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NEWS | Dec. 10, 2018

An Illustrious Night at the Dahlgren Movie Premier

By NSWCDD Corporate Communications

On Tues., Nov. 27, all the stars converged on at University Hall at the University of Mary Washington Campus for a preview of the new film: “A Century of Innovation, a celebration of the Dahlgren Centennial.” 


Not only did Dahlgren Museum pull off the red carpet moment with style and grace, but also interviewed guests as they arrived in their ball gowns, suits and finery to submit their VIP tickets, be photographed, and proceed to the hall outside the auditorium to mingle, be seen and partake of light hors d’oeuvres and wine.  


“What a spectacular night,” Jeron Hayes, Dahlgren Museum Board secretary, remarked.  ‘We worked so hard to bring together all the community stakeholders, former Dahlgren employees, museum patrons and more into one night to celebrate the work we do.”


The Dahlgren Band -- a musical ensemble composed of scientists, engineers and physicians from the NSWCDD workforce -- had anticipated this moment for more than two years and assiduously practiced their pieces for more than a year. They performed during the procession of arrivals, though to the introduction of the film, and for a postlude after the film debut. 


So many of the old guard from Dahlgren’s past appeared out of the night like history itself coming back to see what the audience today thought of the accomplishments of their era. 


People like Ira and Gladys West, appeared, two mathematicians who started working at Dahlgren in the 1960s met each other on base and performed significant work at Dahlgren on many projects. 


“All year, we have been working alongside the base and NSWC Dahlgren to help celebrate the centennial event, and this proved to be one of the most memorable evenings to bring the community together so they could participate center stage and feel like equal participants,” said Alice Stanton, Dahlgren Museum Board member. “Of course, we are grateful to the University of Mary Washington’s gallant efforts in helping the museum showcase this movie premier.”


It required two years of arduous planning and effort to research, write, edit, and produce the “Century of Innovation” for the Dahlgren Centennial Film.


“We began by examining the major moving pieces for Dahlgren’s history, the major turning points and the most salient challenges NSWC Dahlgren Division overcame during their century long history,” said Joseph Fordham, NSWCDD public affairs officer. “We assembled the experts to help us write, fact check, and advise on historical accuracy to make the film a classic – something the public can enjoy for years to come.” 


Alan Black, NSWCDD Corporate Communications director, oversaw the project and ensured that the film encapsulated all the key elements from Dahlgren's past and highlighted the most salient breakthroughs of the command’s history.


Chris Pyles, NSWCDD videographer, combed through Dahlgren’s vault of film and photo archives for historic footage that he edited with precision according to the script. Pyles produced his own voiceovers while editing the entire five-part movie into the film you see today. 


Joseph Fordham, the film’s executive producer, managed the motion picture’s production since its inception. He worked with Sara Krechel - the film's technical

and historic expert - to ensure that each section of the movie proved

historically accurate. 


Alan Dean served as the historical advisor to the picture, and ensured that the film was thematically organized. Dean determined the major themes that cover the totality of the century, reinvention, cutting edge, response, and innovation. 


George Smith and Patrick Dunn supplied critical film footage for the making of this motion picture on Dahlgren's centennial and oversaw the contracting portion for the script writing. In the past, they put together scripts and films for previous Dahlgren anniversaries.


Brian Bartusiak took the draft script and provided a polished final version of the film. 


The film ran 32 minutes, covering a little over three years per minute, and gave a clear overview for the first five minutes. 


After the film’s debut, the museum assembled four panelists who were interviewed by Ed Jones, Dahlgren Museum president. The panelists were Dr. Jim Colvard, director of research from July 1973 through to April of 1980; Dr. Rob Gates, former technical operations manager; Jon Dachos, who talked extensively about the importance of STEM education; and NSWC Credit Union representative Don Smith, who spoke on the importance of what the Dahlgren Museum brings to the community, King George, and the Dahlgren Base itself. 


“We were exceptionally pleased with the outcome of the event,” said Fordham. “It’s evident that the grand conjunction of our combined efforts showcased the confidence, pride and aspirations of those who show such dedication to Dahlgren – confirming the story behind our century of innovation.”


In response to the great level of interest in the movie, the museum is already in the planning stages to host another opportunity for the public to see the motion picture on Dahlgren’s centennial in the near future.