S04 – Star, NC

Anytown USA is a documentary video production and editing class at the Center for Documentary Studies, in which continuing education students produce and edit videos related to a small town in North Carolina. This year’s class, taught by filmmaker Randolph Benson, focused on the town of Star, and each of the eleven students created a short film on a topic of their choice. This May, town citizens packed the Star Municipal Building for screenings of the films, which were also shown at CDS later that month.

See ten of the final short films from Anytown USA below:

Wet Dog Glass | Susan Barco

Eddie and Angela brought their company here from New Orleans. How do you build a new furnace at Wet Dog Glass? How do you build a new home in Star?


Susan Barco lives in Durham, North Carolina, and likes to hear stories during video work with community groups, church groups, and artists, and in volunteer work as a community mediator.

Star Elementary | Meredith Sause

Star Elementary is a portrait of learning and living in the Town of Star, seen through the eyes of its young children.


Meredith Sause is an actor, singer, and a speech therapist.

The Pink House | Lisa Sorg

In 2001, the Town of Star bought a century-old pink farmhouse that had bowed walls, rickety floors, and a leaky roof. Ten years later, Star officials and volunteers decided to resurrect the “Pink House” as a heritage center to help a local economy devastated by the export of textile jobs overseas, symbolizing one small town’s nostalgia for the past, the anxiety of the present, and the hope for a future unknown.


Lisa Sorg received her Certificate in Documentary Arts from CDS in December 2010. By day, she is the editor of the Independent Weekly. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Guiding Light | Will Fryar

Guiding Light is a story about Pastor Kay Boone at Star’s United Methodist Church, showing her importance and that of her congregation in their community and how they impact the people around them.


Will Fryar is a certificate student at CDS. “I believe that we have so much to offer each other through our different stories and that is why I choose to share these stories through visual documentation says. For other information on me and others pieces I’ve worked on please visit my portfolio web site at http://www.willfryar.com.

The Next Chapter | Jameka Autry

A portrait of four high school seniors—Nick Allen, Esbeida DePaz, Sean Maness, and Anthony Parsons—and how their growth in the small town of Star has shaped their paths as they embark on the next stage of their lives.


Jameka Autry is a photographer and filmmaker raised in Durham North Carolina. After finding a new love and appreciation for documentary film while at CDS, she is working on her first feature film. She gives her most heartfelt thanks to the seniors at East Montgomery High School and their families for sharing their stories.

The Old Time Sound: The 85th Star Fiddler’s Convention | David Persoff

The oldest fiddler’s convention in North Carolina attracts bluegrass and old-timey musicians to Star from all over the Piedmont and has a large and faithful local audience. The Old Time Sound features the father and son team of Elton and Theron Caviness and their band, Solid Rock Bluegrass.


David Persoff is a producer of commercials and television from Los Angeles enrolled in the CDS certificate program. He has been playing and listening to bluegrass ever since he was an undergraduate and is happy to see that bluegrass still flourishes in Star.

Further Down the Road | Christopher D. Lusk

Further Down the Road is an intimate and abstract look inside BJ & Sons Motor Co., a body and restoration shop in Star that has been around for several decades.


Christopher D. Lusk is a native of Bluefield, West Virginia, pursuing a certificate at CDS. In 2008, he founded Product 83 Productions and has produced a variety of music videos, shorts, and other visual media. He has an interest in all aspects of filmmaking, specifically directing and editing, and hopes to pursue an MFA in film production in the near future.

Wondrous Love | Carol Edmonds

Ministers, doctors, lawyers, EMTs, funeral related personnel, florists, and insurance agents all perform services that support the deceased and their family members, of which they mostly have no personal knowledge—an assembly line of detached care. But in Star, a town of less than eight hundred people, it is very different.


Carol Edmonds grew up in rural Guilford County, North Carolina. An avid photographer and social justice advocate, she is a certificate student at CDS and is transitioning into videography, with Wondrous Love being her first film.

Gary Spivey’s Star Bed & Breakfast | Alex Maness

A look into Star’s most intriguing and elusive figure: Who is Gary Spivey, and what is he doing with that old hotel? Is he really psychic? Is that place actually haunted? All these questions and more are answered in Gary Spivey’s Star Bed & Breakfast.


Alex Maness is a photographer, filmmaker, and visual artist living in Durham, North Carolina. Recent projects include theater multimedia for little Green Pig’s productions of Donald, Jade City, and Night Beast. His collaboration with director Jim Haverkamp on the short When Walt Whitman was a Little Girl is currently making the film festival rounds.

The Law in Star | Tom Adams

This film looks at the Star Police Department and its efforts to provide a safe and secure environment for the town’s citizens. The Law in Star focuses on both the professional and personal challenges of the officers engaged in this pursuit.


Tom Adams is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and currently resides in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. After a stint in the Navy and in graduate school, Tom pursued a career in engineering and pharmaceutical research and development. This is his first documentary project.

Martha’s Grill | Christine Harrigan

This is a story about Martha, a woman who has dedicated her life to her restaurant. She loves to cook for her costumers. The restaurant has kept her busy working long hours, six days a week for fifteen years. What keeps Martha dedicated to her restaurant for so many years?

Christine Harrigan has a B.A. in sociology and business from Long Island University. She began her career as an actress in the theater in New York and in film and television in Los Angeles, and decided to go behind the camera eight years ago.

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