The first videos of “Forgotten America,” a documentary series filmed in and around Clinton have been uploaded to the internet by the BBC (British Broadcasting Company). Joe Inwood, video journalist and reporter, along with Tom Heyden, digital video producer and broadcast journalist, stayed in Clinton during the last week of February.
Heyden joined the BBC a little more than two years ago. This was his first overseas assignment. Inwood has worked for the BBC for more than a decade. In June 2016, he and another reporter came under fire from Islamic State while filming coalition fighters in Manbij, Syria.
The first questions everyone seemed to ask of the pair were: “Is this a joke,” “Is this one of those ‘Let’s make fun of the hillbillies’ things,” and “Why did you pick Clinton?”
No joke. No making fun of hillbillies.
Inwood explained when people in England, or for that matter anywhere overseas, see news about America, the stories are often from one of the big cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and if it is a story on the southern states, the story usually focuses on Florida or Texas.
They wanted someplace that wasn’t always in the news. However, being it was February; they wanted to visit a state where the weather wouldn’t be wintery, where they could do some filming outside.
Neither one had ever been to Arkansas: the home state of former President Bill Clinton and presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; a state that voted overwhelmingly Republican.
While conducting their research, they discovered there was even a town called Clinton, in the north central part of the state with a good sized population (a big small town), so they picked it as the location for their series.
It was much like any time company comes to visit: show them the best first, but eventually whether you’re visiting over a cup of coffee or standing around parked cars, the conversation turns to the ups-and-downs of everyday life.
Politics did indeed come up during their conversations with various Clintonians, everything from the presidential election to government regulatory overreach impacting farmers. They also heard about a lack of jobs, but also the struggle to balance attracting businesses to the bypass area, while keeping businesses interested in historic downtown Clinton.
They were surprised at the rural meth epidemic, the lack of resources to help addicts overcome it, and how faith-based individuals and groups are stepping up to fill that recovery resources void.
Storms blew through the last few days of their visit and they witnessed how a community like Clinton comes together.
They visited with successful entrepreneurs, philanthropists, church pastors, volunteers, cowboys, farmers, and people working two jobs, raising their children, exhausted, but loving life.
To see the videos, visit bbc.com and search for Clinton, Arkansas.