This 350th Anniversary of the establishment of Suffield was an opportunity to create an educational and inspirational film reflecting on events of the past and present and preparations for the future. A film company, Our Town Films of New Jersey, was hired to achieve this task with the help of members of Suffield’s 350th Committee. Kacy Colston, committee chairman, took on the responsibility to write grant requests to cover the cost of the project. I coordinated the visits of the film crew and was the point person in Suffield for the project. Paul Sanderson, film director, grew up in Suffield, named his film company thinking of Suffield, and was the impassioned creator of this portrayal of Our Town, The Story of Suffield, Connecticut.
Sanderson came to Suffield to film and conduct interviews on five occasions. The first was Memorial Day weekend 2019, when he met with several senior citizens who had an important impact on Suffield, and to capture the Memorial Day parade. The second was Labor Day Weekend 2019 to film Farmfest at Hilltop Farm and capture the harvesting of tobacco. The third visit was the weekend of Suffield on the Green 2019, when more interviews were conducted. An October 2019 visit recorded fall scenes of the changing foliage both from the ground and by drone. With the goals of filming Suffield in four seasons, the film crew anticipated returning in the winter, but 2019 did not cooperate and offered a dry winter. Luckily, there was archival footage of snow in Suffield from a video Sanderson produced twenty years earlier that could be used. Final interviews were conducted February 23-24, 2020, just weeks before the country locked down as a result of the COVD-19 pandemic.
The film team hunkered down during the pandemic for the production phase. Sanderson told the story of Suffield using the content of the interviews, historical photos, and his beautiful shots depicting the four seasons of Suffield. The 26-minute film that resulted is engaging, authentic, informational, and inspiring.
Our Town makes its debut as part of the planned Commemoration Program on October 12, 2020. A post-viewing event will take place once restrictions caused by the pandemic have loosened and the high school auditorium is available. Copies of the documentary will be available. It is hoped that Suffield Public Schools will use the film as an educational piece. Realtors and the Chamber of Commerce can use this film to show the character and beauty of Suffield to potential residents and businesses. The two-minute introduction of the film will be posted on the town website as a teaser. It is hoped that CPTV will pick up Our Town as an example of the history and beauty of one of Connecticut’s historical towns.