Students at College of the Ozarks work on a project profiling long-time Branson entertainer Shoji Tabuchi.
According to a release from the school, communication arts students created a documentary on Tabuchi, which was presented as a one-time showing at Branson’s annual Military Film Festival at the IMAX Theater in November.
Shoji Tabuchi was born in 1944 in Japan and grew up in the aftermath of World War II. He learned how to play the violin using the Suzuki method and as a young adult fell in love with bluegrass music. At age 22, Shoji moved to the United States to pursue a country music career, eventually establishing his own theater in Branson, Missouri and becoming a U.S. citizen soon after.
This project was introduced by Colonel James Wilhite, a Veteran from Oklahoma with the inspiration to highlight Tabuchi’s lifelong career of entertaining Veterans in Branson. Wilhite met with Dr. Curt Wilkinson, professor of communication arts, who agreed to assign the project to his students. They volunteered to work on the documentary.
The creation of this documentary was part of a media production workstation project led by two student-workers: junior music and composition major Suzie White and senior video production major Emily Hemann. They began working on the project in April 2021 and paused for summer break, resuming. during the fall semester and finishing on Nov. 3.
"I learned a lot about the process of making a documentary by working on this project,” Hemann said. “At the start of the process, I had no idea what I was doing. It really started coming together when we added the photos of Shoji's childhood. That is definitely an integral part of a documentary. It's what keeps it visually interesting. I will be interested in creating more documentaries in the future. They would incorporate both my video production and history majors."
“I learned a lot about not only the process of putting together a documentary, but how much work it takes to make sure everything lines up correctly and is edited in such a way that it does not change what the interviewee is talking about,” White said. “On a more personal level, I learned that being American isn't about where you are born. It is about upholding an ideal and striving to make something of one's life.”
The other students involved included senior video production major Mason Cockrum; junior video production major Paige Jones; senior video production major Ethan Miller; senior video production major Kyri McCarthy; junior computer art major Blaise Gozé; sophomore marketing major Quinton Firey; and senior video production major Tyler Robinson.