“The Breaks: Centuries of Struggle,” a documentary on the Breaks Interstate Park, known as the “Grand Canyon of the South,” airs Sunday, April 8, at 4 p.m. on East Tennessee PBS and features the work of numerous East Tennessee State University faculty and students.
The film is narrated by Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” and “Deadliest Catch,” who is also executive producer.  University of Pikeville Professor Andrew Reed is director, cinematographer and editor, and Curtis Mullins Jr., who wrote successful grants for the film project from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Virginia Tourism Corp., and others, is co-director and screenwriter.
Playing the largest role in the production of the film from ETSU is music producer Will MacMorran.  He is a lecturer in Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies in ETSU’s Department of Appalachian Studies.  The multi-instrumentalist, producer, audio engineer and educator also teaches at Northeast State Community College and tours regularly with The StepCrew, Ashley Davis, and The Fitzgeralds.

Jane MacMorran is classical music coordinator for the film.  She leads the Celtic bands in Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies and is director of ETSU’s Appalachian, Scottish and Irish Studies Program in the Department of Appalachian Studies.  She is a former United States National Scottish Fiddling Champion and served as concertmaster of the Symphony of the Mountains in Kingsport for two decades.

Both Will and Jane MacMorran performed much of the music on the “Grand Canyon of the South” soundtrack, along with appearances by several other ETSU students and alumni, including Aynsley Porchak, Kalia Yeagle, Tyler Hughes, Kristal Harman, Kris Truelsen, Ryan Nickerson and Stephanie Jeter.

Dr. Ron Roach, chair of the Department of Appalachian Studies, was one of the script editors, and Dr. Fred Alsop appears in an interview in the film.  Alsop, an ETSU professor of Biological Sciences and Board of Trustees member, is director of the George L. Carter Railroad Museum, named in honor of the railroad entrepreneur who donated the land upon which the university now stands. 

Two segments of the film are dedicated to Carter’s exploits, and the production also prominently features photographic images provided by ETSU’s Archives of Appalachia.

Voiceovers for Carter are performed by Stewart Harris, host of “Your Weekly Constitutional” and “Your Daily Constitutional,” which are produced and aired on WETS-FM, ETSU’s public radio affiliate.

A screening of the film will be held at ETSU at a later date.

More information about the film and a trailer are available at http://thebreaksfilm.com/.