Hello from the Director of SLATERSVILLE!! I appreciate ALL of the support we have received through the years for this film. At this time, we are making amazing progress, and we remain on course for premiering what will be at least an 8-hour series on Rhode Island PBS in the Fall of 2022. With the preview screenings we've been holding both virtually and in special locations since 2019, we are coming up on our 9th screening event on September 3 and 4 at the Museum of Work & Culture in Woonsocket, RI, and our 10th on October 13th at Old Slater Mill Museum, as the opening night event for the 13th annual SENE Film Music and Arts Festival. More have been scheduled and will be announced into the fall of this year.
Because I am the film's director, producer, editor, narrator and co-writer, SLATERSVILLE is dependent upon the assistance of those who have worked with us for years. I update whenever I can, and newsletters are sent out whenever necessary. The editing workload and deadlines we are meeting to complete this work are fierce. Therefore, there are only so many places we can post updates on social media. While we continue to use this gofundme page successfully, I tend to lapse as far as posting updates here is concerned. Therefore, if you would like to receive our regular updates, it's much easier for us if you follow us on our facebook page and/or sign up for our newsletter at firstmillvillage.com. If you can do that, it would be greatly appreciated.
Meanwhile, here is our event page for September 3 and 4. Hope to see you there! Thank you =)
Christian de Rezendes
OCTOBER 2019 UPDATE:
We are proud to present our SLATERSVILLE-In-Progress Screening Tour. For a full schedule of the tour and updates visit www.facebook.com/slatersvilleamericasfirstmillvillage. There you will also find a recent article from the Valley Breeze.
MAY 2019 UPDATE:
We have been working on this film for 8 years now. Our goal is to premiere SLATERSVILLE as a historical documentary series in 2021, which will be the 150th anniversary of the Town of North Smithfield. Any donation that can help us complete this massive film is welcome. For more information you can visit www.firstmillvillage.com or email [email redacted]. Thank you!! More to come...
Christian de Rezendes
JUNE 2017 UPDATE:
It is with a great sense of accomplishment that we present to you the third video update for SLATERSVILLE: AMERICA’S FIRST MILL VILLAGE, our documentary that has officially been in production for 5 ½ years.
At the start of production, we were strongly advised that no RI grant panel would ever take a feature length documentary about SLATERSVILLE seriously. That was back in the summer of 2011. So we applied for a short with full intentions to get the movie going and later return to fund a feature.
Much to my surprise, the scope of the film grew well beyond what we ever thought we would ever find. What we discovered made for a great American story about our nation’s first industrialized mill village. This was never more true then in the summer of 2015, when we were given a ton of almost discarded 8mm footage from my former neighbor’s house, an unpublished biography on H.P. Kendall, century old Providence Journal articles and personal letters from within the Slater family that had been sealed for at least seven decades and never before shared with historians.
We had a real story, and we could justify making not only a feature but also a two-part documentary. Plus we had the generous help of history professor Dr. John Parrillo, then with Roger Williams University, who guided our production in searching for letters in archives throughout the region.
As a filmmaker and lover of history, I thought if I’m going to have one opportunity to make this film, I’m going to do it right. The late Oscar-winning Director Jonathan Demme, a filmmaker of both narratives (Silence of the Lambs) and documentaries, once said, “With features, you’re looking for the reality. In documentaries, you’re looking for the drama.” After discovering all of these findings, we knew we had our drama.
Add to this the filming of interviews with 96 people, 12 of whom have since passed away. Among the subjects are at least eight historians, the many architects responsible for saving the Slatersville Mill, and those with strong personal connections to the village. We have worked with several interns through Rhode Island College, and Roger Williams University history majors who transcribed old letters. We have also been fortunate to work with several volunteers who have helped us in production, aerial cinematography and research.
So in 5 ½ years we went from hearing “No one will ever fund more than a 30-minute documentary on SLATERSVILLE” to being able to justify a two-part historical record that could run a total of four hours and span over 200 years, a project that has received financial support from across the U.S. and internationally from people as far away as Australia. Not bad.
Then in 2016 we were awarded a Rhode Island Foundation Centennial Community grant for $15,000. This was our largest grant received to date, and it proved to be a tremendous push forward in our progress. We were able to travel south for filming, pay for film transfers and photos scans, totally redo our website and do some much needed editing work, and we remain truly grateful to the Rhode Island Foundation for their support of SLATERSVILLE.
This period culminated with the filming of an interview with David Macaulay, Author/Illustrator of “Mill” which was partly inspired by Slatersville. Adding Mr. Macaulay to our film was a huge bonus on so many levels. His artistry along with his deep awareness and appreciation for mill village history will prove to be a remarkable component to the finished work.
In addition, we have received a total of $6,500 from Slater descendant Sharon Fox-Slater and Alan Bishop of Australia, and at the start of 2017, we received a $5,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington DC. So SLATERSVILLE has clearly found a global reach.
I love history, and it’s a great honor to be creating such a project. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with folks who want to share information (photo, film or otherwise) and start off by saying, “This probably won’t be worth anything to you, but here you go.” Most of those exchanges end up leading to amazing discoveries that I end up incorporating into this large canvas, for they become crucial pieces in the making of a huge puzzle that very few people can appreciate unless the know the whole story.
