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Q&A on historic Shepherdstown film

By Staff | Nov 13, 2009

A local film about Shepherdstown has recently been produced and released to the public on DVD. Local businessman Jay Hurley, who helped fund the project and appears in the film, talked with the Chronicle about its production. Hurley said many local shops have agreed to sell the DVDs, just in time for the holiday shopping season.

After production costs are met, the sale of the DVDs will benefit the Shepherdstown Day Care Center and Visitors Center.

Q. Tell us how this film got started.

A. Several Shepherdstown area residents were approached by Wayne Bronson of Oak Tree Productions, a local video production company. We were asked to participate in a film about the history and community of our town. Oak Tree has produced more than 20 such programs, which appear on Virginia and West Virginia Public Television. The films also are sold locally as a fundraiser.

Q. How many people participated in the film, and what were their responsibilities?

A. I think there were about eight presenters in the film, and each presenter was responsible for his or her own script. With so many people in town interested in our history, it was difficult for the producer to limit participation to the time available.

Each presenter was filmed on location or in a home setting. As they tell their particular part of our history, the camera shows a tour of the topic area. Various photographs are brought in, with special camera effects to add “movement” to old still photos (the Ken Burns effect). It turned out very professional looking.

Q. What parts of our history were covered in this film?

A. The short answer would be, pretty much all of it. But there is so much history in our town, it would take filming many hours to cover it. Just some of the subjects covered were, the Revolutionary War, James Rumsey’s steamboat, Shepherdstown after the Battle of Antietam, churches and schools, the coming of the railroad and other topics.

Q. Do you have a favorite part of the film?

A. It’s difficult to pick a favorite since everyone did a great job, but I must say the presentation of Danske Dandridge and her poetry was wonderful. The camera wandered through the flower gardens of town as Ms. Dandridge’s musings of the early 1900s were artfully recited.

Q. Who will benefit from the fund-raising?

A. Most of Oak Tree’s productions are sponsored by local business. We viewed other towns’ films and decided that the advertising took away from the production. We wanted the best for our town, so three local people fronted the money to produce the film. When most of the production cost is recouped, the proceeds of DVD sales will go to the Shepherdstown Day Care Center and the Visitors Center.

Local merchants selling Roadtrip to History (at no profit) are:

The Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery

The Bavarian Inn

Dickenson & Wait

Steppin’ Out

Lullaby Lu

O’Hurley’s General Store

Shepherdstown Paint & Lumber

Four Seasons Books

D’Accord Boutique

Mellow Moods

German Street Coffee & Candlery

Grapes & Grains

Blue River

The Shepherdstown Visitors Center

Historic Shepherdstown Museum

– Compiled by Daniel Friend, Chronicle staff