LEICESTER, Mass. — A Leicester resident of close to 30 years, Peter Swanson has been hard at work at his home editing and putting the finishing touches on his newest film entitled “Let There Be Light.”
The film, which is six years in the making, is a documentary on the creative processes and dedication that goes into the production of stained glass windows. It follows master craftsman Rowan LeCompte and Dieter Goldkuhle as they prepare an installation for the Washington Cathedral before its 100 year celebration.
Swanson has had a passion for film ever since he was in grade school in Bethesda, Maryland, where he would routinely volunteer to help teachers run the 16 MM projectors.
“The teachers always needed someone to run the projectors and I was always doing that kind of stuff,” said Swanson
Swanson’s passion for film increased when his high school was fortunate enough to work with Johns Hopkins University for a super 8 film class, an experience he says is primarily responsible for his decision to pursue a career in filmmaking.
“When I was in high school i took a super 8 film class and got to play with some cameras and we also got to work on a film on fire prevention for high school students with the Johns Hopkins physics laboratory down in Maryland,” said Swanson. “So we got to use some of the professional equipment and I just kind of fell in love with it, and thought it was a good way to make a living.”
Swanson went on to earn a film degree from the Rhode Island School of Design, pursuing his dream of becoming a filmmaker.
The inspiration behind his latest film was his familiarity with the Washington Cathedral, growing up around the astonishing building.
“When I was in high school my mother worked in the cathedral, and so I got a summer job carrying the mail around the cathedral grounds. At the time the Cathedral was still being built and there was a woman [Marjorie Hunt] there who was making a documentary about the stone carvers — which won an academy award that year for the best short film,” recalls Swanson. “That kind of inspired me that you could make films about things like this, and I always thought the windows were beautiful, so I decided I wanted to make a film about them.”
The film itself spans about 90 minutes, and is nearly complete.
However, Swanson is still looking for extra backing to put in some finishing touches, and has set up a Kickstarter account for the film that will allow people to donate money to help fund the last expenses.
Kickstarter is a website artists and filmmakers use to raise money to help fund projects through donations. However there is a time limit and goal to be set and if that amount is not reached within the time period, in this case 60 days, then none of the money is received.
“We have four days left now. The project will finish by Saturday at noon time and I still have over $8,000 dollars left to raise or I don’t get any of the money,” explains Swanson. “The money I need now is for the final finishing processes. Sound mixes, color corrections. final graphics all are expensive processes that I have to pay out of my own pocket to outside vendors.”
Swanson’s highest aspiration for “Let There Be Light” is to be considered for an Academy award for documentary features this year, as well as a possible PBS spot for the film. He has previously had two film series on the PBS network, one on the global freshwater supply and one on major poverty issues.
Swanson has already sent out applications for the Toronto, Hampton and Rhode Island film festivals and intends on entering a few more in hopes of gaining consideration for the Academy.
“I would like to enter the film for the Academy Award for documentary feature this year, and if you get into certain film festivals then you are automatically considered for the Academy awards,” said Swanson. “The deadlines are coming up for many of the festivals so I have been monitoring those as well.”
If you would like to donate to the finishing touches on Swanson’s new film “Let there be light” you can do so at www.kickstarter.com/projects/1187461527/let-there-be-light-0