In 5 ½ years I have met and gotten to know people I never would have met otherwise. They all serve as emotional pieces in that puzzle. My moments with them may have been brief, but in the case of those who have passed away, I have also gotten to know their surviving family members in many cases. They have given me the task of carrying their words forward, and I intend to see it through to the best of my ability.
SLATERSVILLE will have a reach well beyond Rhode Island and into other parts of the world. It will connect locations, stories and ideas across a wide canvas. Eventually, in addition to being on blu-ray, the film will be available for streaming – like my last feature documentary, Raising Matty Christian, which is now available on Amazon Prime. I can see that people as far away as Germany and Japan have watched it. It won’t just be shown in classrooms, down at the local library or in your Greene Street living room. The world will be watching this and learning about the first industrialized mill village in the United States. It has the potential of increasing interest and creating a new appreciation through both entertainment and education.
Until then, however, these are the things that remain on my TO-DO LIST that need funding:
1. EDITING - Funding the time and support to do the massive amount of work that is needed is first and foremost.
2. Casting and Recording of several ACTORS VOICING personal letters written by historic figures in our story.
3. Securing rights for uses of PHOTOS and LETTERS with certain libraries and archives when we know for sure what we are definitely using in the finished film.
4. Securing rights to OLD NEWSREEL FOOTAGE from the 1940’s when we also know for sure how much of that we will need to use.
5. Filming at STURBRIDGE VILLAGE for period images.
6. Creating ANIMATION sequences for special sections of the film. Not cartoons, but graphics that show layouts, water travel and family trees.
7. More filming of LOCATION and AERIAL shots at key locations throughout the New England.
8. Creation of a MUSICAL SCORE with a Composer or Musician(s) in a compilation.
9. Doing a final SOUND MIX and COLOR CORRECTION where needed.
So I invite you to view our latest update and thank you video. You can donate through this page, or you can make a tax-deductible donation through our non-profit sponsor SENE, the Southeast New England Film Music and Arts Festival.
In closing, I am truly grateful for the support we have received and for the production consultants, interns and volunteers who have passionately given of themselves to this historic endeavor. Despite our many challenges, this process has been a gift. Every individual donation or word of support has made my day, and I am always available to answer your questions.
Meanwhile, enjoy our videos.
This is our NEW June 2017 Trailer: https://vimeo.com/221037786
This is our NEW Thank You video to all who have supported us: https://vimeo.com/220802775
This is our OLD December 2015 Trailer (in case you need to catch up):
Thank you so very much!!
Christian de Rezendes
Director/Producer/Editor, SLATERSVILLE: AMERICA’S FIRST MILL VILLAGE
Founder, BREAKING BRANCHES PICTURES
DECEMBER 2015 UPDATE:
In 2012 we set out to make a very special film – a documentary about the little known two-hundred-year-history about the first mill village in the United States, a place called Slatersville.
PHOTO: Slatersville Finishing Company in the mid 1940's. Courtesy Cynthia Jones.
Over the past four years, numerous obstacles that have slowed us down. However, even with these set backs we have made great strides to accomplish our goal of telling this wonderful story. If you’ve volunteered, supported this project or donated to it, we owe you this update.
Here are some highlights of interest:
1. To date we have scanned over 5,000 images that tell the story of Slatersville, including privately owned photos, rarely seen articles, letters between the Slaters and several historic characters.
PHOTO: Slater family and friends pose for a photograph outside the Slater Mansion in 1901. The mansion was later abandoned and torn down around World War II.
Photo courtesy Clouds Hill Victorian House and Museum.
2. We’ve discovered 8mm films that have been found in peoples’ closets and basements that contain images from as far back at the 1930’s. Here’s a peak!
PHOTOS: Stills from moving 8mm films shot by Henry Stone in the late 1930's and early 40's. The top image was filmed at Carl Christiansen's Upper Pond, while the lower is that of Green Street during a 1940 Memorial Day Parade in front of Kendall-Dean School. Very special thanks to the Stone Family and Lee Beauregard.
3. We have been granted access to filming at Clouds Hill Victorian House and Museum, an incredible structure built by William S. Slater in the 1870’s. This is Curator Wayne Cabral being interviewed.
It was there that we interviewed Slater descendants Anne Holst and George Waterman III, who have allowed us to use items never before seen by the public! Some are emotional letters from Slater descendants from as far back as the 1850’s. Being given the opportunity to work with this material in the making of the film will bring the story of Slatersville to life in a way we had not thought possible at the start of this project!
PHOTO (left to right): Slater descendant Anne Holst, Curator Wayne Cabral, Project Consultant John Parrillo, Photographer Adam Hutchins, PC Intern Victoria Virtue (lower left) and Director Christian de Rezendes (bottom) at Clouds Hill.
PHOTO: Slater descendant George Waterman III being interviewed for "Slatersville" at Clouds Hill in June of 2015.
