Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Media Studies, and Department Chair
Bryan Sebok is a documentary filmmaker and media scholar whose classes and research focus on the processes and aesthetics of media content creation, distribution, and exhibition. He has recently completed production on a feature length documentary film on the mobile food movement entitled Food Truck: The Movie.
An Interview with Bryan Sebok
What drew you to the media field?
My passion for cinema. My mom tells a story that my nursery overlooked a drive-in movie theater. My earliest memories are of watching movies with my dad where he would fall asleep watching a western on television. If I tried to change the channel he would wake up and say “I was watching that!” and I would turn it back and he would go back to sleep. So I would be stuck watching whatever ’50s western he had on TV. Cinema has always been something that was important in my life. I’ve fallen in love with teaching people about media because I can see how my passion stimulates passionate engagement in my students.
What did you do before you came to Lewis & Clark and what brought you here?
Before I came to LC I ran the University of Texas Film Institute, which was an entity designed to make ultra low budget feature films with students, in order to train students how to make films. When I left I knew it was important to me that I go somewhere where I could involve students in my own creative work. I grew up in Florida and I’ve thought about this a lot, how did I end up here? I’m convinced I’ve had this sort of bizarre attraction to the Pacific Northwest since I was a child. One of my favorite movies growing up was The Goonies, and I didn’t realize it at the time but I also mythologized the Pacific Northwest and the big trees partly because it was as far away from Florida as possible. I wrote about Ken Kesey’s novels in high school, which are set in Oregon, and have always been drawn to the scope and scale of the great northwest woods. When I left the Film Institute I realized I could stay and make films in Austin or I could get on the academic job market. I started looking and I had an option to go to Boston or come to Portland and it was an easy choice; I knew I wanted to come the Pacific Northwest.
What kind of work have you done with students?
I’ve done lots of things involving students. For the first several summers I had grants to do faculty-student collaborative research and that resulted in a couple of different articles that were published in leading peer-reviewed journals in my field. The big thing is that I have involved dozens of students on the production of my feature length documentary called Food Truck: The Movie. More than 20 students have worked on it over the past 3 years in a variety of different capacities, some for academic credit some just to help out and receive a credit on the film.
So what are you passionate about personally, outside of film and academia?
I have many hobbies outside of film! I like building stuff and home improvement. I also love to disc golf, camp and hike, being out in the wild with my dog. I’m also currently restoring a Volkswagen camper.