The N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh announces the release of “Friends in Liberty: North Carolina in the American Revolution,” a 50-minute educational film produced by the museum and funded by the State Officers Club, N.C. Society Daughters of the American Revolution. A DVD of the film about the American Revolution in North Carolina will be distributed to all middle- and high-school public schools in North Carolina. The film and supplemental teaching materials are available on the museum’s Web site at ncmuseumofhistory.org.
“Friends in Liberty” follows the experiences of 14-year-old Hugh McDonald and his friend, Anne Taylor. The film is based on the original journal of McDonald, the son of Scottish Loyalists, who joined the Sixth N.C. Regiment of the Continental Army in 1776. The fictitious character Anne Taylor gives us a girl’s view of life during the Revolutionary War as she struggles with increasing responsibilities at home after her brother Samuel joins the militia.
Film Production: A Community Effort
When members of the State Officers Club, N.C. Society Daughters of the American Revolution became concerned that students no longer seemed interested in the nation’s history, they contacted the Museum of History and offered to fund the production of a new DVD for distribution to North Carolina public schools. The museum accepted the challenge.
The film became a reality through the efforts of its director, Jerry Taylor; other museum staff; and many volunteers. Museum educator Sally Bloom researched and wrote the script, and more than 200 actors, mostly students, applied to audition for the cast of 22. Film production became a community effort. A Raleigh costumer, for example, donated her services to find or sew historically accurate costumes for the entire cast. Re-enactors shared their time and expertise, and high-school students provided the music and vocals. A local professional musician scored a Bach piece for violin and cello. Other community members loaned props and assisted with the tapings at three locations.
The cast and crew members filmed for eight days at different locations. They met challenges, such as taping the Valley Forge winter scene under the broiling sun — while wearing wool uniforms and standing near a campfire.
Actor Sarah Catherine Carter, who played Anne Taylor as a girl, learned to cope with her costume’s five layers of clothing.
“I was surprised at how many layers of clothing I had to wear and how uncomfortable the stays (similar to a corset) were,” she said. “By the end of a day of filming, my stomach hurt from the stays! It made me really appreciate what women went through during this time period regarding their clothing and how uncomfortable they must have been!”
Did the experience of creating “Friends in Liberty” make an impression on the teenage actors in the film? Alex Hunt, who portrayed a Continental soldier, commented, “I was extremely surprised that teens fought in the war. Most of the kids were actually younger than me!”
Spencer Bloom, who played Hugh McDonald, summed up the power the film can have for students.
“When I first read the script, I thought it was remarkable that the responsibilities of the Revolution fell into the hands of young people. But in the course of shooting this film, I realized that Revolution still comes from the younger generation. That is what makes this story so powerful — it’s a story that is still being told today.”
For more information about “Friends in Liberty,” contact Sally Bloom at sally.bloom[at]ncdcr.gov or 919-807-7987. The museum is located at 5 E. Edenton St., across from the State Capitol.
The N.C. Museum of History’s hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free. The museum is part of the Division of State History Museums, Office of Archives and History, an agency of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. The department’s Web site is www.ncculture.com.