A native of Holdenville, Oklahoma, Brent Simonds holds BA, MA, & EdD degrees and is a professor and the mass media program coordinator in the School of Communication at Illinois State University. He teaches documentary storytelling and other film/video related courses.
His interests include visual communication, media ecology, and digital filmmaking (training, education, & documentary). He has won Telly, Aurora, and EMPixx Awards and his productions have also been recognized by the Broadcast Education Association, the National Broadcasting Society, and the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters.
Before his academic career, Brent spent several years as a producer/director at local television stations (NBC & Fox Affiliates, Independents). He has produced more than 60 training and educational documentaries for the United States Postal Service, Prentice Hall, Houghton-Mifflin Co., and St. Martin’s Press. Two grant-funded educational films are currently being distributed by "Films for the Humanities & Sciences."
I first met Verlon Thompson in 2012 when he attended an acoustic jam that my friend Jack Secord hosts at Lake Bloomington in central Illinois each year. Jack became friends with Verlon when he was a student in a songwriting class that Verlon & Guy Clark taught at Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch in southeast Ohio. The awesome tune "The Guitar" was born in that class. (video below courtesy of Genuine Human Productions)
I made a short film about the the 2011 acoustic jam that Jack had shared with Verlon. Verlon was very complimentary of the film and we really hit it off. I have always been extremely interested in music and the fact that Verlon was a successful songwriter in Nashville made him very intriguing. Also, it probably helped that we are both from Oklahoma and we both had relatives in each others' hometowns. (You can see the acoustic jam film below)
Birth of Sweet Dreams
Fast forward to 2014 when I learned that Verlon was coming back to Bloomington for a concert. While listening to his "Live at the Ivey's" CD it occurred to me: Verlon had already written the script for a biographical music film. If I could capture some of his performances, interview the people close to him, and visit the places he vividly describes, I could create an interesting blend of concert film & biography.
So I began a long and satisfying journey with Verlon's full participation. Thousands of miles traveled, hundreds of hours shooting/editing, and more than a few nights of lost sleep - it was worth it all. And the adventure continues.
I am excited for all of Verlon's fans to see this film and I am anxious to introduce others to this extraordinary musician and even better man.