Screen scene: Local film news

Kevin Peer interviews Acharya Shunya Mathur for the film The Spirit of Vedika. Photo by by Ananta Ripa Ajmera

The Asheville area continues to attract top filmmaking talent, the latest of whom is documentarian Kevin Peer. Over his nearly 35-year career, Peer has worked for the National Park Service in the filmmaking unit of the division of audiovisual arts, as a producer/director/cameraman for “National Geographic Explorer” and in directing and lensing national and regional television commercials in Los Angeles and Ojai, Calif.

Subsequent professorial work at the Naropa University-West campus in San Francisco allowed Peer to develop and refine an approach and a collection of techniques for effectively conveying the realm of the sacred through the documentary medium. Teaching these principles to future generations of aspiring filmmakers is his current passion and is the focus of his weekend workshop, “From Home Videos to National Geographic: Tools and Trade Secrets of Documentary Filmmaking,” which will take place Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 22-23, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in room 107 of Marshall High Studios.

Kevin Peer at Crater Lake.
Peer at Crater Lake. Photo by by Helga Motley

“No equipment or prior experience is necessary to attend, just a desire to learn essential approaches and strategies for making compelling documentary films,” says Peer, who has used this approach on films ranging from Zen archery to Navajo sandpainting and from the Wodabbe tribe of Niger, Africa, to the pigeon fliers of Brooklyn.

Many of Peer’s past students have reported that they fulfilled their goals by being in his workshops. These success stories include a devoted grandfather who went on to create high-quality videos of the life of his children and grandchildren for a family legacy archive; a talent manager specializing in Native American music who created several promotional films for his clients; a journalist/photographer/poet who produced two short films about her journey to document mountaintop removal coal mining in eastern Kentucky; and a writer who wasn’t certain what she wanted to do with her new filmmaking knowledge, but a few years later went on to produce several renowned films about Nepal for National Geographic.

A native of Illinois, Peer first fell in love with Western North Carolina at age 11 when his family took a summer vacation to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On a 2002 visit to Asheville, his fondness for “the sincerity of the people, the great food and art and other offerings while still being a small city” made him determined to one day relocate to the area. In February, he and his wife purchased and moved into a house outside Marshall “amongst the deer and bears and hawks and coyotes,” where he says he feels “deeply and fundamentally at home.”

The cost of the workshop is $275, and those who register by Tuesday, Aug. 18, will save $35. To sign up or learn about Peer’s upcoming one-day experiential workshops, visit

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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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