Culture watch

Even Better Than A Philosophy Degree

To all of you college-age cinemaphiles who were thinking about blowing your parents’ hard-earned money on going to some distant film school — have I got news for you! Now, you can blow your parents’ money and still go home on the weekends to do your laundry! Western Carolina University recently announced they’ll be offering a new Bachelor’s degree in Motion Picture and Television Production. This means that — if you play your post-grad cards right — there’s a fairly good chance you’ll be holding a boom mic and fetching a plateful of bland catering for a no-name guest star on the set of a soon-to-be-canceled sitcom or straight-to-DVD movie. Then again, you could do worse than take a few pointers from instructors like Jack Sholder, an Emmy-winning editor and director of not-horrible semi-classic horror flicks like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and The Hidden. Rounding out WCU’s team of instructors are cinematographer Arledge Armenaki (Disco Godfather and Crack House), screenwriter Terry Curtis Fox (Fortress and “Hill Street Blues”), music editor and composer Bruce Frazier, and TV producer Padraig Acheson. As one of the program’s first projects, students will be making a short film based on the short story “Chemistry” by local literary notable Ron Rash. To find out less sarcastic information on the program, visit

Mining That Tourist Gold

Speaking of local film projects, there’s a new documentary about our area due to be completed later this year. Evidently, it’s about neat stuff on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and will only be shown at the Visitors Center. Actually, the term “documentary” is probably misleading, and given the nature of the casting notice I ran across, I’m thinking “promo video for hapless tourists” is a bit more accurate. The film will portray the area as a great place for outdoor adventure, and will feature scenes of area festivals and bluegrass jams. From a tourist’s point of view, that’s pretty much all there is to the Asheville area, and I’m guessing they’ll probably glaze over the whole thing about our town’s reputation as a haven for alternative lifestyles, volatile political rallies and unbelievably obnoxious panhandling.

Fame, Thy Name Is Basic Cable Programming

And what local media update would be complete without a healthy injection of reality TV? The TLC Network’s hit show Trading Spaces is about to invade Asheville for three full episodes. In case you’re one of the too-cool-for-cable types, the basic idea of the show is for two homeowners — usually neighbors — to swap houses for a couple of days, during which time they redo a room in the other’s home. Add a few catty interior design pros plus the romping fun that is manual labor, and you’ve got a hit TV show. While I have a hard time believing that your stereotypical Asheville type would dare sign up for the show — either for fear of losing their noncommercial hipster cred or upsetting their carefully constructed feng shui — the end results will probably be worth TiVo-ing. Keep an eye out for it.


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