The Appalachian region is known for many things. Most of those things have created a stereotype for the area that has been hard to shake. One Pike County native hopes that the way to change the narrative is through the camera lens.
“Dad was experimenting with an old camcorder. We sat in a windowsill and started using our action figures to do a stop-motion project. At first I thought it was absolutely boring, but I saw the final product and once I saw that I was hooked.”
Brian Dunn often spends time looking back on his earliest memory of the true filmmaking process. Introduced to filmmaking in a time where stop-motion was all the rage, the young local has seen his fair share of improvements along the way.
“When I was younger we had VHS recording and equipment like that was kind of expensive. Now you have all of this stuff that’s readily available. You can do it much easier than you could back then with the advent of making everything digital,” said Dunn.
While the equipment and process has grown, so has Dunn’s respect and view of the Appalachian area. Dunn credits filmmaking around the area for opening his eyes to all that he may not have seen otherwise.
“This place is rich with a lot of culture that not a lot of people touch on. In my mind, when you hear ‘Appalachia’ you think of coal and things of that nature. But you look in the community and see that there are people here who have amazing stories that aren’t really told,” said Dunn.
Dunn spoke about some of the stories he was able to tell through filmmaking during his internship at Appalshop’s Appalachian Media Institute.
“This place is too rich in culture to not take in. It’s absolutely fantastic and I think people need to see that side of it,” said Dunn.
Appalachian filmmaking has spiked exponentially in recent years. Filmmakers from around the globe are realizing the beauty and wonder that hides within the Appalachian mountains. With growing companies like Appalshop and The Holler, the mountain ranges are quickly becoming tech-centered. With the power of new media comes the power of limitless possibilities.
“Going back to the Appalachian stereotype, people think it’s amazing that we know how to use computers and stuff like that. So, it’s great to see more people step up to the plate saying, ‘Anything you can do, we can do too,’” said Dunn. “It just makes me feel good that though we’re living in a region with such a stereotype, you see people working to say ‘Hey, look at what I’ve done.’ And it’s just as quality as the work of anyone else.”
Dunn spoke about some of the projects he’s worked on in the area, including a few pieces he worked on during his time at Appalachian Media Institute. While both the University of Pikeville and the Appalshop have given Dunn the opportunity to grow, he feels that going into filmmaking in the Appalachian area is now easier than ever.
“Appalachian filmmaking is going to continue to grow as tech grows. You have all of this stuff that’s readily available. More and more people that I grew up with are pursuing the media. I think the future is prosperous. I say go for it. You have an idea? Don’t let that sit in the pipe. You have the technology, you have the ability, and you have the means of taking your idea and making it a reality. You may make something that absolutely sucks, but keep doing it. Keep honing your skills.”
The UPike grad is currently working on some YouTube projects that focus on ghost stories from around the area. His work can be found on his Youtube channel.