szwedo
 
   

FEEL THE MYSTIQUE

Program Length:
1 hour/Letterbox/Stereo/
NTSC/With Added Content/
PBS Affiliates Broadcast Documentary

Year of Release: 2001

Appearing:
Paul Newman, Sam Posey, John Fitch, Butch Leitzinger, Bob Sharp, Skip Barber

Producer/Director:
Chris Szwedo

Narrator: Will Lyman

Music: Tom Phillips

Audience:
General/All Racing Fans/New England/Historical/Sports car Fans/New Yorkers

 

Do you ever wonder why people race?

Experience an absorbing and unusual documentary that captures the essence of the sport of automobile racing. Served up as the ultimate physical and spiritual backdrop, the Berkshire’s Lime Rock Park is presented with the haunting beauty of an entire New England year. This might very well be “Robert Frost on Wheels”... for with each changing season from the deep snows of winter to spring rains to sunshine, the viewer is drawn into a deeper understanding of racing’s own seasonal shifts and passions-- with large doses of nature, history, action, heartbreak, celebrity, and speed.

The Secret Valley of Racing was my first broadcast length documentary and people took to it right away after the initial airing on Connecticut Public Television. As time grew so did its emergence into many television markets where PBS programmers understood how important the feelings of adventure and the real qualities of auto sport are to their audience.

While I was making it I was lucky to develop a nice friendship with Sam Posey-- the former racer, announcer, and in a real sense the poet-laureate of the sport. For 15 months Sam advised me every step of the way. His presence is at the heart of this production. In creating the piece I was fully aware that I was making it knowing that Sam would be the first person to see it. Needless to say, it was an unforgettable moment in his viewing room when he gave it his blessing. Had he not liked it, I would have never released it.

The gulf that exists between thinking you can do a project and actually creating one is huge. 95% of people that go to film school will, in the end, never make a film. It’s a construction site, and not for the weak of spirit. What is tough is when you must learn your subject—actually immerse yourself without regard for anything else, not to mention the financial elements. Like a successful racer, the person endeavoring in art must find what he or she is made of. That is when the bud of passion springs forth and things open up for you. If a racer is willing to risk the safety as well as emotional well being of his normal life then the filmmaker must follow suit. The results of that year and one-half effort are this documentary Lime Rock Park: The Secret Valley of Racing. For those who “got it”, and have responded so kindly and in so many ways, and have elected to own a personal copy, I am eternally appreciative. Thanks!

–Chris

NOMINATED FOR THREE EMMYS FOR CINEMATOGRAPHY, MUSIC,
AND “BEST DOCUMENTARY”
AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION--
BOOKLIST MAGAZINE “TOP 25 DVD” PICK OF THE YEAR!

“The greatest achievement is that it demystifies racing for anyone who has wondered what drives a person to risk life and limb. The images, narration, interviews, and music weave together as a tapestry that is both entertaining and thought provoking.”
– AUTOWEEK MAGAZINE (link to full review written by Mike Covello)

“A Surefire Winner!”
– BOOKLIST MAGAZINE

“…An artistic triumph…it captures the real Lime Rock.”
– Racer & Television Commentator Sam Posey

“…Highly positive and upbeat. It speaks to those who know that racing is the only true 21st century sport.”
– Sports car Racing Legend John Fitch

“A labor of love that arrives undiluted.”
– THE SHELBY AMERICAN

“Nestled in the bucolic, verdant hills of northwest Connecticut, Lime Rock Park has attracted auto-racing fans for the past 45 years. The colorful storied history of this deceptively difficult one and one-half mile racecourse, where enthusiast Paul Newman has burned his share of rubber, is told from the perspective of professional racers (including the blue-eyed actor), the track designer, racing commentators, and others in this beautifully shot, impressively narrated film, which avoids the well-worn paths often associated with auto racing documentaries. Viewers come away with an understanding of the racing culture and the appeal of this “accessible, colorful” sport in which racers’ passions are fueled by a volatile mix of risk and freedom. Harrowing point-of-view shots from behind the wheel, file footage of spectacular crashes, and realistic computer-generated images outlining the tough track seamlessly combine with an evocative musical score to find sheer poetry in a subject often rendered as prosaic as pavement.
A surefire winner.”

– AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION'S BOOKLIST MAGAZINE

© 2010 Chris Szwedo Productions | cszwedo@comcast.net