History, Kansas Filmmaking, and “Sod And Stubble”

Film Director Ken Spurgeon spoke Thursday evening at the Smoky Hill Museum about his experience in the film industry and his many ventures in film directing. 

Ken Spurgeon is a historian, teacher, producer/director, writer and a Kansan. He currently works as a history professor at Friends University in Wichita. Spurgeon’s films focus on historical subjects, primarily historical events and the people of Kansas. 

“Being a Kansas filmmaker has its benefits and its challenges, I would say its benefits is that it shapes you. Kansas has the pulse of the nation in many ways. In the early days tons of newspaper journalists and television filmmakers were from Kansas. In other ways it’s very difficult to get things moving in the entertainment industry given our location.” 

Spurgeon’s passion first started with history, but his eagerness to express what he sees in history led him into filmmaking. Facing constant challenges, Spurgeon eventually found his people to work with, and gained the necessary momentum to produce and direct his own films.

 “I think filmmakers in Kansas, being deeply cultivated in our state, can have a hard time branching out to bigger opportunities within Kansas. That’s what I’m hoping to bring awareness to or help expand by doing both these lectures and shooting films in the state. Along with bringing Kansas history to the front of the table as moviegoers”

 At the event, Spurgeon spoke about the last two films he has written and directed. Home On The Range, about the famed prairie song and a lawsuit aimed at settling who wrote it, and The Contested Plains which starred Darby Hinton, Buck Taylor, and Mary Beth McDonough. The story of a German family who traveled west and were attacked by Native Americans in September 1874 on the western plains of Kansas. 

Ken Spurgeon’s latest film, Sod And Stubble, is currently in post production. Based on the famed novel by John Ise, the film adapts some of the core themes from the book and was shot on location in Downs, Kansas, where the story had taken place. The film stars Bailey Chase, Dodie Brown, and Barry Corbin along with many more new and returning cast members. 

When it comes to the latest news on Sod And Stubble, Spurgeon would like to direct everyone to the facebook page, or to their website at https://sodandstubble.com/ . There you can find all the latest news on the project. As of now, Spurgeon estimates a release of the film in the fall of this year. But that is still to be decided. Until then, stay tuned.

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To watch the full lecture, visit the smoky hill museum facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/SmokyHillMuseum