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Media, Journalism & Film Department Blog

Remembering The Normal Heart: screening and Q & A

New documentary “Remembering the Normal Heart Controversy” will screen on Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Plaster Student Union Theatre. A talk-back session with the filmmakers will follow the screening.

This film explores the controversy, politics — and ultimately — violence that swirled around a 1989 Missouri State production of Larry Kramer’s play The Normal Heart, which depicts the early days of the HIV-AIDS epidemic.

In revisiting these events, the documentary examines the complex and sometimes volatile issues that surround freedom of speech. It combines personal stories, perspectives and archival news footage to bring these ideas to life.

Key details

  • What: “Remembering the Normal Heart Controversy in Springfield, Missouri” — documentary and talk-back session
  • When: 7:00 p.m., Feb. 11
  • Where: Plaster Student Union Theatre
  • Details: Open to the public; admission is free

About the filmmakers

Patricia Moore is Missouri State University theatre alum who started working in documentary and educational film production in Palo Alto, California, in 1970. She has been a licensed mental health counselor for nearly thirty years. Patricia formed “As We Are Productions, LLC” to produce this documentary in memory of theatre friends who died of AIDS in the early stages of the epidemic.

Dax Bedell is an Emmy Award-winning editor and creative director who has worked in film and television since 2001. A Springfield, Missouri, native and graduate of Drury University, he has produced dozens of documentaries and hundreds of feature segments for PBS and other major networks nationwide. Dax is a founding member of The Corps, an international artist collective and production company that provides creative services for projects around the world.

Learn more

Remembering the Normal Heart flyer

For more about the documentary and the history of these events, access the flyer.

Remembering the Normal Heart Flyer

2014 exhibits and discussion

This screening is part of Missouri State’s continued engagement with the ideas raised during the 1989 production.

In 2014, Missouri State and community partners examined the Normal Heart controversy through exhibits and panel discussions.

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Missouri Humanities Council grant supports oral history project on local African-American history

Lucie Amberg, a Missouri State new media specialist, per course faculty member and graduate student pursuing a Master of Science and Administrative Studies degree, recently wrote a successful grant application to the Missouri Humanities Council for an interdisciplinary, multimedia project on African-American history in the Ozarks.

Stories that are waiting to be told

This project began with sociology faculty members Lyle Foster and Tim Knapp, who completed a series of KSMU interviews last spring. Amberg joined the project as a producer when Foster and Knapp became interested in expanding it into video and other forms of media.

“I have always been interested in people and their stories,” Amberg said. “And these stories are right there, waiting to be told. The exciting thing about digital media is that we can share people’s experiences in their own words.”

Documenting history of African-Americans in the Ozarks

The project is a living archive; Amberg and her research partners are developing a project website that details the purpose of the project — to document and share the experiences of African-Americans in the Ozarks. The website features specific people, interviews, events and places illustrated through videos, articles and audio recordings.

When the first version releases, Amberg hopes other contributors will add their own stories and experiences to this living archive: “If you want to know what an experience was like for someone, you have to ask them — and then you have to listen. Even a situation you feel you know, you never truly understand until you hear from someone who has lived it.”

Amberg credits successful collaboration between the research partners with drawing out these stories. “As a producer, you know that the interview can only be as good as the interviewer. It’s incumbent on the interviewer to listen deeply and create an atmosphere of openness. Lyle did this beautifully, which is why the footage is so compelling.”

Photo from the Lederer Collection in Meyer Library, which has provided resources for the project.
Photo from the Lederer Collection in Meyer Library, which has provided resources for the project.

Grant pays for production costs

The Missouri Humanities Council grant is a critical supporter in making the technological pieces of this project happen.

“The council was very generous in awarding us money,” Amberg said. “The grant has allowed us to hire an extra editor and paid for a few other costs associated with getting the videos and website up and running.”

Workshop gives boost needed to apply    

Lucie Amberg
Lucie Amberg

Although Amberg had no experience with the grant process, she sensed this project held potential for grant-funded support. In May, she attended a grant-writing workshop the College of Arts and Letters hosted with the College of Humanities and Public Affairs, which pointed her in the direction of the Missouri Humanities Council grant.

“As part of the grant, we have public interaction around this piece,” Amberg said. “We are currently talking about events timed with African American Heritage Month and the Collaborative Diversity Conference.”

Blending academic studies with professional life

Amberg will graduate in 2017. From the experience she has gained from the MSAS program, Amberg said she feels she has furthered her professional development.

