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Danvers retiree documents North Shore in community films

Posted by Marjorie Nesin  March 11, 2011 12:00 PM

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Jesse Poole photo

Dan Tremblay outside the Hollywood Hits theater in Danvers.

By Jesse Poole, Globe Correspondent

For some, retirement means travel or staying put. For others it means the beach in Florida, but for Dan Tremblay, 64, of Danvers it means making local documentaries. Over the past 35 years Tremblay has produced more than a dozen films about local history, events and even ghosts.  
 
“My documentaries are all about life in this area,” said Tremblay. “I’m a stickler for detail. The subject matter of my documentaries ranges from maritime stories to colonial history to human interest topics.”
 
Tremblay rents a single theater at Hollywood Hits in Danvers every Tuesday and Thursday from Noon to 1:30p.m. to show his films, some of which took up to four years for him to film, edit, and produce.  
 
“We are an independently owned theater, and films and events such as Dan’s are what can distinguish us from larger chains,” said Scott Przyeycien, manager of Hollywood Hits.  “We feel that it is important to highlight the work of local filmmakers.”
 
Tremblay also shows his films in area libraries. On March 13 at the Beverly Library, he’ll screen “Day at a Country Fair” about the Topsfield Fair, as well as “Schoonermen,” his film that focuses on crew and fishing in Gloucester. On March 27, his films, “Revere Beach: A Look Back” and “Old Automobiles made in Essex County” will be shown at Danvers Peabody Institute Library.
 
He shows four documentaries a week at the various locations and then stays for a discussion after with the audiences. Each film runs about 30 minutes.
 
Tremblay says he makes and shows the films for various reasons. “Educating the audience is important as well as the enjoyment of telling a good story,” he said.
 
After serving in the military and retiring as a state health officer, Tremblay launched his film organization, Heritage Films, in order to document local stories and show them on the big screen. He won an achievement award from the Cape Ann History Society for his documentary “Gloucestermen,” which is about the history of fishermen off the coast of Cape Ann and features authentic archival footage.
 
“Video is a great way to record history,” said Ann Savage, secretary of the office of the Topsfield Fair. “And it’s very important that someone like Dan does it because he does a good job with it. He makes a good record of events and very comprehensive movies.”
 
Tremblay thinks films produced in Hollywood may have better advertising, but he is creating a different, more innovative theater experience and hopes to make it more personal by being there and encouraging discussion afterwards.
 
“I love to see the audience enchanted by the films,” said Tremblay. “It’s encouraging to see that there’s a market – a hunger out there in the public – for good wholesome storytelling without the need for glitz, sex and violence.”
 
In the coming weeks, seniors from the Council on Aging of Beverly and the Council on Aging of Salem will also visit Hollywood Hits to view Tremblay’s films.
 
“It's important to show the history and events of the North Shore (in these films),” Przyeycien said.
 
Tremblay couldn’t be happier. “It’s what I love to do, engaging people in good storytelling,” he said.

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and the Gordon College News Service.

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