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Festival Interview: Maine Heritage Orchard

Veteran filmmaker Huey discusses the origin of his documentary short Maine Heritage Orchard.

13 Oct , 2016  

Written by Harry Nichols | Posted by:

Huey shares the origin of his documentary short Maine Heritage Orchard and some highlights from his extensive filmmaking career. Originally screened at the Maine Short Film Festival, his film is now screening here on through October 15 as part of the 2016 Online New England Film Festival.

As a veteran of the film industry, Huey is no stranger to the festival process — his films have been shown at festivals throughout the nation over the past 35 years. His latest entrance, Maine Heritage Orchard, which is now playing on through October 15 as part of the 2016 Online New England Film Festival, captures the beauty of Maine farming through Maine Heritage Orchard and the farmers who turned the former gravel pit into a thriving home for apples. Here in this interview, he discusses the origin for the documentary and his extensive filmmaking career.

NEFilm: Where did you find the inspiration for Maine Heritage Orchard?

Huey: Maine Heritage Orchard documents the transformation of a reclaimed gravel pit into the Maine Heritage Orchard, a living museum of apples traditionally grown in Maine. Organic farmer and nationally recognized apple expert, John Bunker, and others pass on their knowledge of working the land to the young farmers settling in Maine, preserving Maine’s orcharding traditions. I started documenting the orchard with its first planting in spring 2014. I followed the growth of the trees and the work done maintaining the Orchard along with interviewing the key folks involved with the Orchard for the next two years. The video was released in fall 2016.

NEFilm: Where have you shown the film?

Huey: Maine Heritage Orchard was selected for the Maine Short Film Festival which is a traveling screening series that played 10 venues in Maine. It is also up on Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s (MOFGA) YouTube page. MOFGA was the fiscal sponsor of the film. I am always amazed at the people who come out to learn about apples. When John Bunker is at a screening, audience members come up to him asking if he can help identify the old apple tree in their property. People really like apples.

NEFilm: How did you find your cast and crew for this film?

Huey: Much of the crew were either former students of mine or I was able to find them through word of mouth. The cast, however, were all interviewees who I found though various contacts and some cold calls.

NEFilm: How long have you been working in film?

Huey: I have been an independent filmmaker since about 1975. I first started making short experimental films that were shown in the Northeast and at house venues in the U.S. and at film festivals like the Ann Arbor Film Festival. By the late 1970s I was making documentary films, and since then, I’ve stuck with the genre. Underground filmmaker and painter, Abbott Meader was a mentor, but otherwise I am self-taught. I am working on my seventh feature length documentary now.

For many years I was a teaching artist in K-12 schools helping young people make animated, documentary, and narrative films on local topics. I also spent time working with immigrant and refugee children and working as an artist in residence at Indian Island School, Penobscot Nation. I was also a founder of the Maine Student Film and Video Festival and served as its director for the 37 of its 38 years. Maine International Film Festival took over the MSFVF this summer. Currently I am adjunct faculty in the Communications and New Media department, Southern Maine Community College.

NEFilm: Wow. So you’ve been working in film for a while. What’s the documentary that you’re working on now?

Huey: Henry David Thoreau, Surveyor of the Soul is my feature length documentary, which is scheduled for release in July 2017 for Thoreau’s 200th birthday. The film is about Thoreau in his time and the impact his writings and lifestyle have on our time. I am the producer, director, and editor.

Watch Maine Heritage Orchard on through October 15 as part of the 2016 Online New England Film Festival.