Artist and filmmaker, Shawn Cheatham along with Mike Parker, have been leading a group of 20 community members through the process of creating an experimental documentary video about the SouthShore area. According to Parker, “The end result is envisioned as a constellation of individual stories and histories of the people who define the area, intertwined with poetic images of the unique and beautiful landscape.”

The filmmakers are now in the process of compiling and editing the footage that has been gathered over the last few months. Community members are now being asked to provide existing video for the final project. “As we move forward, this is our official call for footage of the SouthShore area. We’ve generated a list of elements we’d love to see through your eyes, however, you can submit any footage you like,” said Cheatam.

Footage that they would like to receive includes downtown Ruskin, Wimauma and Sun City Center; Gibsonton and local parks; SouthShore night life; MiraBay; farmland, rivers, lakes and streams; family owned businesses; roads; community events; and unique hobbies and activities in the area.

Parker said, “A project like this is important to our area because the area itself has an ever-changing identity and sense of place.” Parker added, “By creating a work in the medium of video, we are creating something that is widely accessible. The content can ultimately show us how all of the disparate pieces of our place come together and make the whole. And maybe most importantly, we may be able to come together and laugh at ourselves.”

Cheatham explained, “The main reason for the community to be involved is to ensure some modicum of heterogeneity in the documentary. Often times, people make documentaries about a place from a very exclusive viewpoint, that of the filmmaker. By opening the door for community members to provide their images to the documentary, we have a chance to see how the community views their own environment, which in turn makes the project a bit more self-reflexive and intriguing.”

The documentary film is a project organized by ArtReach Ruskin, sponsored by the SouthShore Arts Council and USF’s School of Art and Art History as a project of the Firehouse Cultural Center.

For more information on how and where to submit the footage, please contact Parker at 846-2000 or at or Cheatham at

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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.