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Mellie Dunham of Norway, Maine literally fiddled his way to fame and fortune back in the 1920's after being invited to play with Henry Ford's Country Dance Orchestra in Dearborn, Michigan. MPBN producer Frank Ferrel, producer of this segment and a fine fiddle player in his own right, talks of the direct connection he felt to his subject when he sat down to play a couple of Mellie's original tunes along with Lona Bedard, Mellie's 90-something grand-daughter and a piano player who still performs weekly in Norway. Together they play a song called "Red Wing," which Mellie would have played regularly at his performances. Hear Ms. Bedard give Frank an enthusiastic "right on!" at the end of the tune.

Frank Ferrel, the producer of MPBN's Maine Experience segment on Mellie Dunham, has a personal interest in telling Mellie's story. To this day, Frank plays some of Mellie's songs when he plays at Grange Hall dances around Maine and Atlantic Canada. In this piece, which does not appear in the segment that was televised on MPBN, Frank plays passages from two of the songs Mellie himself would have played during his sets on the Vaudeville circuit, "Haywood Schottische" and "The Opera Reel." These songs provide a brief sample of the songs that were popular back in the 1920's.

The first woman ever elected to both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives -- and who stood up to red-baiting Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1950, before anyone else dared to -- came from tiny Skowhegan, Maine. A fellow Skowhegan native and distant relative of Senator Smith's reflects on the inspiration she provided to kids from rural towns across Maine through her courage and quiet dignity. MPBN marketing and communications manager Louis Morin talks about his impulsive decision to ask her to accompany him to his government class after a high school assembly and how to his great surprise, she accepted. (Photos used in the this segment are courtesy of the Margaret Chase Smith Library).

MPBN Producer Barbara Noyes Pulling talks about the challenge of telling the story of Bangor's illustrious past as the "Lumber Capital of the World" in a way that it hadn't been widely told before. In combing through the archival images from this era of the mid-to-late 1800's, she saw photos depicting Bangor buildings of that day that look little like those we see there now. Then the answer becomes obvious -- the 1911 fire that charred 55 acres and destroyed 300 buildings in, the worst disaster in Bangor's history, brought home the necessity of finding more durable and less fire-prone materials, giving rise to the granite and brick structures that dominate today's architecture in Bangor.

MPBN videographer Nick Woodward talks about the impression Larry Ross, the owner and operator of the Lindbergh Crate Museum in Canaan, Maine, had on him after Nick shot the video for this segment of Maine Experience. He salutes Ross for recognizing that the wooden crate in which Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis had been shipped back to America was more than "just a box" and had the potential to be more than simply an historical artifact -- Nick explains how Mr. Ross uses it as a teaching and motivational tool to show schoolchildren who visit the Lindbergh Crate Museum how to achieve anything they can dream of.

MPBN editor Heidi Perkins first sets up the Maine Experience segment on Neal Dow, the former Portland mayor seen as this country's "father of prohibition" before describing the process of editing together this video segment of the program in collaboration with Executive Producer Chris Sweet. Heidi offers an insider's take on the production process -- if you've ever wondered how the pieces you see on MPBN go from idea to raw footage and images to completed product, this Maine Experience "web extra" should offer some insight.

When Malaga Island off the coast of Phippsburg was seized by the state government in 1911 and its residents evicted, it marked the end of a unique mixed-race settlement that had existed there for over 50 years. Producer Anita Clearfield talks about her desire to see more done to bring this story to new generations of Mainers, most of whom are unfamiliar with Malaga's history.

  

You know those Hollywood movie scenes where it's supposed to be snowing, but the snow isn't real and it's probably 85 degrees on the set? This isn't about one of those scenes. This segment, featuring segment producer Anita Clearfield, is about shooting the "Morning in Winter" segment of Maine Experience on a very real, very frigid Maine winter day. The idea was to accurately portray what a typical Maine winter morning was like over a hundred years ago and the crew and actors got a bit more reality in that regard than they bargained for. Fortunately the soapstone bedwarmers of the day used in the piece were also real, and they were put to use by the crew to warm something else entirely.

The Norlands Living History Center in Livermore employs local residents to re-enact the 19th century Maine farming life. From lugging in pails of water from a hand pump to chopping the wood to heat the cooking stove, schoolchildren and tourists alike can get a real sense of how hard people back then needed to work in order to survive. Maine Experience segment producer Eric Bunford describes some of the scenes that he videotaped for the Norlands segment and offers some insight into just how seriously these actors take their portrayals of life in the 1800's.

Shooting video on an island involves negotiating logistical concerns that go beyond the ferry schedule. For one, weather (and in particular, fog) is always a concern. Whereas a mainland shoot can always be rescheduled, the challenge of lugging all that equipment out on a boat might mean shooting anyway on a day you'd rather not. MPBN videographer Chad Diamond recalls some of the other hurdles that needed to be overcome in shooting the Maine Experience segment on Seguin Island, such as getting underwater footage and coordinating a shoot on one of the two days every year that the tramway featured in the segment is operational.

Maine Experience editor Mike McDade talks in general terms about the challenge of editing several hours of video into a short, coherent story before discussing the particular challenges he faced in combing through a gold mine of footage from the creation of Wyman Dam in Bingham in the late 1920's. The film footage from the dam's construction was used to assemble a story about the history of Central Maine Power (commonly known as CMP) and its forceful, energetic founder, Walter Wyman, who created one of Maine's biggest companies by first buying a small generator on Messalonskee Stream in 1899 that served about a hundred customers.

 

When the descendants of Winslow Homer gave his modest studio on Prout's Neck to the Portland Museum of Art, the museum's curators decided to leave it intact exactly as Homer had left it. Maine Experience executive producer Chris Sweet talks about the challenges of shooting video in such a tiny space, the treasure trove of artifacts left behind by Homer, and the sense of awe that he and MPBN videographer Chad Diamond felt shooting video in the studio where some of America's most famous artistic works were created. Get the story behind the shooting of some of the scenes in the Maine Experience segment about Homer's time on Prout's Neck.

Funding for production of Maine Experience was provided in part by: Elsie Viles, Cynthia Crocker, the Richard Bresnahan Family, Harry and Susan Konkel, the Borman Family Foundation, Henrietta Farnum Stewart, Randy Phelps and Pamela Daley, the Roy A. Hunt Foundation, Judith and Joe Kaminski and Calista L. Harder.

Founded by the University of Maine System and Colby, Bates and Bowdoin Colleges.

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