Updated: Feb 5, 2018
by David Michael Kirby
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” ~ Albert Einstein
Sunday dawned bright and beautiful. I was up early to head to Manchester for a meeting with the Vermont Production Council, a nascent group partnering with ITVFest, seeking ways to encourage film and television production here in the Green Mountain State. As someone who has attended the last four ITVFests, Philip Gilpin, Jr. invited me to participate.
Having been to and from Manchester a few times already, I trusted my GPS to get me there in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, in the shadow of Stratton Mountain it told me to turn left when I needed to go right. The large, official orange sign across the road should have served as a warning: “Turn around. Your GPS is wrong. Not a through road.” Since I turned left rather than going straight, I paid little heed to the admonition (beyond my own wry amusement). However, once the GPS had me turn right onto a dirt road, then left onto a narrower dirt road, and I found myself in a ski condo community, without an apparent through road, I became concerned. None of this was familiar. I made my way back to the main road, re-mapped my route to Manchester and backtracked to the way I should have gone initially, finding myself back in familiar scenery.
I arrived about ten minutes late, in the midst of introductions. The meeting was held in the beautiful timber frame offices of Stratton Magazine (now Manchester Life). The building overlooks the Mill Pond spillway of the Batten Kill (“kill” means creek in Dutch), wending its way to the Battenkill River. My friends Sonja O’Hara (writer, director, actor producer for “Doomsday,” winner of the Best of ITVFest in 2016) and Jake Krueger, owner and operator of the Jacob Krueger Studio in New York City, were among special guests Philip invited to today’s meeting. While the discussion focused on ITVFest in October, it included brainstorming on how to attract production in Vermont, especially for micro-budget independent creators. I was fascinated to hear steps to ultimately involve the state government in the process. The expertise around the table struck me as important facets that will serve as catalyst for ITVFest and production in Vermont, ensuring both will continue to improve going forward.
Following the meeting, some of us went to the Wilburton Inn, “a majestic hilltop estate, historic inn and vacation homes for families, romantics, artists, foodies and leaders who transform the world,” (to quote the brochure). It’s certainly all that and more. Melissa and Tajlei (sounds like “Tie-lee”) welcomed us to the mansion inn purchased thirty years before by their father. We enjoyed an impromptu brunch on the terrace, surrounded by breathtaking Green Mountain splendor. This is indeed a special place. The conversation revolved on how working together in the future could benefit ITVFest, Jacob Krueger Writing Retreats, and the Inn. As a filming location, the appeal of the Wilburton setting is undeniable. I spent much of my time taking pictures, even shooting a couple of time lapse videos. I remained behind after everyone else left, feeling very much at home in this gracious place.
It was midafternoon when I returned to Manchester. I took advantage of the WiFi in the ITVFest offices, posting a few pictures on social media, when I realized I was famished. I walked up the street to Cilantro for a late lunch. This is a place known for its fresh farm-to-table, locally sourced ingredients, as well as its thrifty prices. I ordered a two taco meal, with rice and beans, and can confirm it was fresh, delicious and filling. I washed it down with the tart and tasty house limeade. I enjoyed it so much, I’ll likely visit the Bennington branch later this week.
By the time I finished lunch, it was raining lightly. I window-shopped on my way back to the car, haphazardly ducking raindrops. Not knowing what the rain would mean for the afternoon farm concert Tajlei and Melissa had invited me to earlier, and feeling rather sticky and -- well -- a little gross, I elected to return home by way of my secret swimming hole. It was the therapy I needed. I had the place to myself, swimming for about half an hour (the water colder today than my previous visits). I also experimented with time exposure shots of the falls.
After this blissful Vermontime, I headed back to the apartment, refreshed, but exhausted and hungry. I made myself dinner, settling in to edit photos and watch “Game of Thrones”.
I felt very much at home.