“I’m able to customize my studies into my professional world, which gives me the opportunity to work on producing and writing for new media — advancing my professional skills and experience.”

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MJF professor’s film on urban evolution wins festival award

Dr. Andy Cline set out to write a book about the changing landscape of urban communities — particularly the mass migration of suburban residents to more central neighborhoods within walking distance of commerce. That idea evolved into a full-length documentary film, “Downtown,” that recently won best film in the Urban Sociology category at the 2016 New Urbanism Film Festival.

Students become the teachers

Cline, an associate professor in media, journalism and film, recruited several former and current students to help him complete the film project. The film showed locally at a local independent cinema, The Moxie.

A photojournalist in a former life, Cline said he admittedly knew little about filmmaking before beginning “Downtown.” He has relied on the expertise of his crew to teach him the ropes.

What he does know is a good story when he sees it.

Urban renewal at crux of trend

The New Urbanism movement is not terribly new. For the last three decades, people have been fighting the sprawl of suburbia and advocating for sustainable living. Many larger cities have reverted back to its roots of mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods.

Springfield is finally catching up.

CAndy Clineline said baby boomers — his generation — and millennials are flocking to downtown areas to escape the confinement that comes with maintaining landscaping and driving miles into town for work and entertainment.

“It doesn’t take many from America’s two largest generations doing a thing to make a trend,” he said. “And in a place like Springfield, the movement of 250 to 500 people can cause a Heers, a Sterling, a McDaniel to get built. They can’t build stuff fast enough.”

Springfield exemplifies national struggle

“Downtown” details the difficulties and opportunities metropolitan areas face as more residents seek out sustainable, human-scale communities. The scope of the documentary’s reporting is national, Cline said, but the stories are based in Springfield, a microcosm of the trend at large.

“Springfield, while it’s not Portland, Oregon, it’s also not the armpit of America. It’s somewhere in the middle. We are struggling with the same things that many urban areas are struggling with, and similar things are happening here in terms of this trend.”

One interesting topic explored in “Downtown” is ways trust is established in urban areas where people of all socio-economic backgrounds converge. How do you create an environment where all feel comfortable to work and play?

Turning this experience into an MSU course

Cline was inspired during his work on “Downtown” to incorporate documentary filmmaking into his role as an educator. He’s developing two new film projects to work on with students as part of classes offered at Missouri State.

Last summer, he and geography professor Dr. Paul Rollinson took a group of students on a study away trip to the Trans-Siberian Railway. Cline’s students are creating a short film about their travels.

He has also begun work on a full-length documentary about the impending student debt crisis and the potential it has to undermine the economic well being of an entire generation.

Following along with the progress of Cline’s projects on his website, Carbon Trace Productions.

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New undergraduate screenwriting courses available in Spring 2017

Two new courses are being added to the screenwriting program for the Spring 2017 semester. These undergraduate sections will be of particular interest to students who are pursuing either the screenwriting minor or undergraduate certificate in writing for television and film.

New screenwriting courses

MED 360: Beginning Screenwriting

  • Offered Tuesday/Thursday, 11 a.m. — 12:15 p.m.
  • CRN 36955
  • This introductory course focuses on the fundamental rules and tools of screenwriting for film, television, and the web.  Students focus on scenework for the majority of the semester and finish by creating a short film script (that they may choose to film in one of their later production classes). This class will be offered every semester from this point on; it’s the ideal starting point for those of you who have not yet taken a writing course.

MED 568: Writing the Web Series

  • Offered Tuesday/Thursday, 2 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
  • CRN 37027
  • Students work in teams to generate ideas for and then write the first-season scripts for web series. Multiple projects from previous versions of this course have gone on to see production and win awards. Special focus will be placed on creating and shaping episodic series that can fit within a realistic budget and have the potential for multiple seasons.
  • Instructor permission required—email Richard Amberg if you’re interested.


Contact Richard Amberg with any questions about these classes or Missouri State’s screenwriting programs.

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Theatre and film professors partner to give students comprehensive film production experiences

Filmmakers and screen actors often rely on each other to make a production work. This symbiotic relationship is driving a growing collaboration between Missouri State’s department of media, journalism and film, and department of theatre and dance.

Student Becca Thompson works behind the scenes on the set of “Counting to 1000.”

