"Henry Beston's Cape Cod" Documentary Film Reaches Out to Fans for Fundraising

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The "Henry Beston's Cape Cod" documentary film features the untold story of how Beston's road to "The Outermost House" ran through the horrors of the Battle of Verdun in France during World War I before this literary great found himself as a writer by tapping into the healing power of nature on Cape Cod.

“As Henry comes out to the Cape and starts reveling in nature as part of recovering from his wartime experiences … When he goes to the Cape, one of the things that he learns is that nature has a healing power." -- Dr. Daniel Payne, Beston biographer

This fall, Don Wilding, author of the book, “Henry Beston’s Cape Cod” and founder of the nonprofit Henry Beston Society of Cape Cod, is taking a major step in the production of the feature length documentary film, based on his book.

Wilding says that footage from “Henry Beston’s Cape Cod” is now available for pre-orders as a crucial strategy in tackling the final fundraising goal of $10,000. The project’s Kickstarter campaign has now reached roughly the halfway point, offering backers an opportunity to earn a variety of rewards, such as preordering a DVD of pre-production footage, gaining access to the online VIP area’s unreleased clips, or purchasing rare photographs and other related items to “The Outermost House,” a beloved icon of Cape Cod.

This $10,000 Kickstarter campaign is part of the fundraising effort to supplement the $20,000 already raised for the production of this film. Under Kickstarter guidelines, the entire $10,000 must be raised, or the project receives none of the money raised so far.
So far, a trailer and short 10-minute episode have been produced. The fundraising campaign will enable production to be closer to completion and put it in a position to secure distribution.

“We knew that launching this campaign was largely a statement of faith in the huge global “Outermost House” and Cape Cod community that exists, and now we’re doing everything we can to reach them, both online and in the traditional media,” Wilding says of the project. “What many people don’t know is that this beloved icon of Cape Cod and influence on the realization of John F. Kennedy’s dream of the Cape Cod National Seashore actually began 100 years ago on the battlefields of France during World War I.”

There has been interest in the early rough cut footage of the film from New England PBS outlets. The rough cut screenings have been largely sold out, and were featured at the Newburyport (Massachusetts) Film Festival and at the highly acclaimed Chatham Orpheum Theater on Cape Cod.

“Since entering this phase of production this summer we’ve had some incredible interest in the world wanting to see this film. Now, it’s coming down to the dollars and we are extremely grateful for everyone who has and can donate or pre-order one of the rewards,” Wilding says.

The story of “Henry Beston’s Cape Cod” takes Beston, known earlier in his life as Henry Sheahan, from the halls of Harvard to the hell of the battlefields and trenches of World War I. Serving as a volunteer ambulance driver for the American Field Service, he witnessed horrific carnage at the Battle of Verdun that would haunt him for many years to come. Later, he served as a correspondent for the U.S. Navy aboard battleships and submarines after the U.S. entered the war.

It wasn’t until several years later, he was able to retreat to Cape Cod, where he built a small cottage on the outer beach, that was able to leave the horrors of the war behind.

“As Henry comes out to the Cape and starts reveling in nature as part of recovering from his wartime experiences … he was really looking for something that would indicate that all was not lost; this is the era of the lost generation,” explains Beston biographer Dr. Daniel Payne, one of several writers and scholars interviewed for the film. “When he goes to the Cape, one of the things that he learns, or perhaps re-learns, is that nature has a healing power.”

Beston’s “Great War to Great Beach” experience was a connection that had remained untold for many years, until Wilding began to tell of it during in his book and at the dozens of lecture/screening programs that he’s hosted across New England since 2001.

“When I first heard about this idea that Beston’s stay on the beach was part of a process of healing himself from his war experiences, at first I was a little skeptical,” acknowledges essayist Robert Finch, wrote the introduction to the most recent editions of “The Outermost House,” during an interview for the film. “And then I started thinking about the book, and all these hidden suggestions in it. Obviously, the opening scene is couched in battle terms, with the ocean and land battling for supremacy, and the land sending its plants down … it’s almost like trench warfare, moving ahead and then having to retreat. I’m generally skeptical of trying to impose contemporary scenarios of things in the past; it’s just too easy to do. In this case, I don’t think it changes the book at all; it just enlarges the significance of it in a way that I’d be pleased to accept.”

Beston’s “The Outermost House” became part of the modern environmental movement, heavily influenced the likes of Rachel Carson, and still enchants Cape Codders and visitors alike. In 1964, it was acknowledged that “The Outermost House” played a role in influencing the establishment of the Cape Cod National Seashore, which was signed into law in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy.

Others interviewed for the film include writers David Gessner (“Soaring with Fidel,” “Sick of Nature”) and Joan Anderson, author of the New York Times best-seller, “A Year by the Sea.”

Wilding and the Henry Beston Society have been active in collecting “Outermost House” artifacts in recent years, and have a vast collection of photographs, letters and articles, many from the collections of Thoreau/Beston scholar John McAleer and Nan Turner Waldron (author of “Journey to Outermost House” and longtime resident of Beston’s “Fo’castle”).

To learn more about pre-ordering the documentary footage and donating to the Kickstarter campaign, visit the fundraising page at OutermostHouseMovie.com or directly at kickstarter.com/projects/86663556/henry-bestons-cape-cod-documentary-film .
Kickstarter's deadline for meeting the goal is Friday, Nov. 14 at 9 p.m., Eastern time.

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For more information and exclusive photos/video clips please contact: 
Don Wilding
henrybestonsociety(at)yahoo(dot)com
508-246-7242
http://www.outermosthousemovie.com

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Donald Wilding

Don Wilding
@HenryBeston
since: 02/2009
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