Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 21, 2013

McDowell County documentary shines positive light on area

WELCH — Residents of McDowell County are hoping a new film project will shine a positive light on the area’s future.

“Hollow,” an interactive documentary about the people of McDowell County and the issues they faced, debuted online Thursday as part of the state’s sesquicentennial celebrations.

The documentary was launched by Elaine McMillion, a West Virginia-native, who helped 30 McDowell County residents from the age of 9 to 65 use cameras to tell their own stories.

Marsha Timpson, co-executive director of the Caretta-based Big Creek People in Action, said she participated in the documentary as a way to show people the positive side of McDowell County.

“We are waiting to see it Sunday when they show it here at our offices,” Timpson said. “I really trust this young woman (McMillion) and was very impressed by her. I hope this will be a positive story about McDowell County. We have our negative aspects, but all areas do. We are hoping to see a lot of the good things about McDowell County that aren’t always shown.”

Timpson said she hopes allowing local residents to tell their side of the story will show other people there is more to the area than negative statistics.

“Any time you get on the Internet, pick up a magazine or hear anyone talk about McDowell County there is always a focus on hopelessness,” Timpson said. “I am not about hopelessness and I will participate in anything that shows we are more than the statistics. We are an area with an unparalleled senses of community and hospitality.”

Timpson said she hopes the film will lead more people to work toward a better future for the county.

“We will never be the way we were and the coal industry will never be the way it was again,” Timpson said. “That doesn’t mean there is no future for McDowell County. I describe myself as Miss Build-It and Miss Fix-It, and that’s what I hope this film will show. I hope it will show that we haven’t given up and we have so much potential to rebuild our county and make it better than ever before.”

Though the documentary has premiered online, filmmaker McMillion said the project is still active, allowing residents to upload their own videos, photographs and stories to help continue telling McDowell County’s story.

On Saturday, the “Hollow” team will be at the McDowell County Public Library in Welch from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. to help residents view the documentary online as well as submit videos and memories of their own.  From 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. the team will move to the Martha H. Moore Riverfront Park in Welch to continue with uploads as well as for a 30-minute screening of the film.

On Sunday, the team will be at Big Creek People in Action in Caretta from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., the team will again be helping residents submit their own content to the documentary site. From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the group will be showing the 30-minute short film version of the documentary.

For more information about the documentary visit To watch the documentary, viewers will need a high-speed Internet connection and access the documentary web site at

— Contact Kate Coil at

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