Monday, November 26, 2012

"Americana" - A Short Film



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A short film about an abandoned amusement park.



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- The "Belle of LeSourdsville" boat sitting on wooden saw horses in the summer of 2007. LeSourdsville Lake itself has been drained.

In 2007, I started QC/D with a post about the former Americana/LeSourdsville Lake amusement park in Middletown, OH. Earlier that year I had the opportunity to visit the abandoned park with permission.   When my friends and I arrived, the caretaker unlocked the gate and let us roam around freely. The lake had been dried up, grass growing in its place. The rides were shut off, the cotton candy stand shuttered and weeds were growing through cracks in the midway.

Being that, that was over five years ago know - what little knowledge I had about photography far outweighed what little I know about videography then. I shot some video that day with a Mini DV cam. The footage is handheld, shaky, poorly shot and the camera lens was dirtier than shit.

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Nevertheless, I made a video about the day. It's been on YouTube for awhile, but it's really bad. I came across the footage I shot and re-edited it into a short film called: "Americana." Any modern  camera phone would put the video quality to shame. It's funny how things change and evolve, but that's the point so follow me for a second.

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- The "Screechin' Eagle" roller coaster with weeds growing through it.

"Americana" wasn't just a name for the park, it's a word used to describe American culture and the park was once a symbol of a now fading era in the national scope. Parks like Americana/LeSourdsville Lake are rarer and rarer these days.

Often times I find people talking about the "good ole days," and I think there's often a misconception that we used to exist in some form of an idyllic "Leave it to Beaver" type society. Americana was a park that prospered in those perceived times.  The past becomes romanticized and the newer generation gets defined as "they don't make 'em like they used ta." It's a cycle repeated by generation after generation admiring their "present," romanticizing the "past" and often times shaking their heads and fingers at the "future." Will kids "these days" look back with fond memories on corporate theme parks such as the now abandoned Six Flags New Orleans with their record breaking rides, overpriced corn dogs and paying for parking?

- Six Flags New Orleans. Photo via Erich Valo.

To see these places that have been memorialized in history with often romanticized views now abandoned and overgrown is a stark contrast. It represents that our culture and society have moved in a new direction. Remembering the past is important, but whether or not it's better than the present is irrelevant  It's over, its time has come - what's important is that we've documented it before it's gone.

Over the years I've found abandoned amusement park to be some of the more interesting places to explore and photograph. They symbolize a different time, perhaps when things were "simpler," "happier" or "less complicated." They represent "Anytown, USA" so to speak. Essentially they represent "Americana" in the form of an idea. As theme parks evolve, so does our culture and what gets left behind, whatever the reason for abandonment, stands as a symbol to a fading era. That's why I wanted to re-edit this footage, to try and show a deeper meaning to seeing a place like the abandoned park in Middletown.

So, I present to you: "Americana." A three and a half minute short film with poorly shot footage and royalty free music.




Just in case anyone's wondering, very little of the park remains today. Many of the ride's have been dismantled or sold off. The park's iconic attraction, the "Screechin' Eagle" wooden Roller Coaster) was demolished a few years ago.

Original Americana/LeSourdsville Lake post from 2007.

The History Channel alos featured the park in a video for its series entitled: "Life After People." You can watch the video here.

5 comments:

  1. Yes, the photos are superior, and much more dramatic, but yes, the video provides a sense of scale and perspective that still photography can't. Thank you for giving you video another chance.

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  2. Haunting. I think the poor video quality is even more Americana as it is reminiscent of the 90s "last available footage before they were murdered."

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  3. What memories. Went there as a kid. Worked there as a teen. And took my daughter there when she was a toddler few years before they closed. Sad

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  4. That day goes down as still one of the funnest days we all had together.

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  5. Great pictures!! brings back a lot of good memories!! we lived in Hamilton not far from there all my life!!! was a sad day when it closed down for the last time!!! To think it's now a sales lot for RV's is very sad!!

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