FILM: The Making of American Spirit (2007)

My father, Tom Stoup Sr., worked at the Hyde School's Bath and Woodstock campuses for many years and found their patriotic performing arts shows so memorable he wanted to bring the idea into the new millennium as the new headmaster of CDS' upper school. Toward the end of the 2006/2007 school year I was commissioned to film two days of rehearsals for the Carrollwood Day School's ambitious production of "American Spirit".

As with Prep Ball later that year, I used the relatively bulky Sony DV bestowed upon me by cousin Doug Stoup of IceAxe Expeditions. Being the sole individual behind the piece with only a brief amount of allotted time, I really had to devise my camerawork to be both creative and comprehensive. I'm not sure I ultimately succeeded, and some shots are quite shaky, but if I missed something it was gone for good - no mulligans - so overall I am extremely pleased with how it all turned out.

More than anything, this film is for the people it is about - the students and teachers involved in bringing "American Spirit" to the stage. In that regard it was extremely successful, as returning to the school to showcase the finished product brought laughter, tears and awe, defining the experience for the participants. It's a pity I never got my hands on footage from the actual production to work in somewhere, because admittedly the enthusiasm on display here is low. The students pulled together before the big day, though, and the resulting show was truly one for the CDS history books.

Most additional landscape and nature footage was filmed during my time in Yellowstone National Park in 2006, with one shot coming from a post-Yellowstone road trip to Astoria, Oregon. Originally I was kicking around the idea of an angsty, pseudo-existential docu-drama about my amazing year out West, but with that pipe dream punctured, this repurposing works swell.

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