Texas, where the idea began.

They also plan to make a second round of visits to each town, and hope to be back in Clarks Summit around October 10 of this year.

And, they look forward to coming back. "Everyone's been warm and inviting," Windham said.