As a producer, writer, interviewer and editor, Jamie Ross has played an
integral part in the James Agee Film Project for over twenty-five years.
Her talent for sparking new ideas and her ability to raise funds to pursue
them have been invaluable assets to our films.
Jamie Ross began her work with the JAFP in 1981 when she edited the fifty-five
minute version of AGEE, an academy award nominated feature biography of the
writer James Agee. She next assisted with editing and production for The Electric Valley, a history of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
While the director, Ross Spears, was completing the final production of The
Electric Valley, Jamie Ross began research and fundraising for what
was to become Long Shadows, a film on the legacy of the Civil War. Long
Shadows explores the way the American Civil War has shaped our national
story and examines the way it continues to influence many of our ideas
about who we are as a people.
As the primary writer, Jamie Ross created the initial script treatment for
the production and developed the themes explored throughout the story. From
her research and work with scholars such as Eric Foner and Robert Penn Warren,
she wrote the film’s final script. As associate producer, Jamie Ross
raised the funding for the film by forging a network of eleven state humanities
committees. Additional funding was provided by the National Endowment for
Upon completing Long Shadows, Jamie Ross moved from Charlottesville
to New Orleans where she pursued graduate work in English and Media Arts.
While there, she also taught at the Louise S. McGehee School and was an active
member of The Feminist Literary Circle.
While Ross Spears was completing To Render a Life,
he once again approached Jamie Ross to lay the groundwork for a new work, Tell
About the South, a three part series on the history of modern Southern
Literature. Jamie Ross performed a crucial role in raising the initial funding
for the series and also by editing and reviewing scripts as the film progressed.
In addition, she directed one of the key film shoots and conducted the interview
with author, Pat Conroy.
As he headed toward post-production for Tell About
the South, Ross
Spears approached Jamie Ross with the idea of collaborating on an Appalachian
history series which would include the geologic birth of the mountains.
The initial idea was to do a traditional social and political history of
Jamie Ross spent the next two years exploring archives and traveling through
the mountains gathering information for a new series which would bring the
rich and grand story of the Appalachian region to the public. The more she
researched, the more she realized that the only way to weave the many threads
of the Appalachian story together would be to make the mountains the main
character. Ross Spears agreed, and they began what was to become the first
environmental history series of any region ever on film— APPALACHIA:
A History of Mountains and People.
Jamie Ross has a long and intimate history in the mountains. Her roots in
the region go back thousands of years through her Catawba and Miami ancestors.
She has hiked hundreds of miles along its peaks, worked for eight years in
one of its rural school systems, taught in its community colleges and biked
thousands of miles of its backroads. She has brought this passion for the
region as well as her many years experience as a researcher and filmmaker
to the making of APPALACHIA and the result is as one viewer put
it: "pure poetry."
APPALACHIA: A History of Mountains and People is a groundbreaking
environmental history of one of the most biologically diverse and most widely
misunderstood regions of the world. Narrated by Sissy Spacek, this four part
series for PBS explores the compelling story of how landscape shapes
human cultures and, in turn, how humans shape the land — the dynamic
interaction of natural and human history. APPALACHIA provides a window
onto the defining question of our age: how to use the land to provide
for the needs of today and at the same time preserve it for the future.