Feb. 22, 1999
Volume 51, No. 21
Alan Pogue documents past, present and future on film
Sometime in the near future there will appear on Georgia Public Television (GPTV) a documentary on the state's courthouses, and it will probably look familiar: background music and sound effects, slow panning shots over still photographs along with live footage of present-day sites, narration peppered with bits of interview footage, all very much like recent documentaries on the Civil War, baseball and Thomas Jefferson.
But the documentarian won't be Ken Burns--it will be Emory's own Alan Pogue. Pogue spends his days developing multimedia capabilities for the Goizueta Business School, but his extracurricular passion for filmmaking is landing him jobs and connections beyond the campus' borders. Since earning his bachelor's in radio-television-film from the University of Georgia, Pogue has done work around town for the likes of WSB, WAGA and CNN, and his very own Starrsville Pictures netted the deal with GPTV last fall to do the courthouse documentary.
"I tell people that I majored in everything: engineering, forestry, biology, English," Pogue said of his early college career. "So when I was figuring out what I wanted to do, I wanted to do something that would let me be involved in and learn about a lot of things. So I went into television production."
Pogue started working on the courthouse project in the fall of 1997, but it wasn't until the GPTV contract last fall that he really got going. Since then he's traveled to all 159 of Georgia's counties, shooting tape after tape of footage. "It's really interesting," he said. "You're out in these counties in the country that don't have a lot of money, and then out of nowhere come these huge, beautiful buildings, with a few shops and a town square around them."
Former Georgia congressman and "Dukes of Hazzard" star Ben Jones will narrate the documentary, which will air later this year. Pogue said he turned up some interesting photographs-he poured through the 35,000 images of "Vanishing Georgia" at the state archives-and contacted each county for anecdotes. He found photos of courthouses on fire or flooded up to the second floor, of dancing grizzly bears on the lawn in Lumpkin County. His most prized discovery was an entry in George Washington's diary about a visit to the courthouse in Augusta.
At the same time Pogue has been digging through the visual records of Georgia's past, he's also been helping push Emory's business school into the future. As multimedia producer he has been instrumental in bringing webcasting capabilities to Goizueta; Pogue said the school has webcast about a half-dozen events live, and he's posted on the school's web site several RealPlayer clips, including a welcome from new Dean Tom Robertson. Pogue also helped put together Goizueta's brand-new television studio, and he's helping develop distance-learning technology. Each fall he holds training sessions on technology for new faculty.
"It's challenging because it's all so new," said Pogue, who worked closely with Jim Kruse in Information Technology on the projects. "I enjoy learning, not only in terms of history but also different things about equipment, and I love combining the two to make a product that's enjoyable for people to watch-and hopefully they learn something, too."
Pogue also offers his Internet expertise to his home of Senoia, a small town about 45 miles south of Atlanta. Most municipalities of Senoia's size can't boast the kind of web site it has <www.senoia.com>, and Pogue maintains the site free of charge. "That's one of the neat things about the web," Pogue said. "Small businesses and communities have the ability to advertise and get their name out there for business.
The ability to get his own name out there is what may distinguish Pogue from the legions of other would-be filmmakers. In addition to his work in TV around town, Pogue also has produced videos for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the San Diego Zoo (his mother's family lives in San Diego). His friend Allen Wilbanks owns a film production company called Jett Films, for which Pogue is a producer.
As he wraps up work on a master's in film and video from Georgia State University, Pogue said the extra experience and connections he had going into the program gave him an edge over his fellow students, not only in learning the material but also in the world beyond the classroom.
"There are plenty of people with the skill to make films but not so many with the know-how and connections to get funding," Pogue said. "As in everything, money's the real trick."
His ultimate goal is to turn Starrsville Pictures into more than a one-employee company. Pogue said he would love to contine making documentaries, and if his courthouse documentary is well received, he'll most likely get that chance.
"It's all about making the most of the abilities you are given by getting out there and making things happen for yourself," he said. "Opportunities rarely just fall in your lap."