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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 2:06 am | Fair 50º

 
 
 
 
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Santa Barbara Maritime Museum Co-Presents Sneak Peak of Three Part Documentary on Channel Islands

West of the West: Tales from California’s Channel Islands is a three part documentary mini-series on the human history of the Channel Islands currently in production, presented by the Santa Cruz Island Foundation and the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

Producer Sam Tyler has announced three free public screenings of 20-minute segments of the film as a sneak preview and the launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise the final funds needed for the film, which is almost 70 percent funded by local donors, foundations and government entities.  

“We have had tremendous community support for this film, and we are thrilled to share some of the footage of California’s crown jewels with the public,” said Tyler. “We invite people to stop by Fiesta Five Theatres on Thursday, Oct. 1 for three free screenings at 5:20 p.m., 6 p.m. and 6:40 p.m. as a part of the festive First Thursday offerings in downtown Santa Barbara.”

Film covering 66 days of shooting on the islands and the mainland have been completed and are currently being edited. The final product will comprise three one-hour films to be shown as a mini-series on PBS and will be distributed free to schools through California and the nation, complete with custom curriculum materials.

The films are engaging and enlightening “tales” told from the point of view of the people who have experienced the Channel Islands — lived on, wrecked on, dived under, filmed, raised children, bootlegged, fished, surfed, sailed, explored and restored in a remarkable saga that begins 13,000 years ago. 

The mini-series explores many tales that are unknown parts of America’s history.

In 1835, a Native American woman refused to leave San Nicolas Island, 61 miles off the California coast, when a schooner arrived to take her and the few other inhabitants to the mainland.

She lived alone on San Nicolas, the most remote of the eight Channel Islands, for the next 18 years, until found by George Nidever and brought to Santa Barbara in 1853. Her story inspired Island of the Blue Dolphins. 

In 1960, the oldest human remains ever discovered in North America were found at Arlington Springs on Santa Rosa Island. They date to 13,000 years ago.

Human presence on the island so early demonstrates that Paleo-Indians had watercraft capable of crossing the rough and treacherous Santa Barbara Channel and lends credence to the "coastal migration" theory for the peopling of the Americas.

Even baseball’s loveable losers, The Chicago Cubs, who have not won a World Series in 106 years, have a connection to the Channel Islands. In 1921, William Wrigley, Jr. brought them to Catalina for spring training  — a stint that lasted for 30 years on Wrigley’s island, which he bought sight unseen for $3 million in 1919.

These are just three of the countless stories that remain largely unknown and represent an untold part of California’s (and America’s) story, which will be revealed in West of the West: Tales of California’s Channel Islands.

Some experts refer to the islands as The Galapagos of the North, a 168-mile archipelago that runs from Santa Barbara to San Diego, approximately 25 to 60 miles at sea.

Manifest destiny and the final frontier did not end at the California, Oregon or Washington coasts; rather, America extended into the Pacific Ocean, where the islands were settled early, with a rich and varied human story unfolding on them for millennia. 

Filmmakers include Writer Peter Seaman, who has had a distinguished career in the feature film business. His co-writing credits include Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Last Holiday, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and Shrek the Third.

Producer Sam Tyler, who along with Seaman are both donating their time for this project, is a long-time independent producer who has funded, planned and produced nine specials for PBS stations.

Project Originator, Cinematographer and Editor Brent Sumner has operated a video production business in Santa Barbara for the past 18 years. 

All three were producers of the powerful documentary film Citizen McCaw.

Community members have an opportunity to pre-buy tickets to the premiere screening of West of the West at the Arlington Theatre March 5 and 6, 2016, and to own DVDs of the complete mini-series, through participation in the Kickstarter campaign at https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/westofthewest.

— Rod Lathim represents Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.

 

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