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Middleton's drive-in salute to air on KET

The TrailBlazer

Steven Middleton said there were two things he wanted to do with his life: make movies and play music.

So, that’s what he did.

“Those were my only goals in life,” said Middleton, an instructor of mass communication at Morehead State University. “I would just take old VHS cameras around and just film all the time.”

Middleton has now produced 12 documentaries, most of them centered around Appalachian culture.

“One of the most striking characteristics of Steven Middleton’s work is the obvious love he has for the stories and people of Kentucky,” said Paul Smith, program manager at KET. “His documentaries stick closely to those roots, whether it’s the wild, wild west of wrestling in Appalachia in “Fire In The Mountains” or his adventures down the roads less travelled in his “Commonwealth Curiosities” series.”

For his upcoming documentary, “Show Starts at Dark,” Middleton explored the last seven operating drive-in movie theaters in Kentucky across two-time zones.

He featured the carnival like atmosphere of the drive-ins, but also sampled the reasoning behind why drives-in are becoming obsolete.

The Mountain View Drive-in, located in Station, Ky, shut down because of the expense of transitioning from film to digital.

“He really didn’t want to update to digital projection because of the cost,” said Middleton.

While in the creation process, Middleton often has students join him while filming, so they can gain experience working in the field.

“I had seen a few of Middleton’s previous documentaries and I know he is fantastic at producing them,” said Clay Smith, convergent media major at Morehead State University. “So, learning from him was an amazing experience.”

As for the other dream, Middleton plays music in his band “The New Beckham County Ramblers.”

The band gets its name from Beckham county, the 121st county in Kentucky that was ruled illegal by its states legislature.

Middleton told the Trail Blazer in February of 2018 that, “I thought it was funny. We say we are from Beckham County, the Beckham County Ramblers, and it’s not a real county.” 

The documentary took eight months to complete and will join Middleton’s eight documentaries that have been aired on KET.

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