February 1, 2013

Fire destroys celebrated Maine filmmaker's originals

Morning Sentinel staff report

SOLON – Veteran Maine filmmaker Richard Searls lost a lifetime of master film reels and original videotape Saturday in a fire that tore through his former home and storage barn.

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Remains of part of a huge barn that burned last Saturday at the home of Maine filmmaker Richard Searls on the River Road in Solon. Lost in the fire were tractors, farm equipment, tools and a lifetime of master film reels and original videotape.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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Some of the burned reels of film that were part of a lifetime collection owned by Richard Searls and were destroyed in a fire at his home in Solon last Saturday.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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Searls, 69, and his wife, Julie, who live nearby in a newer house, were not injured.

"I lost all my films from 1970 to 1990, and more – everything," he said Tuesday.

Searls is known in Maine for his collaboration with Stu Silverstein, co-founder of Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville, on the film "Dead River Rough Cut," a 1976 film about two trappers and their solitary life in the Maine wilderness.

Searls also made "Cut and Run," a film about the perils of logging in central Maine.

He made short films for Nova, National Geographic, and Children's Television Workshop, which produces "Sesame Street." His work in Maine includes films for the state Department of Agriculture.

Searls said he and his wife moved into the house on River Road in 1971 after a fire at their previous home in Athens. He said fire also struck the house that burned Saturday in 1980.

Solon Fire Chief Ronald Brown said the fire appeared to have started in the barn, but after so much damage, there is no way to be sure.


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Additional Photos

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Richard Searls


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