The locally produced video reached No. 13 in Apple’s documentary charts and delves into a complicated narrative of northern toilet garden art installations.
A SUNY Canton assistant instructor has released his first movie “Potty Town: Where Protest meet Porcelain” available on Apple TV and Amazon Prime.
Morgan D. Elliott, who teaches digital video editing and time-based media in the Graphic and Multimedia Design program, became interested in the story behind Potsdam landowner Frederick “Hank” Robar’s toilet garden installations then. that he was working as a college videographer.
“It is extremely beneficial to have faculty members with demonstrated real-world experience,” said Michael J. Newtown, dean of the Canino School of Engineering Technology. “Morgan joins experienced electricians, engineers, and video game developers who give students a competitive edge through their own career paths.”
The hour and six-minute report highlights the ongoing conflict between Robar and the village of Potsdam. About 18 years ago, Robar requested that one of his properties be rezoned to accommodate a new Dunkin’ Donuts location. After being denied, Robar planted a field of corn on the vacant lot, dubbed “Protest Corn” by local media. The symbolic display evolved to include scarecrows, underwear hanging from clotheslines, a large plastic turtle, garishly painted buildings and toilets adorned with plastic flowers.
“I learned a lot working for SUNY Canton’s public relations office,” Elliott said. “I was developing a lot of program profiles and videos, which are basically mini-documentaries. It also allowed me to hone my editing skills after college.
Potsdam officials tried, unsuccessfully, to crack down on Robar’s displays, which appeared at several different properties around the village. The unique installations have been described as unremarkable and an eyesore, with some residents and business owners saying they lower property values and damage the atmosphere. For Robar, and almost all legal authorities, toilets are the result of his artistic expression, and subsequently protected under his constitutional rights.
“I always tell my students that if they find a story they’re interested in, they should go cover it,” the director said. “I also tell them to go into a story with an open mind and to be flexible and listen to people.”
Elliott began a series of bathroom interviews with area reporters while working full-time at SUNY Canton, including one with former esports coordinator Robert J. Snow, who was one of first journalists to tell the story for the Courier-Observer in Potsdam. . Several other SUNY Canton employees and college friends are featured throughout the video.
While working full-time at SUNY Canton, Elliott produced numerous videos focusing on college and student life, including four that were shortlisted for awards by the State University of New York Council on Advancement. He now owns and operates Ridge 44 Productions out of Rensselaer Falls. He earned his bachelor’s degree in television and video production from SUNY Plattsburgh and his master’s of fine arts in creative writing from Boston University.
As Upstate New York’s premier college for career-focused bachelor’s, associate’s, and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton offers quality, hands-on programs in engineering technology, management and health. It houses the Center for Criminal Justice, Intelligence and Cybersecurity. Faculty members are renowned for their real-world work experience in addition to their outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY’s leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible, convenient courses and 23 online degree programs. The 15 traditional SUNY Canton Kangaroos sports teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also offers college esports and cheerleading.