A Kansas high school student has made what at first glance looks to be a rollicking and professional-looking documentary about the state’s budget woes.
It will screen at a theater in Overland Park later this month.
“Besides my parents, I was raised by (Stephen) Colbert and Jon Stewart,” says Carson Tappan, a sophomore at Louisburg High School, who directed the satiric documentary “Where the Buffaloed Roam (an ode to the Kansas Budget).”
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The trailer, which has received more than 1,600 views on YouTube, features Tappan asking Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, why Kansas can’t just print its own money to solve its budget crisis.
“He didn’t pick up on some of the stuff I was being sarcastic on … I understand that state governments can’t print their own money,” Tappan said. “He did not understand my understanding of that.”
Tappan said he has been making films since he was 11. He’s pretty much self-taught, and this is his first documentary.
He said he never paid much attention to state government until he started seeing daily headlines about the state’s budget woes. The state faces a shortfall of more than $700 million over the next year and a half.
“It made me angry – just some of the stuff we were prioritizing – and so I decided it’s time for me to be a subtle Michael Moore and make a film,” he said.
The film will premiere at the Overland Park 16 theater at 7 p.m. Feb. 17. The premiere is sponsored by Kansas Families for Education, an advocacy group.
Tappan said he plans to submit the film for contests and eventually release it online.
The trailer also features interviews with Duane Goossen, who served as budget director under the three governors who preceded Brownback; Martin Dickinson, a tax law professor at the University of Kansas; and Will Averill, the Lawrence resident who set up an Indiegogo campaign to save the Kansas budget.
Averill told Tappan he’d only raised $14, far short of the $715 million the state needs.