September 24, 2014

Film, panel discussion explore record-cutting

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Film director and Southern Illinois University Carbondale alumnus Alex Steyermark will return to campus next week for a movie screening, record-cutting session and panel discussion on his latest documentary. 

Steyermark, a 1981 cinema and photography graduate, is a music supervisor, producer and independent film director.  A screening of his film, “The 78 Project Movie,” is at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 1, in Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium. A live record-cutting session and demonstration featuring blues musician Richard ‘Rip Lee’ Pryor of Carbondale will follow the screening. 

The screening and live record-cutting session, along with a panel discussion on Oct. 2, are all part of the Global Media Research Center’s programming. 

The Oct. 2 panel discussion, “Cutting Records Documenting Culture,” also featuring Steyermark, will be in the Communications Building, Room 1032. The discussion, at 10:30 a.m., will focus on Steyermark’s latest film and what it means in American culture to make records and how they interplay with archiving and popular music traditions, Jay Needham, interim director of the Global Media Research Center, said. 

All of the events are free, and the public is invited. 

“It’s wonderful to have our alumni come back and show us the projects they have been working on; in this case, still in progress,” Needham, an associate professor in radio, television, and digital media, said.  Steyermark’s live record cutting shows he “is still documenting, he’s still interested in tell the story as he’s screening the movie,” Needham said. 

The film focuses on recording today’s musicians as they perform songs that inspired a century of music exactly as originally recorded, instantaneously onto 78-rpm lacquer discs. Using one microphone, a 1930s Presto direct-to-disk recorder, and a blank disc, musicians are given one three-minute take to cut a 78rpm record anywhere, adding to a new connection to a cultural legacy. 

Other panelists for the Oct. 2 discussion are Lavinia Jones Wright, “The 78 Project Movie” producer; musicologist John McCall, Department of Anthropology chair; Novotny Lawrence, Department of Radio, Television, and Digital Media chair; Pam Hackbart-Dean, director of Morris Library’s Special Collections Research Center, and Alex J. Kirt, a master’s student in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. 

Kirt, a local musician, is also involved in record cutting and it is a major component of his thesis, Needham said. 

Steyermark’s feature films include “Prey for Rock & Roll,” “One Last Thing …” and “Losers Take All.” “The 78 Project Movie” premiered at the 2014 SXSW Film Festival in March. 

For more information, contact Needham by email at