About this project
Drawing on the rich palette of Poe’s evocative imagery and sharply drawn plots, this 90-minute dramatized documentary starring Tony Award-winning actor Denis O’Hare gives audiences a new understanding of the notorious American author, his place in American art and history, and the iconic position he holds in popular culture around the world.
Notable writers and filmmakers such as Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson, Poet Laureate (1997-2000) Robert Pinsky, and Hollywood director and producer Roger Corman help us understand why Poe exerts such a powerful influence on artists in multiple genres, and Poe biographers and experts provide colorful testimony to fill out the details of his life.
The National Endowment for the Humanities has given us a generous grant that funds about 75% of our production costs. Now we’re counting on you to help us raise the rest to finish our film. DONATIONS TO THIS PROJECT ARE TAX DEDUCTIBLE!
The only way we will receive any funding is if we reach our $75,000 goal. And the only way we can do this is with your help! Even if you are unable to make a pledge, you can still help by getting the word out and sharing this project!
That’s what Wally Coberg used to say as he struggled to pay his rent while chasing his life-long dream: to tell the real story of the famously impoverished writer. Amazingly, Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive’s creator – a retired theater set designer living on Social Security in Baltimore – secured an extremely competitive development grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Wally’s passion to set the record straight about this much misunderstood author showed through and the NEH panel gave him $60,000 to set his dream in motion.
Then this story takes a sadly Poe-like turn. Just as Wally was setting out to raise the rest of the money he needed for production of the film, tragedy struck. Wally died of a heart attack. His life-long goal had been so close!
I inherited the project from Wally, and I’ve worked hard to make his vision a reality. Drawing on the work he left behind, I went back to the NEH and asked for the money to complete production of a 90-minute dramatized documentary that will bring the real Edgar Allan Poe to millions of Americans.
- Eric Stange, Director
The NEH production grant has allowed us to produce a 5-day shoot of dramatic scenes with Tony Award-winning actor Denis O’Hare as Poe. O’Hare is best known to television audiences for his roles on FX's American Horror Story, HBO's True Blood, and The Good Wife on CBS. We have also interviewed top Poe scholars, biographers, award-winning writers, and filmmakers from around the country.
Since we wrapped the drama shoot, we have been assembling a rough cut of the film. And we have made research trips to the archives in Richmond and Baltimore to find compelling images of people Poe knew and streets he walked to really help bring his story to life on screen.
We’re lucky enough to have a commitment from the American Masters series to broadcast the film on PBS; and while the NEH gave us a large grant, it’s not enough to complete the film. We still need to raise money in order to:
- complete editing
- create amazing animation and graphics
- pay our award-winning composer
- reproduce and license archival images and footage
So like Poe calling upon all his friends, sympathizers, and lovers of literature to help him launch his very own literary magazine, The Stylus, we are asking for your help to bring the film Wally envisioned to screens across America and to Poe fans around the world.
Eric Stange (Director and Writer) is the Executive Producer of Spy Pond Productions. An award-winning independent documentary film producer, director and writer who specializes in cultural and social history, his work has been broadcast on PBS, The Discovery Channel and the BBC. Public television credits include The War That Made America, a dramatized documentary series about the French and Indian War, Murder at Harvard, a historical who-dunnit that explores the process of historical inquiry through a compelling murder story (for American Experience). He has been a research fellow at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University. He is a member of the editorial board of Common-Place, a web journal on early American history and a visiting fellow with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.
Jennifer Pearce (Producer) is a freelance producer whose PBS credits include We Shall Remain: Trail of Tears and The Great Famine for American Experience, Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women for American Masters, and The Most Dangerous Woman in America for NOVA as well as the PBS four-part series The War That Made America. She enjoys the collaborative process of filmmaking. She believes a good documentary can educate, entertain and inspire people to think and feel differently about themselves and the world around us.
Peter Rhodes (Editor) is a veteran editor who was trained at the BBC in London. He works in a broad variety of styles, ranging from cinema verite to historic re-creations to children’s films. Since moving to the United States in 1986 he has accumulated more than 50 credits for films that have appeared on PBS, the BBC and at major film festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival. Peter has edited films that have won Emmys and the duPont-Columbia Award, and been short-listed for an Academy Award.
Boyd Estus (Director of Photography) is a Director of Photography and Producer/ Director whose credits include the Academy Award-winning The Flight of the Gossamer Condor and the Academy Award nominee Eight Minutes to Midnight as well as many Emmy-winning television productions. His recent productions include Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind 'Little Women; Woody Guthrie: I Ain't Got No Home (American Masters); At Home in Utopia (Independent Lens); Typhoid Mary: The Most Dangerous Woman in America, Doctors' Diaries and Japan's Killer Quake (NOVA); Murder at Harvard, Annie Oakley, and Houdini (American Experience).
Leigh Lanocha (Associate Producer) is an associate producer whose credits include the forthcoming documentary series Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of our Nation as well as a number of independent feature and short films in roles ranging from production assistant to script supervisor. Leigh began her career in film production at WGBH/Boston as a series intern for American Experience and as a production intern for the series' film We Shall Remain: After the Mayflower.
To say “Thanks," we have some great rewards including insider access to the film and filmmakers of Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive.
As a non-profit project, all pledges and donations go through our fiscal sponsor, the Center for Independent Documentary, and all pledges (minus the retail cost of rewards) are TAX DEDUCTIBLE! If you prefer to make a donation in lieu of receiving a reward, you can choose to pledge and select “no reward," and your donation is fully tax deductible.
The Raven's Trail Walking Tour of Poe's Boston is a 90-minute tour that explores Poe's connections to Boston—from his birth here in 1809 to his return as a young man in 1827 and his controversial appearance before the Boston Lyceum in 1845. Though Poe spent less than a year living in Boston, he was intensely engaged throughout his career with the writers and editors he called "Frogpondians." Sites visited include the likely Poe birthplace, Edgar Allan Poe Square, the grave of Charles Sprague (called the Banker-Poet of Boston), the mansion where Henry Wadsworth Longfellow got married (seen from Boston Common), and the Frog Pond.
The tour ends at Stefanie Rocknak’s statue, Poe Returning to Boston, allowing for Q&A and selfies taken with Boston’s most photogenic sculpture. Your guide is Paul Lewis, Boston College English professor and vice president of the Poe Studies Association. This tour will be offered for one day exclusively in Spring 2016 (TBD).
Risks and challenges
As with any pre-photographic subject, telling the story of Edgar Allan Poe on film poses enormous challenges. We are working in a genre we call dramatized documentary; drawing on meticulous research into the historical record to re-create moments in the author’s life. This type of film can be very costly and time consuming. Our years of experience in this genre allowed us to finish the dramatizations on schedule and on budget. Our stellar production crew, and the amazing and talented Denis O’Hare, created the unique landscape of Poe’s interior and exterior world. As we enter post production we are calling on the craftsmanship of our excellent editor, animation and graphics team, and our composer to continue to make this film as artful and compelling as any of Poe’s great stories.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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