For Gregory Fish, there was one word that stood out when trying to describe the resolve demonstrated by Joplin residents in the aftermath of the May 22, 2011, tornado: “steadfast.”
“I was thinking about a title, and that word just popped out,” he said. “I looked up the definition and said, ‘That’s it.’”
Fish, 32, is the director of “Steadfast,” a new documentary that chronicles the year after the tornado. It is set to debut at 7 p.m. Monday at College Heights Christian Church, 4311 Newman Road.
He is a former College Heights student who graduated from Ozark Christian College in 2002. At the time of the tornado, he was working for a church in Brownsville, Texas.
He came back to the Joplin area several times to shoot video and ultimately moved to Mount Vernon.
“I did some tribute videos that were passed around on Facebook, and it evolved into a feature-length project,” Fish said. “I didn’t set out to do that, but I knew it was the best way that I could help — by letting the people of Joplin tell the story of what happened.”
As he began talking to survivors and other residents, he decided to make it a longer-term project.
“I knew that the (national media) cameras would be gone and wanted the story to continue to be told,” Fish said. “I was there documenting through the one-year anniversary and made it a goal to release the film at the year-and-a-half mark.”
Despite the fact that it was his first directorial effort, he said he dived right in. He said production of the documentary was “pretty much a one-man show,” from the filming and writing to the editing.
“It was a massive undertaking, but I’ve enjoyed the process very much,” said Fish, who is the marketing director for Motive Matters, a relationship training program, and a writer for an online Christian magazine. “It’s rewarding to be able to help in this way.”
The film will be for sale at the screening for $15.99 on DVD. Fish said 50 percent of the funds raised from the film will go to Rebuild Joplin.
“It confirmed what I already knew about Joplin,” Fish said of the year and a half he spent making the film. “It’s a special place; there’s really no other place like it.”
TO VIEW A TRAILER for “Steadfast” and learn more about the film, people may visit http://steadfastdocumentary.com.