We’re excited to announce our next Virtual Education Seminar “American Graffiti” moderated by Chris Murphy with a Q&A with local authors, teachers, and American Graffiti experts Ken White and Wes Page.

This is how it works: you log on at www.thestate.org and register for the film. You will get an overview of the film and then a link to watch it. On Thursday, June 11, we will jump on a video conference and discuss the film with our panel. It will be a fun way to learn about the movie and hear some of the backstories. You never know, there may be more guests on the panel!

About the film

Modesto USA is the home of American Graffiti.  Modesto native George Lucas made his breakthrough film about the days the early 1960s that would become the springboard to his later film making success with Star Wars.   This story of a night in Modesto followed the intersecting paths of graduates going off to college, the street racers that ruled the car scene, the social and car clubs that ruled the roost, and the kids that wanted to be part of something.  As important as the story was Lucas’ carefully crafted soundtrack, the first to be comprised of popular songs, that wove the story together.  Lucas’ love of cars, racing, rock and roll, and the “mating ritual” of cruising crafted a story that reminds people of those great days and is still relevant today as our youth become adults.

Chris Murphy, Moderator

Chris is the founder of the Modesto Historic Cruise Route.  This 1.5-mile loop in downtown Modesto is part of the original cruise route that was the foundation of “dragging 10th” back in the day.  These are the streets where the stories happened and the 25 information markers tell the story of Modesto, the film American Graffiti, the car customizers, musicians, radio DJs, and the movie houses of the day.  Chris is also the Founder and Publisher of ModestoView Magazine that is dedicated to telling Modesto’s positive stories, people, events, and history.   Additionally, Chris is on the Board of Directors for the soon to be built Graffiti USA Classic Car Museum and also serves as the President of the Visit Modesto and MoBand Board of Directors. Chris has been a champion of the research and promotion of the history of Graffiti, Rockabilly, and Modesto as a guide to a successful future and he feels “Our history and authenticity is the foundation of our vibrant future”.

Ken White retired from the worlds of advertising, corporate communications, and interactive entertainment to concentrate on writing and community service. He received his A.A. degree at Modesto Junior College, his B.A. and teaching credential at UC Davis, and his M.A. at San Francisco State University. He has taught mass communications and film appreciation at Modesto Junior College.  Born in Lathrop and raised in Modesto, California, he continues to live in his hometown. He is married to Robin and has two adult step-sons, Tyler and Eric. He has written novels, screenplays, short stories, stage plays, children’s and non-fiction books. Most of his stories are about his hometown and the Central Valley heartland.

Wes Page has been a film and video producer for the past 48 years. Even though he officially retired 6 years ago, he still finds great pleasure in film production. Currently, he is volunteering his time to produce a series of “Virtual Theatre” films for Gallo Center Repertory Company as a gift to supporters of the Gallo Center for the Arts during the center’s temporary closure. Wes attended Thomas Downey High School during the time George attended. Wes has been a fan of just about everything George Lucas has ever done. A big “Star Wars” fan, Wes can occasionally be seen donning his Stormtrooper armor at charitable events and Star Wars celebrations as a member of the 501st Legion.  But Wes’ favorite film by George Lucas is his first commercially successful film. A film about cruising the streets of Modesto. A film that put Modesto, U.S.A. on the map: “American Graffiti.”


When you register for this virtual education seminar, the program will be presented in three parts.

On Monday, June 8, you’ll receive an email to download and watch a pre-taped lecture, to view before the film at your convenience.

Then, you can go off and watch the film on your own. Please note, The State is not able to provide the film ourselves, but you can find where to stream it here.

Make sure you watch the film before the discussion, which will take place on Thursday, June 11 at 7:00pm PST over Zoom. Before the discussion, you can submit questions for the instructor here: virtual@thestate.org. You’ll also have the opportunity to submit questions during the discussion!

We’re moving quickly to put this new service in place, so please be patient if we run into some initial technical issues. Have more questions? Visit our FAQ page here.