Documentary by JSU’s Longleaf Studios to Premier on Alabama Public Television


A new documentary premiering on Alabama Public Television was produced by JSU’s own Longleaf Studios. 

The movie poster for “Forever Wild: The James D. Martin Story” chronicles the life of the former Alabama congressman who served as director of Alabama’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The documentary will air on APTV on Monday, Nov. 9, at 9 p.m.

Seth Johnson, director of Longleaf Studios and head of the Department of Art and Design, served as executive producer on the project as well as one of the cinematographers and the motion graphic designer. JSU partnered with the production studio, Prodigi Arts, out of Memphis, Tenn., on the project. Among the content experts featured in the film are Dr. Gordon Harvey, head of the Department of History; Dr. Lori Tolly-Jordan, associate professor of biology; and Dr. Glen Browder, emeritus professor of American democracy.  

“It's an incredible opportunity for JSU to be able to lead such an impactful project that tells one of the many stories that have shaped the State of Alabama,” Johnson said. “The partnership with JSU's Longleaf Studios and Alabama Public Television to produce these documentaries is so valuable for our students. The ability to work on real-world projects with industry professionals is an invaluable experience for our students.”

Martin, who died in 2017, was one of the first American soldiers to discover a Nazi concentration camp in the final days of World War II. He later served as a guide for Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and other US generals who visited the camp. He represented Alabama's Seventh Congressional District in the US Congress from 1965 to 1967. 

According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, Martin, who died in 2017, “played an instrumental role in the political history of Alabama as one of the first truly popular Republican candidates since Reconstruction. He helped establish Alabama's modern Republican Party.”

Martin ended his political career as commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Appointed to the position by Gov. Guy Hunt in 1987, Martin supported preserving Alabama's undeveloped land and convinced Hunt to create a state land-acquisition program, the Forever Wild Land Trust, in 1992. He was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor in 2009.

Longleaf Studios has partnered with APT to produce a series of educational documentaries on Alabama history. Next on the list is "The Fire in Anniston: The Freedom Riders Story," which recalls the May 14, 1961 bus attack and its lasting impact on the community. 

Housed in the JSU School of Arts and Humanities, Longleaf Studios is a university-based production studio that provides students the opportunity to gain real-world experience working on the set of actual productions. It serves as an experiential learning space for the university's Bachelor of Arts in Film program, an interdisciplinary major that includes courses from the Drama, Art and Design, and English departments.