it's not exactly the entire 150-year history. It's a trailer for a feature-length documentary about Lake Forest called "Discovering Deerpath." The two-hour
film will premiere Nov. 15 at The Gorton Center. Click here to see the trailer.
Deerpath" is the brainchild of Richard Marra, a 10-year resident of
Lake Forest with no professional film experience. What he has is a strong desire to keep the city's stories alive. The documentary blends historical facts with present-day rituals, such as
Bagpipes & Bonfires, Lake Forest Day and the annual tree-lighting
"It's a concept of connecting history with children," Mr. Marra told GazeboNews.
"This town took 150 years to develop and we
owe a dept of gratitude to the people who started it, and to the people
who have continued the stewardship along the way. We need to make sure
it is this way 150 years from now."
Though his film experience does not extend beyond family movies–Mr. Marra is
managing director of an insurance-provider network–he
has wanted to produce a historical documentary for many years. The seed was planted 13 years ago at Lake Geneva Country Club, where
he met an 80-year-old employee who had
worked at the club for 66 years. "His name was Gabby–and for a
good reason," said Mr. Marra, who tried to convince the club's board to sit Gabby down with a camera, tripod and cocktail. But Gabby died
before anything was ever produced, and all of his stories died
with him. Mr. Marra still laments this fact.
Three years ago his interest in capturing history on tape was revived when he met an older man who has lived in Lake
Forest since 1952.
"One thing that captivated me was how his family is from all over the world, but when they came here–that was it. They fell in love with Lake Forest and have never left. … I remembered how upset I
was when Gabby died and no one had done anything. I would kick myself so
hard if that happened again. So I thought, I'll just do it myself."
Mr. Marra did much more than grab his Sony Handycam and take notes. He
studied the small genre of documentaries about other towns; gathered Lake Forest stories; and
devised a template for a film that would marry history with the
present and which could be used as a tool to motivate children to pick up the torch. He shopped his idea
to several producers, but none was interested. "I kept at it though,
and finally came across—through a cold call—a guy who totally got
it," he said. The guy is Jeremy Richter, co-owner of Richter Bros.
Productions in Chicago.
"I think what we are doing is unique and rare," said Mr.
Marra. "Nobody's done it to this extent. My only goal is
to do it for the town."
Mr. Marra funded the film himself with help from private
donations, which he is still seeking. E-mail him at [email protected]
to pitch in or buy tickets to the Nov. 15 "red carpet"
premiere at The Gorton Center.