By Penny E. Schwartz, Correspondent Press Enterprise, April 13, 2013
One of the highlights of Redlands’ 125th anniversary celebration will be the unveiling in late fall of a video documenting the city's history.
This tale of a city will focus on the numerous acts of philanthropy that have defined Redlands through the years, the filmmakers assembling the documentary say.
“Making the video itself has been a labor of love, an act of philanthropy and volunteerism that coincides perfectly with its theme,” said filmmaker Susan Stevens.
She and her husband, Al, and their son, Trevor, form the heart of Work and Play Productions, which has been filming footage for the past few months. Equally important to their team are collaborators Rob Sandberg and Cheryl Williams.
Sandberg is a Redlands firefighter and Williams is the city's multi-media coordinator, but their involvement with Work and Play is separate from their city jobs, Susan Stevens said. Her husband is a retired city firefighter and safety officer.
The couple spent nearly a decade writing and producing on-screen advertisements for the Krikorian Theater, a job they stopped doing in 2007.
“During that time we were getting to know local business people and telling their stories,” Susan Stevens said.
At the same time, Al Stevens and fellow firefighter Sandberg were collaborating on making training videos for the city. Their son Trevor, a childhood dancer and ballroom competitor, became interested in acting, and then filmmaking around the same time.
Volunteerism came into play as Trevor Stevens devoted time to helping Williams with her work on the city's local TV coverage for “Pet of the Week” segments and the annual Christmas parade.
All these disparate threads intertwined for the Stevens family in 2007, when Al retired from the fire department, he and Susan stopped working for Krikorian and Trevor won an award for a commercial he had filmed.
“We realized that Trevor could tell a good story (on film) and he needed the tools to do so,” Susan Stevens said.
Drawing on the talents and expertise of their friends and colleagues Sandberg and Williams, who had become like family, the Stevens entered a 48-hour film challenge competition and won first prize in the Inland Empire division. Their seven-minute Western genre production titled “Snakebit” went on to compete in a Miami-based film festival.
Work and Play Productions has since found its niche in the genre of short films.
“We are all here by choice and do the things that bring us the most joy,” Susan Stevens said.
When the group received the nod to film a documentary on the city's history for the anniversary celebration, they swung into action.
They plan to include interviews with local luminaries — Stan and Ellen Weisser (state pharmacy board member and philanthropists), Larry and Char Burgess (former A.K. Smiley Library director and University of Redlands vice president), Carole Beswick (former mayor, Redlands Bicycle Classic founder and Redlands Country Club president), Curtiss Allen (Fourth of July Band founder and Community Sing leader) and Lorrie Poyzer (former longtime city clerk).
Footage of Redlands events and iconic landmarks will be incorporated into the 45-minute video, as will time-lapse photography following Heritage Park as it takes shape along Barton Road.
Larry Burgess is helping to guide the project.
“When Larry Burgess agreed to be the script writer and narrator, we knew we had a film on our hands,” Susan Stevens said.
Burgess, who retired from the library in December 2012, is an expert on local history. Don McCue, the new Smiley Library director, and archivist Nathan Gonzales also are helping.
“We want to interest entry-level local historians as well as provide history buffs with something new, something they didn't know before,” Susan Stevens said.
The story will have an emphasis on philanthropy and volunteerism, Susan Stevens said.
It is in that spirit that Work and Play Productions is producing the documentary, said Williams, who recommended them for the job. While a grant from Kaiser Permanente will cover the film's costs, no one is making a profit from it, Williams said. It is mainly a labor of love by home-town residents.
“Volunteerism is still alive and well today,” Williams said. “Who better to make this video than people who live in Redlands and love it?”