Fairfield Ledger
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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 15, 2017

‘Heroes of Fairfield’

Production for second film in history series underway
By Nicole Major, Ledger correspondent | Nov 15, 2017
Source: PHOTO COURTESY OF WERNER ELMKER Local residents reenact a historical event featured in “Heroes of Fairfield,” the second film in a series of eight about Fairfield and Jefferson County’s history. From left are, back row: Werner Elmker (cameraman), Rena and Rory Goff (historic researchers), Tahmi DeSchepper (homeowner), Tray Cal-El (actor), Steve Thulander (cameraman) and Jason Strong (director of photography); front row: Doug Hamilton (horseman), Blake Jarmosco (actor), Dick DeAngelis (director) and Ashia Freeden (assistant director).

During the last two months, thousands of residents and audiences far and wide have viewed “Life Before Fairfield,” the first film in a series of eight about Fairfield’s history.

The series is a joint venture between Fair Field Productions and Fairfield Media Center.

The first film covered prehistoric Jefferson County from the dinosaur age through its settlement by human beings. It featured interviews with several Native American experts, Iowa state archaeologists, artifact hunters, noted historians and more, but producer/director Dick DeAngelis said the next film would go even deeper.

 

Next film in series

The production staff has already begun work on the next film called “Heroes of Fairfield,” scheduled to premiere in May 2018.

“I can only say that if people enjoyed the first film, they’re going to love the second one,” DeAngelis said. “We did a lot of research for the first one, but we’re doing even more research for this one.”

DeAngelis said he is keeping the storyline “close to vest” because he wants people to be surprised when they see the film. However, he was willing to say that the film contains in-depth research into the Underground Railroad, the network of secret routes used to ferry escaped slaves to free states and Canada.

“We’re using people who have been doing research on the subject for the last 10 years,” he said.

“Heroes of Fairfield” will include re-enactments and interviews. DeAngelis promises to unearth a few tales that have never been told before, like the story of a small group from Jefferson County that was part of the Underground Railroad. The film will also reveal some of Fairfield’s military heroes of yesterday and today.

“With each film we produce, we want to get better,” he said.

 

IPTV, state museum take interest in film

Since the release of the first film, Fair Field Productions has been approached by Iowa Public Television, which told DeAngelis that “Life Before Fairfield” possessed “high-interest connections to the classroom.”

“We want to allow teachers all over the state the ability to have access to it,” he said.

DeAngelis has been working with the State Historical Museum of Iowa, and State Curator Leo Landis has agreed to be an advisor for the current film.

“[Landis] said that he would be honored to serve on the project for the second film,” DeAngelis said. “And we are honored to be working with him.”

 

Reaction to first film

The first film made its debut over a two-night showing at Fairfield Arts & Convention Center’s Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts. Community members turned out in droves. DeAngelis agreed to show it a third time because so many people had to be turned away at the premiere.

“We’ve shown it three times at the Sondheim, with more than 1,400 people coming out to see it.” DeAngelis said. “We’ve also shown it at the [Fairfield Public] Library, Maharishi University of Management campus, several classrooms, and have plans to show it at SunnyBrook.”

DeAngelis said the Fairfield community is unique in that its residents have a deep appreciation for those who lived here in the past. He said that a local farmer who did not know him spoke with him after the film’s first showing.

“He said that he saw the first showing, and the next night he brought his entire family with him to see it,” DeAngelis said. “I was really honored by that.”

DeAngelis also told of a Maharishi University of Management student from a foreign country who expressed how the film touched his life. The student, who DeAngelis believed was from Ethiopia, was considering living in Fairfield, but felt there was little diversity here. However, after viewing the film, he came away with a different attitude.

“He said that, after looking at the history of this place, he realized [people here now] are just renting; they’ve only been here a few hundred years,” DeAngelis said with a chuckle. “He said, ‘Before, people closer to my color lived here, and they spoke a different language, and after I heard that language, I realized Fairfield was my home, too.’ Everyone should feel welcome here. We all need to take a breath, and learn about each other. Once we learn, we will see that we have more in common with each other than there are differences.”

Each film in the series will delve into the various cultures that have called this land home. DeAngelis expressed excitement about the project’s agricultural series that is slated for production in fall 2018.

“We will be telling stories of people who lived here and farmed here in the past all the way up to today,” he said.

 

Fundraising efforts

Currently, Fair Field Productions is orchestrating a major fundraising effort for the second film, which will cost $65,000.

“Honestly, this is a gift from our hearts to the community; but right now, we do need people’s help,” DeAngelis said, adding, “Any size donation would help. Even if you can’t give anything, tell 10 people about it.”

DeAngelis said they “scrimped” on the first film by asking the musicians to play for free, which he didn’t feel good about.

“Our musicians are just as valued as everyone else. You have to put them in your budget,” he said.

To date, the project has received grant funding and many donations from various businesses and individuals, including a grant for $9,955 from Humanities Iowa. Seventy-five people have helped produce the film.

For more information, visit the series’s website at www.fairfieldhistoryseries.com or call DeAngelis at 919-4277.

 

 

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