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I am currently in preproduction on “We Were an Island”, a short narrative film written by Jahn Sood and inspired by the book “We Were an Island: The Maine Life of Art and Nan Kellam” by Peter Blanchard III. Photo courtesy of the Kellam Family Archives.
We Were An Island imagines the life of Art & Nan Kellam, a couple who moved to an uninhabited island off the coast of Maine in 1949. Whether in response to the horrors they witnessed in international news during World War II or from a desire to take on a life project that was utterly unique, the couple built their own home and lived in near isolation for the subsequent four decades. During their time on Placentia, the Kellams experienced both independence from society and a connection with nature that seem nearly impossible today. They lived a life of their own design, and yet not without challenges. Their story is an apt metaphor for what it means to enter a life partnership, what is gained and what we each give up. Ultimately it is a grand accomplishment just to remain on that ‘island’ of our own design. In a series of short imagistic scenes, our film tells the Kellam’s story from their arrival on Placentia in 1949, until just after Art’s death in 1985, when Nan made the choice to return to the island and live there alone.
When Maine filmmaker Peter Logue approached playwright Jahn Sood with the idea of writing a narrative film inspired by the life of Art & Nan Kellam, he was surprised to find that Sood had visited Placentia in the 1990s when the Kellam’s home was still intact and that the playwright had dreamed about the life they must have lived there. Logue, having grown up on nearby Mount Desert Island, was steeped in local lore about the couple’s alternative lifestyle and wanted to tell their story as a way to celebrate Maine living. The two began researching in 2015. They since have connected with Peter Blanchard III, the author of We Were An Island: The Maine Life of Art and Nan Kellam, who is also the steward of Placentia Island, now owned and protected by The Nature Conservancy, as well as several MDI residents who remember the Kellams first hand. They also had the benefit of reading from Nan Kellam’s extensive journals from her time on Placentia. Sood has now completed a draft of the screenplay, and the team has expanded to include cinematographer Dean Merrill who has made a career shooting films at sea off the coast of Maine as well as for nationally syndicated studios.
Our goal is to shoot the 30-minute film in the summer of 2018 on Placentia and locations on Mount Desert Island. The film will be edited and scored by the spring of 2019. We will then submit to international film festivals that would help the film reach a broad audience and screen the film locally to support organizations with special interest in Maine conservation efforts and cultural heritage. While these interest groups will certainly be honored in the making of this film, we believe the narrative will also be accessible to a broad audience that relates to the relationship story and the fantasy of true alternative living, as we find ourselves in a new time when many Americans ponder leaving society to seek sanctuary from the news and national politics.
Peter Logue (Director / Producer)
A native of Southwest Harbor, Peter Logue has directed, filmed, and edited a series of acclaimed short films including: The Search for the White Rose, a documentary about German university students who led a massive resistance against the Nazis, has screened at Harvard, USC, DePaul, Springfield College, and over forty other venues and has been distributed in more than 5,000 high schools nationwide; and The Crooked Road Shakespeare Kids, an award-winning short film about a group of homeschool students who share a passion for the work of William Shakespeare. Peter has produced and directed commissioned films for Friends of Acadia, College of the Atlantic, the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, MDI Hospital, Camp Beech Cliff, Criterion Theatre, MDI Historical Society, Bar Harbor Historical Society, and the New England Parkinson’s Ride. He received the 2016 Maine Arts Commission Artist Fellowship for Multimedia/ Film.
Jahn Sood (Screenwriter / Producer)
Jahn Sood is a New York based playwright and composer. He assisted composer Pat Irwin (of the B-52’s) on the scores of AMC’s Feed the Beast, Showtime’s Nurse Jackie, HBO’s Bored to Death, and several films. His original works have been presented at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Two River Theater Company, Barrington Stage, Goodspeed Opera House, Joe’s Pub, 54 Below, Cloud City, SPACE at Ryder Farm, Barrow Street, Musical Theatre Factory, Theater at St. Clements, NYU Tisch, Culturehub Studios, The Factory Theater (Boston), Barn Arts Collective (Bass Harbor, ME), The Strand Theater (Rockland, ME), Seoul Institute of the Arts (Korea) and Stage Theater Neue Flora (Hamburg, Germany). He was a founding member of Ezra Furman & the Harpoons and toured nationally with the group. He is a graduate of NYU Tisch (Graduate Musical Theater Writing) and Tufts University and a proud member of the Dramatist’s Guild of America, ASCAP and AFM Local 802.
Dean Merrill (Director of Photography)
Dean Merrill has been working with media for over fifteen years as a cinematographer and director. He has worked with international brands and studios such as National Geographic, The History Channel, ABC, L.L. Bean, Timberland, LoJack, Chase Manhattan, and featured in The New York Times, National Public Radio (NPR), Filmmaker, Indiewire, and MovieMaker Magazine. He was the cinematographer for the 2015 feature film “Neptune” and has worked on several Maine-made narrative films throughout his career.
Jenna Grossano & James Presson (Producers)
Jenna Grossano & James Presson are a New York-based producing team. TV credits include Vinyl (HBO), Civil (TNT, pilot), Get Shorty (Epix/MGM), The Purge (USA/Blumhouse), and Royally (NYTVF winner – Critics Award). Film credits include w4m (dir. Danny Goldstein) and several projects with GoldCat Productions (dir. Lauren Ireland). Projects in development include King of Texas (dir. Allen Coulter) and television projects with HBO, eOne, Major League Baseball, Cross Creek, and Cold Front. Their award-winning theatre company Less Than Rent has produced work at over a dozen major New York venues since 2010 including La MaMa, 59e59, HERE Arts Center, and New Ohio.
Peter P. Blanchard III (Consultant / Author of Source Material)
We Were An Island: The Maine Life of Art and Nan Kellam