“What About Waco” documentary explores Waco’s history

By Kalyn Story | Staff Writer

Baylor graduate Chris Charles Scott has won awards this year for directing a documentary on the history of Shreveport, Louisiana. Now, he has set his sights on the history of Waco.

Scott and his crew started filming “What About Waco” in mid-July and hopes to finish filming in January.

Scott plans to have at least four parts to the series. He wants the episodes to focus on the 1953 Waco tornado, the suspension bridge, the three-year period from 1916-1918 and Camp MacArthur.

Photo courtesy of Chris Charles Scott.

When he decided he wanted to make a documentary series about Waco, Scott reached out to some fellow Baylor alumni and other members of the Baylor community.

Dr. Stephen Sloan, a co-producer of “What About Waco,” an associate professor of history, director of the Institute for Oral History and president of the Board of Directors of the Historic Waco Foundation, was intrigued and excited about the project as soon as Scott approached him with the idea.

“History is what makes people unique,” Sloan said. “I am excited that Chris is telling stories in a new, creative way. History helps people understand the community they live in and there are few things more important than that.”

Sloan acknowledged that there have been films made about Waco in the past but he believes this documentary excels in creativity at the hands of an award winning director.

“You can’t call a place truly home without a deep appreciation of its history,” Sloan said. “I hope this film gives students and members of the Waco community a greater appreciation and understanding of the depth of Waco and its history.”

Hobby Howell was also immediately interested in the project when Scott shared the idea. Howell is L.L. Sams’ great-grandson and considers Waco history to be intertwined with his family history.

Photo courtesy of Chris Charles Scott.

“It is important to tell Waco’s history, the good and the bad, because, as members of this community, it is our responsibility to know where we came from,” Howell said. “Once we know who we are and where we’ve been we can evaluate. We can be proud of the accomplishments of the past and we can look at how much we still have to accomplish.”

Howell said though he gets discouraged by all the bad press Waco receives, he is proud of Waco and its past and hopes the documentary will bring the positive aspects of the community to light.

Howell is extremely invested in the Waco community and hopes the film encourages students to step out of the “Baylor Bubble” and get invested in the community too.

Matthew McLeod, another executive producer for the film, is also disappointed in the negative press Waco receives and the negative connotation even some of Waco’s residents carry about the city.

“I hope this documentary helps restore pride within the Waco community,” McLeod said. “I want people to be excited about Waco and excited that they live here. I want Baylor students to watch the film and think ‘holy cow! There’s so much in Waco I did know about, I can’t wait to check it out.’ I want people to love Waco like I love Waco.”

Photo courtesy of Chris Charles Scott.

McLeod believes “What About Waco” is different from previous films made about Waco because of the perspective Scott brings as the director.

McLeod, who lived in Waco most of his life and graduated from Baylor, was surprised when Scott uncovered stories and history that McLeod had never heard.

“These films will get positive conversations started about Waco and that excites me,” McLeod said.

Scott’s goal is to have the documentary series available to the public in the winter of 2017.