TV/Media classes, an Introduction to Communication and Media Literacy class, and I co-teach an elective, The History of the Holocaust Through Film & Literature, a course I developed with my former colleague, Jennifer Goss. Before I got into teaching I spent 15 years working in the motion picture exhibition business and also worked in independent film production for the last 4 of those years. Film has always been a passion of mine.
In the summer of 2010 I had the opportunity to attend the Arthur and Rochelle Belfer "Next Step" Conference for Holocaust educators in Indianapolis, IN. While at this conference I met Frank. Frank is a Holocaust survivor with a truly extraordinary story of survival. I had listened to a handful of survivors speak before, but never heard anyone with an experience like Frank's or anyone that possessed his storytelling ability. When Frank was finished with his presentation we had the opportunity to eat dinner together and I asked him if anyone ever documented his story. To my surprise the answer was "no." Then the filmmaker inside me took over and the idea for what would become Misa's Fugue was born.
That evening I called Jen and told her Frank's story and my crazy idea of making a documentary film that would involve many different faculty members, departments in the high school, and current and former students. The rest, as they say, is history....
Our first task was to procure funding for the project. Jen has many connections within the Berks County Jewish community which has been very supportive of Holocaust education in our area. She made a few calls, the first of which was to Tammy Mitgang, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Reading. Tammy was extremely moved by Frank's story and by the commitment of students at FAHS to preserve this story. She was able to help us get together the initial funding necessary to travel to Indianapolis and also assisted us with other funding along the way. This project was truly "community built" and you can read more about those who donated here. You can also find information about how to help the project grow via this link.
Once the project was off the ground with our initial funding, our next task was to bring together a team of students and industry professionals who could keep the project moving forward. Many films that are made have a full-time staff of dozens of individuals who can sometimes take several years to assemble a finished feature length film. We planned to finish the project within 2 school years as the initial goal of a single school year proved to be unfeasible. The individuals who assisted with this project largely donated their time or worked for wages well below industry standard because they believed in making a difference in the lives of those involved with the project. You can read more about the team here.