Overlap in theatre and film

Kurt Heinlein
Kurt Heinlein

Kurt Heinlein, professor of theatre and dance and acting program coordinator, said despite the departments offering a different range of degree and course options, there is a lot of opportunity for overlap in theater and film. Each area teaches skills that are needed in the film production process.

“The logical trajectory of that has been more crossover work. Some of this was already happening, but we’ve formalized it a bit to benefit the students in both departments.”

The collaboration also comes, in part, as a result of a changing dynamic in MSU’s acting program and the acting profession — less emphasis on stage acting and more in on-camera work.

“Our department heads, as well as the dean’s office, have been really supportive about these crossover initiatives,” Heinlein said. “Every time I approach someone to say, ‘Hey, we’re thinking about this,’ the answer I get is, ‘Yeah, let’s figure out how we can make it happen.’ That’s so huge, so important for the students.”

‘Demystify the production and acting processes’

Andrew Twibell
Andrew Twibell

One media, journalism and film faculty member with whom Heinlein has partnered is Andrew Twibell, assistant professor in digital film production.

“One directing class … was designed to give students in both of our departments additional opportunities to not just work together, but to get to know each other,” Twibell said. “It’s our hope that these opportunities will help demystify the production and acting processes.”

Recently, the College of Arts and Letters has explored combining course work across departments with the idea that the collaboration will result in the creation of a film.

This innovative, combined curriculum may shape the future of both departments in years to come.

Testing skills learned in the classroom

Student projects, department-produced films and web series, and other locally filmed productions are examples of resume-building opportunities offered to students in departments across COAL. Here are a few created in the last year.

“The Weight”

This project had strong ties to Missouri State. It’s director, Thomas Rennier, is an MSU alumnus Thomas Rennier. “The Weight” was filmed in 2015 in nearby Greenfield, Missouri. Several COAL alumni and students participated as cast and crew members. Heinlein was the film’s stunt coordinator.

“Counting to 1000”

Seniors in electronic arts are required to complete a senior thesis project. “Counting to 1000” is one such project created by Josh Pfaff, Samantha Rhode, Logan Sparlin, Joshua Moore and Andrew Westmaas. Since its spring 2016 debut, it has been accepted into several national film festivals and won numerous awards.


The media, journalism and film-produced web series “Limbo” was initiated as a way to bring students in theatre and film together for a large-scale project, said Twibell.

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Electronic arts featured in next Bears in the Know lunch

The electronic arts program will be showcased at the Nov. 18 Bears in the Know luncheon.

This luncheon will go in-depth about the creativeness and diligence of this award-winning department, with presentations from the following speakers:

  • Mark Biggs, associate professor and associate dean of the College of Arts and Letters
  • Vonda Yarberry, interim department head of art and design, professor of animation and electronic arts
  • Colby Jennings, assistant professor of digital arts, animation and electronic arts

markbiggs vondayarberry colbyjennings

What is electronic arts?

Electronic arts is a collaborative, interdisciplinary program. Its students have garnered hundreds of international and national awards due to creative excellence, technical mastery and successful team-based skills.

More about the lunch

Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m., followed by the program at noon in the Turner Family Hospitality Room on the first floor of the Kenneth E. Meyer Alumni Center. Complimentary parking is available in the attached garage of McDaniel Street.


Tickets are $10 per session or $50 for the year.

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Show-Me Chefs to co-host fundraising gala with Care to Learn

“Show-Me Chefs,” the successful media, journalism and film department-produced television series, will host a gala on Oct. 22 to raise money for a third season and the Care to Learn organization.

show me chefs gala 620 width

More about the show

Show-Me Chefs” is a cooking competition where local chefs compete for a $3,000 prize. The show is produced by students in MSU’s advanced television production class. They work on every aspect of the show, such as producing, hosting, filming, directing and editing. Other students across campus help with marketing and other aspects of the show.

Season two premieres at 6 p.m. Oct. 9 on KOZL-TV. Pre-production for season three is already underway.

More about the gala

The gala will be held at 319 Event Center. Season two’s chefs will attend the event to compete in a small-plate competition for a Judge’s Choice Award and an Audience Choice awards. There will be a silent auction and many other prizes.

General admission tickets are $40, while reserved seating is $50. Tickets can be purchased online.

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Five reasons to choose COAL as your college

They are the storytellers. The creators. The visualizers.

The students who make up Missouri State’s College of Arts and Letters take pride in standing out amongst the crowd and making their Missouri Statement a distinct one. How? Here are five ways COAL is making itself known at MSU.

