Mountain Lake PBS receives $221k in funding for Champlain documentary project

PLATTSBURGH Mountain Lake PBS has been awarded $221,000 to fund the filming of a documentary about Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Quebec City and the namesake of Lake Champlain. The funding comes through the U.S. Department of Transportation, which awarded the funding to Mountain Lake PBS to increase awareness and education of northern New Yorks designated scenic byway, the Lakes to Locks Passage. The scenic byway stretches from the Richelieu Valley in Quebec through Lake Champlain to Lake George and the Hudson River. According to Colin Powers, director of production and programming at Mountain Lake PBS, the documentary will actually be a multifaceted multimedia project, which will include the development of web-based curriculum. Planning for the project began nearly a year ago, when Mr. Powers met with a history professor from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh and local and state level PBS officials. The idea behind creating such a documentary stemmed from a conversation about the forthcoming 400th anniversary of the Champlains and Henry Hudsons voyages along the rivers which transect New York and Canada and now bear their names. The documentary was discussed to add a long-lasting educational component to the event, being organized by the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission. We came together and hatched the plan for a documentary that has a lot of education outreach components, said Mr. Powers. And we took a unique attack at our proposal, because this wont be just a television documentary, this will be a true multimedia project. With todays viewers being what Mr. Powers refers to as the Google generation, referring to the popular Internet search Web site www.google.com, it is imperative the project provide viewers with as much information as possible. If you get a question in your head, you want the answer now, explained Mr. Powers. If the documentary is on DVD, buttons could pop up through story, say, as we learn Samuel Champlain was born in the city of Brouage, in France, which was a very, very cosmopolitan place at the end of the 17th century. Were curious about what made Brouage; what is it? Well, youll be able to click on a button right on screen and taken to maybe a five-minute video segment about what made Brouage this economic hub in maritime France. The DVD could also contain several educational bonus features and even provide more links to Web sites when placed in a viewers computer. The ability for it to contain audio information which could be uploaded to ones MP3 player or be utilized for a Podcast on-line, could also be realized, Mr. Powers said. Ultimately, Mr. Powers said he would like to see some sort of system for vehicles which would be triggered as a motorist would approach a certain landmark along the Lakes to Locks Passage. The system would prompt the motorist if he or she would care to learn more about the location they are nearing and provide them with a brief synopsis of the locations history. I envision it being perfect for traveling the Northway with your family, said Mr. Powers. Something like this, for instance, if you were on your way to Fort Ticonderoga and wanted to know what Samuel Champlain had to do with Fort Ticonderoga, would be perfect as a Podcast. Currently, the documentary project is in its infant stages. Mountain Lake PBS is seeking additional co-production partner and further funding for the estimated $750,000 project. With the intention of developing a documentary that could attract nationwide and even international interest, Mr. Powers is hoping that will also attract underwriting and production support. With festivities planned to be underway for the quadricentennial celebration beginning as early as January, Mr. Powers said some preliminary filming for the documentary could begin as early as next month, to be included in the documentary. Other events held throughout the year would also be included, with a very rough completion date for the documentary being in 2009. This is the second grant Mountain Lake PBS has received this year for documentary development. The first was for a documentary on the French and Indian War, which is currently under production.

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