Corn Dogs and Crushes: Teen Love at a Fair in the American South- Short Film Showcase Filmmaker Q&A

Teenagers engage in the age-old rituals of courtship at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair in Dudley, North Carolina. Filmmakers Kelly Creedon, Sami Jorgensen, and Callaghan O’Hare capture endearing interviews with young couples who earnestly believe they’ll be “together forever.” I spoke with Kelly Creedon about the making of the film.

Why did you choose the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair in Dudley, North Carolina as the backdrop for Love Is in the Fair?

When Callaghan (O’Hare), Sami (Jorgensen), and I produced this film, we were students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and were actually scheduled to shoot a story at a dirt track racing competition not far from the fair. The race was called off last minute, but we were still on a deadline to produce a story for our documentary film class. We scrambled to find another setting for our film and, on a fortuitous whim, decided the fair would be a great, visually rich place to find characters.


How did you get your subjects to open up and talk about their relationships?

I think what works for me in getting folks to open up is being genuinely curious and interested in their experience and perspective, taking the time to be a really engaged listener, and of course being respectful and taking them seriously. I think it could be easy when talking to teens to write off their experience as naïve or silly, but we really tried to treat them as experts who were helping us understand this whole nuanced world of unwritten rules of adolescent love and courtship.


Was there a reason you choose to center the piece around teenagers?

I think when we started seeing the hordes of teen girls and boys scattered around the fair, primping and stealing glances at each other, all three of us immediately were brought back to our own experiences of braces, butterflies in the stomach, and middle school dances. It’s such a captivating, inebriating time, and we were all drawn in by the possibility of trying to capture a glimpse of this sensational, electrifying, pheromone-filled whirlwind of first romances.


Do you have a favorite moment or anecdote from the shoot?

There were so many priceless moments, and so many of my favorite clips ended up on the cutting room floor. One of my favorite quotes from the project came out of an interview that Callaghan O’Hare did with two young teen boys who considered themselves to be very adept at wooing the attention of the ladies. When she asked them for their favorite pick-up line, one of the boys responded, “Are those space shorts? Because that booty is out of this world.”

Who was your favorite couple?

I think my favorite couple was probably Victor and Maria. Victor is the young man who says he’s waiting for his girlfriend Maria, so he can tell her she looks beautiful, like she always does. I loved Victor’s shy, earnest sincerity when he told me: “I like her smile, she likes my eyes. We haven’t said the love word yet, but I think we will soon.” Following them around as they nervously held hands and he tried to win a stuffed animal for her was really sweet.


Did you encounter any unique challenges during the shoot?

I think the biggest challenge we encountered was probably the physical environment of the fair. It’s very bright and colorful and energetic, which is wonderful, but it’s also incredibly loud and hectic, which made filming really difficult. Getting good interview sound in the midst of the crowds and the music and the ride and game workers hawking on their PA systems was quite a challenge. We used multiple lavalier microphones, tried to make sure they were positioned well, and tried to find the least crazy corners of the fair to record our interviews. But even so, there were a number of great pieces of tape we couldn’t use because of the sound quality.


What are you working on next? 

I’m currently finishing up another short documentary film called In This World that looks at coming of age from a different perspective. It’s the story of 15-year-old Courvosier Cox from Durham, North Carolina, who believes his destiny is to be a star and perform sold-out shows in LA. But first he has to navigate the challenges of adolescence and struggle to find his place in a complex world. He’s an incredibly driven and charismatic character and I’m excited to share his story.

Callaghan O’Hare is currently interning at Time’s LightBox and will work a video internship at the Los Angeles Times this summer. Sami Jorgensen is coaching track and field and cross-country at Brown University and pursuing still photography projects.

Twitter: @kellycreedon @callaghanohare @samijay13

Instagram: @kelly_creedon @callaghan_ohare @s_tayjay


Check out The Bitter Southerner to see more stories from the American South.

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Changing Planet

Meet the Author
Rachel Link curates content for National Geographic's Short Film Showcase. Each week she features films from talented creators that span a range of topics. She hopes that this work will inspire viewers to explore the world around them and encourages filmmakers to keep pushing the boundaries of visual storytelling.