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“Legacy in Crafting: New England’s Story”

Legacy in Crafting; New England’s Story is a symbiotic tale, a journey that weaves through and amongst the hands and hearts of modern heritage crafters as they maintain the traditional fabric of New England craft work, integral to our American cultural heritage and the regional identity of New Englanders.

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A heritage craft is more than just a functional object; it tells a story. Looking at a basket, you see the hands that created it and carried it, the natural materials of the land that shaped it, and details of everyday life that made it necessary. Within the form and material of our heritage crafts lie stories of who we are, where we came from, and the history of our region. This documentary tells the story of New England by examining the necessities crafted by the inhabitants of this region (shelter, clothing, tools, transportation, art) through poignant interviews and expert insights from local archeologists, historians and crafters still using traditional design and technique.

The underlying notions of this documentary are: 1) Heritage Craft is valuable and part of the identity of our culture.  2) The study of crafts is important to understand how we came from the past to the present. 3) Heritage Craft is valuable and necessary to preserve into the future.

Among the questions raised and examined in this documentary are: What are the heritage crafts of New England? Do geology, biogeography, anthropology, or political boundaries determine where these crafts are found? How do local crafts differ from other forms of art? What shape and form of craft was born from New England’s local resources? What crafts began with the earliest human inhabitants of the region?  How did it evolve to and through European Colonists? How does natural landscape shape craft and early industry?  What other influences created our crafting traditions? What are issues affecting the sustainability of regional heritage craft?  What crafts are endangered and critically endangered? How do we safeguard our heritage crafts? 

Emotions of loss and preservation are the powerful central themes of this project, resonating deeply with our shared humanity. As the artifacts – physical remnants of past civilizations – are unearthed they whisper, ‘I existed, I lived.’ Each cherished item crafted by a loved one becomes a tangible link to their memory, offering solace and connection across generations. Through craft we transcend our own mortality, weaving a legacy that embraces the past while nurturing the future, as the warmth of ancestral creations continues to comfort and sustain us.

Living life as a heritage crafter means constantly reinventing and recalibrating to survive. Whether that’s repurposing spaces for specialized workshops; using and modifying machines from the 1800s – literally inventing and manufacturing parts to keep them working, finding functional equivalences for materials no longer available (such as wood from trees near extinction, or animal products that we no longer tolerate killing to acquire) –  there is resilience that cannot be defeated. They are heritage keepers, sustainability promoters, survival hustlers, and dedicated mentors and leaders. They link us to our past, our present, and may be the key to our planet’s future.

The documentary embraces the Heritage Crafts Association’s definition of the notion “Heritage  Craft” as, “a practice which employs manual dexterity and skill with an understanding of traditional materials, function, design and techniques, which has been practiced for two or more successive generations.”  however, acknowledges the complexities and interpretations surrounding the term. Many traditional crafters cringe at the term “Craft” due to its co-oping from the DIY and hobbyist sector. The documentary delves into why this word holds significance and how craftspeople differentiate themselves within various contexts and invites discourse on potential redefinition and new terminology.

Fiscal Sponsorship provided by Arts Alive

Help us bring this important story to life by making a generous contribution towards our documentary project. Every donation counts and will have a significant impact, enabling us to tell a compelling story that provokes thoughtful conversations and sparks change.

Fiscally sponsored by Arts Alive!, your donation is tax deductible. 

 

Filmmaker's Statement

As an Independent Producer, Director and Shooter, I spent 15 years working and living in Los Angeles, CA before moving back to my native New England. My start as an independent producer and director began in professional theater, mounting everything from Absurdist Theater to Opera. Moving out west to pursue a career in media, I started working in TV soon after moving to LA, landing a job at Michael Ovitz’s Artist Management Group in the TV production department where I worked on several multi-camera sitcoms for NBC and UPN. This eventually led to a career as a Casting and Story Producer specializing in docudrama and reality, working on hit shows such as “The Biggest Loser”, “Kid Nation”, “Billy the Exterminator” and most recently “Finding Bigfoot”. The list of network clients include NBC, CBS, A&E, CW, Animal Planet, and FOX in addition to many others. While in LA, I made over seven independently produced short films (16mm) and worked as a director for Hollywood’s renowned Theater of Note, Sacred Fools, Theatre Unleashed and Eclectic Company Theater.

Now home on the East Coast I develop and create content that tells the stories of my native New England. Currently specializing in short form documentaries, I help create an online presence for charitable, innovative and inspirational organizations. As an independent documentarian I’m drawn to the small but poignant stories found in people and the community at large. I believe in the power of inspiration. Stories that show people taking charge of their own life and making a difference, matter. Through focusing attention on grassroots initiatives, innovative technologies, environmentally responsible practices, and on local sustainable farms, we learn how to rebuild our communities, our home and spiritual centers, and heal our planet.

My passion as an artist involves taking a visceral approach to filmmaking and storytelling. I was required to take a formulaic approach during my years in television.  It was one of the reasons I ventured out on my own.  I needed to get back into my flow, freeing myself, letting go of the formulas: being able to be in the moment as an artist and immerse myself in the creative process.

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