Petoskey, Michigan, July 30, 2014 Starbright Media Corporation (SMC) is now in the final production phase of its planned hour-long television documentary entitled “Young Hemingway: Finding His Muse in Northern Michigan.” Making the announcement was Dr. George A. Colburn, SMC Executive Producer and program writer/producer.
According to Colburn, preview screenings of the unfinished documentary have already been held in Venice, Italy at the biennial meeting of the international Hemingway Society and, on Hemingway’s birthday, in the summer community of Bay View, Michigan.
The first phase of production began in spring of 2012 and included several days of videotaping in and around the Hemingway family cottage on Walloon Lake, at Pennsylvania State University (PSU), the home of the Hemingway Letters Project, and at the Bay View gathering of the Hemingway Society.
“We had to delay further work on the Hemingway project in 2012 until we finished final production on our two-hour public television special on President Eisenhower,” Colburn said. Eisenhower’s Secret War: Covertly Waging Peace, 1950 – 1960. premiered in May of 2013 and has aired on most public television stations around the country, reaching approximately 90 percent of the nation’s viewing audience via participating stations, according to American Public Television of Boston, the program’s distributor. Since 1991, Colburn has written and produced 10 hours of prime-time programming about Eisenhower’s military and political careers, 1941 – 1961 and an additional 20 programs for the classroom.
The Hemingway project to-date has been funded by local organizations and businesses, including the Meijer Foundation, the Michigan Humanities Council, Boyne USA Resorts, Bay Harbor Foundation, Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, Bay View Association, the Wally Kidd Family Trust, Mary Jane Doerr Trust, Connie and James Burt, Charlevoix County History Preservation Society, Stafford’s Perry Hotel, Stafford Smith, City Park Grill, First Community Bank, Arlington Jewelers and Petoskey Yesterday. “Our biggest gift came from an anonymous donor in Harbor Springs,” Colburn said, “and it has helped to launch the project in 2012,” he added.
At the historic summer community of Bay View in 2012, Colburn interviewed several prominent Hemingway scholars attending the biennial conference of the international Hemingway Society. Prior to the conference, at Penn State University, he interviewed the Co-Editor of the first volume of personal letters written by the young Ernest Hemingway. In the past few months, further interviews have been conducted on-camera in Horton Bay, Boyne City, Bay View and on Lake Charlevoix.
“We already have a solid foundation for a good program with a fresh focus,” Colburn said, “and we plan to finish principal photography by the end of this summer.”
Hemingway, born in 1899, grew up in Oak Park, IL, but spent his summers in and around Walloon Lake every year of his life, but one, until he left for Paris in December, 1921. He then gained world-wide fame as an author before he was 30. His experiences in the woods and on the waters of Northern Michigan provide the foundation for many of the stories he wrote throughout his lifetime, but especially for the short stories about the northern Michigan adventures of young “Nick Adams.” Volume One of his personal letters, 1907 – 1922, was published in late 2011 by the Cambridge University Press. Volume Two was published in late 2013 and concerns his early years in Paris, 1922 – 1925.
The letters, according to Colburn, provide exciting new material for the production that features local talent. Joshua MacVey, 23, is the voice of young Ernest in the documentary, Colburn said, while Bob Elliott handles the narration, Portraying Hemingway in the rivers and woods of the area is Brian Kozminski. Original music is being developed by Peter Kehoe, a well-known area singer-songwriter who has provided the music for two other SMC television productions.
Prof. Sandra Spanier, Director of the Hemingway Letters Project at PSU, and General Editor of the planned 16 volumes, wrote in her introduction to Volume One, “Unguarded and never intended for publication, Hemingway’s letters constitute his autobiography in the continuous present tense. They enrich our understanding of his creative processes, offer insider insights into the twentieth-century literary scene, and document the making and marketing of an American icon.”
Prof. Linda Patterson Miller, Chair of the project’s Advisory Committee, noted that “The fresh voice that emerges in these letters is that of the young Hemingway, an ambitious hard-working youth, but not yet a legend, not yet ‘Papa’.” She goes on to state that the letters “promise to challenge shop-worn myths and assumptions about Hemingway and his transformative art.”
Both Prof. Spanier and Prof. Miller have been interviewed on-camera by Colburn along with Advisory Committee member Scott Donaldson, one of the country’s top literary biographers. Colburn has also conducted two long on-camera interviews with Ernest H. Mainland, son of Madelaine “Sunny” Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway’s favorite sibling who summered at “Windemere” until her death in 1995. The cottage remains in the family today. Renovated and remodeled by Mr. Mainland and his wife, Judy, Windemere is maintained as their private residence.
Mainland has endorsed the documentary, saying that his mother would be proud of an effort that plans to “tell the truth” about her Nobel Prize-winning brother. “She saw her brother maligned so many times by well meaning scholars she finally gave up on them,” Mainland said.
Because this documentary is largely about Hemingway’s life at “Windemere” and in the neighboring communities, Colburn notes that SMC’s non-profit partner, Contemporary Learning Systems, Inc., is making it possible for anyone in these communities to become a partial funder of the program. Information on how to donate, and about the program’s content – including a 15-minute informational video – is on the project’s website.
To connect with the production coordinator for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Starbright Media Corporation
Contemporary Learning Systems, Inc.
318 E. Mitchell St.
Petoskey, MI 49770
Post Office Box 309
Walloon Lake, MI 49796