Ball State University alumnus David Letterman, ‘69, is returning to his alma mater for the premiere of an original documentary, created by Ball State students and featuring Mr. Letterman, about the art of glass.

The University will present the documentary, “Clear Reception,” at 7 p.m. Monday, May 1, 2023, at Emens Auditorium on Ball State’s campus. Following the screening of the film, Mr. Letterman will conduct a Q&A with two Ball State graduates who served as director and producer of the piece, respectively.

The program is free and open to the public, with no tickets required.

“I look forward to sharing this innovative project with our community on what I anticipate will be a very entertaining evening,” said Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns. “Throughout the making of the documentary, Mr. Letterman made multiple visits to our campus to engage with students, faculty, and staff. We are fortunate that Mr. Letterman maintains a close relationship with our University, and I am grateful for his passion for Ball State students.”

After the documentary is debuted, Dave will be joined on stage by Academy Award-winning director Morgan Neville for a discussion. Dave and Neville worked together on the Disney+ documentary “Bono & The Edge.” Neville has directed a number of feature-length documentaries, including “20 Feet from Stardom,” which won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2014.

Students from Ball State’s College of Communication, Information, and Media‘s Department of Media, led by Chris Flook, senior lecturer of media, collaborated with Mr. Letterman during the 2021-22 school year to produce the documentary. The 25-minute production shares the story of Mr. Letterman’s interest in Ball State’s Glass Art program and his request for a commissioned unique sculpture created by students studying and working at the University’s Marilyn K. Glick Center for Glass.

A trailer for “Clear Reception” is available on Ball State’s YouTube channel

As part of the David Letterman Learning Experience, the project also included graduate students from the Center for Emerging Media Design & Development (EMDD), led by Dr. Jennifer Palilonis, George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Multimedia Journalism; undergraduate students from the School of Music led by Dr. Christoph Thompson, associate teaching professor and area coordinator of music media production; and undergraduate students from the School of Art led by Brent Cole, associate professor of art, and Jon Rees, glass facilities manager and assistant teaching professor of art.

Recent Ball State graduates Ameliah Kolp and Faith Denig, served as writer/director and producer for the film, respectively. The 2022 graduates will participate in the Q&A with Mr. Letterman after the film.

“I absolutely loved collaborating with all the artists. And by ‘artists,’ I mean the producers, cinematographers, editors, composers, instrumentalists, and glassblowers,” Ms. Kolp said of her experience working on the project. “I got to work with composers. Composers! We made music for this thing. Incredible. But also, so challenging. I had to learn how to communicate my ideas into a whole new language with music.”

Ms. Denig said “working with David Letterman was amazing.”

“He was the sweetest guy. So genuine and just wanting to share his love of the arts with the students at Ball State. Truly, the most incredible experience I’ve had,” Ms. Kolp said of Mr. Letterman. “I’m so proud of what we accomplished, of this story that we get to tell, and for the relationships that I formed that will last a lifetime.”

In addition to the documentary, EMDD students created a transmedia project that includes a social media campaign, a website, a virtual tour of the Marilyn K. Glick Center for Glass, and a glass art augmented reality scavenger hunt. These and other digital artifacts developed by students in the David Letterman Learning Experience will be on display at the documentary premiere.

“Working with David Letterman and being part of the David Letterman Learning Experience has been the highlight of my experience in graduate school,” EMDD student Elena Lazoff said. “We have learned so much about cutting-edge technologies, user-centered design, and innovative approaches to storytelling. I am so grateful for Dave’s generosity and love for Ball State.”

The David Letterman Learning Experience (DLLE) is a student-led, interdisciplinary creative project that combines storytelling, technology, and art to give students across many disciplines and departments a project-based, hands-on experience inspired by Mr. Letterman’s contributions to the University.

Mr. Letterman, former host of the “Late Show with David Letterman” whose current Netflix-original talk show, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman” has earned four Primetime Emmy nominations, has given back generously to his alma mater over the years, most notably through a lecture series. His name also resides on The David Letterman Communication and Media Building, which was completed and opened in 2007.