Coming soon to a PBS station near you: Albany's Historic Carousel & Museum, in documentary form.
The hourlong show, "Ride," will premiere on OPB Plus at 9 p.m. May 20 (HD channel 310 for Comcast customers).
OPB Plus is a secondary, free OPB channel available over the air but also through specific cable packages. People who don't have access to the channel can see "Ride" on the regular OPB channel at 10 p.m. July 2, said Lauren Elkanich, OPB public relations manager.
Digital artist and animator Peter Daulton, whose day job involves creating effects for Industrial Light & Magic — the movie effects company founded by George Lucas — made the independent documentary. Daulton came across a story about the carousel in Parade Magazine in 2013 and knew he'd found a subject for his next documentary.
Daulton began traveling to Albany shortly afterward, making the trip from his home in Northern California on 12 separate occasions to document the carving, painting and installing of the carousel's menagerie.
On Aug. 15, 2017, opening day, Daulton was there, camera in hand.
"I am very happy with the way the film turned out, especially the footage shot on opening day," Daulton said. "I think the excitement of that day really comes across in the film."
"Ride" has been made available to every PBS station in the country, although it's up to each to determine if and when to show it, Daulton said.
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He's pretty sure they will, just because of the heart of the story: that founder Wendy Kirbey and an army of volunteers were able to build a carousel from scratch to bring businesses back to the downtown.
"It’s a simple story about a community solving a problem by coming together to use art and volunteerism to bring out the best in both and creating something truly magical," he said, adding: "I wanted to tell this story because of its simple beauty."
Kirbey said she saw an early draft of Daulton's documentary and is excited to watch the rest. "It's going to be really nice," she said.
Eventually, she said, the plan is to have copies of the documentary for sale in the carousel gift shop and to hold a public viewing.
At 503 W. First Ave., the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum is an ongoing project that was 15 years in the making from inception to opening day. Thirty-three of its planned 52 animals have been completed, all carved and painted by hand.
Daulton's film credits with ILM include more than 50 major motion pictures, including every "Star Wars" film since "Return of the Jedi" (the new Han Solo movie, too). As an independent filmmaker, his award-winning documentaries have been broadcast on PBS and appeared in film festivals around the world.
He said even though he visited Albany a dozen times in four years, he wishes he could have interviewed more of the people who turned the dream into reality, especially the ones who helped in the early days.
"My hope is that this film will serve as a reminder, an inspiration and a call to action for individuals and communities across this country," he said: "A reminder of what can be accomplished when we work together, an inspiration to the dreamer in all off us to follow our dreams and a call to action. The time is now. We can solve our problems together."