Filmmakers | Folkstreams



Tom Davenport

Tom Davenport (b. 1939) was the director/producer and primary cameraman for A Singing Stream. Tom also provided most of the necessary production equipment and the use of his 16mm editing studio in Delaplane, Virginia. Intent upon avoiding an over-controlled, over-directed, and over-polished look, Tom values the capturing of authentic moments and strong, unrehearsed scenes. As scenes are combined and connected, Tom believes the finished film must produce and evoke multi-dimensional meanings while sustaining its coherence through a relatively simple frame.

Allen Tullos

Allen Tullos (b. 1950) was the co-director/producer and primary sound recordist for A Singing Stream. He also worked with Tom Davenport and Dan Patterson on both Born For Hard Luck and Being A Joines. Allen often emerged in the production and editorial discussions as the advocate for themes of social and cultural history, explorations of gender relations, and concern for a regional sense of place. For example, in A Singing Stream Allen especially pressed for interviews which discussed family history and race relations. Allen and Tom formed the film's principal field team.

Daniel Patterson

Dan Patterson (b. 1928). At the time of the production of A Singing Stream in the 1980s, Dan was Kenan Professor of English and chair of the Curriculum in Folklore at UNC. In A Singing Stream Dan held several roles. From his study of American religious song traditions, he identified and urged inclusion in the film of the best musical performances and the widest possible variety of the Landis family's repertory. Dan took part in several stages of the interviewing and editing. He also undertook most of the grant proposal writing, with Tom Davenport preparing the budgets. And, as in the Being A Joines film project, Dan served as a reassuring figure in a number of situations, including the mediating of conflicts between Tom and Allen over the film's direction. In formal relations with the Landis family and their community, Dan, as a representative of the University of North Carolina, insured the filmmakers' credibility and lent an essential formal courtesy to the project.

The University of North Carolina Press in 2000 published his book A Tree Accurst: Bobby McMillon and Stories of Frankie Silver, which won the Chicago Folklore Prize for the best book on folklore in 2001. This study grew out of his collaboration with Tom Davenport on the video The Ballad of Frankie Silver.


Several other people were significantly involved with the making of A Singing Stream. Marcia Neidley carried out the editing of the film with Tom in Virginia. Occasionally Marcia also worked as a production assistant on the North Carolina shooting trips. Her knowledge of biblical texts and themes was valuable in discussions and interviews with Bertha Landis. Barry Dornfeld assisted in the field with camera, tape recorder, lighting equipment, and ethnographic observations. Tom Rankin also participated as a cameraman, still photographer, sound recordist, interviewer, and ethnographer. Beverly Jane Williams, who worked at Davenport films, reviewed and commented upon the film in each of its many editorial stages. William Hudson, a Howard University student in filmmaking who had assisted Tom on the children's film Jack and the Dentist’s Daughter, participated as a member of the production crew during one summer's shooting. Zack Krieger operated a second camera for sequences in the Golden Echoes' anniversary concert and the Landis family reunion church service. We also used camera footage of the concert audience taken by Roger Manley. On several occasions, Brett Sutton helped with sound recording, technical advice, and ethnomusicological perspectives. Candace Waid critically discussed the film's themes at a couple of important junctures. Beverly Patterson attended all the major public performances by the Echoes and a number of editing sessions, shared her musical and interpretive insights, and prepared grant and study-guide materials for the film. Mimi Davenport offered reactions to the work in progress and exercised vigilance over the expenditures for the project. Students in the Curriculum in Folklore at UNC contributed a wide range of assistance that included climbing rafters to hang lights, changing film magazines, operating tape recorders, transcribing audio tape, and so on. The making of the film called forth an intensive group effort.

Preliminary edits by Tom Davenport and Marcia Neidley were reviewed by Dan and Allen and Beverly Patterson in long weekend sessions at the Davenport home in Delaplane, Virginia, or in the facilities of the Radio, Television, and Motion Picture Department at the University of North Carolina. At the Chapel Hill sessions, Beverly, Professors Trudier Harris and James L. Peacock, and filmmaker-folklorist Cecelia Conway, folklorist Glenn Hinson, and others frequently offered observations and editorial advice.