motion by Kristen Kellogg
igh on a white shelf sit several silver, slightly rusted 8mm Bell and Howell cameras, which still run after 40 years. Dan Driscoll used these and other cameras many years ago to make surf films of him and his friends. “That’s how the motion picture world started for me, doing little surfing films,” Driscoll recalled. He began snapping shots with his mother’s camera at age 10, growing up in an age where capturing the moment really meant getting it in one shot. By the time he was 18, however, he’d evolved to capturing motion pictures, an evolution that turned into a profession. 109
After college, Driscoll worked briefly as a bartender, but the siren song of making films kept calling, and he gravitated back to the production business. Then, in 1978, he founded his own company, September Productions. As a young company, September Productions really took off and excelled, expanding with offices in New York and Boston, all-the-while producing television commercials and films for clients all over the world. Soon after, Dan and his wife Connie – who had been Nantucket visitors since 1971 – decided to make the island their permanent home. The relocation, of course, came with its own set of challenges. He readily admits that the island can be a difficult environment in which to shoot, but he is equally quick to acknowledge that the island’s natural beauty makes those challenges worth the effort. And Nantucket has provided plenty of material for his productions, not to mention partners with whom to collaborate. “A lot of the documentaries I have had a pleasure to work on,
I have done with writer/director John Stanton. Our first big project was for the Nantucket Historical Association, a film about the whale that washed up on the beach on New Year’s Day in ’Sconset.” That film – called “Bones of History” – was just the first in a long series of productions the Driscoll-Stanton partnership created. Soon after completion of “Bones of History,” Dan and John completed 10 short documentaries for a local television station.
The pieces ranged from 8-20 minutes in length and covered a wide range of subjects, including the history of the automobile Jordi Cabré Photography
and its temporary banning on Nantucket, modern day discussions on erosion and a segment about wireless communications inventor, Guglielmo Marconi. Regardless of subject matter, their films always documented pieces of island history. The fact that Nantucket plays such a central role in his productions is a reflection of Driscoll’s love of the island. “I have done some films on Nantucket just for the fun of it, including ‘Winter Post Card from Nantucket,’” Driscoll said. From self-funded projects like “Winter Postcard from Nantucket” to “Natural Nantucket,” featuring serene aerial views of the Island, Dan’s admiration for this little spit of sand September Productions
is obvious. His appreciation for those who work to conserve
the natural beauty and resources that the island has to offer is equally apparent. “Conservation of Nantucket’s natural beauty is very close to my heart and a very big part of what makes Nantucket so special,” Driscoll said. He isn’t just giving lip service to the idea; Dan recently made films for the Nantucket Land Council, in addition to working on fundraising for the Linda Loring Foundation.
“I can’t think of a better way to go through life than working in a craft that you love so much that it doesn’t feel like work. It’s an art form that I have been able to pursue for the majori ty of my life.”
Photos this page September Productions
With the level of success Driscoll has achieved, it would be
that have been on the Discovery Channel. He’s also just
easy for him to put his work on cruise control and take it easy,
finished shooting his first feature film. Following in his father’s
but the self-described workaholic refuses to stop. His most re-
footsteps, Zachary has found a happy medium, with TV
cent project, with John Stanton and Tom McGlinn, began as a
providing a stable income that allows him to pursue more
documentary about the Opera House Cup sailing regatta.
interesting side-work on other types of films. “He’s worked
“It has now grown and morphed into a pretty substantial
with me on wedding films on Nantucket, as well as on the
documentary on wooden sailboats,” Dan explained. “The
documentary “Wood Sails Dreams,” Dan said of his talented son.
journey we’ve been following has taken us all the way from Nantucket up the coast to Brooklin, Maine.”
In 2012, Dan and Deborah Anderson of Anderson Publishing, Inc. produced the “Nantucket App,” which showcases some
Of all the challenges associated with producing a
of his documentaries (“Daffodil Festival,” “Christmas Stroll,”
documentary, securing funding is the single most difficult.
“Winter Post Card from Nantucket” and “Natural Nantucket,”
“Funding for projects always presents a real challenge,”
a video on which he collaborated with Kit Noble).
Driscoll explained. “Fortunately for me, I am still able to work in the commercial world several times a year. Many projects
“I can’t think of a better way to go through life than working
I pursue on my own are really self-funded. Shooting around
in a craft that you love so much that it doesn’t feel like work.
New England on “Wood Sails Dreams” was initially funded
It’s an art form that I have been able to pursue for the majority
out of our pockets.”
of my life,” Driscoll said. Dan’s documentary work is
Dan and September Productions also give back to the community
He is clearly talented and has a vision of preserving history in
that has provided so much inspiration over the years. “We, as
a community that he holds so dear.
impeccable and inspirational, there’s no doubt about that.
a company, gave away more than $1 million worth of production for Public Service Announcements; it’s always been part of my company’s make-up to be able to give back to the community.” Dan has also produced commercials against teen violence. “If we could save one life with what we are doing, that’s worth it,” he said. Dan’s children have also been inspired and have taken an interest in the filmmaking process. Of their two daughters, Kelly was an editor and Katie began by catering meals on set for our shoots. She, along with Kelly, is opening Kate’s Table in Hingham, a catering company. Their youngest son, Zachary, went to Emerson College and is now in Los Angeles, working on a number of TV shows, as well as several shows
Selected from a field of 700 films, “Wood Sails Dreams” is one of 40 films that will be shown at the 2013 Nantucket Film Festival. Written, produced and directed by John Stanton, with cinematography and editing by Dan Driscoll and additional cinematography and technical consulting by Tom McGlinn.