Wednesday, February 3, 2010
48 - 5 Year Anniversary
It was January 29, 2005 and I stood nervously on the stage in the brand new Pinkerton Academy Auditorium. What a long strange road it had been to even get here. I thought back to my days at this high school, where achieving 4 year perfect attendance (never late, never dismissed, never absent Grades 9-12) was a tough task. But despite my attendance, I was not a stellar student. My grades were awful. In fact just to ensure graduation in 1999, I had to take a half year of Senior, Junior and sophomore English's all at the same time through regular class and night school. Yet here I was, standing in front of an auditorium filled with about 200 people about to show them my work.
I had been attending classes at Hesser College in Manchester, NH. While working on my associates in Radio/TV Production and Broadcasting, I knew that Hesser was giving me a lack luster education if you even want to call it that. A few years prior, when I started the program, I asked for a MAC computer for my birthday. "Why?" my mom asked to which I answered, "So I could make a movie." A few years later.. I finally had the idea to combine my passion for the outdoors with my coursework at Hesser, to not only make my movie but to enhance the education I was receiving at Hesser. I told my family I was going to finish hiking the 48 in the summer of 2004. I was cautioned to not bite off more than I could chew, or to protect myself from certain failure. Yet I refused to accept the criticisms and chase what I felt was right. I grabbed a handheld camera and took to the woods to complete a 14 year journey that still saw 34 peaks to summit. So while Sarah and I were spending the summer bonding, filming and asking questions of our fellow hikers.. a film was coming together.
On Sunday, September 5, 2004 I hiked a video camera to the top of Mount Madison and for the final time hat year, I was documenting the journey to a peak. Sarah, under the impression that the crowd joining us was for the films finale and the lists finale, was unaware of the new journey about to begin. While celebrating on the top of the final peak, I got on one knee... and the rest was history. Filming would continue off and on for the next 2 months while editing started right away. I had no script, no story line... just 5 hours of raw footage from a summer of adventure. The goal was to narrow it down into a one hour Film suitable for all audiences, that tells a story, some history; elicits emotion... an to put that film onto DVD format and sell it to raise money for Diabetes Research. For the next months, I would edit film for 10 hours a day.. EVERY DAY until the film was completed. My family, curious as to the quality and truth to my project, once again tried to protect me from failure. Trying to convince me to cancel the "Big Premier" from fear of my embarrassing myself... yet I pushed on.
Which led to that January Night, one week after a blizzard postponed the original release date. Here I was, in a theatre with 200 people introducing my work. The film rolled for 54 minutes while I walked around the theatre. As I strolled around I watched the crowd. They held hands, sat arm in arm. They laughed, they cried, they learned.. the loved. They watched a film for the first time and as they walked from the theatre, purchased DVD copies for their movie shelf and would watch it many times over.
In the years that would follow the release of "48: A White Mountain Documentary Film" I would embark on an amazing film tour across New England. I showed my film at Hesser, Brown, URI, UNH and Dartmouth. I visited Eastern Mountain Sports stores and a few stocked it on their shelves. I visited the Natures Closet in Vermont. I visited various Appalachian Mountain Club destinations and even stocked the film on the shelves of Pinkham and Crawford's. I sold the DVD's online and donated some to local libraries and non-profit organizations. I was having an amazing time... and then as suddenly as it came to be.. it passed.
Five years later the dust has certainly settled on the initial rush of excitement that 48 created. There was a problem in the DVD replication process that caused a fair amount of the over 800 DVDs sold to not function properly. So I stopped producing them for lack of funding as well as a lack of real interest in new purchases. Each time a run of DVDs was made, I had to purchase blank DVD's, DVD cases and print media to go along with it. Then, the time staking process of putting the DVD package design into the sleeves and placing stickers on the DVDs. There was no easy way about it, sometimes I solicited help of friends and family, most times I was stuck doing it alone. While it was a labor of love.. it was time consuming and very emotionally draining. I had to give it up.. and move on. All in all the film raised over $25,000 for diabetes research and inspired countless hikers to finally finish the list of 48 peaks.
Some of my favorite things that I've done associated the film has been to visit with Boy Scout Troops and local elementary schools to talk about hiking and fun in the outdoors. I have a pile of thank you cards from Elementary students from Manchester, NH that I hold very dear to my heart. Its the young people that I cherish most when trying to inspire others to walk on high. These are moments that will forever be cherished and close to my heart and I hope to one day embark on a new journey to continue the idea of inspiring our young people to be active.
On Monday, March 1st, 2010 at 7pm I'd like to invite you to The University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH. In MUB Theatre I the Kinesiology: Uutdoor Education Department is proud to host a special 5 Year Anniversary Showing of "48: A White Mountain Documentary" followed by a short Q&A and fact sharing session with myself, Sherpa John. This event is FREE and is open to the public.