A scene from "Go South for Animal Index: A Fable of Los Alamos"

Pictured is a still frame of “Go South for Animal Index: A Fable of Los Alamos,” which features cinematography by Mark Shaw, a student in the MFA in Creative Writing program at UMSL.

When Chris King found out his neighbor Mark Shaw was a film student, he put him to work on the director’s first movie, “Blind Cat Black.” Shaw, now a student in the MFA in Creative Writing program at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, was so helpful that King awarded him an assistant director credit.

“He did even better work on my second movie, ‘Go South for Animal Index,’” said King, who’s also editorial director at The St. Louis American.

Go South for Animal Index: A Fable of Los Alamos,” which King directed and Shaw served as one of the cinematographers, will screen at 7:15 p.m. July 14 at the Tivoli in University City, Mo., as part of the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase. The film is based on a poem of the same name by Stefene Russell. It follows four storylines that intersect in the context of the first successful atomic bomb test.

Shaw, whose mother is Native American, recently returned to UMSL after taking time off from the MFA program to live on his reservation in Bowler, Wis. He worked for the Mohican News as a full-time staff reporter, photographer and editor. At UMSL, he will serve as the managing editor of Natural Bridge, a semiannual journal of contemporary literature published by the university.

“When he moved back home to take a job with Natural Bridge, I was very pleasantly surprised to see St. Louis investing in its own,” King said. “As much as our civic leaders grouse about our local brain drain, these same leaders usually look elsewhere for their choice hires. I expect for Mark to do great things in his new position, and his being hired certainly moves (Natural Bridge) more prominently onto my radar as a reader and writer.”

Poetry Scores, a local arts organization of which both King and Shaw are affiliated, produced “Go South for Animal Index” and “Blind Cat Black.” King called Shaw a core member of the Poetry Scores movie unit, which is preparing to begin filming its third movie, about Jack Ruby, on Nov. 24, the 50th of when Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald.

Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz

Eye on UMSL: Tending the gardens

Biology student James Ott and Sustainable Energy & Environmental Coordinator Katy Mike Smaistrla pull weeds last week in the native gardens north of the Recreation Wellness Center.