Student filmmaker documenting journey of band Mountain Faith

WCU student videographer Sam Wallace (center, with camera) poses with (left to right) Cory Piatt, Luke Dotson, Summer McMahan, Brayden McMahan and Sam McMahan in the lobby of New York’s Radio City Music Hall, where he captured their performances as Mountain Faith.

WCU student videographer Sam Wallace (center, with camera) poses with (left to right) Cory Piatt, Luke Dotson, Summer McMahan, Brayden McMahan and Sam McMahan in the lobby of New York’s Radio City Music Hall, where he captured their performances as Mountain Faith.

Circumstances, acquaintances, interests and experience combined in a unique way to put Sam Wallace, a senior at Western Carolina University majoring in film and television production, behind the camera recording Jackson County bluegrass-gospel band Mountain Faith’s journey to New York and beyond.

“It all started last November or December,” Wallace said. “A friend doing some consulting work with the band connected me with them when they were wanting to do some music videos. I think we did three of them, and one was submitted to NBC’s ‘America’s Got Talent’ show.”

Wallace kept in touch with Mountain Faith throughout the first part of the year, and while recording the band putting together five new pop-flavored songs, he began work on a “little documentary” about its progress through the television show.

Mountain Faith – consisting of Summer and Brayden McMahan, their father Sam McMahan, Luke Dotson and Cory Piatt – reached the show’s semifinal stage in late August. Wallace traveled with them to New York, recording their off-stage adventures.

“My overarching style is documentary – a nonfiction approach to filmmaking,” Wallace said. “We probably did 15 takes on some of the videos, from different angles, to give the illusion that there was more than one videographer. I love doing music videos, weddings, capturing real life.”

His interest in videography began as a hobby in high school, when he and a friend made “silly little videos for YouTube.” Eventually, that led to an internship with Drake Software in his hometown, Franklin, where he created training videos.

That led to his acquaintance with the friend who recommended his experience to Mountain Faith.

In addition to performing locally and regionally, many of the band members work at Sam McMahan’s tire company, and Summer and Brayden have been making plans to return to their studies at WCU. Wallace has been recording interviews with them during their available time.

“People ask me if they have changed through the process of doing the TV show,” Wallace said. “They remain the kindest, most humble folks I know. I love hanging out with them. If there’s anything that’s changed, it’s that their passion and commitment to their craft has increased and they’re going for it all out.”

He hopes to finish work on the documentary this winter. “We’ll use snippets for promotional purposes in the meantime, but the whole journey will take longer,” Wallace said.

Throughout the experience, Wallace has worked to stay current with his class work, and some of his activity with the band has counted as class work by arrangement with James Machado, assistant professor of broadcast in the communication department, and his other teachers.

“It’s been a great experience,” Wallace said of the opportunity. “It’s awesome that Mr. Machado is letting me bring this information back to class.”

He already has been tagging his video productions with the studio name “TimeStamp,” and hopes to continue producing after graduation.

To see a recent Mountain Faith video produced by Wallace, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sXt6SW8REQ.

More information about WCU’s Film and Television Production Program can be found at http://motionpicturetv.wcu.edu/.