Hagerstown documentary debuts to rave reviews

June 12, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER |
  • A pair of viewers watch a private screening Sunday night of Maryland Public Television's upcoming "Our Town - Hagerstown" documentary shown at Hagerstown Community College.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — “It was beautiful,” Stephen Sheredy said.

“I cried, I laughed, it was just like a movie,” said Angie Burns.

Maryland Public Television gave participants in its upcoming “Our Town — Hagerstown” documentary a private screening Sunday of the episode they helped to create.

“Our Town” is not the average documentary series, said Matt Rains, coordinating producer.

“It turns the tables on the standard documentary,” he said. “Usually MPT is the one in control of the story. In this, the cameras were turned over to the people who know the town best.”

Participants who carried cameras and gave interviews were able to watch the entire episode Sunday at Hagerstown Community College before it airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. on MPT.

It’s a good thing, too, as participants caught a small error Sunday in one of the on-screen titles.

Prior to watching the episode, participants were not aware what of the more than 50 hours of footage made the final cut.

Producer and Editor Steve Smith said he had the unfortunate job of “breaking  hearts” as he distilled the mass of footage into a one-hour documentary.

“I thought they did an awesome, tremendous job condensing it down,” Jim Burns said.

Some of the footage that did not make the final cut will be added as DVD extras.

Despite all the film that landed on the editing floor, what remained was still impressive to participants.

“I’m wondering about the DVD extras,” Robert Streeper said. “There didn’t seem to be anything missing.”

The many faces and facets of Hagerstown will be featured in the episode, including Fairchild Aircraft, Gordon’s Grocery, Krumpe’s Do-Nuts, the Prospect Street district, Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, City Park, The Maryland Theatre, Antietam National Battlefield, downtown Hagerstown events, Jonathan Street and the Doleman Black Heritage Museum.

“It really got across the fact that we really have a small-town feel here,” Judy Wheeler said.

Whether they lived in Hagerstown all their lives or were new to the area, many of the participants said they learned something new about their home by watching “Our Town — Hagerstown.”

“I think they (viewers) will have to like it,” Burns said.

“It touched on their backgrounds. They have to be touched by what they see.”

Being a part of the project not only provided participants with a uniquely rewarding experience, as Stephen Sheredy said, but it also brought people together.

David Sheredy said his family got to know the Burns family through the project and forged new friendships.  

Stephen Sheredy said it’s worth tuning in.

“On a scale of one to 10, it’s an 11,” he said.
What: Exclusive sneak peek of “Our Town — Hagerstown” documentary
Where: University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, 32 W. Washington St., Hagerstown
When: Monday, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Cost: $10 per person
Details: The Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce and Maryland Public Television will host a sneak-peek viewing of “Our Town — Hagerstown.” The event is open to the public, will feature light hors-d’oeuvres, MPT personalities and a peek at the documentary. To register, go to

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