Lilly Langston

Lilly Langston is a senior at Lufkin High School who recently produced a film that is both historical and inspirational. The Dunbar Tigers will be forever etched in the history books of Lufkin ISD, and Lilly created a film that allows those voices to be forever heard. Lilly is in Caleb Beames, LHS AV Class. Using skills she learned in his class, she put together a film that got the attention of the Nobelity Project.

“Lilly worked on this documentary by herself,” said Caleb Beames, AV Teacher. “It started off at first as a film about the football team honoring Dunbar but after she met with Oscar Kennedy and did some research,  it quickly grew into a bigger story.

“I wanted her to call it “Resurrecting Dunbar” but Lilly insisted on calling it “Immortal Tigers” because Dunbar had never gone anywhere thanks to the effort of community members,” he said.

Lilly’s film made it to the semifinals in UIL film competition, being one of the top 12 documentaries in 5A. Although her film did not advance to the state level, she became a finalist for the Nobelity Social Impact award. Four total 5A films were viewed by the Nobelity Project. Founded in 2005 by Turk and Christy Pipkin, the Nobelity Project is based in Austin, Texas and addresses issues of global education. Filmmakers by trade, Turk and Christy shifted their focus from commercial projects to documentaries engaging with Nobel Laureates and other global leaders exploring potential solutions to the challenges facing us all.

Q: What was the inspiration of your film?

A: The inspiration for “Immortal Tigers” came from the Nacogdoches vs. Lufkin football game in which the Lufkin players wore jerseys modeled after Dunbar High School jerseys. This game was what originally brought light to the concept of honoring the achievements of Dunbar and inspired me to further honor the legacy of Dunbar High School by telling its story. 

Q: Why did you choose this film topic?
A: We live in a society in which it’s commonly assumed that in order to move on from the past, we have to bury it. This is not the case. History is not good or bad, it’s just fact. Lufkin was segregated, that is a fact. Burying the past doesn’t do anything but invalidate the stories of those who lived it. I wanted to choose a story that told itself, was something close to home, and was something that has been buried for too long. The legacy of Dunbar High School checked all those boxes and more.
Q: What was the most challenging part about putting the film together?
A: The most challenging aspect of this film was cutting it down to seven minutes. Each of the people I interviewed brought to life different aspects of Dunbar and the community it hosted. It was extremely hard to chose which parts of the story get told and would have to be saved for an extended cut. I genuinely think that if there was no time limit, I could have made an hour-long film and not have been bored for a second of it. 
Q: What did you learn from this project?
A: I learned to persevere. There were times when the project grew tedious, and I wanted to quit. However, every time I got to a point like that, where I was frustrated and ready to give up, my AV director Caleb Beames encouraged me to press on. He reminded me that the film isn’t about me, and that I wasn’t doing it for myself or him or even the UIL judges, I was doing it for the people who needed to have their story told. Even on my worst days, I persevered and I can genuinely say I’m proud of what I created and grateful for the opportunity to share a piece of living history with everyone who watches it. 
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Right now, I’m working on school (and fixing my sleep schedule). Sadly, my semester in Mr. Beames Audiovisual class is over and so is my short-lived film career. For now I’m focusing on my AP art portfolio and preparing for college. I will say though, the experience working on this film has encouraged me to pursue the film-making learning community at my university next fall. I am very excited to discover what I can do and who I can be next fall.