A film produced by Sul Ross State University alumna Megan Wilde of Alpine won “Best Documentary Short” at the Deep in the Heart Film Festival in Waco in mid-February.
“Smokey” is a 12-minute documentary about Smokey Briggs, publisher of the Pecos Enterprise and Monahans News. Briggs also runs the press that prints the Big Bend Sentinel, Presidio International, Big Bend Gazette, Jeff Davis County Mountain Dispatch, and several other regional newspapers.
“In the changing media landscape, Smokey Briggs is a last man standing, keeping afloat the only family-run printing press in an area almost the size of Maine,” Wilde said. “Besides his intriguing name, what fascinated me about him was that every week, he managed to publish two newspapers and print almost a dozen others, in addition to maintaining an attorney’s license, homeschooling four children, and taking care of a menagerie of horses, donkeys and other critters. He seemed like a West Texas Über-news-mensch.”
Wilde, who completed her MALA at Sul Ross last year, shot and edited the film during Bret Scott’s documentary production course in summer 2015. She camped out at the Monahans Sandhills State Park for a few nights and followed Briggs through his daily routines in Monahans and Pecos.
“I had expected to focus on the trials and tribulations of an eccentric small-town newsman. Smokey’s love of firearms and controversial political cartoons also seemed like good story fodder,” Wilde said. “But I discovered this belt-and-suspenders guy was guarding much more than the fourth estate and the second amendment. The relationships that powered his family business affected me most deeply, particularly how he worked alongside his teenage daughters. He followed in his newspaperman father’s footsteps, but will they?”
Wilde was very honored to have her film shown at the historic Hippodrome Theater in Waco. “This festival’s mission was showcasing films with a lot of heart. It was a perfect audience for Smokey’s story.”
Because of music-licensing restrictions, the documentary is only available for screening at film festivals and free community events. To host a screening, contact Megan Wilde at miss.megan [at] gmail.com or 432-294-3084. Learn more about the Deep in the Heart Film Festival at deepintheheartff.com.