Pictured: Raul Leija, Michelle Calderon—Director, Aubrey Watkins, Michael Rodriguez, Allen Herald, and Hannah Goldblum.
By: Dr. Andrew Yox, Honors Director
The trailer for the coming NTCC spring film on the Traveling Preachers of Early Texas is now in the public domain. It features several honors students in key roles, the cinematic artistry of Camp-County-born Allen Herald, and his associate, Hannah Goldblum, and a startling original composition by composer, Kenny Goodson of Hughes Springs.
The feature-film project is the twelfth in as many years by Honors Northeast and the NTCC Webb Society. Honors students have performed the original research that has grounded each of the films, and each effort has focused on a previously un-filmed story of Texas history. Besides being premiered at NTCC in the spring, honors students have presented their film work at several venues including meetings of the State Walter Prescott Webb Society, the Great Plains Honors Council, and the National Collegiate Honors Council.
“Our Traveling Preachers” film this year, though part of a series, has been singular in several respects,” notes Honors Director, Dr. Andrew Yox. “Not only have the honors students waged the most extensive effort yet, filming on fifteen different occasions, the community’s input has been amazing. Our donors, led by Jerald and Mary Lou Mowery of Mount Vernon have made this our most expensive film. Allen Herald and Hannah Goldblum, now in Austin, have professionalized every aspect of our approach, from the editing of the script to a dramatic ramp-up of the project’s visual vocabulary. Finally, though Kenny Goodson’smusical powers have already been in evidence, I am shocked by the bold grandeur of his orchestration for this trailer.”
Herald and Goldblum altered many of the traditions of the honors students, and filmed in a slow, deliberate, and sometimes controversial style. Their patient, selective, and even charismatic approach has allowed for a trailer with demonstrative acting, periodic danger signals heightening the tension, and riveting photographic effects.
NTCC’s Russell-Mowery, and Wesson Scholars, Michelle Calderon, and Monse Rivero are the film directors, Their work this past summer helped build commitments among the students, and a group resolve to make this film, “the best ever.”
The following NTCC students, in order of appearance, add to the intensity of the trailer: Skylar Hodson and Luke McCraw as Emily and Stephen F. Austin, Michael Rodriguez and Aubrey Watkins as William and Jane Stevenson, Morgan Thrapp and Monse Rivero as Joseph and Rosenia Bays, Kaden Groda as James Stevenson, Garrett Phillips, and Halea Ledezma as Henry and Ruth Stephenson, Sam Pollen as an interloper, and Raul Leija, and Michelle Calderon as Sam and Margaret Houston, the state’s first great political couple.
The trailer abbreviates a story this year built on themes, first discerned by Reverend Dan Hoke of Franklin
County, but then broadened by a research foray in early June to the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University. Today Texas is known for its libertarian traditions, and overlap with the Southern Bible Belt. But ironically, as the state was being formed by the confluence of Anglos and Hispanic settlers, the area was not only virtually devoid of religion, but hostile to evangelism. The trailer first features the great empresario, Stephen F. Austin, and his sister Emily who did nothing to encourage Catholicism, and actively opposed incoming ministers of the Protestant churches. The first settlers incarcerated pioneer Baptist minister, Joseph Bays, forced Methodist firebrand Henry Stephenson to re-emigrate out of Texas, and intimidated pioneer preacher, William Stevenson.
Texas thus has a different story of the Second Great Awakening than other states. It was not merely that bringing the faith to the frontier was tough, it was actively opposed in Texas. This is the fifth NTCC film trailer scored by Kenny Goodson. The music features a surging ostinato, a complex melodic narrative, and striking orchestral commentary on the cinematic action. One can experience the trailer at https://www.ntcc.edu/honorsfilms.