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Group seeks help in finding final production items for documentary

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By John Barnhart

The Johnson Group, a film production company doing a documentary on Bedford, has entered the final stage of its project.

According to Joe Fab, The Johnson Group's vice president, work began on the documentary in 2005. One of the first things the group filmed was the Civil War street battle held that summer. After spending two years gathering more than 100 hours of video, the company is now in post-production. That involves turning this into a 90 minute film. Fab said that this target is chosen because it is the amount of time that the group can expect to keep an audience engaged.

Fab said that the company didn't script the documentary in advance. All just went into the project with the idea of linking Bedford's World War II story with the present.

"The contemporary part is really, really important," he said. "It's a continuing part of who they are."

The script was written after the group finished its research. The idea was to make the script fit the facts, rather than make the facts fit a pre-written script. This means that the script is subject to change, and in fact has been changed, as issues that they hadn't noticed before come out during the video editing process.

"It comes from the people," Fab commented.

Telling Bedford's continuing story wrapped up in August when the filmmakers followed a young man, a new member of Alpha Company, who had been called up to active duty.

"We looked at him as a representative of the latest generation of continuing service," Fab said.

According to Fab, the video is neither pro- or anti-war.

"We take no position," he said.

Post-production involves getting the film in order and doing color correction, something that is needed because different cameras were used for shooting and they want make sure that everything looks like it belongs together. The filmmakers clean up the audio with the same goal in mind. Cleaning up the audio mix also eliminates distracting background sounds during interviews. The group had an original musical score written and this will be applied during post production.

A little computer magic will be applied to some photos during this time. Fab said that there is a relatively new process, that has not yet seen wide use, that allows them to digitally process a still photo to produce three layers, allowing them to separate the foreground of the photo from the mid-ground and background. This allows the filmmakers to give it a better three-dimensional feel. They can blur a distracting background, giving the impression of a photo shot with shallow depth of field. If there are clouds in the sky, they can set the sky in motion.

"All of that adds up to a pretty long post-production process," Fab said.

They expect to have the finished product ready sometime in the spring and will schedule a screening in Bedford.

"It means a lot to us to share with the people of Bedford," Fab said.

They still have a few final elements they would like to gather to fill in the documentary's visual story. Amy Jones, of The Johnson Group, will be in Bedford next week to look for items such as newspapers, posters, flyers and photos from family albums. They would love it if they could find motion picture footage. The material they are looking for would come from the mid-1930s until the mid-'40s.

The subjects of these would be baseball games, bowling, dances, movie theaters, newsstands, anything related to the National Guard and military recruiting, daily life at home or on farms, churches and church activities, working life, local industry, schools and classroom scenes, rationing, volunteerism, bond and stamp campaigns, victory gardens, scrap drives, working women, the old Bedford hospital, Green's Drugstore and period landmarks and Elizabeth Teass' telegraph office.

Fab said that this material will contribute to a permanent visual record of the Bedford area.

People who have something of interest may contact Jones by phone at (703) 728-4366 or by e-mail at ajones@thejgroup.com.