It’s been over four years – so it’s time for this again.
Author Archives: phayemuss
Findings such as this show us Lizzie Borden as a flesh and blood, three dimensional 19th Century woman with feelings – instead of that iconic caricature of a post-pubescent maniacal sociopath wielding a bloody axe.
As indicated a few days ago – here’s a restoration update. Kudos to Kristee! http://www.heraldnews.com/…/…/NEWS/150726398/0/breaking_ajax
In the original Arrest Warrant for Lizzie Borden, prepared by Marshall Hilliard, she was accused only of the murder of her father. Her Indictment was, of course, for both the murder of her father and stepmother. The interesting thing here is that the “weapon” is named as a HATCHET. A hatchet. Not an axe. Not a sharp instrument. A hatchet.
This is the Arrest Warrant that the Marshall had in his hip pocket when he and Mayor Coughlin went to the Borden house on Saturday …
Stones on Lizzie’s headstone placed today by descendents of Helen Hirsch – of the 6,000 descendents of Schindler’s Jews. Well, I don’t know that, but having seen the film again recently it occurred to me what a quirky and charming thing that would be in the “Wonderful World of Lizzie.” As August 4th comes to a close on the east coast, I bid adieu. Say Goodnight, Gracie. (image swiped from Deborah Allard Dion FB page.
All satellites are beginning to orbit around “The Wonderful World of Lizzie.” All is in place for the annual re-enactment at the Lizzie Borden B&B, followed by the obligatory Maplecroft “porch pose” (site inspection done by director of Pear Essential Players today), followed by the laying of flowers at the Borden plot at Oak Grove Cemetery.
Other satellites already beaming GPS coordinates for the dozens of cruise-by vehicles on French Street while the Fall River Herald News photographer will capture exteriors of crowds and interiors of “actors” simulating the morning chaos of August 4, 1892 to appear on the front page of its August 5th edition.
The Fall River Historical Society is battening down the hatchets for one of their biggest days of the year and displaying letters Lizzie wrote while incarcerated as well as prominent selections from their vast repository of Lizzie Borden artifacts and Trial evidence.
Satellite debris fallout in this Wonder World of Lizzie includes the regurgitation of Lizzie documentaries aired on TV, followed by all the blog posts, media mentions and newspaper write-ups commemorating this august day. (See what I just did there?)
Kristee Bates, Maplecroft owner, tells me she will NOT be allowing people inside no matter how loudly they knock, but it might be a tad difficult to turn away Utah license plates with a car full of wide eyed, salivating, and pathetically pleading individuals.
Our dear Lizzie, throughout all this annual hoopla, will remain in repose buried at her father’s feet. Andrew’s bony skeleton arms cross his chest where a singular high school ring (a gift from Lizzie) dangles from his finger. We might consider it a testament to his love for her if it weren’t for that sudden jerk of his foot that kicks Lizzie in the head at the stroke of 11:00 am each and every 4th of August.
Well, here it is folks – what we’ve all been waiting for— A feature length independent film of the Borden story with a terrific script, acted by age-appropriate actors, directed by a talented director with a passion for the case, and, for the very first time – wait for it —— filmed inside the actual house where the murders took place.
The “Defending Lizzie” official website with full history, can be found HERE.
“Defending Lizzie” is based on the screenplay co-written by author Karen Poulsen and Jerry Orzel, and adapted from Ms. Poulsen’s play of the same name. Ms. Poulsen’s play is one of the most authentic I have ever read and yet has at its foundation a most believable Lizzie under pre-murder circumstances. The play is a compelling read and quite thrilling. All characters are carefully crafted from her significant research and the screenplay has maintained authenticity of character, dialog, and plot trajectories. Further, unlike other productions, the story takes on factual occurrences often ignored or portrayed with gross inaccuracies.
This project has recently gained the partnership of the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum and we are all grateful to Lee-ann Wilber, General Manager, and Donald Woods, owner, for recognizing and giving support to this exciting endeavor. The “Wonderful World of Lizzie” and all its orbiting satellites will benefit with the production of this film. (I’m encouraging the new owner of Maplecroft, my friend, Kristee Bates, to allow some special filming of the interior which would be – you got it – another new FIRST!).
Because this is an independent film with limited financial resources, a fundraising campaign is being launched on August 4th. Primary funding will be used for transportation, housing and feeding of cast and crew to film on location. The film is scheduled to be released in summer 2016. You can help make this project achieve its destiny by contributing and I will post the link above under “Important Links” when it goes live.
Below is my interview with Jerry Orzel, the Director and co-writer.
Tell us briefly about your background as a filmmaker.
