Tim Brunson and his wife Annie, of the Anniston-based business consulting firm BuyersUSA Consulting, are organizing the City of Storytellers Video Competition, which offers $4,000 in prize money for videos that best promote the city.
Brunson and fellow contest organizers spoke to several local schools this month, and the response was largely positive, he said.
Brunson gave a presentation to students at Anniston High School Friday, and said more than 100 students signed up for a filmmaking workshop to be taught in January by Jeffry Nichols, artist-in-residence at the Northeast Alabama Film Initiative at Jacksonville State University.
The idea for the contest, which was announced in October, came after Brunson completed an Internet video search for Anniston. The results he said were a mixed bag of negative aspects of the city’s past, from pollution to the burning of the Freedom Rider’s bus in 1961 and later violence.
“The top ten reasons of why not to move to Anniston, or bring a business or retire here,” Brunson said.
Students at the Donoho School were also recently given a presentation, Brunson said, and were similarly enthusiastic about the contest. Brunson also spoke to a class at the Faith Christian School in Anniston, and he plans to speak with other local schools in the coming weeks.
Attempts to reach Anniston High School principal Sherron Jinadu and the Donoho School’s president, Jan Hurd, were unsuccessful Wednesday.
Filmmaking can benefit students by teaching leadership, and by helping them visualize and carry out a project from start to finish, Brunson said.
“It creates mental discipline, and if someone becomes creative in any creative art, they start developing vision. They start developing goals, and it starts having an impact on other things that they do,” Brunson said. “It’s a transformational thing.”
Brunson also believes the contest will be an important economic development tool for the city.
Anniston City Councilwoman Millie Harris, a retired educator, said she believes Brunson is correct, and said the contest will benefit both the students and the city.
The City Council in October allocated $5,000 to the project, with some of the money to be paid to Anniston schools to help with the contest, Harris said.
“This is all about project-based learning,” Harris said. “This will also be a catalyst to spur student interest and hopefully get them excited about learning.”
Harris said the videos will also be a great marketing tool for Anniston, and too much of what can be found online about the city is negative.
“We have a lot of strengths here. It’s a treasure of a place to live,” Harris said. “It’s going to focus on our strengths, and that’s what we need to do.”
The videos, which are to be no more than five minutes in length, can be made in any genre, Brunson said, from animation, music videos, and documentaries to monologues and comedies.
The contest is also open to the general public, and is divided into two categories. Videos submitted by high school students and those younger will be judged separately from submission by college students and area residents.
A panel of judges will select the winners in both categories based on creativity and contribution to the positive image of Anniston. A separate group of winners will be selected based on popular vote.
There is no entry fee. Submissions will be accepted from Jan. 16 through March 17, and winners will be announced in April. The $4,000 in prize money will be broken into 12 separate cash prizes.
For more information visit Cityofstorytellers.wdng.net.
Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.