I never knew for sure if this day would get here. The day when I could say a film I worked so hard to create and produce about legendary and inspiring pioneers would finally be “on air.” In many ways, it’s a miracle that my film, Breaking Through the Clouds: The First Women’s National Air Derby (BTTC) ever happened. I have had more obstacles than a golfer on a course designed by gophers.
Some of my obstacles included leaving my job at Discovery only to have the biggest financial meltdown since the depression happen immediately afterwards, contacting derby contestant Bobbi Trout after she had just entered the hospital, days before she passed away, my cameraman landing in the emergency room right before the aerial recreation shoot, dealing with the snow blizzard of the century when trying to get to the post production house, having power go out on the final day of off-line editing, severe flooding in Nashville where the composer of the film was working to get the final music to me and much more. In fact, this is just the tip of the iceberg of obstacles I have had and continue to face in regards to the film.
One of the hardest parts of the whole process, however, was finding the people who shared my vision for the film, understood the importance of the women’s air race and what it represents. For example, I had one editor who insisted that aviation legend Elinor Smith Sullivan should be cut from the film because nobody talks the way she does anymore. I cut the editor instead.
Elinor Sullivan Smith in her last on-camera interview. Filmed for Breaking Through the Clouds
Through all of turmoil, however, I ended up finding all the right people to help bring this story forward. Nearly everyone who has been involved with BTTC has become an important part of my community from family members of the derby contestants, to creative artists, excellent pilots and people of integrity who believe in the message behind the derby.
What these obstacles helped to clarify for me is that the derby was and continues to be about community, relationship, and the human spirit. There is no doubt this film has only made it as far as it has because of the grass-roots support from individuals much like the race in 1929 happened in large part because of the contributions of fans across the county.
My community has now extended to viewers across the country as well as BTTC began airing on PBS stations nationwide in March of this year (2015). So far BTTC has aired in 20 states with nearly 100 broadcast. New dates, stations and times are being added daily including one in Washington DC this weekend (dates for this week listed below and also posted on the website: http://breakingthroughtheclouds.homestead.com/PBS-AIrings.html).
I have received some lovely letters and emails from this expanded community with viewers letting me know how inspired they are by the women’s story. I’ve listed some of those comments below as well.
Thanks to everyone who has stuck with me from the very beginning, to those who are just tuning in and others who have walked beside me in this journey. I think the women of the derby might be pleased to know that following their passion to fly in an air race over eight decades ago is still inspiring people today and helping build community “from the ground UP to the skies.”
Pilots who are part of the aviation community that helped in the aerial recreations for Breaking Through the Clouds along with producer Heather Taylor
UPCOMING AIR DATES
The BTTC website, Facebook page and twitter account are updated frequently with air dates and listings. Listed here are some of the upcoming broadcasts:
APRIL 13th, 2015 (Monday), 11pm
Kentucky, WKYU, Bowling Green area
APRIL 17th, 2015 (Friday), 11pm
New York City, Connecticut Area, Rhode Island including: Fairfield, CT: WEDWDT3; Hartford, CT WEDHDT3; New Haven, CT: WEDYDT3, Providence/New Bedford/Norwich CT: WEDNDT3
APRIL 18th (Saturday), 11am
Washington DC, WHUT and WHUTDT2
April 18th (Saturday) 9pm
Minneapolis: St Paul and Brainerd, MN: KAWB, KAWE
APRIL 19th (Sunday), 9pm
Minneapolis: St Paul, Brainerd MN, KAWBDT5 & KAWEDT5
April 22 (Wednesday) 9:30pm
New York/Fairfield, CT., WEDWDT3; Hartford, CT: WEDHDT3, New Haven, CT: WEDYDT3; Providence/New Bedford/Norwich, CT: WEDNDT3
April 26th (Sunday), 10pm
New York/Fairfield, CT: WEDWDT3; Hartford, CT: WEDHDT3; New Haven, CT: WEDYDT3; Providence/New Bedford/Norwich, CT: WEDNDT3
NOTE: An extended version of Breaking Through the Clouds: The First Women’s National Air Derby is available through this website: http://breakingthroughtheclouds.com/noframes.asp?f=DVDs_Testimonials.html
RECENT COMMENTS FROM VIEWERS ABOUT BREAKING THROUGH THE CLOUDS
I finally got a chance to watch your film Breaking Through The Clouds and WE LOVED IT! I watched it with my 11-year-old daughter and my mother. I am so glad you included so much detail and in-depth interviews, etc. Makes it so interesting. I am an aviation nerd and I learned a lot from the show. I did not know a great deal about that era nor about several of those individual pilots. We really enjoyed it and liked how you took each one and explained their lives and brought them to life.
Those women are so admirable and daring. And they looked like they just LOVED to fly, that’s what makes it so neat. You did a brilliant job. My daughter’s “heroes” are mostly celebs, well except for Hope Solo. Now she really thinks Louis Thaden and Ruth Elder are cool. Thanks for that.
I watched Breaking Through the Clouds and LOVED every minute of it! To witness these women being so courageous and gutsy made me reflect and say to myself “What can I pioneer, what new ground I break for not just women but for humanity?” It really got me thinking and I’ve recommended it to several of my friends. Very inspirational…thank you, thank you for telling their stories and keeping this part of our history alive!
I was blown away by your film. I could never have imagined that someone could recreate an event 85 years old and make it seem like just yesterday. … Your hard work has preserved these beautiful, talented and brave women for all history, and now they shall not be forgotten.
Well I usually am not the most interested person when it comes to historical films. But with this, I was not at all bored. In fact, I couldn’t wait to hear about what the next day would bring and who would eventually win. The back and forth between the old footage, new images, and the people interviewed was what kept such interest! Very nice work!