My first endeavor into film was “Revelation 22:22” which was a full feature
zombie film that I made fresh out of college. I wrote and directed a commercial
for a Holiday Inn Express contest that won the People’s Choice award.
I’ve been a freelance videographer / editor for the passed 15 years, and I’m
currently a media producer with the Volusia County School District.
What drew you to Lizzie and why Karen Poulsen’s play?
Karen’s play was well received by the audience and theatre
community. It was designed for minimal scenery, although it took place
in several locations. The characters were compelling and complex. She told the
story in a unique way that I instantly knew it had the perfect foundation for a
movie. The amount of research Karen has done over the past 30 plus years,
shows in the details of the script.
What will be your biggest challenges in filming “Defending Lizzie”?
Locations and wardrobe will be the most challenging, we don’t have the backing
of a large studio and we don’t have all the resources of a big budget production
has, but what I do have is a clever and resourceful wardrobe team lead by Ida
Bailey. She, along with Tosha Williams, made dresses by hand, altered items, and
used their connections with community theaters, assisted in wardrobe for the
trailer. Locations on the other hand have been challenging and fun. I had the
pleasure of getting into some really great places and talking to the owners. Our goal
is to shoot on location in the Lizzie Borden B&B, and use Fall River itself as a
backdrop for Defending Lizzie. Using the B&B along with other locations in Fall
River would add the production value that other movies lack. We would be the
first movie about Lizzie Borden to use the actual house. To me that in itself
would be a huge accomplishment as a filmmaker.
It’s been said the film is 80% factual an 20% artistic license or conjecture. Can you
describe what that 20% is?
Not every detail from Lizzie’s life is documented. To get from one historical fact
to the next we used a little artist license, even within the 20% we took has some
facts. One or two characters were combined into one. In doing this we are able
to keep production cost low, and still keep historic elements in the movie. We
created scenes between characters that may not have actually happened but
what they discuss is important to the story and it’s characters.
Which film festivals are you planning to submit Defending Lizzie?
Right now I’m currently just focused on getting the funding needed to get the
movie shot. I’ll submit Defending Lizzie to as many film festivals as I can, and
attend as many of those as I can. It’s fun to watch the audience watch the
movie, you get to see how they react to it, and as a film maker I get see what
works and what didn’t.
Will you be showcasing the film to special groups?
When we get Defending Lizzie done, I would like to hold 2 screenings prior to
hitting the film festivals. One in central Florida around where the cast and crew,
are located, and one in Fall River. I feel it is important to give the community a
chance to see how much of an impact they had in helping make Defending
Will your film be available on DVD for purchase and if so, when?
It depends if it gets picked up by a distributor, There is the possibility of it being
available thought VOD (Video On Demand) I know Netflix has an independent
division; Redbox, or we’ll self-distribute it ourselves thought Amazon, eBay and
the movie website. Somehow, some way it will be made available.
Can you elaborate on how your fund raising campaign will support this project?
Our Indiegogo campaign launches on August 4th on the 123rd anniversary of the
Borden murders. All funds will go directly into producing Defending Lizzie. We
have a “bare bones” budget, that will able us to shoot 90% of the movie in
Florida, and just get exterior shots of a few locations in Fall River. If we are lucky
enough to get the full amount needed, we would spend about 16 days of
production in Fall River. The budget is as big as it is because that’s what is costs
to make this type of movie. The fact that we are paying our cast and crew,
separates us from other independent films. I strongly believe in compensating
everyone that is working on this production. They have a talent whether it’s in
front of the camera or behind, and without them we have no movie.
Aside from Lizzie, who do you consider the most compelling character in the Borden case?
Andrew Borden. It is interesting to me that a man would build himself up from
basically nothing, and become a successful business man then live as frugal as
he did. I can understand not wanting a flashy lifestyle, but not to even have
indoor plumbing is really penny-pinching.
What would you like to say about the film or the Borden case given this
Defending Lizzie will be in a class all of its own when it comes to telling the
Lizzie Borden story. At its heart, it’s a murder mystery and the Borden case
could not be a better story to tell. Defending Lizzie will be what movies used to
be like, a story is driven by characters, an interesting plot, and of course –
Do you think Lizzie was guilty?
Not sure, I’m on the fence with that. I know that as the director, I want to show
Lizzie had another side. She has always been portrayed as a heartless, selfish, little brat. There is another side of Lizzie, a side of her that other movies
haven’t shown, a side that will make you feel sorry for her if she truly is
innocent of the murders. Lizzie, in this story, is walking a fine line between being
innocent and guilty
Defending Lizzie – Finally, a feature length, theatrical movie – – – filmed in the right place.
