interviewed by Allison Estes photographed by Joe Worthem
Jeff Dennis is an internist, a team doctor for Ole Miss Athletics and president of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council board. His documentary, “The Process: The Way of Pablo Sierra,” about a former runner turned potter, won the Hoka Award for Best Mississippi Feature at the Oxford Film Festival.
How did you become interested in documentary filmmaking? A: I got into it for the storytelling aspect. I had frequently seen [Pablo] flying down the side of those country roads on his horse. One day I pulled up behind him in my truck at a crossroad. We started talking, and he told me to come check out his kiln. Once I saw him work his clay mill and groundhog kiln, I knew a documentary needed to be made. [Wayne Andrews] put me in touch with Derek Brown of Lifelong Productions, and we started filming.
Q: During the filming of “The Process,” you had an epiphany of sorts? A: Yes. Midway into filming, I realized that [more documentaries] would be a nice way to showcase other artists. Q: What’s your next project? A: With a group of some of my closest friends, the Patrons of the Process, we’re making another film, “Sharde Thomas: Legacy of the Fife.” This film will feature Sharde’s amazing fife and drum music, passed down from her grandfather, Blues Hall of Fame musician Othar Turner. It will also feature the 67-year-old Turner family “goat picnic” in Gravel Springs. The [final scene] has Sharde’s Rising Star Fife and Drum Band playing with members of the Ole Miss Drumline.
Q: What’s the best thing about creating and directing films? A: My favorite thing about making these documentaries is seeing, hearing and feeling the artists express their creative process. It’s beautiful!
80 INVITATION OXFORD | March 2018
Published on Mar 1, 2018