Tagged: documentaries

Behind the Camera with Thom Hoffman

Shinnecock DVD case

Shinnecock (2013). Photo courtesy of Thom Hoffman

When something piques Thom Hoffman’s interest, he starts asking questions. Then he tries to work out the answers through film. The result has been an eclectic mix of documentaries (three to date) that share some common traits: his desire to educate and his love of Long Island history.

Brother Cinema Poster copy

Brother, Can You Spare a Dollar? (2012).Photo courtesy of Thom Hoffman

On today’s interview you’ll hear how Thom got his start working with Ray Adell on the “About Long Island” radio series and then expanded into documentaries. His first film featured the story of Brooklyn doo-wop stalwart Lenny Cocco and the Chimes. Next came his comparison of the Great Depression and the Great Recession. His latest, Shinnecock, explores the long history of the Shinnecock Nation in Southampton.

Still In The Mood  DVD cover copy

Still in the Mood for Love (2010). Photo courtesy of Thom Hoffman

We also ask Thom about the challenges of producing and distributing documentaries on Long Island. How do you get them to a wider audience? How do you get the quality of production needed? His answers echo many of the things we’ve heard in our discussions with others involved in documentary filmmaking on Long Island.

On that note, if you’re interested in screening any of his movies or helping find a home for the “About Long Island” archive, you can contact Thom at hof565 [at] optonline.net

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Further Research

Off to See the Wizard: Bringing Tesla to the Screen


“Showing the Inventor in the Effulgent Glory of Myriad Tongues of Electric Flame After He Has Saturated Himself with Electricity.” New York World, July 22, 1894.

Nikola Tesla was a bona fide Gilded Age celebrity, pulling front page headlines in the New York press and attracting the rich and famous to his late night laboratory demonstrations. You were nobody until Tesla shot you through with electricity.

And now Tesla’s time has come again. We conclude our special Tesla Month here at the Long island History Project talking to filmmaker Joe Sikorski about his documentary Tower to the People: Tesla’s Dream at Wardenclyffe Continues. Co-written with Michael Calomino, Tower to the People tells the story of Tesla and the successful fight to save his Wardenclyffe lab.

Bringing Tesla’s story to the screen has been a labor of love of Joe’s for some time and you’ll hear about his original dream: the full-length feature film Fragments from Olympus. We discuss the challenges of documentary film making and reveal more of Tesla’s fascinating life and why it lends itself so perfectly to film.

Are you in Los Angeles October 23-29th? Catch a special screening of Tower to the People at the Crest Theatre, 1262 Westwood Blvd. And tell them the Long Island History Project sent you!

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The Lost Lords of the Manor

Historical Papers on Shelter Island and Its Presbyterian Church, with Genealogical Tables. N.Y, 1899

Sylvester Manor from Historical Papers on Shelter Island and Its Presbyterian Church, with Genealogical Tables. N.Y, 1899

We’re back for part II of our interview with Dr. Gaynell Stone, executive director of the Suffolk County Archaeological Association and now accomplished filmmaker. Her connection to Stephen Mrozowski’s work at Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island led to her first film, The Sugar Connection: Holland, Barbados, Shelter Island in 2012.

The story of manors on Long Island is a tale that grows in the telling, however, so Dr. Stone has mapped out an ambitious series of documentaries encompassing Gardiner’s Island, Eaton’s Neck, the Manor of St. George and more.

Today you’ll get a glimpse of the stories that were uncovered: alchemists on Fisher’s Island, what lies buried on Plum Island, the forgotten patriot John Sloss Hobart, and pirates sailing out of the Connetquot River. You’ll also hear about the struggles to get these documentaries off the ground and seen by the public.

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