A film written, directed, and produced by College of Film and the Moving Image faculty Randall MacLowry and Tracy Heather Strain explores the life and times of author L. Frank Baum, the creator of the beloved classic American narrative, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
MacLowry is assistant professor of the practice in film studies and Strain is associate professor of film studies. Together they direct the Wesleyan Documentary Project.
Titled American Oz, the documentary depicts how Baum continued to reinvent himself—working as a chicken breeder, actor, marketer of petroleum products, shopkeeper, newspaperman, and traveling salesman—while reinterpreting his observations through films, books, and musicals.
Featuring interviews with Wesleyan’s Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, Emerita; Wicked author Gregory Maguire, and historian Philip Deloria, and others, American Oz shows how Baum wove together scraps and shards of his own experiences into an enduring work of the imagination. As a young husband and father, Baum was continually struggling to support his growing family. His quest to find his true calling led him through a dozen enterprises; some were abandoned for the next big thing and others failed. But each provided Baum with fodder that could be transformed in his writing.
This spring at Wesleyan, MacLowry is teaching FILM 457: Advanced Filmmaking, and Strain is teaching FILM 384: Documentary Storytelling and FILM 430: Documentary Production.