During the winter of 2016, I was contacted by The Documentary Group about Midsummer in Newtown.  The film was in it's final stages of post production and the director, Lloyd Kramer and producer, Braden Bergen, were interested in exploring a few graphic treatments for archival photos and documents.  We set up an introductory phone call and after discussing the project, they sent me a cut of the film.
I went home that evening thinking I would scrub through the edit and only watch the bits where the placeholder images were.  I didn't expect was to be completely drawn in by a very thoughtful and incredibly well crafted film that really touched me.  This was absolutely a project that I wanted to contribute to and committed to bringing everything I had to the table.
Midsummer in Newtown premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 17th, 2016 and was named runner-up for the feature documentary Audience Award.
Watch the theatrical trailer for Midsummer in Newtown.
As with many documentaries, the challenge we faced was that so many of the archival photos were of varying quality and resolution.  Some were scans of printed photos that had become faded or scratched.  Others were pulled from online galleries and Facebook.  Newspaper clippings had become yellowed and frayed.
The memories and stories told during the film are very personal and the overarching goal was to treat the photos with respect and let the imagery tell the story.  I did some minor cleanup of scratches and basic color correction, while maintaining the integrity of the originals.  With the addition of a subtly textured backround and optical treatments, I brought the photos together into a cohesive space.
The following images are from a sequence where Jimmy and Nelba Greene, two parents in the film, share their very touching story of courtship and dreams of raising a family together.
It's impossible to tell the story of the Newtown community without focussing on the shooting at Sandy Hook.  Following a segment where parents share their memories of that day, waiting to hear if their children were safe, the film briefly presents a montage of newspaper headlines and news coverage.
The sources for the headlines were digital and relatively low resolution, and our decision was to give them a more textural and physical treatment.  Soft depth of field and a gentle camera move left the focus on the powerful words and imagery from the front page stories.
There is an unexpected moment during the latter part of the film where Adam Lanza is mentioned.  A question is raised about how to stop future catastrophies.  A connection is made between Lanza, a murderer who was once an innocent school boy not unlike the children who he shot.
There were several web sources that we felt could be appropriate for this sequence, but we faced an interesting challenge of being senstive to the message without presenting Lanza as a recluse or a "freak."
In addition, I edited the sources to remove distracting ads and stripped down the navigation and layout.  Translating web to film is always a challenge, especially so with the widescreen format used in Midsummer in Newtown.  The treatments here were focussed on creating a sense of placement, so the audience is aware of where they are and what they are looking at, without calling attention away from the imagery and headlines.

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