From 18,000 portraits discovered in a Midwestern diner, we share the vivid stories which create this tight-knit community...
UPDATE: Goal! And ONWARDS!!! We're moving forward with a new goal, and a bonus reason for pledging now. Please read our updates for new info, and we hope you'll join the others in pledging towards our film. Thanks so much.
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One afternoon not long ago, after lunch at a small Midwestern diner, I stumbled onto a forgotten archive. In the back room of B & J's American Cafe, shelved next to cases of ketchup and mustard, sat box upon box of studio portraits of the townspeople of LaPorte, Indiana—over 18,000 in total.
Taken over three decades by local photographer Frank Pease, the photos marked many important milestones—a sailor in uniform, a graduate in cap and gown, a couple newly-engaged—while others made modest attempts at posterity. Though in subsequent decades, conventional portrait studios have fallen out of favor to snapshots and iPhone pics, Frank Peases' archive collects many of the significant moments and events that define all of our lives. I instantly fell in love with these photographs and soon compiled many of them into the book “LaPorte, Indiana.”
The feature documentary film, LaPorte, Indiana will bring these Frank Pease photographs to life, sharing the vivid stories which create this tight-knit American community.
Emmy-nominated editor and first-time Director, Joe Beshenkovsky, was equally taken by these photos and understood that the story of an entire town rested in those twenty-two boxes. We soon traveled to Indiana in search of these personalities, to learn how their lives unfolded some forty years after their portrait was snapped.
After multiple trips and shoots, we're thrilled with the stories we've uncovered. We've shot compelling interviews with fifteen characters from the Frank Pease photos, and have tagged along with young LaPorteans as they graduate from high school, say their wedding vows, and decide where they will settle down.
Falling somewhere between The Straight Story, Errol Morris' films, and the Up series, LaPorte, Indiana will help shed some light on how communities help shape their citizens and how people make the decision to stay in the town where they were raised, or why they choose to find their way elsewhere.
We'd be incredibly grateful for help in producing this feature doc. From since the inception of the film, we wanted it to be a community-based project. To date, we've bankrolled the filming out of our own wallets, and from the good will and donations from generous friends and strangers. We know the micro-financing model will help the film stay in loving hands as we finish up the editing and post-production phases. And beyond this, we want you to be part of the project! We'll keep you posted with updates and keep you posted every step along the way. Every dollar donated will go towards the completion of this film and to help get it out to festivals in 2010. Any amount- large or small- helps towards sharing these stories. Thanks so much for your generosity-- we really appreciate it.
Links to sites:
LaPorte, Indiana- the film LaPorte, Indiana book on Amazon Selected Press for LAPORTE, INDIANA, The Book THE WALL STREET JOURNAL “Fortunately, magazine editor Jason Bitner happened upon the stored prints of a LaPorte studio photographer named Fred Pease and, delighted by the hoard he had discovered, assembled this assortment. Though the book yields motifs — couples, siblings, pearl necklaces, buzz haircuts, bouffant hairdos, horn-rimmed glasses — the faces appear anonymously, each a souvenir from the 1950s or ’60s. Nothing is played for laughs, no postmodern sarcasm at the expense of clueless Hoosiers. The expressions are easygoing and ingenuous, if shaded toward the tentative and diffident. If there was an American look 40 or 50 years ago — at least one recognizable throughout Middle America — these faces may be it. Nothing edgy, smirking or brash. But much that is earnest, benign and hopeful. ”
CHICAGO SUN TIMES “Each photo isn’t particularly fascinating by itself — the people, poses, and clothing are thoroughly ordinary. But set next to each other, in page after page, the pictures seem to gain a new layer of humanity: each person is trying to present his or her best face to the world, and those efforts can be endearing (one elderly man adjusting another’s tie) or surprisingly revealing for portrait photography (one woman is clearly so uncomfortable in front of the camera that her smile might as well be a scowl). And the images practically demand that you ask where these people came from, of what became of them — however revealing the images might be, they’re still just slivers of lives, which makes the book simultaneously frustrating and fascinating.”
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