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Made Here

Filmmaking couple premieres new documentary about their hometown of Strafford, New Hampshire

The latest Made Here premiere takes us to the small town of Strafford, New Hampshire. In Strafford: Portrait of a Town, filmmakers Katy Cecchetti and Kevin Corcoran explore the town they grew up in.

In the film we meet the people who live and work in this small New England town, as they reflect on its history and look to its uncertain future in anticipation of their bicentennial celebration in 2020.

Katy Cecchetti and Kevin Corcoran, the directors of Strafford: Portrait of a Town
Photo by Nancy Hoffman
Katy Cecchetti and Kevin Corcoran, the directors of Strafford: Portrait of a Town

Filmmaker Kevin Corcoran answered questions via email with Vermont Public's Eric Ford. This interview has been lightly copy edited.

Eric Ford: How did you meet? 

Kevin Corcoran: We actually both grew up in Strafford, but didn’t meet until we were both working at the same ad agency in New York City about a decade ago. We had gone to different schools and had a couple years' age difference between us, so somehow had managed to never meet when we were growing up. We like to joke that we’re a statistical anomaly. It was obvious from the moment we met that we were on the same wavelength, so became fast friends and eventually creative partners.

Eric Ford: Why did you decide to make a film about Strafford?

Kevin Corcoran: We both came from a background in video editing and advertising, but had other creative aspirations and had always talked about doing a film together. We both like documentary and wanted to explore the sort of subtler emotional storytelling that is hard to get out of a 30-second ad. While still living in Brooklyn we’d often come visit family in Strafford and had started playing around with our cameras just filming around the town. We quickly became hooked on how beautiful the footage of the local landscapes came out, and started wondering how we could build a larger project out of it. Around that time we found out that the bicentennial celebration was coming up, so we decided to use that as a framing device to tell a broader story about the town’s history through interviews with some of its residents today.

Still from Strafford: Portrait of a Town
2019, Katy Cecchetti
Still from Strafford: Portrait of a Town

Eric Ford: What were some surprising things you learned about the town and the people while making the film?

Kevin Corcoran: It’s hard to overstate how much we learned about filmmaking and the town over the course of making this movie! We had both grown up in town but left to go away to school as teenagers, so much of our knowledge of the town history or information about its landmarks like Austin Hall or the Waldron Store was fuzzy at best. We didn’t really know what a Grange was, despite walking past it a thousand times as kids, or grasp the magnitude of the clear-cutting of the forest that happened in the earlier part of that region’s history and the impressive conservation efforts going on in the town today.

Most significantly, we didn’t really know any of the people we interviewed for the film before we got started. We knew of some of them by name from around town, but it wasn’t really until we started filming that we got to talk to all the folks in the movie. That was the biggest revelation in filming, since we were blown away by how welcoming and generous with their time and expertise everyone was. As we got going it became clear to us that they were the soul of the project.

Eric Ford: Any challenges that you had while making it?

Kevin Corcoran: The biggest challenge was handling the scope of it with our tiny micro-crew! This film was independent filmmaking in the extreme, with just the two of us running around town with our camera and sound equipment over the course of several years. Then we had to edit everything down to 90 minutes and find a story flow, write music for the picture, do the sound mix, etc.

Beyond that, though, one big hurdle came in 2020, when the pandemic struck, sending us and everyone else into lockdown. They canceled the bicentennial celebration, which was the only “plot point” that we were really banking on to conclude the film. On top of everything else going on that year, we were pulling our hair out trying to figure out how to wrap up filming on our 90% finished film! In the end we were able to incorporate that into the third act of the film and capture the big town parade when it was finally able to go ahead (one year late) in 2021. Ultimately we captured a piece of town history we couldn’t have planned for and hopefully the film is richer as a historical document for it.

Eric Ford: What are you working on now?

Kevin Corcoran: We’ve got a few new projects in the works, most notably a new documentary we’ve just started working on about Nancy 3 Hoffman and the Umbrella Cover Museum, which is located on Peak’s Island off the coast of Portland, ME. It is Guinness World Record certified as the largest collection of umbrella covers out there, with a story to go along with each of its over 2000 sleeves. But before we get too much further along with that, we’ve got to get married later this year!

"Strafford: Portrait of a Town" premieres on Vermont Public's main TV channel 8 p.m. on Thursday, February 29 and is available now on demand.

As Director of Content Partnership, Eric works with individuals and organizations to make connections leading to more Vermont stories. As Producer of the Made Here series, Eric partners with filmmakers from New England and Quebec to broadcast and stream local films. Find more info here: