matt logan '97


back in time

%756%left%Visiting a historical site can leave an indelible mark on the psyche. The reverence experienced at Stonehenge or the awe inspired by Machu Picchu lingers for years. Matt Logan '97 aims to capture such encounters on film to present both a historically accurate view of an archeological site and to capture the emotional landscape that these locales evoke.

Toward that end, Logan enrolled at the University of Bristol (England) in the Archeology for Screen Media program,a one-year program that blends the fundamentals of archeology with the creative how-to of scriptwriting, directing, and film production. To imagine where the two disciplines intersect, think The History Channel or a museum kiosk.

Logan and his five classmates took field trips to significant archeological sites in Great Britain to gain field experience in archeology. In the classroom they studied archeological theory combined with philosophical and English critical theory to understand the powerful emotions evoked at ancient sites or while viewing artifacts. Topics in sociology, ethnology, and anthropology were mixed in. The focus remained on physical artifacts, though the definitions between disciplines began to blur, Logan said.

"For me it's a very visceral feeling when I go to a grand historical site," Logan said. Understanding these reactions proves crucial when producing a film, he said, "Because in the end, an archeologist is basically more or less a storyteller. They're taking what they find and constructing the story behind that."

Logan took an introductory archeology class at Colby. After two years as a biology major, he had a face-to-face meeting with organic chemistry and decided to switch to English. His junior year abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland, also played a pivotal role in his Colby experience. "The idea of going abroad was something new and different," Logan said, "and it gave me a completely different perspective on everything."

After graduation he worked at a law firm to explore the possibility of following in his father's footsteps. "A bit of a misadventure," he admitted. He left the job, cashed in his 401K, and purchased round-the-world airline tickets.

%755%right%From his hometown of Washington, D.C., Logan traveled west to New Zealand, Australia, and Southeast Asia. In Thailand and Singapore he explored ruins and encountered field archeologists. There he realized how much he loved and was inspired by historic sites.

As Logan traveled on to Africa and through Europe, he chronicled his journeys and shared them via e-mail with friends, a process that excited him as much as the traveling. "In the end," Logan said, "I promised myself I'd get into something creative that would hopefully involve something historical, something about travel."

He did. For his dissertation at the University of Bristol, Logan created a 10-minute film about his experience in northern England hiking Hadrian's Wall. With a classmate Logan trekked along 50 miles of the 90-mile wall, built in the first century by the Roman Emperor Hadrian to protect the northern boundary of Roman Britain. In uncharacteristically hot summer weather, Logan filmed not only the wall and accompanying forts, but also tried to capture the essence of his experience and that of other wall hikers. Logan reports that his classroom and previous field experience prepared him to create the film he wanted,an exploration of personal experience of archeological sites.

Logan will return to Bristol in February to receive his master's degree. In the meantime, he's searching for a job in the documentary film industry with the eventual goal of producing his own films. He's hoping that his unusual education will help him find a niche in U.S. television, which is more competitive than the history-hungry British TV market. Wherever he lands, Logan sees his goal clearly,to create programs that allow audiences to experience, without ever leaving their living rooms, the emotions and stories generated by historical sites and legends.

,Laura Meader