Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gettysburg Doc Sneaks in Gettysburg

Add to the Gettysburg-times-Gettysburg equation a co-director (Matthew Amster) who is an anthropology professor at Gettysburg College and the film's seven expert participants, and you have an event tonight anchored to four very strong Gettysburg scores.

Hallowed Ground: A Film About Gettysburg, a 70-minute documentary being test screened for the first time tonight at the Majestic Theatre, looks at the enduring legacy of the locale and the approaching 150th anniversary of the famous battle through the eyes of seven different people. These include arson victim John Wega, architect's son Dion Neutra and father-and-son members of the local Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter. Amster co-directed the film with a pair of Brooklyn-based friends, Sam Erickson and Mark Rozzo.

Per a recent article by Mark Walters in Hanover, PA paper The Evening Sun, here's how the project was sparked:

The idea for the film initially revolved around the Cyclorama and Neutra's fight to keep the park service from demolishing his father's work, Amster said. Rozzo, a 47-year-old writer and editor, had previously covered the Cyclorama controversy for Los Angeles Times Magazine and gotten to know Neutra.
As a child growing up in Chester County, Rozzo had always been fascinated by Gettysburg and knew he wanted to write about it. In 2009, when Neutra came to Gettysburg from Los Angeles to help save the Cyclorama from the wrecking ball, he contacted Rozzo and suggested they get together.

Erickson's film company, 44 Pictures, has a genealogy almost as epic as that of Gettysburg. In the 1990s, he was a freelance photographer shooting many of the era's top bands, musicians. Starting with a personal connection:

Sam got his start in photography with his hometown friends Dave Matthews Band, traveling the world with them and documenting some of their most important tours and album sessions. After nearly a decade of photographing bands, Sam made the transition to directing documentary films in 1998 by converting his video and photographic archive of Dave Matthews Band’s seminal album “Before These Crowded Streets” into an MTV special called Dave Matthews Band: Open Wide...
With 44, Sam launched into the world of Nashville music videos, directing clips for Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, Martina McBride, Brooks & Dunn and many more. 44 also produced one of the more note-worthy concert films of the 2000s, with My Morning Jacket’s wildly inventive and visually stunning Okonokos. 

More recently, 44 Pictures has expanded beyond the realm of the music industry and into the world of non-fiction cable television.

With a filmmaker of this sort in the co-director mix, it seems more than likely that Hallowed Ground will "sing," both tonight and as it is discovered in the coming months in its final form.

[Hallowed Ground: A Film About Gettysburg]

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