Thursday, March 10, 2011

Local Danvers Retiree Documents North Shore in Community Films

By Jesse Poole
Gordon College News Service
(This story appeared March 11 in the Boston Globe, Danvers, and March 14 in The Salem News.)

DANVERS, MA – For some, retirement means travel or staying put. For others it means the beach in Florida, but for Dan Tremblay, 64, of Danvers it means making local documentaries. Over the past 35 years Tremblay has produced over a dozen films about local history, events and even ghosts. 

“My documentaries are all about life in this area,” said Tremblay. “I’m a stickler for detail. The subject matter of my documentaries ranges from maritime stories to colonial history to human interest topics.”

Tremblay rents a single theater at Hollywood Hits in Danvers every Tuesday and Thursday from Noon to 1:30p.m. to show his films, some of which took up to four years for him to film, edit, and produce. 

“We are an independently owned theatre, and films and events such as Dan’s are what can distinguish us from larger chains,” said Scott Przyeycien, manager of Hollywood Hits.  “We feel that it is important to highlight the work of local filmmakers.”

But Tremblay also shows his films in area libraries and on March 13that the Beverly Library, he’ll screen “Day at a Country Fair” about the Topsfield Fair as well as  “Schoonermen,” his film that focuses on crew and fishing in Gloucester. On March 27th, his films, “Revere Beach: A Look Back” and “Old Automobiles made in Essex County” will be shown at Danvers Peabody Institute Library.

He shows four documentaries a week at the various locations and
then stays for a discussion after with the audiences. Each film runs about 30 minutes.

Tremblay says he makes and shows the films for various reasons. “Educating the audience is important as well as the enjoyment of telling a good story,” he said.

After serving in the military and retiring as a state health officer, Tremblay launched his film organization, Heritage Films, in order to document local stories and show them on the big screen. He won an achievement award from the Cape Ann History Society for his documentary “Gloucestermen,” which is about the history of fishermen off the coast of Cape Ann and features authentic archival footage.

“Video is a great way to record history,” said Ann Savage, secretary of the office of the Topsfield Fair. “And it’s very important that someone like Dan does it because he does a good job with it. He makes a good record of events and very comprehensive movies.”

He thinks films produced in Hollywood may have better advertising, but he is creating a different, more innovative theater experience and hopes to make it more personal by being there personally and encouraging discussion afterwards.

“I love to see the audience enchanted by the films,” said Tremblay. “It’s encouraging to see that there’s a market – a hunger out there in the public – for good wholesome storytelling without the need for glitz, sex and violence.”

In the coming weeks, seniors from the Council of Aging of Beverly and the Council of Aging of Salem will also visit Hollywood Hits to view Tremblay’s films. And with hopes of entering a film in next year’s Salem Film Festival, Tremblay is currently satisfied with meeting his audience and talking about his films.

“It's important to show the history and events of the North Shore (in these films),” Przyeycien said.

Tremblay couldn’t be happier. “It’s what I love to do, engaging people in good storytelling,” he said.


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