The Ken Burns Effect is a Ken Burns-style homage to Ken Burns, featuring Ken Burns.

We were once a group of freshmen living on the first floor of Binford Hall at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC.

As you may recall, the first few weeks of college can be difficult, and it is sometimes hard to find your place amongst the herd of similarly wide-eyed freshmen. Lucky for us, we all happened to share a love and (potentially creepy) enthusiasm for the films of Ken Burns. The celebrated filmmaker behind such epic films as The War, Jazz, Lewis & Clark, Baseball, and The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, Ken Burns has acted as director and producer on more than twenty films. He is the hero of Public Television and his name has become synonymous with his style of filmmaking. Thanks to our hero, our inspiration and our common bond, we managed to navigate those first few weeks and months – together.

In the spring of our freshman year, we were insanely excited to find that Ken Burns himself would be coming to our campus to speak. We were so excited, in fact, that we decided to use body paint to show our devotion. 

Eight years later, when the summer issue of Guilford’s Newsletter arrived in our mailboxes announcing the return of Ken Burns to Guilford College, there was really only one possible response.

The films of Ken Burns brought us together, instilled in us a love of the United States and its history, and taught us the value of public broadcasting and of filmmaking – that is the Ken Burns effect and we are living proof of its power to unite and create unbreakable bonds. We are eager to tell this story – OUR story – in the only way we know how – with the Ken Burns Effect.

A short documentary shot by Jacob Mendel, produced by Erin Burns, directed, produced, written, and edited by Tia Shuyler.