Bringing Archaeological Research to Life




The 2014 documentary film, "Impact of the Frolic," tells the story of an opium clipper shipwrecked off the California coast near Mendocino in 1850. Chinese ceramic artifacts from the ship were discovered by local Native Americans in the 1980s, helping to explain connections between cultures that have had a tremendous impact on California.

"'Impact of the Frolic' is important because it shows the connection, communication, and trade between countries at a time when California was first being settled,” explains Matthew Ritenour, the film’s director. He and Arik Bord, the film's director of photography, were Chico State undergraduate anthropology students when they produced the film. They drew on the research of former San José State archaeologist Dr. Thomas Layton for the film.

The film was produced in the anthropology department’s Advanced Laboratory for Visual Anthropology, built in 2010 by Anthropology Professor Brian Brazeal and his research team, with support from the National Science Foundation and the university.

"Impact of the Frolic" received an Emmy Award in June 2015 as well as top honors in the Historic/Cultural Program Category for Northern California. It was accepted for nationwide television broadcast through the National Educational Television Association and became available to PBS affiliate stations nationwide in September 2015.

The 28-minute film can be viewed at