IMAGE: A portion from one of the hundreds of diary index cards written by Rufus Waterman, a Slater cousin, who worked in Slatersville from 1892 through the early 1900's. His documentation of life and activities within the Slater family and their mill management will serve as an incredible tool of insight in the crafting of our story. This information not been seen by historians. The Tabor he refers to is Lulu Tabor, a theatrical performer, who was related to the Tabor family of Slatersville. According to Rufus's cards, Lulu visited John Whipple Slater regularly at the Slater Mansion.
Courtesy George Waterman III.
4. This year we began working with a second Project Consultant, Dr. John Parrillo, who has helped us in tracking down letters in the archives of Brown University and Old Slater Mill.
Dr. John Parrillo of Roger Williams University
Through John, we began to work with the History Department at Roger Williams University, where History majors are busy transcribing letters going as far back as 1808. This is RWU History major Nataliya Murphy working with John.
PHOTO: RWU History Major Nataliya Murphy discusses the transcribing of a letter with Dr. Parrillo.
This work will prove to be a big help to our production, because…
5. Voices will bring them to life. For example, this is John Farmer of Derbyshire, England. He will be reading the writings of Samuel Slater.
And this is Brad Kirton reading the words of Rufus Waterman, a cousin of the Slater family, from a letter written in 1900.
6. Over the course of our findings, it’s become increasingly clear that we have a unique window into the story that built America’s first mill village across two centuries. So much so, we decided that Slatersville should presented be in two parts. This is the storyboard in my studio:
Part 1 will begin during the 1790’s and cover the era of Slater family ownership.
Part 2 will pick up in 1915 with the purchase of Slatersville by Henry P. Kendall all the way through to the mill’s restoration and the approved Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park.
There’s two Centuries of story to reveal, and there are two distinctive story arcs. So dividing it in half this way will allow us the space to make the best film possible.
7. THE WORK AHEAD
So what’s left to do?
First, we have a ton of editing to do in a sculpting of this groundbreaking film. We still have research to do at Harvard University, UCONN and the UK, where more details are waiting to be discovered.
We keep editing…
We want to film an important table discussion amongst Slater descendants as they discuss what lead to their family leaving the village. We have additional filming at Old Slater Mill as well as key locations in Connecticut, South Carolina and England.
We still keep editing…
We must purchase stock footage from the 1940’s, and cover other aspects of production such as film transfers, animation, musical score, final sound mix and more!
And still, more editing!!
8. Finally, it has been a joy to get to know so many people we’ve interviewed. Over the years, we’ve interviewed 71 subjects for Slatersville – They have been lifelong residents, historians and those who played a role in its restoration. Three of them were filmed as far back as 2005.
To date, 8 of our 71 subjects have passed away – Clarence Arsenault, Lillian Cabral, Tom Mundy, Barbara Warrington, Alan Hurd, Rick Greenwood, Mildred Rennie and Maria Piette. Each one of their contributions to this story have been invaluable, and I’m proud to have them remembered in this film. So the timing of capturing all of this has meant everything.
9. I am also very grateful to the many production volunteers we’ve had on Slatersville – Great people from North Smithfield as well as interns from Rhode Island College and Providence College. Their work has played a significant role in moving this project forward.
PHOTO: RI College student David Posman scans images prepped by Anne Holst and John Parrillo behind him.
People like Photographer Adam Hutchins, Filmmaker Indrayudh Shome, Interviewers Eric Piette, John Joseph Gomes and Ellen Fishman as well as interns Kassandra Lima, David Posman, Victoria Virtue, Dayle Decker, Ryan Gill, Leigh Christiensen and Christopher Beauregard.
PHOTO: Philip Kolupaev is filmed on Ridge Road with John Gomes interviewing.
PHOTO: Interview subject Armand DeVaudreuil waiting as we set up.
PHOTO: Brother and Sister Derek Stanley and Pamela McCaslin return to Slaterville from their homes
in South Carolina and Georgia. Their family moved south with the Kendall Company in the mid 1950's.
And to the major sponsors we have had, such as Westrock and Empire Guitars as well as support from Waterson Terminal Services, Navigant Credit Union and Gator's Pub, grant organizations RI State Council for the Arts, RI Council for the Humanities and Blackstone Heritage Corridor.
We are also grateful for the assistance of Project Consultant Kevin Klyberg, John Flaherty and N.S. Town Administrator Paulette Hamilton, as well as special donors Barbara Murray, Dr. Robert Harding, Michael Abbott, Scott McGee and Donald Arsenault.
10. With all of this said, we still have a very large obstacle ahead of us - Funding. Since starting Slatersville we’ve only raised a little more than half of the total we budgeted for a feature length documentary, and to get this film done we still need to raise a significant amount. And to do that we have started a new campaign.
To all those individuals, organizations and companies who have donated to this project over the past couple of years, thank you! If you have known about this film for a while and have always wanted to help, now is the time we can use your support! Any size donation is welcome.
Be a part of our journey. Help us to bring this groundbreaking record of history to the screen, as we remember the work done by those who are gone so that future generations will know the story of our nation’s first mill village, the place we call Slatersville.
PHOTO: A still from an 8mm film. Wally Stone visits his Green Street home during World War II.