Reel West Society

“Out where the world is in the making,
Where fewer hearts in despair are aching,
That’s where the West begins;
Where there’s more of singing and less of sighing,
Where there’s more of giving and less of buying,
And a man makes friends without half trying –
That’s where the West begins.
~ Arthur Chapman

These words from Arthur Chapman’s poem, Out Where the West Begins, offer the virgin canvas that has catalyzed so many in their movement west. This movement west and these unique stories provide the focus for the Reel West Society.

Sharing the history of the West through the personal stories of those who actually lived it, the Reel West Society produces high-quality historical documentaries that introduce Americans to our history. These films use actual written diaries and letters from those who made history, as well as rare and unseen archival film.

The Reel West Society is working closely with Colorado Public Television, a PBS affiliate and production partner with filmmaker Jay Kriss and Backdrop America Pictures, to bring these stories to millions of Americans.

Kriss shared some of these unique stories in his 2012 film, HARVESTING THE HIGH PLAINS. Viewed by an audience of over 10 million, this film about farming in the midst of the Dust Bowl received 7 major awards. “By listening to and sharing the voices of the past,” comments Kriss, “viewers can find an abiding faith in our human spirit and honor the remarkable role that many played in our progress.”

“At first glance, a narrower look at the Dust Bowl era, HARVESTING is, in the end, more multi-dimensional than Burn’s one-note, yet longer, DUST BOWL. The Dust Bowl crisis of the 1930s did not occur within a historical vacuum. Despite its brevity, lower budget, and focus on one large wheat operation, HARVESTING manages to illuminate a slice of Dust Bowl history while not excluding agricultural history. It is, in my comparative view, the best Dust Bowl film of 2013 and provides an alternate choice to Burns’s more famous effort.” ~ J. Courtwright, History Journal, Spring Issue, 2014

current film projects

The Reel West Society currently has these films in production:

In addition to the broadcast films themselves, compelling educational materials and programs will be developed to compliment each film’s subject. These materials can be used in schools throughout the country.

help make these films possible

Your generous contribution is what makes these films possible. These stories simply cannot be told without your support. Your donation through Colorado Public Television is tax-deductible and will be dedicated to making the documentary films about our history as well as creating educational outreach programs and materials. The Reel West Society benefits from CPT12’s decades of experience in Public Television broadcasting, production and administration.

donate through our secure form

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We are thankful for the following donors – and those who asked to remain anonymous:

Bank of Colorado
The El Pomar Foundation
The Kansas Humanities Council
The Colorado Film Office
Katherine Loo
Jim Raughton
San Miguel Power
Xcel Energy
Dr. Steve and Pam Marsh