Discovery Communications,Inc.,the National Park Service,and the National Park Foundation celebrated their first completed park project together – a state-of-the art film commemorating one of America’s most distinctive national treasures,Mount Rushmore.
More than 300 people were gathered to watch the premiere of the 25-minute film during a reception Tuesday night at the Stephen Decatur House Museum in Washington,D.C. Speakers at the reception included Mary Ellis Vhay,the daughter of the late Gutzon Borglum,designer and sculptor of Mount Rushmore.
The film,produced in high definition format with a 5.1 surround sound mix,will replace a film shown since 1973. Beginning May 19,2001,the film will be shown at the Mount Rushmore Visitor Center to an average of 2,200 visitors a night,and will run in the newly built 2,500 seat amphitheater.
One of the driving forces for a new film was the superintendent of Mount Rushmore National Memorial,Dan Wenk,who said it was definitely time to bring a fresh addition to the memorial. “Teaching has changed,movie making has changed,and people’s expectations have changed,” Wenk said. “Discovery has a way to bring national parks to life and surpass people’s expectations.”
The National Park Foundation and Discovery Communications share common goals of helping people explore their world and personalizing national parks,while blending science and technology. The future of their partnership,which began in November,2000,promises to deliver a different spin on park services,more technological additions,and reach hundreds of thousands of viewers.
While National Park Service (NPS) is expanding and improving park services, Discovery Communications is implementing new programs for the United States and in foreign countries.
“Freedom: America’s Lasting Legacy,” pays tribute to the four past presidents on the monument and reminds us of the importance and rich history of Americans’ freedom,while the old film focused on the biographies of the presidents.
The story unfolds with brilliant shots of landscapes and coastal sunsets. There is archive footage of past presidents and significant moments in history. The sound of waterfalls and the cries of bird’s can heard clear and sharp through the digital surround sound. Animals in their natural habitat grace the screen as well as vivid close-up shots of each of the presidents’ faces. “We took many shots from a helicopter and actually sat under the chins of the presidents for some shots,” Anne Lustig,executive producer,said.
Among those who watched the film at the premiere,Mark Robinson,development and public relations manager with the park services National History Day program,said it will have a great effect on its viewers. “The kids are gonna love it,” Robinson said. “They will want to learn more.”
The National Park Service manages 385 parks and historical sites. NPS and National Park Foundation officials said the new partnership they have formed with Discovery Communications will aid them in spreading the news that park services are personalized for all people,no matter what background,ethnicity,or family history they have.
“With Discovery’s help we have the opportunity to reach enormous parts of the population – over 40,000 households,” Jim Maddy, president of the National Park Foundation,said. He also said he hopes people will go home even more satisfied,knowing they have gotten an educational history lesson with meaning.
NPS and Discovery Communications relationship started when they worked together in the Washington Monument Restoration Project in 1997. Discovery donated money to the project and built an interpretive center to serve tourists and visitors in place of the monument. The center hosted more than 1 million people during its two-year stay.
Impressed with Discovery Communications,NPS soon launched their Proud Partner of America’s National Parks initiative. Carrie Passmore,senior vice president of Public Partnerships for Discovery Communications,said the three-year partnership will be very rewarding to both companies. Discovery Communications,along with four other corporate partners – American Airlines,TIME magazine,Ford Motor Company,and Kodak – joined the NPS family by providing financial support to the goals NPS is trying to achieve.
Their future and long-term goals include putting a new 21st-century face on all national parks’ treasures.
“We want to update and add new enhanced technology in the park visitors’ centers,” Judith McHale,president and chief operating officer for Discovery Communications,said.
This is the motivation for their upcoming work on other park visitor centers in the country and public service announcements.
Discovery Communications plans to start filming this July for the Alaska visitor center parks. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2001. This film will run in all the national parks in Alaska and encompass information on all of the parks there Also in June,filming for Yellowstone State Park’s Visitor Center will start and run into next year.
Some of the next stops on their to-do list include parks in Cape Cod,Mass.,New Orleans,and Santa Monica,Calif.
The two companies will also be shooting public service announcement at various parks. The PSAs will feature working park rangers who will talk about their favorite parks and historical sites.
Discovery Communications’ recent program,Discovery Channel Global Education Fund (DCGEF),is a not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to narrowing the information gap between underdeveloped countries by providing communities with technology,training,and programming to increase educational opportunities.
DCGEF is well under way in parts of Africa and Latin America. There,they have established more than 60 learning centers,donated satellite technology systems,provided teacher training and educational resources,and provided various video programs. The goal is to bring the power of technology and information to 1 million children by 2005.
President of National Park Foundation Jim Maddy said that he is truly thrilled that Discovery Communications is a part of NPS. “This illustrates the new things that are possible when we work together,” Maddy said.
Jen Larson,director of Public Relations at the National Park Foundation,said she feels very positive that Discovery Communications is a great partner to have. Larson said,”They are such a class act.”