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An independent documentary about the now abandoned Woonsocket Middle/High School in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
An independent documentary about the now abandoned Woonsocket Middle/High School in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
90 backers pledged $4,359 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$4,359

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A Film by Scott Gabrielson & Jason Allard

What is this project?

My Old School is an independent documentary about the former Woonsocket Middle & High School that was opened in 1914 and closed in 2009. It now sits empty and closed off in the center of this Rhode Island city. We traced its history and tracked down former students, teachers, and city officials who discuss the building's strange layout and the powerful memories it contains. The film takes a historical approach and combines it with the beautiful backdrop of this massive abandoned school. This documentary will be about 80 minutes long and presented in full HD.


One Year of Work

We are two independent filmmakers from Woonsocket, Rhode Island with a HUGE interest in the old and abandoned. This entire documentary has been a two man team, but we can't finish it alone. We have spent hundreds of hours filming, interviewing, organizing, editing - and now we're in the home stretch.

Dark hallway connecting two sections of the school.
Dark hallway connecting two sections of the school.

The Abandoned School - My Old School

When we found out that the school we both attended in our hometown was closed for good, we knew something had to be done to preserve its history and memories. Constructed in 1914, the Woonsocket High School housed the minds of several generations that went off and changed the world.

In 1973, after numerous additions to the building, the school was converted into the largest middle school in New England. It was the home to students in grades 6 through 8 until its closing in 2009, when a new school was built just down the street.

Our film crew was granted exclusive access to the abandoned school, which was left virtually untouched since the doors closed on its last day in December 2009. We spent over 30 hours inside the school capturing the beauty of the building we once called home.

Over the past several months we have also gathered numerous interviews with former faculty, staff, students, and city officials discussing everything from the building itself to the cultural revolutions it endured.

This documentary isn't limited to just people who attended the school or are from Woonsocket. We created this film to go beyond just the building itself. You can relate to it if you went to school anywhere - everyone remembers being in school when 9/11 happened, or when JFK was killed. Everyone also has memories of big pranks, favorite teachers, and favorite classes. We're just lucky enough to be able to combine everything and relate it back to this old, massive building that we call the "Frankenstein" of schools.

Scott Gabrielson researching former students in the Woonsocket Library
Scott Gabrielson researching former students in the Woonsocket Library

What Makes the School Interesting?

The school was originally built in 1914 as the High School, but as the population grew in the city more and more additions were needed. Since the school was being added to with limited space, it made for strange hallways, doorways to nowhere, and nooks and crannies all over the building. It has one of the most confusing layouts of any school. When we went into the school to film, we mapped out each location and had to set up a "base camp" in the old auditorium. This place is that big. We are so absolutely excited to be able to share this with you!!! We just need to hit our goal.

Looking over the edge of the massive 5 story school.
Looking over the edge of the massive 5 story school.
Cameraman Corey Brunelle, Jason Allard, and Scott Gabrielson discuss a shot in one of the school's dark hallways
Cameraman Corey Brunelle, Jason Allard, and Scott Gabrielson discuss a shot in one of the school's dark hallways
Scott interviewing a student who was there on the last day - on the fire escape of the school
Scott interviewing a student who was there on the last day - on the fire escape of the school

"Salvador Dolly"

Because the school has long flat hallways, Jason decided to construct a custom dolly for one of the all day film shoots in the school. It's a combination of two bicycles, steel framing, and a scooter that took three whole days to build/weld. Special features include an 8 ft extendable camera mount, weighted stabilizer, flood light attachment, pivoting center, and mountain bike tires. The only thing he forgot was a cup holder. That's dedication right there.

Jason's custom dolly with FIVE camera mounts!
Jason's custom dolly with FIVE camera mounts!
Jason using "Salvador Dolly" in one of the school's three gyms
Jason using "Salvador Dolly" in one of the school's three gyms

Why We Need Your Help

We have donated all of our time and resources to complete this project and we can't afford the costs to distribute and premiere this film. We want to give back to our community, and we need your help to ensure this historic building's past is preserved. Your donation will help with the post production and distribution process. This includes promotion & premiere fees, projector rental, ticket printing, DVD printing, and film festival registration fees. 

Thank you very much for your help!!!

Jason Allard, Director

Scott Gabrielson, Executive Producer

Some of our sweet rewards!
Some of our sweet rewards!
One of the basement basketball courts we used to play on - warped and cracked from the elements
One of the basement basketball courts we used to play on - warped and cracked from the elements

Risks and challenges

One of the biggest challenges we face is successfully promoting and funding this project. Scott Gabrielson and I have worked on everything in this project so far from story-boarding and presentations to primary filming, graphic design, and editing. This entire documentary is really a two man operation, and we're currently in the home stretch. We need your help to make sure we can meet our goal and give back to our community.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    The Student - For just $5 you get a HUGE thank you from all of us involved! Every bit counts!

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    The Valedictorian - If you donate $15, we'll send you the official documentary T-Shirt once it becomes available.

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    Pledge US$ 20 or more About $20

    The Teacher's Assistant - Pledge $20 or more and you'll get the official T shirt and you'll be entered to win a FREE all access tour of the abandoned Woonsocket Middle School with director Jason Allard and executive producer Scott Gabrielson. Donate to a reward tier above this one and you still get the chance! This is the only way to gain access to the building. We'll even bring flashlights for you. Donate and leave a comment on why you should get the tour.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    The Resource Teacher - Donate $25 and we'll send you a copy of My Old School on DVD. You will also be entered to win a FREE tour of the abandoned school with directors Jason Allard and Scott Gabrielson.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    The Teacher - Donate $35 or more and we'll send you a copy of the official DVD and the documentary T shirt.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    The Principal - Donate $75 or more to 'My Old School' and you'll get the official T-shirt, a DVD of the film, and the official 11x17 movie poster signed by the directors.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    The Principal - Donate $60 or more to 'My Old School' and you'll get the official T-shirt, a DVD of the film, and the official 11x17 movie poster signed by the directors.

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    The Superintendent - Donate $150 or more to 'My Old School' and you'll get the official T-shirt, a DVD of the film, the official 11x17 movie poster signed by the directors, and a shout out in the credits of the film.

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    Pledge $175 or more About $175

    The Wise Janitor - Pledge $175 or more and we'll hook you up with the official T-shirt, a DVD of the film, the official 11x17 movie poster signed by directors, a shout out in the credits of the film, and a signed limited edition print from the film with certificate of authenticity!

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    Pledge US$ 225 or more About $225

    School Spirit - Pledge $225 or more and we will take you on a guided tour through the abandoned Woonsocket Middle/High School. This is the ONLY way to gain access to the building, and we'll take you through it all. With this donation, you also get everything mentioned before: the official T-shirt, a DVD of the film, the official 11x17 movie poster signed by directors, a shout out in the credits of the film, and a signed limited edition print from the film with certificate of authenticity!

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Funding period

- (30 days)