SKOWHEGAN — Getting the word out about a documentary film featuring the Skowhegan New Balance factory has been easy, filmmakers say.
It’s getting the word out about how community and manufacturing in America are related – the film’s theme – that’s more difficult.
“American Made” will be released on cable television this week.
The filmmakers, who appeared at a screening in July at the Strand Cinema in Skowhegan, say the film has had a great reception around the country and they are looking forward to more people becoming informed about the issues facing American manufacturing.
“The tour went great. We really enjoyed engaging with people across the country who really showed interest in the topic,” said Vincent Vittorio, a California-based filmmaker who created the documentary along with partner Nathaniel McGill.
The two recently completed a bus tour to 32 cities in 20 states where the film was screened at selected theaters, including the stop on July 28 in Skowhegan.
But getting the message out to the public about Americans’ relationship to manufacturing has been difficult without a large marketing budget, Vittorio said. He is hoping a widespread release on cable television and DVD will help.
The film will be released Tuesday on demand on cable television, and it is set for release on DVD and Blu-ray on May 20.
“We’re really looking forward to having more people able to connect with the film and learn about the topic,” Vittorio said.
New Balance, and its factory in Skowhegan, is one of four American companies featured prominently in the documentary, which strives to show the role of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. economy.
Filming took place in December 2012 and the filmmakers started on their cross-country tour last June.
“New Balance really has a special role in the film. It really gave the viewer a good idea of the relationship between the people that produce a product and their community,” Vittorio said.
The Skowhegan factory employs 345 people, and the company also has a factory in nearby Norridgewock that employs about 393, making it one of the largest employers in Somerset County.
The importance of manufacturing jobs in the area was highlighted earlier this month when United Technologies Corp. Fire and Security announced it will close its Pittsfield factory. The plant employs more than 300 people and will begin phasing workers out this fall and close for good next March.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize the relationship of manufacturing jobs to the community. Those same people making shoes are drinking coffee at the coffee shop you’re at. They’re putting money into the economy, so when you buy a pair of New Balance sneakers, you are really embracing a company that has an effect on your community,” Vittorio said.
The 84-minute documentary also focuses on Annin Flagmakers in Roseland, N.J.; Viking Range in Greenwood, Miss.; and Hillerich & Bradsby Co. Inc., which makes the Louisville Slugger baseball bat in Louisville, Ky.
New Balance’s slogan, “Made in the USA,” comes from the fact that 25 percent of shoes sold in the U.S. are made in this country, according to its website.
The film’s DVD, including the casing and cover, is 100 percent American-made, Vittorio said.
“We really wanted to practice what we preached in the film. We just thought, how cool would it be if we could have it made in America?” he said.
Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at: