Building stage for SPU film conversation

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Max Briggs

Professor Jeffrey Overstreet leads a film blog. Max Briggs | The Falcon

Julia Battishill

Featured image: Professor Jeffrey Overstreet leads a film blog. Max Briggs | The Falcon

Jeffrey Overstreet, SPU assistant professor of English and writing, has found as many ways as he can to have deep conversations about movies in his daily life.

The former Falcon reporter — who often worked on movie reviews in his time on the paper — has used his passion for discussing films with his Film and Faith class, and with his colleagues on the second floor of Marston hall as well as across campus, to create an online stage for the same conversations.

“[I have] always wanted to….make the most of the faculty conversations about film that happen here all the time,” Overstreet explained. “We’re always talking about movies in this hallway [2nd floor Marston] and all over campus. I’ll go across the loop and run into Dr. McFarland, and we’ll stop, and 20 minutes later we’ll still be talking about the new Terrance Mallack movie.”

Overstreet recently decided that it was time to create a space where those kind of conversations could happen on a larger scale, where he could continue including faculty, staff and students in those conversations, and where he could continue to hear new perspectives.

“The natural thing to do, once I had the option of building a faculty member blog, was to start a film one. Also because we’re trying to build up the film program here, so the more forms of film engagement that are going on, the better,” Overstreet said.

His love for the “SPU film conversation,” as he put it, started with a live podcast he used to record with SPU colleagues such as Dr. Jeff Keuss, Brian Bantum and Dick Staub, as well as writer and pastor Jennie Spohr. He explained that people would buy tickets to come have dinner and listen to the hosts “just talk about movies all evening.”

They would have themed evenings, special Oscars shows, and more such events. The podcast was recorded at Hale’s Ales Brewery and Pub in the Fremont area. It was the project that ultimately lead Overstreet to fall in love with the film conversation on our campus, and wanted to create a similar conversation with his own project.

“I just fell in love with the whole model of having a round table of SPU voices and digging into a movie,” said Overstreet. “So, I figured by launching North x PNW, I’d be building a platform on which to feature those kinds of conversations as podcast recordings.”

The name of the project itself was inspired by a film reference; specifically, Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest.” Overstreet explained that, at the time, SPU was renewing its focus on its Seattle location.

“How could I come up with a name for the blog that would sort of emphasize our location and the distinctness of our conversation?” Overstreet remembers asking himself.

He says that the discussion about film is absolutely a unique thing about our campus, one which is often overlooked or not widely known about by others on campus and outside of campus.

“That was the idea, was to build a stage for the SPU film conversation, which I think is a real thing and it’s a distinct thing,” said Overstreet.

Recently, the podcast discussed the 2009 film “The Secret of Kells,” a discussion that included the voices of English professor Dr. Christine Chaney and theology professor Bantum.

Chaney is involved in an SPU study abroad trip that goes to Ireland and Scotland, and takes students to visit the original Book of Kells at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Bantum’s expertise in theology added a new dimension to the conversation.

Overstreet said that the conversation was very productive and interesting, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed. “It was a lot of fun, we could have kept going for hours,” he said.

He has also recently done a post-Oscars post, which was a reunion of the team who used to work on the Hale’s live shows, and talked about Spike Lee films with alumnus Josh Hornbeck.

Overstreet feels that these posts are a good launchpad for the project to begin getting traction.

“I feel like that’s a good start, and I want to keep it going,” he elaborated. “And my hope is that, eventually, we’ll be regularly posting roundtables with faculty, with students, with alumni, with staff that are fired up to talk about particular films. Just to get the whole SPU community involved.”

He is especially excited to include more student voices in the project. From his Writing 1100 and Film and Faith classes, he has seen very interesting student work that has inspired him to feature more students in the conversations. Already, several anonymous students have allowed him to publish their work on the site, and he hopes to hear from many more students in the future.

“If there’s anybody who wants to talk about a film, who has a lot to say about a film, let me know. I would love to host that conversation.”
To see the full blog, go to https://scholars.spu.edu/northbypacificnorthwest