We've made numerous films over our careers, but we keep coming back to our home, the Pacific Northwest, for some of our best material. Besides Witness to Revolution, here are some of the more notable films we've made on the Pacific Northwest.
PASSING THE TORCH: The Building of Fort Lewis
Stourwater Pictures was extremely pleased to team with AECOM to produce a documentary film on the history of Fort Lewis, near Tacoma, Washington. The compelling story of this military post's development from 1916 to 1939 provides insights on the Army's tumultuous journey from an organization dependent on horses and mules to a modern mechanized force prepared to take on the enormous challenges of World War II. The film was part of an effort to protect and mitigate the loss of historical resources in the Fort Lewis Garrison Historic District by increasing awareness and appreciation of historical and cultural resources through research, education, and interpretation; and improving public access to information via a website and our engaging documentary film.
Stourwater's Lucy Ostrander teamed with filmmaker Nancy Bourne Haley to produce and direct a historical documentary on the life of Thea Foss. Shot and edited by Don Sellers, the film was completed in August, 2006, and made its theatrical premier at the Port Townsend Film Festival a month later.
Thea Foss's name adorns many buildings and public places in Tacoma, Washington, but few residents know her history. Perhaps that's not surprising: most of Thea Foss's life was similar to that of many immigrants. She joined a mass migration from Scandanavia to America in the late 1800s, lured by the opportunities in a land rapidly expanding to the west. She first settled with her husband in Minnesota, but affluence eluded them, the winters were hard, and they longed for the sea. They rode the newly completed Northern Pacific Railroad to its western terminus, the port of Tacoma, which was exploding with development. There they finally hit upon a promising enterprise - building boats to serve the important and expanding maritime infrastructure of Puget Sound. Captained by Thea, their small company grew; after her death the business became one of the largest tugboat companies on the West Coast - and Thea was used by a local writer as the inspiration for the character Tugboat Annie.
Using Thea's diary, historical texts, and interviews with academics and family members, the filmmakers developed the story of an immigrant, who, through hard work and creative enterprise fought hardship and personal loss to realize the American Dream. Thorough research into archival stills and footage unearthed some visual gems: early footage of Puget Sound shot by the Ford Motor Company, large format prints of period ships and tugboats, precious family photographs of early Tacoma. With narration and the Scandanavian music of Hale Bill and the Bopps, the filmmakers wove a rich and intricate portrait of this early Tacoma pioneer.
You can find out more about Finding Thea at http://findingthea.com.
BAINBRIDGE ISLAND HISTORY
IslandWood, an environmental learning center based on Bainbridge Island, asked Stourwater to produce a trio of historical documentaries that would explore the rich cultural diversity that made Bainbridge Island unique.
Port Blakely - Memories of a Mill Town
This short historical documentary depicts the rise and fall of the largest sawmill in the world and how its legacy affects Bainbridge Island, Washington. At the turn of the 20th century, Port Blakely and its sawmill were better known than Seattle. This raw seaport and mill attracted immigrants from all over the world who were searching for a job and a better life in America. Stories and memories recalled by former residents and relatives reveal the surprising histories of the Native American, Scandinavian and Japanese communities that once thrived alongside each other in this bustling town. Click here to see a clip of the movie.
The Red Pines
This companion piece portrays the struggle of Japanese-American immigrants on Bainbridge Island, Washington, and the legacy of their culture in the present-day community. From the story of Zenhichi Harui, a Japanese immigrant who came to Bainbridge Island in 1908, to the present day nursery business run by his son, Junkoh, the film traces the obstacles overcome by the Japanese pioneers and their families. Bainbridge Island represented a unique opportunity for the Japanese immigrants, with a multicultural community that tolerated diversity. Even so, from the laws preventing Asians from purchasing land to the internment during World War II, the Japanese-Americans had to exert an extraordinary amount of spirit and hard work to prosper. Click here to view a clip of the movie.
This film, the third in the Bainbridge Island history series commissioned by IslandWood,focuses on the Filipino pioneers who emigrated to the United States and subsequently to Bainbridge Island in the 1920s and 30s. They came to Bainbridge Island to work the land, mostly on Japanese-American owned strawberry farms. This film depicts the story of immigrants who struggled to achieve the American Dream. It is the story of their relationship not only with other Island residents, but in particular to the Japanese-American farmers and Canadian First Nation migrant workers, many of whom married the Filipino bachelors. It is the story of the land, and how the Filipino community became its stewards during World War II.