Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell (left) and Mark Crosby, Government Access Coordinator, QATV, show the 2023 Hometown Media Award presented to them by the Alliance for Community Media Foundation.
Dedham, MA – Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell and Mark Crosby, Government Access Coordinator, QATV, recount the road that led them to creating “History Comes Alive, Norwood Town Hall” and winning the “Best of Experimental Access Center Professional” award presented by the Alliance for Community Media Foundation at the 2023 Hometown Media Awards this summer.
The journey began, like many things, with a spark of inspiration, which soon grew into a shared vision. Register O'Donnell and Crosby recognized the importance of sharing the history of Norfolk County in a format that would both inform and entertain viewers.
“Inspiration can come at unexpected moments and from the most unlikely sources,” said Crosby. “The idea for this piece came while watching Italian movie director Dario Argento's film, The Stendhal Syndrome; the movie introduced me to a medical condition in which an art observer can become so emotionally involved in viewing a work that a psychosomatic (mental and physical) response is experienced. As one who always looks for a new and unique way to tell a story, adapting it to a history lesson seemed logical.”
Already having a well-established partnership with the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, Crosby reached out to Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell, a Norwood, MA native, to be the voice of the narrator and help collaborate on the project. O'Donnell saw the potential to educate the public about art and history through this adaptation and eagerly agreed to work together. With their combined expertise and resources, they were able to create, what many people feel, is an engaging and educational experience for viewers.
“This segment grew out of a History Comes Alive land record project at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds. History in our local communities is all around us,” said O’Donnell. “The piece allows those in the community to learn about some of that interesting history in a way that both captivates and educates the audience.”
O'Donnell and Crosby enlisted the help of theater performer and historical reenactor Michael LePage, who also works at the Registry of Deeds, to play the role of the main character, a museum patron who is transported back to 1926 Norwood, MA.
“We incorporated the use of green screen technology to create the visual illusion of a person in a museum walking into a historic piece on the wall and suddenly becoming immersed in that piece and becoming dressed in period costume once they entered the piece,” said Crosby.
In the program “History Comes Alive, Norwood Town Hall” the museum patron, Michael LePage, steps into a historical image of Norwood Town Hall through the use of green screen technology and is seemingly transported back to 1926. Amidst the sound of explosions and machinegun fire the Narrator, Register O’Donnell, explains the Historic building was constructed as a memorial to Norwood residents who served in World War One. With the sound of construction playing in the background the narrator describes the style and materials used in the construction of the Town Hall. Fireworks can be seen and heard as the narrator recounts the November 11, 1928, dedication ceremony attended by over 10,000 people. The narrator continues by highlighting some of the unique features of the Norwood Town Hall. The piece closes with the museum patron stepping out of the photo and returning to modern times.
To watch a video of the award-winning segment “History Comes Alive, Norwood Town Hall,” footage from the Hometown Media Awards ceremony and a discussing between O’Donnell and Crosby follow the link here: https://youtu.be/qBCyfXozLiQ
“I’ve just enjoyed watching Mark Crosby, Jonathan Caliri, and the staff at Quincy Access Television creatively came up with a way to take some of the information from the History Comes Alive project and truly make it come alive through this short subject history piece,” said Register O’Donnell.
The 'Best of Experimental Access Center Professional' award is an annual award presented by the Alliance for Community Media Foundation to recognize the creative use of media technology in a new and unique way. This award is highly regarded in the industry and is given to individuals or teams who have demonstrated exceptional creativity, innovation, and impact in their work. Winning this award is a testament to the quality and uniqueness of Crosby and O'Donnell's project, as it was selected as the best among a pool of highly competitive entries.
Register O’Donnell expressed “I want to thank Mark Crosby whose creativity and production skills made the program possible. I also want to thank Jonathan Caliri and the staff at QATV for all their hard working in making this vision a reality. I cannot forget our star Michael LePage whose performance tied the piece together, thank you.”