New Grant Awarded for “Young Hemingway Documentary

Petoskey, Michigan – Contemporary Learning Systems, Inc. (CLS), a Petoskey-based company, has received a grant of $16,500.00 from the State of Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs (MCACA) to continue its work on a documentary entitled “Young Hemingway: Finding His Muse in Northern Michigan.”

Ernest Hemingway

Making the announcement was Dr. George A. Colburn, a historian and the company’s President and Executive Producer. A resident of Melrose Township, Charlevoix County, he is the writer and producer of the new 60-minute documentary that began production in the summer of 2012 at the biennial meeting in Petoskey of the Hemingway Society.

CLS, a non-profit company that specializes in informational video programming for television, the internet and schools and colleges, has been operated locally since 2008. The “Young Hemingway” project was launched by CLS in late 2011 upon the publication by Cambridge University Press of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, 1907 – 1922, Colburn noted. 

“This comprehensive collection of young Hemingway’s letters makes clear how influential northern Michigan was in the development of the great-writer-to-be,” Colburn said. An ongoing letters project is based at the Pennsylvania State University and its editors and responsible are responsible for much new information being released about the young man’s life, he added.

“We are very pleased to receive this grant from such a prestigious source,” Colburn said; “we know there is stiff competition for such grants.” According to Colburn, the funds will insure the completion of the project’s production phase this spring, and the immediate start of the post-production phase.

On July 21 the Perry Hotel will host an event celebrating Hemingway’s connection with Northern Michigan, Colburn said, “and thanks to this grant we now expect to screen a full-length preview for those attending the event.”

Hemingway birthday planning
Making Plans for a July 21 “birthday celebration” on the occasion of Ernest Hemingway’s 116th birthday are Chris Struble (from left), President of the Michigan Hemingway Society, Reginald Smith, General Manager of Stafford’s Perry Hotel, and George Colburn, producer of the new documentary entiled “Young Hemingway: Finding His Muse in Northern Michigan.” Photo by Sandra Lee Photography

The new grant to CLS was enhanced by a contribution from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. The grant was awarded through MCACA’s peer review process and was one of 484 applications to compete to compete for MCACA fiscal year 2015 funding. CLS’s grant was one of nine given to organizations in Emmet and Charlevoix counties. Last year, another state agency, the Michigan Humanities Council, provided CLS with an important grant that kept the project moving forward in 2014, Colburn pointed out.

Since the documentary’s 2012 launch, videotaping has been completed locally at the Hemingway family’s Walloon Lake cottage, Windemere, on the Bay View campus, at multiple locations in Petoskey, and throughout Horton Bay. Other locations have been in Oak Park, IL, where young Hemingway grew up, and on the campuses of Pennsylvania State University and the University of Pennsylvania. 

Further production locations this spring will be in Boston, New Paltz, NY, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. where some of the foremost Hemingway scholars are based. 

The documentary has been funded to-date by a large number of local businesses and organizations, Colburn said, including the Meijer Foundation, Boyne Resorts USA, the Bay Harbor Foundation, Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, the Michigan Hemingway Society, Bay View Association, Charlevoix County History Preservation Society, City Park Grill, Arlington Jewelers, and the Perry Hotel. Individuals have also signed on as sponsors, he noted, including the Wally Kidd Family, Mary Jane Doerr, James and Constance Burt, and Dale and Ruth Hull.

“I have been involved in raising funds for television and media education projects since the mid-1970s,” Colburn noted, “and in all this time I have never seen anything like the broad-based community support given to this project.” The documentary has also more than two dozen “Friends” who have contributed from $25 to $250 to the project, he said.

“What is particularly satisfying about this production is the number of local people involved in its production,” Colburn said. “All of our key positions are filled by professionals who lived in this region, including editors, videographers, music producers, narrator, researchers and line producers,” he added, “and thus the funds provided by our grants stay right here for the most part.”

Colburn anticipates raising the necessary funds to complete the documentary by end of the year, and he plans to submit it for public television distribution in early 2016. Early planning has begun, he said, for premieres in Emmet and Charlevoix counties around the time of Hemingway’s birthday in July 2016. The Hemingway Society’s next biennial meeting is being held in Oak Park next July, and Colburn hopes to premiere the documentary there as well.

An educational version of the documentary focused on internet distribution will be produced upon funding, Colburn said. A research project that will lead to the creation of such an educational series of programs has just begun, he noted.

For more information about the documentary – and to see a 12-minute video preview – visit its website:


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July 21, 2022
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