Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Ten Dollars an Hour, the short documentary I made in the spring about an African-American cook at a fraternity house on-campus at the University of Mississippi, has been viewed almost 2,000 times in the past four days. I'm flattered that people are responding to the film. I believe it started when the film was posted on metafilter and from there several blogs picked it up. There have been more than 80 comments on the metafilter post, including my own. Here is the film, of which I am quite proud, with some follow-up comments below:

Ten Dollars an Hour from Ben Guest on Vimeo.

Leasse Williams (and Janis Jones) still work at the Sigma Nu fraternity house.

The numbers the economist and I ran were wrong. At $15,000 a year, Ms. Williams is not below the government poverty line. Yesterday, I attempted to edit this part out of the film but my hard drive crashed. Once I get the hard drive fixed *fingers-crossed* I will cut the sentence from the film where the economist states that Ms. Williams is living below the poverty line. In ant event, it doesn't change the point that $10 an hour is not a livable wage.

Ms. Jones has twice contacted my professor (the film was originally completed as an assignment for a Southern Studies course in documentary filmmaking [side-note: at the end of the semester the "best film" was chosen by the professor from the five projects completed for the course. Here is the winner]) to express anger over the film. During the first phone call, which occurred over the summer while I was in Namibia, Ms. Jones, who had not yet seen the film, mentioned that she had been contacted by a Sigma Nu alumnus in New York who was looking into taking legal action against me for slander.

Brad Walsh, a lawyer here in Oxford and a former Sigma Nu financial advisor and House Corporation member, has left several comments on my vimeo page, to which I have responded.


stephen said...

Very nice work on the doc! I went to USM. Keep up the good work with the hard hitting stories

Ben Guest said...

Thank you sir. Appreciate it.