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MSU's Steven Middleton releases documentary, 'Stages and Waves: An Excursion through Challenging Times’

Steve Middleton, instructor of mass communication at Morehead State, is unveiling a new documentary this spring.

Middleton is releasing his 16th documentary, "Stages and Waves: An Excursion through Challenging Times," through his production company, State Run Media Productions. The film chronicles the experiences of eight individuals and Middleton himself during the COVID-19 pandemic. The film explores how people coped with loneliness and isolation and used their time during the pandemic shutdown to explore their creativity.

Middleton found himself eager to hear stories about how others were affected by the pandemic and said the film was an extension of that.

"I wanted to produce a film that dealt with the pandemic and did not look at it politically. I wanted to find a way to tell stories of people and the changes now three years out," Middleton said. "As the days turned to months, months to years after the lockdown, I started to notice a change in the people I was around the most. I wondered how many people I could find that had a profound change in their lives within the arts since the initial pandemic."

"The people involved are a combination of people in my social circle and people that were complete strangers to me. Some I just heard second and third-hand stories about and sought them out on social media and asked if they would want to be a part of my film. My friends became closer, and what were strangers before the film are now new friends."

Middleton will appear on WKYT's "Everyday Kentucky" program on Thursday, Feb. 16, to promote the film's release.

Three screenings of the film are planned:

  • Saturday, Feb. 18, 6 p.m., at the Rock House Brewing in Lexington.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 28, 6 p.m., at CoffeeTree Books in Morehead.
  • Friday, March 31, at Gateway Regional Arts Center Mt. Sterling, time TBD.

The film will also be broadcast on West Virginia Public Broadcasting (WVPB) Tuesday, March 28, at 10:30 p.m., and on Kentucky Educational Television (KET) sometime in April.

"Stages and Waves" was produced, directed, edited, and narrated by Middleton. The following students assisted him:

  • Willard Ferguson, a senior convergent media major from Louisa.
  • Elijah Boone Miller, a senior jazz studies and commercial music major from Ashland.
  • Lucy Becker, a junior traditional music major from Lexington.

"I absolutely love being able to get out of the classroom and use real-world field experience with students. Take all the things learned in the classroom as students and apply it in a real setting, “Middleton said. "I am honored to be able to work here and share my knowledge with a new generation in the hope that they will one day produce their own projects and surpass my success."

Instructor of Journalism John Flavell and retired professor of communication John Modaff provided additional stock aerial footage. Scott Miller, a lecturer at the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music (KCTM) and founder of the Appalachian School of Music, produced the original soundtrack for the film.

Middleton said he hopes the film can help viewers find common ground through similar shared experiences to bring them closer together.

"The film highlights a great change in us as a society and culture because of COVID-19. It seems the divide in our country over politics got worse because of COVID-19," Middleton said. "I hope this film lets others see that kindness does still exist and we can all experience stages and waves in our lives and find a positive on the other side."

To learn more about the film, contact Middleton at or call 606-783-9583.

To learn about MSU’s Department of Communication, Media and Languages programs, email or call 606-783-2457.

View the trailer

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