Loud and Proud:
High-decibel doc seeks support
Since 1969, the little town of Spivey’s Corner, located between US Highway 13 and US Highway 421 in Sampson County, has played host to the National Hollerin’ Contest, an annual – and self-explanatory – event that pays tribute to the ancient and noble … errrr, “art” of hollering.
For filmmakers Brian Gersten and Liv Dubendorf, first-year graduate students at Wake Forest University, the National Hollerin’ Contest spoke loud and clear to them – and inspired them to make The Hollerin’ Contest at Spivey’s Corner, a 15-minute documentary short about the competition and its history.
“I came across a short documentary on Youtube about the contest from 1978 called Welcome to Spivey’s Corner by Keir Cline, (and) after watching the film I was absolutely hooked,” recalls Gersten. “I thought it was such a strange yet beautiful art form. In many ways, our film is kind of a follow-up to the ‘78 documentary. It really shows how hollerin’ has changed over the decades.”
(To view a teaser trailer for the new documentary, see https://vimeo. com/126708041.)
With the film in the final stages of post-production, the filmmakers are seeking contributions via Kickstarter to cover the costs of submitting the film to various film festivals, in the hope of introducing new audiences to this unique event and uphold the proud, long-standing tradition of hollerin’ alive, well, and suitably loud. The endeavor is tabbed “Dollars for Hollers.”
“Our backers receive all sorts of ‘hollerrelated’ perks in the process – including access to the film, bonus features, music, an associate producer credit, etc.,” Gersten says. “The response thus far has been overwhelming. We reached our initial goal of $1,000 in just nine days, and we now have a stretch goal of $2,500, which would allow us to make a complete soundtrack of the 2014 Hollerin’ Contest in order to preserve the history of the contest in another form of media.
“We just want to help protect and promote the tradition of hollerin’ and the contest itself,” he says.
Gersten and Dubendorf took their cameras to the 2014 event and concentrated on three of the more illustriouscontestants: Tony Peacock, from Siler City, is a five-time National Hollerin’ champion. Robby Goodman of Fayetteville was the Junior Hollerin’ champion in 1978, and Iris Turner, also from Fayetteville, was the 1977 Ladies’ Hollerin’ champion.
“One of the best things about doing documentaries like this one is meeting people that you would otherwise never come into contact with,” relates Gersten. “Robby, Iris and Tony are some of the most hospitable, kind and thoughtful people I have met. They were extremely excited and humbled to be asked to participate in the film. Obviously, hollerin’ is something that quite often gets overlooked. In the ‘70s, the champions would appear on ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.’ Nowadays, it’s a much different story. Hollerin’ is arguably a dying art, so the three contestants were happy to have myself and my co-director Liv take such an interest in their lives and in hollerin’.
“Our big goal with this film, as with any film, is to make it available to as many people as possible,” Gersten continues. “But I think the reason why that’s particularly important in regards to a film about hollerin’ is because people just don’t know anything about this subculture. Hollerin’ was an enormous part of Southern and rural life in this country, and yet most people have never heard of it. Consequently, it’s a story we want to share with audiences in order to raise awareness and interest in something that may not be around for much longer, at this rate.”
For more information about The Hollerin’ Contest at Spivey’s Corner, e-mail Brian.Gersten@gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.briangersten.org.
The film’s Kickstarter page is: https:// www.kickstarter.com/projects/hollerin/ national-hollerin-contest-documentary, the Facebook page is: https://www. facebook.com/hollerinfilm. !