A documentary short film series profiling small towns in North Carolina
Created by Randolph Benson
Our Partner Towns
Watch Videos on Subjects within a Small N.C. Town
Series creator Randolph Benson‘s work has garnered numerous awards, most notably an Academy Award for Best Student Documentary at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Academy Awards. In addition, Benson received an Eastman Kodak Excellence in Filmmaking Award at the Cannes Film Festival, the Orson Welles Prize at the Tiburon Int'l Film Festival and a First Appearance Award at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. He has been an instructor of film and video at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University for over a decade, and he serves on Award Juries at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival (Durham, NC), the Boone (NC) Film Festival and the Let’s All Be Free Film Festival (London, UK).
One small town.
Despite popular misconceptions, the overwhelming majority of North Carolinians live in towns of 5,000 people or less. We are a state of small towns. In fact, NC has the second-most number of small towns in the country.
But all is not well. The mass exodus of manufacturing abroad as well as urban flight has devastated small towns. Many are on the verge of disappearing forever.
Anytown USA, created and taught by Randolph Benson, is an annual filmmaking production and editing course in which one small town is featured. Intermediate to advanced continuing education student filmmakers each tell a story of their choice within the town. Together the short films form a nuanced, intimate portrait of communities as they struggle to survive.
In non-fiction storytelling, access is everything.
Benson has formed a long-standing partnership with N.C. based organizations that are intimately engaged with small towns across the state, such as the N.C. Rural Center. These relationships has helped maximize the critical components of successful documentary filmmaking: an intimate knowledge of potential stories within each town, unfettered access to community stakeholders and potential story partners and, most importantly, trust.
By allowing people in small towns to tell their stories, audiences gain a much deeper understanding of the impact of political, social and cultural issues on their friends, neighbors, family members and fellow community members who live just a few miles away.
The course concludes with a community screening of the films within the town. (See above banner pic.)
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Screening of the Anytown USA: Scotland Neck films on the Town Hall Commons. Photo credit: Durward Rogers
This video includes clips from Mr. Percy’s Run (Smithfield ’10, Dir: D.L. Anderson), As Though It Never Was (Liberty ’12, Dir: David Persoff), Clyde’s Place (Robbins ’15, Dir: David Puckett) and Buddy and The Treehouse (Roseboro ’16, Dir: Leslie Baker)
Writer’s Guild of America, West – Registration # 1742694