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Local filmmaker visits College art classes, shares creative process

| Wednesday, September 18, 2019

To give voice to the voiceless. To tell stories that have meaning. To provide a platform for the compelling tales of the people around us. These are the reasons Chuck Fry became a filmmaker.

Fry visited two Saint Mary’s art classes Tuesday afternoon to share his own story and the process behind his work. 

The Los Angeles native attended Bethel College and earned a degree in journalism. After working for various newspapers, Fry said he realized that he no longer enjoyed what he was doing. He then moved back home and discovered his current passion.

Fry said he found he could take what he enjoyed about print journalism — writing feature stories where his “words were causing [a] reaction” — and apply it to something else he loved: movies. 

He sees videos as a way to visually tell stories that can impact his viewers like those feature stories he wrote did.

“After a big change in my life, I really felt my true calling. I don’t really know how to put this, but I just really like to tell, kind of sweet, like sensitive, like sentimental kind of stories,” Fry said. “I think there are stories everywhere. A lot of these stories really tell themselves. I think I’m just kind of a catalyst to kind of push these stories out.”

Fry still finds inspiration through newspapers, as he did after moving back to South Bend. Fry discovered a South Bend Tribune article about a man who repaired and sold bikes from his garage and wanted to tell that same story on a different platform. With help from the Grotto Network and his crew, Fry created a short video telling the story of Charles “The Bike Man” Jenkins.

“This piece still gets me emotional. You know, like even watching it this morning before I came and talk to you guys, I still get moved by this man. And I don’t know why,” Fry said. “This guy obsesses about helping people. And that is rad. I think I tell a lot of these stories like I said because I want to be like these people. And I can’t. I really, really, really fall short. But I think I can tell a story.”

After the video circulated, members of the South Bend community reached out to Fry to contact Jenkins, whether it be to raise money or donate bikes to him.

“I just think that that’s awesome, over a little, just something that I made honestly down in my basement,” he said.

Following the Bike Man video, Fry said someone asked how he got the idea to tell Jenkins’ story visually after reading it in the paper.

“I don’t know. That’s just the way I’ve always been, I can’t teach you guys to tell you guys how to do that,” he said. “I think you guys will probably like that or not, like, that’d be a great story. There’s got to be a story there. When you drive by somewhere weird, or you hear something, you know, and I just think really too, if it just kind of strikes an emotional chord, and those sick visuals too. I can’t stress that enough, either.”

Fry encourages new filmmakers to examine those around them to find compelling stories to be told and people to be interviewed for documentary-style videos.

“Who would you guys interview? Is there kind of that kitsch, kind of interesting story in your life or your family’s life? You’re like, dang, that would be such a good story,” he said. “Oh, my gosh, there’s someone at my church, my roommate, she can blah, blah, blah, you know what I mean?”

A self-proclaimed “sensitive dude,” Fry said he leans into his emotions to create his content.

“I used to think that there was something wrong with me, but there’s not,” he said. “I use that, and I really put that passion and sensitivity into the stories that I tell. I really invest in my subjects.”

Fry said he could head to bigger cities for bigger work, but for now, he’s happy with South Bend.

“There are so many little sweet stories here,” he said. “I’m quite content.”

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About Maria Leontaras

Maria Leontaras is a senior at Saint Mary's pursuing a student-designed major in Interactive Journalism with minors in mathematics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Maria used to serve as the Editor-in-Chief of The Observer when she wasn't busy tweeting about movies and One Direction.

Contact Maria