Bill Rogers, executive director of the Coruway Film Institute, the parent organization of SomeCity. Photo by Judi Currie.
Creative spirit builds community and to spur that creativity, it helps to have a dedicated space in the heart of downtown. That is the philosophy behind SomeCity, a storefront production studio in Somersworth, which is outfitted with the latest in broadcast technology.
Established as a media maker space, SomeCity encourages people to tell the story of the Seacoast region through a variety of media and viewpoints, though it is primarily focused on YouTube. The space is led by documentary filmmaker Bill Rogers who is also executive director of the Coruway Film Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and the parent organization of SomeCity. He says the mission is to identify all that is great about the community and express its collective potential value both inside and outside the area.
Rogers notes YouTube is trending toward long format videos while simultaneously keeping the short hits. He says SomeCity will make the community richer as the creative economy leads to a more vibrant city.
“We want to be engaged in the community and work with the people creating the actual art–artists, musicians, makers–and the creators–videographers or filmmakers–who are covering the scene,” Rogers says. “One of the first shows we are working on is called The Creators."
Rogers says SomeCity produced a “shorter, easy-to-eat” video, featuring a new eatery called Smoke and Cream. “We just took a quick three- to four-minute tour,” says Rogers. “We are also doing interviews with other businesses about mission.”
SomeCity’s storefront on High Street in Somersworth. Photo by Judi Currie.
And even though the content is consumed online, having the project located in the heart of the community makes all the difference to Jenne Holmes, founder and editor of Somersworth Then and Now, an integral part of the SomeCity operation. “We have a base. The newspapers no longer have that base within the community,” says Holmes. “Even though the content is all online, people can actually come in and sit down and talk to me. It brings it into the community more.”
Tom Jackson, a documentary filmmaker and teacher at the University of NH in Durham, is the co-host of “The Creators” and has his own show called The Great Divide. “I do a very short form op-ed piece—seven minutes at the most—where I talk about my opinions on the various divisions in the country and the populous.” Jackson says he is hoping to make the segments more sophisticated by incorporating news footage to enhance or set up the pieces. He says even though he has his own equipment, he likes the convenience of just popping in to SomeCity and knowing the studio is ready to go. “Having worked with Bill in the past, I thought the concept of this space was really great and wanted to be involved in some way.”
Rogers is looking forward to launching additional productions. He says Envision Berwick, a citizen-led initiative to revitalize neighboring downtown Berwick, Maine, would also be a great fit to tell the story of the region. Somersworth and Berwick share a bridge over the Salmon Falls River, along with a history of a community dominated by one major employer that is no longer there. But each eventually found ways to improve the respective downtowns, spur economic development and begin to restore a sense of community pride.
Robin Comstock, Somersworth economic development manager, says the city is thrilled to welcome SomeCity. “This amazing entity will bring a progressive and innovative prism to our unique and authentic community, while highlighting its people, places, and things of value,” she says.