A Theater's History: Standard-Examiner documentary marks a milestone for Peery's

Jul 9 2010 - 12:46am

Images

(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) Kera Williams poses for a portrait in Ogden on Wednesday after completing a video about Peery's Egyptian Theater.
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) Brad Gillman poses for a portrait in Ogden on Wednesday after completing a video about Peery's Egyptian Theater.
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) Kera Williams poses for a portrait in Ogden on Wednesday after completing a video about Peery's Egyptian Theater.
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) Brad Gillman poses for a portrait in Ogden on Wednesday after completing a video about Peery's Egyptian Theater.

OGDEN -- Kera Williams knows the janitors by name now.

"They come by about three o'clock (a.m.)" she said, laughing. There have been a lot of sleepless nights for her lately.

Williams' sleep is a casualty of days, weeks and months of work which she and Brad Gillman put into making a Standard-Examiner documentary about the Egyptian Theater.

Gillman, features reporter, said the video is a historical look at the Egyptian Theater, told by the people who lived it.

The process was begun in January when the two got together to discuss what story should be told and how. The video was commissioned by the Egyptian Theatre Foundation, which received a grant for the project.

What followed were more than 30 hours of interviews with people, extensive research into newspaper and video archives and old Egyptian Theatre Foundation newsletters to discover how the theater was built, why it was built and why it was important enough to save.

"Some people asked if I still worked here, because my byline was missing for a few weeks," Gillman said.

The project was not without challenges. Williams, documentary filmmaker and videographer for the Standard-Examiner, said they had so much information it was difficult to decide what to put in and what to cut out while still keeping the video interesting and coherent.

For Gillman it was hard to pry behind what people said to get what they really thought.

"We were trying not to get people's political answers but to get the emotion," he said.

"You felt like you scored a touchdown if you got someone to cry about a theater," Williams said.

"It's just a building. It's just concrete, and you can get someone to cry," Gillman added.

Those emotions show how vital the theater was and is to Ogden, he said.

Williams said she moved to the area six years ago and never knew what Ogden used to be like, so for her the project was an interesting lesson in the city's history as seen through the Egyptian.

Both were fascinated to see how the theater's birth, decline and rebirth jump-started the revitalization of Ogden.

Once the interviews and editing were over, Bryan Nielsen, graphic artist, stepped in to design the cover for the DVD.

He looked over the paper's photos of the Egyptian and found the ones he thought would work well as a cover. After that it was a process of creation and revision until they got the final product.

Watching the reactions of editors and of viewers at tonight's sneak peak is worth all the work, Williams said. The finished product is the reward.

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