Filmmaking has been the focus of Mason Mellinger’s years at Goshen College, with his most recent project aiming to give viewers a piece of the past as he begins to pursue his future. Mellinger is a senior commuter student studying communications with a focus in film studies.
Mellinger’s senior show is a documentary focusing on a historical reenactment by the Stone’s Trace Historical Society as well as Early Americana artist Ken Scott.
Ken Scott is a “world-renowned historical artist,” whose specialty is Pennsylvania-German and Pennsylvania Dutch Fraktur art. Scott’s pieces include hunting pouches and props that have been used in movies such as “The Revenant.”
David Kendall, associate professor of communication, has been working with Mellinger on his senior show and has enjoyed watching Mellinger’s documentary take shape over the last few months.
“He’s worked meticulously on showcasing many details about the art and the people involved in this story,” said Kendall. “Students and community who come to this event will see how historians, artists and enthusiasts preserve elements of our national and local history.”
Fraktur art from the Goshen College Mennonite Historical Library will be included in the film and represents hundreds of years of history in this area.
“The film concludes with [a] historical rendezvous where the public can interact with reenactors and engage with them as living examples of American history,” said Mellinger.
Kendall has seen Mellinger grow throughout the period of time that he has shaped the show, both as a “storyteller and filmmaker.”
Mellinger has had an interest in film since he could walk.
“As a kid, I grew up watching the original Star Wars trilogy and seeing the prequels in theaters,” he said.
At the age of 9 or 10, Mellinger started to study the mechanics of films by watching documentaries, behind-the-scenes footage and by reading books.
“I made short stop-motion films with my action figures and then got into video editing,” he said. Mellinger first attended Judson University, where he learned more about global influences to film.
As a child, Mellinger attended an event called the Trail of History. It was put on by the local park district to educate the public about the lifestyles of early Americans through reenactments.
“My dad was always interested in American history, so as we went to these events, he became friends with many of the reenactors who encouraged him to get involved,” he said. “After seeing him get more involved, I decided to get involved as well.”
Mellinger has been reenacting historical events for about seven years. He and his dad attend about eight to 12 reenactment events throughout Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.
“It is great fun since we have made many friends that share the same passion of living, demonstrating and preserving the lifestyles of our early American counterparts,” he said.
His favorite part of reenacting is educating the public, especially children.
“Showing them and demonstrating the tools and weapons used is a true pleasure,” he said.
He’s found that people are still very interested in history, and it’s a great opportunity to show them what it was like to live back in early America.
“I believe that it also shows people how to appreciate all the luxuries we have today and how self-sufficient people had to be back then,” said Mellinger.
Mellinger has been commuting to GC to work on his senior show. While the commute and senior show process has been time-consuming, one easy part was finding reenactors for his show, since he is blessed to be friends with many reenactors.
“Once the filming was done came the long process of editing and putting all the scenes together,” said Mellinger. “I have probably spent 80 hours alone in the film lab so far. At the end of the day, it is extremely rewarding because this is what I want to pursue in my career.”
Mellinger’s senior show is on Monday, Nov. 28 at 7:00 p.m. in the Administration Building, room 28. The film will be about 24 minutes long with a question and answer session afterward. There will be food, drinks and an artifact table showcasing items and art.