Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD — The members of Fair Field Productions are putting the finishing touches on their fourth documentary, and have begun filming their fifth.
The production company has set out a goal of producing eight feature-length educational films about Fairfield and Jefferson County, and it’s about to reach the halfway mark. Producer and director Dick DeAngelis said the fourth film in the Fairfield History Series will be called “Ahead of Their Time” and will be about the town’s out-of-the-box thinkers, movers and shakers, and stories from early inventors to modern-day industry leaders.
DeAngelis said the release of the film has been delayed due to the pandemic and the difficulty of conducting interviews, but also due to his decision to postpone fundraising.
“We decided not to do fundraising [during the pandemic] because there was so much pressure on the economy,” DeAngelis said, who added that he’s ready to fundraise now that the economy has “started to breathe again.”
One of the neat graphics audiences will notice in “Ahead of Their Time” is a series of painted pictures of civil rights advocate James Yancy. DeAngelis commissioned those paintings specifically for this film, and the film’s editor used a technique to make the paintings appear three dimensional in the documentary.
DeAngelis said the production company used three or four artists and more than 10 musicians in “Ahead of Their Time.” One of the artists was Mark Shafer, who painted a picture of the giant light tower that once stood in downtown Fairfield from 1882-1910. In fact, DeAngelis liked this painting so much he is using it on the poster advertising the film.
“Ahead of Their Time” is tentatively slated to be released in March 2022.
DeAngelis said the production staff have taken a little less money for this film, including him, but they still have labor costs that must be covered. For instance, he mentioned that the skilled professionals working on the film, such as editors and animators, have to be paid.
Grants typically cover about half the cost of the documentary, and donations cover the other half. DeAngelis mentioned that fundraising will be key for the next film in the series, which is about Parsons College, which called Fairfield home from 1875-1973. Since that film will require so much work researching old films and converting them to a digital format, it will cost more than the other documentaries, $60,000 instead of $50,000.
“Ken Burns’s films cost millions of dollars because archival work is expensive,” DeAngelis said.
Parsons College alum Dave Neff dropped off five boxes of films of the college’s football games, which DeAngelis said he is excited to review. DeAngelis said he’s looking forward to interviewing a 103-year-old woman in Keosauqua, who has photos of the college and lots of stories to share.
“We’re open to anyone who wants to share photos or film [of Parsons College],” DeAngelis said. “Those shots of the campus are priceless.”
The Parsons College documentary is planned for release in March 2023. Fair Field Productions learned in October it had received a $10,000 grant from Humanities Iowa for the film. That, combined with grants from the Greater Jefferson County Foundation and Fairfield’s local-option sales tax amounts to $34,000, so the production team still needs to raise $26,000 from the community.
Those interested in donating to the film series can make checks payable to Fair Field Productions at 405 S. Third St. in Fairfield, IA 52556. Donations can also be done online at www.fairfieldhistoryseries.com.