Saturday, December 05, 2009

Light at the end of the tunnel

It is December 2009 and unbelievably we've been working on this film for more than five years. I could say a lot about the pains, delays and false hope that this project has weathered, but in this season of hope I'd rather think about the coming year. With determined effort we are making progress. I can pretty confidently say that one way or another, the film will be finished in 2010, screened and hopefully broadcast.

I happened on a classic photo of Sandburg and his brother-in-law Edward Steichen by Len Stechler and it beautifully captures the optimism they shared. Well into their eighties they were creating, dreaming and still working toward ideas that were not selfish. Ideas of understanding, like The Family of Man exhibit that took these two icons to what was then the Soviet Union in the midst of the Cold War. There they talked, they sang, they shared the ideas of common brotherhood of man.
Where are the Sandburgs and Steichens today? Who are the American icons of thought and courage in this time of global and national crisis to go beyond themselves?

I believe in this film and I believe that we must look to the past for some guidance through the storms of today. I wish you all the best this December and the courage to press on.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Critical moments in Carl Sandburg's youth

Making our fourth trip to Carl Sandburg's hometown, Galesburg Illinois, our production crew spent a few days shooting material for the film.

Click here is a nice write up with photos that appeared in the Galesburg newspaper

Sandburg worked hard as a boy. It was a different American that he grew up in, and yet driving the streets and farm roads around Galesburg you can sense some of the same things Sandburg must have felt. An urging. A desire in the eyes of the young folks there to jump a train and head east to Chicago or west to the huge unknown. When the time came Sandburg did both, but only after he had labored, read most every book he could get his hands on, played baseball, fell in love and learned what he needed to head out.

The critical moments in Sandburg's youth were many, but we re-created a few on the same streets and houses that Sandburg lived, and it felt 'real' it felt true.

The people and institutions of Galesburg (Knox College, The Sandburg Birthplace, Orpheum Theater just to name a few) have been great to us. The actors were wonderful, the costume and locations perfect. Thanks again for welcoming us and providing services and enthusiasm that is so important to making a film.

We are getting closer.

Filmmakers Evan Schafer, Neeley House and Paul Bonesteel at Sandburg's Birthplace in Galesburg Ill.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Sandburg film gets NEA grant

Filmmaker Receives Coveted NEA Grant

Bonesteel Films of Asheville has been notified by the National Endowment for the Arts, that Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, Inc. of Flat Rock, NC has been granted $25,000 to support post-production costs for a documentary film about writer Carl Sandburg. Intended for PBS's American Masters series, The Day Carl Sandburg Died examines the life and work of this Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

"It's a wonderful acknowledgment that Sandburg's work and amazing life story are of interest to the nation, as well as the years of work we've put into developing this project." Said the film's director, Paul Bonesteel

Since 2004 Bonesteel Films has been in planning and production on the film working while closely with Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, the non-profit support group for the The Carl Sandburg Home, a National Historic Site in Flat Rock.

Bonesteel plans for completion of the film this year, but additional funding is still needed. "The costs associated with finishing a film like this are extraordinary. With an icon like Sandburg, archival rights fees and other expenses are high, and while this grant is good news, much more funding is needed" said Bonesteel.

In addition, the films website has recently been updated and revised with a full cast listing. Click here to take a look.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Carl Sandburg might have cried

If I were writing Mr. Obama's inaugural address I'd have him quote Sandburg. What line? It could be any one of thousands... there are so many that speak to the optimism of the moment that it simply comes down to personal preference. The grand events of Obama's inauguration remind me of Sandburg's optimism for America. An optimism that was authentic. An optimism that was based in the American ideal that we could be better than we've been, that we can reinvent ourselves when needed. If there ever was that need, I think we're there.

Carl Sandburg would have loved Barack Obama. Carl Sandburg would have campaigned for Obama. He would have written poems for him and I have little doubt he might have cried on this day. They would be tears for the obvious and simple fact (that we will all come to take as ordinary from this day forward) that any American can become President of the United States.

As to the likelihood that President Obama will quote Sandburg on the most optimistic day of the past 8 or even 45 years? I can only hope. But if not, I think it's only a matter of time. In our research for this documentary we've identified that every U.S. president since Roosevelt (with the exception of Eisenhower and surprisingly, Jimmy Carter) have quoted Sandburg while in office. Obama would do well to look at the Sandburg we are making a film about. The one who wrote much more about struggle, repression and greed than he did about fog or Chicago. The one who died with an optimism for American that saw him, and our country, through world wars, the great depression and the darkness and paranoia of the cold war. To die at age 89 with what he wanted... "a child heart". That is no easy task. Could we all be so lucky?