Giving Voice will open your eyes to oppression


Giving Voice, a theatre troupe housed in the theatre and dance department, puts on an interactive performance that is inspired by Augusto Boal’s Theatre. Their goal is to give a voice to those who are oppressed, underrepresented and marginalized.

The troupe helps many groups tackle topics like gender, racial, political and religious discrimination. This is done through a series of presentations and workshops. The Giving Voice facilitator and actors work with participants to explore how to approach taboo situations in a safe environment.

Student Exhibition Center gives you space to exhibit your creativity


The Student Exhibition Center, or SEC, is a gallery festooned with student artwork and funded through the Student Activity Fee.

Think your art should be featured? All you have to do is fill out a proposal form and you have a chance to have your own artwork on display.

You can even hold a reception there (but it does cost an extra fee, so check out the SEC website for more details).

The SEC is located on Historic Walnut Street at the north end of the Missouri State University campus.

But wait — there’s more! The SEC isn’t the only Missouri State gallery looking to display student artwork. The Brick City Gallery features distinguished, as well as up-and-coming artists, in this urban oasis of creativity. Plus, admission is free and open to the public.

You can immerse yourself in TV industry with ‘Show-Me Chefs’


Imagine a television show run by college students. That’s exactly what “Show-Me Chefs” is!

The show is produced by the department of media, journalism and film as part of a class. Students produce and film the whole series — a reality competitive cooking show that highlights local food producers and chefs.

The show’s second season is about to premier on KOZL-TV, and they are already in pre-production for Season 3. On Oct. 22, the show will host a fundraising gala at Springfield’s 319 Event Center.

Untamed Tongues will empower you to use your voice


Untamed Tongues is a poetry collective dedicated to establishing a place on campus for poets and musicians to share their creative works with others, be active servants to the community and maintain high academic achievement.

The group was co-founded nearly a year ago by Taylor Vinson, an MSU junior in communication. To celebrate this organization’s first birthday, a poetry slam is being held at 7:30 Oct. 3 in Plaster Student Union, room 400. There will be three rounds with three different time limits: Free topic, no props. Everyone with an original poem is welcome to participate

Study Away will take you around the world


We encourage our students to travel the world. There are several COAL faculty-led study away opportunities, including a few listed here:

  • In summer 2016, Dr. Andy Cline, a media, journalism and film associate professor, led a group of students on a 10-day train ride to the Trans-Siberian Railway. The goal was to create a documentary film as they travelled through Moscow, Vladivostok and Lake Baikal.
  • In another summer adventure, Dr. Cameron LaBarr, choral studies director, and the MSU Chorale took an 18-day tour of South Africa. Highlights included performing at the American Embassy, hiking in the mountains and attending a safari ride.
  • Center for Dispute Resolution took a 10-day study away trip to Ireland in June 2015. The program explored the country’s historical and cultural roots of conflict and the subsequent peacemaking processes and reconciliations. This cultural experience toured students around Dublin, Belfast and Derry/Londonderry.
  • For the last several summers, art professor Gwen Walstrand has led students on a trip to Florence, Italy. The courses offered abroad range from drawing, photography and general education options. For more information about the summer 2017 Italy trip, attend one of the info sessions on Oct. 5, Oct. 19, Nov. 14 or Nov. 23, each at 7 p.m. in Brick City, building 1, room 211.
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Cast your vote at the Manhattan Short Film Festival

The Manhattan Short Film Festival is coming back to Missouri State at 7 p.m. on Sept. 24 in Plaster Student Union Theatre. 

People from all over the world gather in over 250 cities come together for this global film festival where they vote on their favorite film.

How does it work?

Viewers will be given a ballot upon arrival that they will fill out at the end of the 10 films, participating in the instantaneous celebration occurring in over 300 cities around the globe during the span of a week. Votes are tallied by each cinema and sent to the festival headquarters. The winner will be announced Oct. 6.

Directed by Romain Quirot, "The Last Journey of the Enigmatic Paul W.R." is a French film that follows astronaut Paul WR, mankind's only hope of salvation, as he prepares to go to space. Mysteriously, a few hours before the mission launch, Paul has disappeared.
Manhattan Film Festival finalist: “The Last Journey of the Enigmatic Paul W.R.,” directed by Romain Quirot


Cost is $10 at the door. Proceeds benefit the media, journalism and film department‘s Digital Film Production Scholarship.

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