Roll out the maroon and white carpet.
A documentary film that chronicles the history of Eastern Kentucky University premieres at the EKU Center for the Arts on Monday, Nov. 9.
The curtain will rise on “The Essential Eastern,” produced and directed by EKU communication professor Chad Cogdill, at 7:30 p.m. No tickets are required; admission is free, and the public is welcome.
The 86-minute film, in the making since early 2014 and funded by the President’s Office at EKU, is organized chronologically. It follows the institution’s evolution from Central University in 1874 and Walters Collegiate Institute to its humble beginnings as a state normal school in 1906 and then to a state college and, eventually in 1966, a university. Through two world wars and other military conflicts, the Great Depression, the Civil Rights Movement and integration, the film touches on the historical events and cultural and societal issues that helped shape the campus and the students, faculty and staff who have called it home.
“What emerged,” said Cogdill, “was Eastern’s resiliency during difficult times, coupled with a strong sense of community throughout the institution’s history. As with many educational institutions, Eastern has endured its share of victories and setbacks. But one thing remained clear, and that is a strong sense of community and institutional pride.”
Cogdill said the film was inspired and informed by Dr. Bill Ellis’ 2005 landmark book, “A History of Eastern Kentucky University,” an “incredible, historical source that the University is lucky to have.” Trenia Napier and Leslie Valley, both staff members in EKU’s Noel Studio for Academic Creativity, wrote the script, using notes from Ellis’ book and other historical sources such as EKU Libraries, Special Collections and Archives, The Eastern Progress and Milestone. Television personality Nick Clooney served as narrator, and EKU Foundation Professor of Music Dr. Richard Crosby composed the original music score.
“I hope people learn something historical about the institution,” Cogdill said. “I hope they connect on a level that triggers positive memories of their time at Eastern … and helps further that sense of pride and community.”
The film features interviews with 18 figures from the University’s past and present, including Dr. Paul Blanchard, Archivist Jackie Couture, Dr. Skip Daugherty, Dr. Ellis, Archivist Emeritus Charles Hay, current Regent Ernie House, Carl Hurley, Coach Roy Kidd, Board of Regents Chair Craig Turner, Provost Dr. Janna Vice and President Emeritus Doug Whitlock, among others.
Kentucky Educational Television also plans to air the film. In fact, Craig Cornwell, senior director for programming at KET, “was the inspiration for us to get the project started,” Cogdill said.
Cogdill’s colleague in the Department of Communication, Michael Randolph, was assistant producer. Ten interns helped with interview lighting, camera and audio setup at various campus locations and conducted research in Special Collections and Archives for historic papers, photographs and other items. “They were a big help,” Cogdill said.
Cogdill, who teaches film techniques among other courses, has worked as a freelance cinematographer and produced short narrative and experimental films and music videos.