News From The Woods - August, 2006


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published August 20, 2006

"This Is Your Town, Part Three"

Within the same week that the newspaper printed my interview, I was also interviewed on KTLO radio station. Between the newspaper article and the radio interview I suppose my project was the talk of the town for quite a while. I was inundated with orders for the video and wasn't prepared for the onslaught. In the first place I hadn't really completed the project. Distribution was also a problem. I live about 10 miles out of the city and was getting mighty tired of giving driving directions on all the connected county roads to every Tom, Dick, and Harry who wanted to pick up a copy of the video. I had to do something! My solution was to make arrangements to distribute the DVD's at three strategic locations. The first one was the Chamber of Commerce offices. Then we set up shop at the Baxter County Library. Finally I chose the Baxter County Historical Society. My evil plan was simple. I wasn't looking to make a big profit on the video. That wasn't in my original design. I wanted to share this video with everyone and I wanted everyone to be able to afford to purchase their own copy, so I set a ceiling price of $15 on each DVD. To make it more productive for the respective selling points, I also set aside 1/3 of the sale price on each DVD to the volunteer location. So if someone bought a DVD from the Library, they Library would receive $5.00. This was a way I thought I could use to help promote the Chamber, Library, and Historical Society.

Things were going smoothly for that first week, and I was keeping up with the demand. Then, out of the blue, I was getting phone calls and email from all over the state. It seems that the Baxter Bulletin had posted my interview on the state AP wire service, and for some reason every newspaper in the state was now reading the story and reprinting it. When my phone rang and it was AETN wanting to do a piece on me and then got an email the very next day from CBS News in New York, I knew I was in trouble.


I guess my mindset was focused on our local area here, and I didn't consider the "nostalgia factor" expanding beyond the Arkansas State Line. At first I simply did not understand why everyone in the nation seemed to be enthralled with this story. Looking back I should have realized that once the ball got rolling past the state level that this phenomenon would spread based on what was happening here. Folks were staging "movie parties" in their homes. They'd invite all the neighbors over and all watch it together and reminisce about "the good old days". They'd bring out the popcorn and sit for an hour and point out everyone they knew. It was like a big contest where every new name got "oooh's and ahhh's". They were writing up their own trivia contests….. "What was the movie showing at the Baxter Theater?" ("Gentlemen prefer Brunettes" was on the marquee)……. "How much was grapefruit selling for at the grocery store?" (the sign said 5 for $.25)……"Where was the bus stop?" (Morgan Drug Co.)……"What night did the Rotary Club meet?" (The sign in the restaurant read "Meets every Tuesday Night")…. And on and on and on.

I was like a local celebrity. Wherever I went people would stop me and tell me how much they enjoyed the film. People were buying copies and sending them to friends all over the country. Many stories were of people who saw their grandparents or other relatives for the very first time in the film. I was getting calls from as far away as Washington, New York City, Fort Myers, Florida, and Oakland, California. All of this was going much faster than I could react to, and I still had not completely finished the project! Although keeping up with the potential demand bothered me, I had a much bigger fish to fry. You may recall earlier in this tale I mentioned that I had put up a temporary music score of classic oldies from the 50's. While these songs worked wonderfully to enforce the time period of the film and the accompaniment got rave local reviews, once things "got out of hand" I panicked because as a musician I am very aware of music copyright laws. While you might get away with 10 or 20 DVD's on a local level, it would only be a matter of time before some irate music publisher would demand his rightfully fair percentage for using his client's hit song. Almost immediately following the radio interview I took matters in my own hands concerning the music I used. I knew I could not afford to make agreements with every music publisher represented on the soundtrack - some 20 classic hits of the fifties - especially considering this was almost a "freebie" project (I spent several months on this knowing full well I would never reclaim my time spent) for the paltry sum of roughly $5.00 profit on the sale of each DVD, I knew I had to get that temporary music soundtrack off the master.


The very first thing I did was replace the soundtrack with audio from my own library that I recorded myself. I had recorded my mother years ago singing and playing piano on tape, and selected several song titles from the era. I also had recorded an audition tape for a friend back in 1962. His ukulele playing was incredible and he made the tape to audition for the Arthur Godfrey Radio Show. He never got "the call" but I kept the masters and the ukulele made a great soundtrack for the film. I thought I was all set and prepared to start production on the DVD again. However, in a last minute of clarity I decide to call the experts in these matters, the Harry Fox Agency, who oversees most of the music copyright issues in the US. It was pointed out to me that even though it was my own mother performing the songs and I had recorded it myself, the SONGS she was singing were covers and I would still have to track down the authors or publishing owners of the song titles and negotiate agreements with each and every one of them. Well! This would be EVEN MORE DIFFICULT as these songs are so old that many of them would be public domain and it would all be like finding the needle(s) in the haystack.

As if that isn't enough, all the names being furnished by this time were starting to clutter up the great vintage footage of the town in 1955. In some instances there were so many names on the screen at one time that you literally could not see the forest for the trees!


What to do!!!!??

Find out in the next installment!

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