Here are the films I’ve produced. Follow this link to view my photography galleries.
I’m so pleased to announce that my first documentary, “Dan and Whit’s: The Heart of the Town”, was released in August, 2023.
(If you have problems playing this film here, please go directly to Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/802337305)
Background: Back in early 2022 as I was beginning to shift from photography to filmmaking, I needed a project for a documentary class I was about to take. Because I’d been so struck by recent reports of Dan Fraser’s struggles to get enough staff to stay open, I decided this might be a good subject for my class. When asked, Dan was delighted with the idea. And, since then I’ve taken two more documentary classes, watched hours of Dan’s Pandemic weekly Monday Minutes and interviewed 15 staff and community members.
While it took more than a year to finish, the film has finally been released. After considering everything I learned in my research, I realized that there were many different avenues I could have taken. In the end, I decided to keep it simple by focusing my guiding question on “What compelled so many retired folks in Norwich to step in to help Dan in his time of need?”
It turns out that the answer to that question is simple. Dan’s ongoing selfless support of local small businesses and nonprofits, particularly (but not at all limited to) during the pandemic, garnered tremendous loyalty. Dmitry Kim, former marketing and general manager, summarizes it so well. “It’s a very spiritual thing, actually… When a person asks ‘How can I fight the fear of… being poor?’ …The response is by giving back more out of goodwill without expecting anything back and that, as part of a karma, is going to return to you.”
In the course of making this film I’ve become aware of just how important small general stores are to the resilient fabric of so many of Vermont’s rural communities. If they disappear, Dollar General’s, Amazon and Cumberland Farms will fill the void but without offering essential reciprocal community support that Dan does so well. I learned that there are many models of how communities help to keep these small family/community owned general stores afloat. In the end I had to keep the focus on Dan and Whit’s, but my hope is that the film could serve as a springboard for statewide conversations about how the state could support the resiliency of these small stores.
Read Susan Apel’s review of this documentary just before its release in July, 2023.