Hiram College

Karina Epperlein, a San Francisco-based documentary filmmaker brought her crew to Hiram to film Shawntrail Smith, ’15, one of the main subjects of her film in progress “Finding the Gold Within.”

The documentary focuses on the journey of Smith and five other young African American men from Akron and their involvement with Alchemy Inc., a mentoring program that has shaped their lives since the sixth grade.

“My intent is to show how these young men have made progress through their teenage years, have  developed idealism, respect, confidence, and capacity for critical thinking in the Alchemy program,” Epperlein said. “And how their teenage experiences will help them deal with the challenges of college and of society at large as they move on.”

Epperlein filmed Smith during a tutoring session with Charlotte (Cathy) Rodabaugh, adjunct Professor of History, and writing assistant Will Applebee, ‘12, who helps Smith and other student in Rodabaugh’s freshman seminar “Becoming Men in the New Nation.”  Later Epperlein caught Smith during lunch and a pickup basketball workout with friends.

“It is wonderful that subject matter of Professor Rodabaugh’s course is so similar to the concepts and issues that Shawntrail has encountered through his time in Alchemy, “ Epperlein said.

“Finding the Gold Within” is a work in progress which Epperlein expects to take another year to complete. She plans to do similar shoots with the five other young men who attend several different colleges in the Midwest. Eventually Epperlein intends for the documentary to air on the Public Broadcasting System. Her films have been short listed for Oscar nominations, and have won awards at numerous national and international film festivals.

To see a five-minute clip of “Finding the Gold Within” and see other work by the filmmaker, visit www.karinafilms.us