Excellence in Artistic Activity
Excellence ein Artistic Activity
Mr. Alan Marsh
When you love what you are doing, it shows. Alan Marsh is a prime example.
The Southeastern English instructor was already a published author with a novel, children’s book and short stories to his credit when he decided several years ago to learn the art of filmmaking, “Because I wanted to,” he says simply.
Six films and numerous multimedia productions later, Marsh has an impressive collection of film festival awards and screenings to his credit -- and a brand new accolade, the President’s Award for Excellence in Artistic Activity.
Marsh says his venture into screenwriting and film directing is fueled by his “passion for storytelling” and the fact that today’s digital technology makes it doable with a barebones budget and crew.
“I love film,” he said. “A lot of people say I write visually and I think there’s some truth to that. I guess that’s part of the reason I gravitate to these visual mediums.”
Marsh took his first step toward filmmaking in 1998 when Southeastern dance professor Martie Fellom asked him to write a script for one of her concerts. The result was “The Water Maiden,” the first of a number of multi-media dance productions. Encouraged, Marsh and Fellom next attempted to turn one of his short stories into film.
“It was very sad because we didn’t know what we were doing,” he admitted, laughing. The pair wisely sought video and editing expertise, teaming up with Claude Levet in the Southeastern Public Information Office for their next project, Wish.
Wish was Marsh’s first stab at not only making a film, but writing a screenplay. Today, he says he winces at some of its editing shortfalls, but the film was an award-winner at a number of national film festivals, as well as a crowd-pleaser.
“After that, I said let’s be a little bit more ambitious,” said Marsh.
Partnering with Fellom as producer and editor, Marsh has since produced five more films: Wild Kingdom, The Firefly Club, Presence Patrol, The Proficiency, and Rabbit Moon. “None of this would have happened without Martie,” Marsh said. “I like to write and I think I’m creative, but she’s the one who puts all the pieces together.”
A lot of those pieces come from the campus and community. Marsh’s colleagues praise not just what he has accomplished, but how he has made filmmaking a shared experience.
He called upon Southeastern composer-in-residence Stephen Suber to score Wild Kingdom and The Firefly Club. He casts area children (and some of their parents). In addition to Levet, he has collaborated with colleagues like English faculty member Reine Bouton, who scripted The Proficiency. He partnered with a trio of students who formed their own production company to create The Firefly Club. Art major Jason Killeen has illustrated and animated his latest project, the children’s story Rabbit Moon.
He is still tweaking Rabbit Moon, although it has already earned a Silver Remi at the Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival, where his other films also collected gold, silver and bronze honors. Posters from the many other festivals that have honored and screened his films Crested Butte, Moondance, Black Earth, Flint, Longbaugh -- decorated the walls of his faculty office.
The festivals are fun, humbling and validating, Marsh said. “A lot of those people have a lot of money, big production teams,” he said of his competition. “So when you consider what we have to work with, I’m proud.”
David Hanson, head of the Department of English, agrees. “To have garnered so many awards, while drawing on slender resources and working so hard as one of our finest English instructions is an outstanding achievement,” he said.
A Southeastern graduate twice over, Marsh has been a member of the faculty for 10 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology, but returned to his alma mater for a master’s degree 12 years later after being “downsized” from private industry.
“I was at the point of ‘What am I going to do now,’” he said. “Somebody said, ‘Do what you love.’”
For Marsh, that meant writing and English. “And I’m still here,” he said, contentedly. “Southeastern is good for me. I like this.”