Filmmaker Interview: Bronson Crabtree highlights American artifacts in 'History in Pieces'
While North America's written history isn't as well documented like the pyramids in Egypt, it doesn't make it less interesting — especially if you're Kent Westbrook. Westbrook actively collects tools, bowls, pots, and more from Native American tribes in Arkansas. His simple hobby spans over 65 years and slowly developed into an expansive catalog featured at different art museums memorializing Arkansas history.
"History in Pieces" features a snapshot of Westbrook's collection, captured by his very own grandson Bronson Crabtree. Before the Reel South premiere, we connected with Crabtree to get a few insider details of the short film's creation.
Why did you create this short film?
My Grandfather, Kent Westbrook, is a man with many talents and stories that I've wanted to share for a while now. It's obvious he has a passion for what he does and the history behind it. I've always loved the way he tells stories and wished others could listen in, so I decided to document it on video.
Are there other stories from your grandfather you'd like to film or share?
I’ve always been interested in his farm. I’ve grown up going there, whether it’s for family celebrations or to watch wildlife. It’s a very interesting environment.
What is your favorite part of the film?
My favorite part of the film is when he mentions the favorite rock. You can tell how significant the relic is to him by how his face lights up as he recalls the memory of the day he found it. Priceless.
What is your relation with Kent Westbrook?
Kent Westbrook is my grandfather. Growing up, I've had the pleasure of hearing his many stories and experiences. He's also one of the wisest men I've ever known.
What are your two favorite documentaries and filmmakers, and why?
Kirsten Johnson and her documentary “Cameraperson” is a gorgeous film. The way she tells stories is captivating to me. ‘American Factory’ is another documentary that comes to mind. It’s a great film on colliding cultures inside a new GM facility.
Do you have the blood of a collector as Westbrook said? If so, what do you collect?
I wouldn't say I'm a true collector like Dr. Westbrook, I do however keep all of the coffee bags I use if that counts!
Was there any part you wish you could have included in the film but didn't for whatever reason?
There was a portion of the film I had to cut for privacy reasons that specified how much a specific artifact was worth. It really put into perspective how valuable these pieces are.
What is next for you as a filmmaker? Have any projects you're working on or hoping to work on soon?
After creating History in Pieces, my first short doc, I'm excited to continue my career as a documentary filmmaker, wherever that leads me.