A documentary filmmaking company based in Lexington with ties to Ironton has won a prestigious award.
Dynamix Productions Inc.’s 2013 television production “The Beat of a Different Drummer: The Story of America’s Last All-Female Military Band” received a Silver Telly Award.
Ironton native Neil Kesterson is the owner of Dynamix Productions.
“I was real delighted,” he said of learning his film had won. “It was a last-minute thought to enter it and I thougth, ‘Well, I’ll just go ahead.’ I didn’t think I had a shot.
“It was a real honor because you’re recognized by your colleagues.”
Since the mid-1980s, Kesterson, who studied music at Pikeville College and the University of Kentucky, has been a producer and sound designer for film, video, television, theater, radio, audio books and multimedia. He wrote, directed, produced and edited the film and Margo Buchanan narrated the program. Post Time Productions, a Lexington video production company, provided cinematography and additional editing.
Also in the film was Ironton native Jan Richards Larson. She is Kesterson’s aunt who played flute in the band and went on to be a professional jazz pianist, he said, noting she still plays flute. Another Ironton native, Alice Peters, commanded the band in the 1950s and was responsible for helping to build it up during her time as leader, Kesterson said. She was a full colonel when she retired.
“That’s pretty amazing for a woman of that time in the Army because that was as high as you could go,” Kesterson said.
The documentary, first broadcast in September on KET, is scheduled for additional airings throughout April and has been broadcast on The Pentagon Channel and the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service worldwide.
“The Beat of a Different Drummer” tells the story of the 14th Army Women’s Army Corp Band. The other military branches fielded all-female bands, but the WAC Band survived longer than the others.
From 1948 to 1976, the WAC Band offered women the rare chance to have a career as a professional musician.
The standards were high for members and their audiences were diverse: they marched out recruits for morning drills; they performed for enthusiastic audiences in small town America; they appeared on national television and radio; and they played for presidents.
Former members still have bi-annual reunions and concerts at Fort McClellan in Anniston, Ala., where they were stationed.
In a ceremony on Capital Hill in Washington, D.C. on March 11, the U.S. Army Women’s Foundation inducted the 14th Army WAC Band into its Hall of Fame.
Kesterson said there were many reasons for doing the film.
“Being around these ladies, I call them idols, they were the first ones to do this and the first ones to do that,” he said. “This was really a tale about people defying the odds; it didn’t matter the race or the sex or whatever. I didn’t want (their story) to be forgotten.”
The Telly Awards is the premier award honoring outstanding local, regional and cable TV commercials and programs, the finest video and film productions, and online commercials, video and films. Winners represent the best work of the most respected advertising agencies, production companies, television stations, cable operators, and corporate video departments in the world. The Telly Awards is a widely known and highly respected national and international competition and receives more than 12,000 entries annually from all 50 states and many foreign countries.
LEE WARD can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2661.