Header image for COMM Alumnus Nic Stoltzfus contributes to book and documentary “Coastal Dune Lakes: Jewels of Florida’s Emerald Coast”

COMM Alumnus Nic Stoltzfus contributes to book and documentary “Coastal Dune Lakes: Jewels of Florida’s Emerald Coast”

What do you get when you combine the talents of an Emmy-award winner’s son and a degree from FSU Media & Communications Studies program? Something amazing.

Aerial shot of Western Lake

2012 MCS undergraduate alumnus, Nic Stoltzfus, is relishing in his latest and greatest accomplishment–the completion of his book and documentary, “Coastal Dune Lakes: Jewel’s of Florida’s Emerald Coast” in Walton County, Fla. The impetus for the publications was rooted in Nic’s father, Elam Stoltzfus, Florida State Communications/Media 1988 alumnus, who began the preliminary stages of filing and writing in 2007. Eight years later, labor, patience and diligence helped Nic and his father capture and curate one of nature’s most exquisite creations. Elam Stoltzfus serves as the producer and cinematographer, and Nic Stoltzfus serves as the scriptwriter and photographer. The editor and music score are attributed to Joey Dickinson and Eric Schrotenboer.

“The inspiration for the project was the beauty found in the region. Words on the page describing the lakes don’t do them justice; all you readers just need to do yourselves a favor and go see them for yourself,” Nic says.

Nic’s father, Elam Stoltzfus (’88 Communication/Media)

Nic and his father were also intrigued by the coastal dune lakes and their unique formation along the Gulf of Mexico. The coastal dune lakes found within the Emerald Coast, running from Panama City to Pensacola, Fla., are unique in that they exchange water with the Gulf of Mexico. The Stoltzfus duo documents other unique aspects of the lakes in their film.

Before graduation, Nic was an Orientation Leader and lead the group, “Nic’s Notorious Narwhals”, while living with 12 other students at the Southern Scholarship Foundation. He also was a conversation partner with international students through FSU Center for Intensive English Studies. Stoltzfus is thankful for the guidance and inspiration of Professor Misha Laurents and Professor Davis Houck, who taught him in some of his upper division Communication courses.

Milky Way Galaxy over No-Name Lake in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

“I took public speaking with Misha Laurents, and I also took classes in the London Communication Program with her. I took two communication classes with Davis Houck and did undergraduate research under his supervision,” he explains.

While in London, Professor Laurents helped Nic understand to use the city as a classroom and that learning can take place anywhere and anytime. When crafting the documentary and book, he had to be open-minded and allow information from a variety of sources. Professor Houck taught Nic how to excavate specific information for research through a Directed Individual Study (DIS) in the latter term of his MCS studies.

“This was incredibly important for writing the script for the documentary on the coastal dune lakes because, like most documentaries made for public television, it is a research document supported by pictures and music,” Nic elaborates.

As for now, Nic and his father are to present film screenings and have book signings in the coastal dune lake region. They also hope to do a series of educational talks about the lakes at various schools in neighboring areas. The duo is already brainstorming their next endeavor, which may be a biographical documentary on Florida photographer Clyde Butcher or another book and documentary project on the Choctawhatchee River & Bay.

“Crafting a message and sharing it with other people is essentially what communication is all about,” Nic says.

Learn more about the Media & Communication Studies program at FSU here and view the Stoltzfus duo’s blog here.