Here is the latest update by Deborah Allard-Dion of the Fall River Herald News on the status of restoration to the home where Lizzie Borden lived the entire second half of her life and where she died.
The home has actually had fewer than a handful of owners in the past 123 years, and I am constantly amazed when my friend, Kristee Bates, tells me of new finds discovered that were original to Lizzie’s time. Furniture, fixtures, equipment, etc. that actually belonged to her have been laying dormant in the attic, basement, garage, etc. I find that incredible and give my gratitude to all former owners who didn’t just throw things out. Of course much of what WAS in the basement has been sold on eBay, given away to friends or otherwise disposed of by friends of a past owner, yet, still – so much remains it is mind-boggling.
Len Rebello and Bill Pavao are excellent sources for curating. They were both heavily involved in the “restorative research” and hands-on renovation of the Second Street home of Andrew Borden back in 1995-96, prior to it’s opening as a Bed & Breakfast Museum. Bill was a “live-in” Curator of 92 Second for a brief time, and Len wrote the second best book ever on Lizzie and the case, Lizzie Borden Past & Present (The #1 best book, of course, is the award winning Parallel Lives – A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River by Michael Martins and Dennis Binette.) Kudo’s to Kristee for her restorative commitment and ability to seek out and acquire knowledge of those without self-serving agendas but who are equally committed to achieving a “Maplecroft” worthy of tribute to a much maligned woman of enduring mystery.
(All 3 images here by FRHN)
Originally posted on Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden:
Partial extracts from my historic timeline for the month of June follows. It helps one gain a perspective on what influenced Lizzie Borden and the world she lived in. Well, sort of. One can also watch old films like Pollyanna to get a peek into the mores, customs, societal hierachy of the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Speaking of Pollyanna, I watched it the other day and was particularly struck by its accurate depiction of the power the founding families had within their communities, including the Church. Just as Polly Harrington (Jane Wyman) dictated what her church minister (Karl Malden) would trumpet from the pulpit, made me wonder if the Bordens and Durfees influenced what their ministers would speak on for the Sunday sermons at the Central Congregational Church.
|June 20, 1635||John Borden, wife, and two children set sail for America.|
|June 9, 1772||First naval battle of the Revolutionary…|
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My friend Kristee Bates tells readers what she’s been doing lately restoring Maplecroft. She shares some of her discoveries and plans. I’ve persuaded her to do short videos of each renovation project in each area of the house to document its progress. She’s been sending these to me to string together for a DVD. I felt it was important to have a video record of what was being done. And so much more is being discovered and worked on than what is conveyed in the article.
The bottom half of the page above, i.e., “Borden expert not a fan of series spin” is my interview with the same reporter on Episode 6 of The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. (I thought it was kinda cool our interviews appeared the same day on the same page.)
With regards to “Maplecroft” becoming a B&B, it’s important to keep in mind the primary differences from 92 Second Street with regards to the “Lizzie Borden” connection. The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum was built in 1845 in the Greek Revival architectural design. Lizzie moved in when she was 12 years old and lived there until she was 33. She had only lived in 3 houses in her entire lifetime: 1) The Ferry Street “homestead” where she was born, where her sister was born and where her father was born; 2) 92 Second Street; and 3) 306 French Street.
The house on French Street she subsequently named “Maplecroft”, was built in 1891-92 and Lizzie moved in when she was 33 and lived there for 33 years – the entire second half of her life. While 92 Second Street is notorious for the events of August 4, 1892 – a singular date in time – the French Street home is only notorious because Lizzie lived and died there.
When the Second Street house was being renovated to operate as a B&B, Martha McGinn and Ron Evans took great pains to be as precise as possible in restoring furniture and fixtures to be as accurate to that “date in history” as possible. Kristee Bates has no such restrictions other than keeping “Maplecroft’s” interior true to the Victorian and Edwardian age. She has the freedom to mix periods as she wishes.
The photographs below are most all that are known taken of the interior of Maplecroft to date. They include photos recently appearing in the Fall River Herald News, photos taken by me on separate occasions inside the home, and photos taken by Shelley Dziedzik on separate occasions while inside the home. Robert Dube’, former owner of more than 30 years, rarely allowed photos to be taken inside even when he operated it as a B&B for a short period. I know Kristee has allowed several neighbors into the home since she began her restorative labor of love, but has restricted the taking of photos..
Back stairs for servants. Carpet has been removed.
The stained glass features of the house are lovely.
NOTE: If you’re on Facebook, check out my Lizzie Andrew Borden Chat Page.