A liberal studies degree gave him the tools to get there.
Eli Pyke '05, Filmmaker

To become a filmmaker, OSU-Cascades alum Eli Pyke knew he needed more than technical knowledge. So he first quit film school. Fast forward 17 years and Eli’s documentary “The Far Green Country” was accepted into the 2018 BendFilm festival. What he needed to really develop his craft, it turns out, was to understand people’s stories, including his own.

For the Sisters resident, the technology, camera equipment and production process of film making was the easy part. In fact, as a young freelancer during film school, he was practicing digital skills his classes couldn’t keep up with. But he wasn’t learning what he needed to.

“I wanted to hone my skills in how to communicate and listen, and to learn how to explore where people and topics took me,” he explained. By understanding human experiences, he knew he could better move a film audience.

Travel in Europe and Morocco opened his eyes to how people from different cultures communicate. He took up his studies again, this time at OSU-Cascades as a liberal studies major, with an emphasis on intercultural communications.

“Professor Natalie Dollar steered me to courses that would help me grow personally and as a storyteller.”

Still a freelancer, he took on documentary projects in Peru and Bolivia, further cementing his love of cultures.

The subject of his most recent and perhaps proudest project though, is closer to home and deeply personal. 

   

“It’s cool seeing the response. People open up and are moved by the story,” he explains. “Film encourages people to take life slower.”

“The Far Green Country” documents Eli, his wife, and his young child’s journey as they heal a shattered relationship. The documentary follows the family’s travels in an RV as they slow their pace and find peace again.

“We had ample time in beautiful places,” Eli said, including time to practice with some new equipment and cinematography.

The film was originally intended only for their families. But once back home, Eli realized that the film’s message echoed beyond family.

The screening at BendFilm is one of several that “The Far Green Country” will make over a nine-week tour. Many of the venues are small and intimate.

“It’s cool seeing the response. People open up and are moved by the story,” he explains. “This film encourages people to take life slower.”