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Life In The Heart Land

“Life In The Heart Land” dives deep into the heart of America to meet the neighbors, communities, and organizations that are creating unique solutions to rural America’s toughest challenges. Facing formidable obstacles, these collaborators are breaking down divides and roadblocks to build new pathways to meaningful, positive outcomes that have the power to inspire empathy and action and to transform other communities across the nation.

Watch the docu-series on the PBS App

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The docuseries from VPM is exploring how people in rural Virginia and beyond are creating unique solutions to their toughest challenges.

“The rural parts of our country are often left out of important community-based decisions, and that can result in limited access to critical resources,” said Deep Structure Productions' Director of Production & Operations, Lysandra Petersson. “LIFE IN THE HEART LAND offers a look into these obstacles, and how members of these communities are working to clear them.”

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“No one else is going to come to this area and save us, we're the only ones that can do this.”
Mike Keyser, Former CEO, BARC Electric Cooperative

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“Life In The Heart Land” is a VPM docuseries that presents rural Virginia as a source of innovative solutions and change. From struggles around pollution and criminal justice, to equitable access to land and infrastructure, rural Virginians bring the values of mutual aid and hard work.

We traveled across the state capturing stories of people in Virginia's rural communities. These personal stories highlighted in our docu-series, explore how they are creating unique solutions to rural America's toughest challenges.

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Production Team

Deep Structure Productions is a video production service and independent film studio based in Staunton, VA. We offer writing services, fully equipped film shoots, and post-production services. In our own work we’re committed to engaging community around the medium of film/video, We strive to share the benefits of the creative process with local students and citizens, to foster civic discourse with films that remind us of the shared values of being human, and to employ our art-making toward a circular economy that reduces waste.

Lysandra Petersson - Director of Production & Operations
Lysandra hails from Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and attended Hampshire College in Massachusetts. After graduation, she learned filmmaking by way of producing a documentary about the American Shakespeare Center. In 2007, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film, and for the next decade worked in production on Hollywood features. She co-founded her own company, Deep Structure Productions, in 2014; and in 2017, Lysandra relocated herself, her family and company back home to Virginia. As a writer/director, Lysandra has two feature-length films under her belt: “Bell Canyon”, shot in Los Angeles in 2016 and premiering there in 2019; and “500 Fireflies”, filmed in Staunton in 2021.

Zan Gillies - Director of Marketing & Project Development
Zan holds an MFA in Film and Electronic Media from American University. His thesis film, “Last Strike,” won CILECT North America's award for Best Fiction Film in 2019, and will screen at the 2021 Austin Film Festival. An accomplished screenwriter and director of photography, Zan has written, directed and produced dozens of short films as well as nine feature-length scripts. He was the director of photography on Deep Structure's first two feature films, and in 2018 he co-wrote and produced the feature film “Kringle Time,” which premiered at the Brooklyn Film Festival in 2021.

Zach Laliberte - Director of Client Development & Education
Zach was born and raised in Chattanooga, TN, and attended Columbia College in Chicago. He spent the next several years in Chicago working as an actor and musician, then moved to Los Angeles in 2008, where he joined Monday Night Writers Group and added screenwriting to his roster of talents. He has released two albums as a singer/songwriter, and starred in four music videos for his songs. In 2014, Zach wrote and directed Deep Structure's first feature-length film, "Bobbi & Gill", and in 2016 he starred at the lead actor in the company’s second feature, “Bell Canyon,” set in L.A.’s indie music scene