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Paling Around — C-N Filmmakers Take Restaurant’s Messages Literally

 Would you try to do whatever a sign on the side of the road suggested?

C-N student filmmakers Keith Baker and Gabe Wilkins did just that last summer. Each day was given to learning something, doing something, perhaps not doing something – all in accordance with the marquee of the day at Pal’s Sudden Service.

The duo’s film, Day by Day, will be screened at noon Tuesday as part of Carson-Newman’s Mossy Creek Documentary Arts Festival. The daylong festival, which is free and open to the public, begins at 10:30 a.m. and will be held in Phoenix Theater, part of the Henderson Humanities Building.

Baker and Wilkins, both of Morristown, grew up reading the sign. One day last year while driving back to campus Baker read, “Go skydiving.”

He said it was like, well… a sign.

“What if I did just what the sign said every day for a year?” he thought. That led to a conversation with Wilkins about it. Deciding quickly that a year was too long, they narrowed it down to one crazy summer.

Baker approached Pal’s with a simple question posted through the corporation’s website. He was surprised when CEO Thom Crosby answered him almost immediately. Baker recalled the executive said they liked to encourage creativity, that he loved the idea, and then he said they could fund the project.

Friends who have been making films together since “they were eight years old,” Baker and Wilkins produced Day by Day with another friend, Allen Beswick. Instructions included “Learn to Water-ski”, “Play Baseball” and “Blow Bubbles on a Playground.”

The olfactory-challenged Baker said the simplest direction was the toughest for him – “Stop and Smell the Roses.”

“The overall idea or message that comes out of the activities is that you can find the inspiration to do new things anywhere – the “signs” are all around you,” smiled Baker.

Seven other documentaries will be screened. Films with local flavor include Valley of Independence, featuring the surprising history of Grainger County, and Nashville Rises, which explores the city’s destruction and recovery from flooding two years ago.

Sure to be a favorite is Being Elmo, the Sundance Award winner about the African-American creator of one of the world’s most beloved puppets. Alpha Chi Honor Society will host a fundraiser party featuring children’s games and story time. The party is slated to begin at 2 p.m. and the film will follow at 3:30 p.m.

Breakout discussions with the filmmakers, directors, cinematographers, producers and composers will allow audience members to learn more about the ins and outs of documentary filmmaking. A student photography competition will also explore images that create a sense of inspiration.

The festival’s full schedule is available at (Commatcn.com). For more information, contact Dr. Mark Borchert at 865-471-3294 or mborchert@cn.edu.

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