“Tiffin is the only community featured in the film. I wanted the film to be about small town life, but specifically about my hometown since that was my experience. To me, Tiffin typifies small town, mid-western life, but I am also a bit partial to Tiffin as well,” Byrne said.
People attending the First Friday event are to witness the film’s first public showing. Byrne completed the project to obtain her master’s degree in filmmaking. When a producer came to speak in one of her classes, he took a liking to a script idea she had submitted. The producer contacted Balance Vector Productions, who offered Byrne a job as an assistant.
Having spent part of her childhood in Tiffin, Byrne has family in the area, who are expected to be present for the film’s debut as part of First Friday at The National Theatre. She said the documentary took more than a year to conceive, develop, shoot, and edit. Doing the project allowed her spend time with relatives and to become re-acquainted with her childhood home.
The Ritz Players’ production of “House For Sale,” an original drama by Ron Hill of Old Fort, is highlighted in the 32-minute film. Hill also played the lead character in the show. Byrne said she is pleased to be giving the first screening at the theater that is documented in the project.
“I am also very excited that all the people who helped me make the film will finally be able to see it, and with an audience. I greatly appreciate how wonderful the cast of “House for Sale” was in helping me with the film. They let me invade their lives for a short while, and I am very grateful,” Byrne said.
The main subjects of “Stars of Ohio” are Hill, another cast member, Rosalie Distel, and director Lois Eisenhard. Michael Strong, executive director of The Ritz Theatre, also offered comments. Byrne said she interviewed those four people at least three times each.
“Overall I collected over 40 hours of footage, most of which included small interviews with many people in town, including my family,” Byrne said. “I guess the thing that surprised me the most was my renewed connection to Tiffin. I have always felt connected to this town but felt like an outsider. I made some wonderful new friends making this film, and I learned a lot more about Tiffin than I did even when I lived here.”
Byrne said she is contacting film festivals to have her work included. If that doesn’t work out, she plans to set up screenings on her own in places such as The Ritz Theatre. Right now, she is preparing a feature-length script loosely based on “Stars” and developing some more ideas for documentaries. Byrne said she enjoyed spending time in Tiffin and preserving the town on film.
“I truly feel like I can call this place my home. In all honesty though, part of me feels more frustrated with the town after making the film than before,” Byrne said. “I can see the potential this town has to be something really great, and it seems like we keep falling short. Making the film made my investment in Tiffin greater, and now my disappointment is greater, as well.”