As the saying goes, there’s more than one side to every story, and a local television producer hopes to show the many sides of the history of the Kasilof area with his new documentary.
“I want to show a broader perspective on the history of the convergence of Western society and indigenous Alaskans,” said Paul Gray, independent TV producer and creator of the “Exploring Alaska” television show.
Gray has made numerous videos on a variety of Alaska subjects over the last decade, including snowmachining, dog mushing and, of course, fishing. However, Gray said he desires to go in a new direction with his filmmaking.
“I’m changing the format of the show. I want to start doing more historical documentaries, something more comprehensive than just tourist destination shows,” he said.
Gray said a new show, currently in the final stages of production and due to air in August, will be an attempt to do just that.
The documentary is a blend of modern footage shot by Gray and film clips and still pictures of the Kasilof region from the 1910-1940 era gathered by Gray from the University of Alaska Fairbanks film archive, long-time Kasilof residents and other sources.
Some of the old images depict the hunts of Dall DeWeese, a Canon City, Colo., hunter who worked to designate part of the Kenai Peninsula specifically for the preservation of wild game. Also detailed in the documentary is DeWeese securing the services of Andrew Berg Alaska’s first guide who he found working at the Kasilof cannery, so there is much footage of early cannery work and life.
There also are several clips explaining the often inglorious relationship between white hunters and the indigenous Native people of the region known as the Dena’ina. Some of the scenes illustrate prejudice and discrimination, components not always included in all versions of the history of Kasilof, according to Gray.
“I wasn’t trying to say this person was bad, or that person was bad. There are just different points of view, so I didn’t want it to be a one-sided history. I wanted to show the truth and a broader perspective of the history of this area,” he said.
The documentary also features numerous interviews with people knowledgeable about the Kasilof area and its history, including Alan Boraas, who teaches anthropology at Kenai Peninsula College; Gary Titus, a historian for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge; Catherine Cassidy, who along with Titus co-authored “Alaska’s No. 1 Guide The History and Journals of Andrew Berg”; and Sasha Lindgren, a member of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe.
Gathering so many resources and interviewing so many people, Gray said this new documentary was a long time in the making.
“They take time. This one took five years and I still have one more interview to do for it, so you can’t bang them out,” he said.
Gray said the finished product will be worth the work, though.
“Documentaries open people up to different points of view. They entertain, open your eyes and heart, and can even change public opinion,” he said.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.