People on the Mountain

79 minute DVD, © 2012 $15 or
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Three compelling 16mm documentaries on the patriotic, self-reliant culture of West Virginia

Almost Heaven, Grafton, West Virginia
©1976 - 22 minutes

A sensitive, redeeming portrait of an American community struggling to reclaim its most basic values and beliefs during the final months of the Watergate crisis in 1974. Taking viewers inside trailer homes and Main Street backyards, wives and husbands speak to the challenges of staying true to what’s important in their lives. The film presents an intimate study of a people getting back in touch with their feelings, their country, their faith, and their marriages. Narrated by Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-WV. Premiered at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City.

Produced, directed, filmed and edited by Peter R Griesinger; on location sound by Carol D Terwilliger; Sound mix by Lee Dichter, Photo-Magnetic Studios, New York, NY; Color by TVC Labs, New York, NY

“A well-produced, sensitive portrayal of a segment of Americana that has been pushed into the background of today’s life by the hustle-bustle, hectic economic beat of our pluralistic society. Filmed and edited with capability and deftness, the program is a reminder of an America that has had its crest, albeit the values stressed – ethics, home, religion, love of country – are as valid today as ever; perhaps, in view of the nostalgia evident today, even more so.”
- Variety, September 1976
“Beneath a complacent certainty, lurk some anxious elements in these people’s lives…a curiously disquieting and sympathetically handled film portrait. A provocative addition to film programs on the American scene and spirit”
- Booklist, November 1976

Small Business My Way
©1982 – 28 minutes

An uncompromising, undiluted and uplifting tribute to the spirit of the American small business community, this nationally televised PBS primetime special profiles nine small business men and women in Upshur County, West Virginia, who put aside the nuts and bolts of running their businesses to get to the heart of how they view themselves and their lives during tough, recessionary times. Filmed during the run-up to the 1980 US presidential election, this straightforward, artistic portrait documents a courageous, hard-working community that is by turns heroic and self-reliant, defensive and fed-up. Presented as an un-narrated, ethnographic record, Small Business My Way is an authentic statement by folks who took up the challenge and, in the words of one of the featured shopkeepers, made a go of it: “Maybe there is an easier way to make a living, but this is my way…this is home.”

Produced, directed and filmed by Peter R Griesinger; Designed and edited by Michael Herschede; On location sound by Dan Green, Dennis and DeAnn Berry, and John Ford; Forword by AJ Manchin, WV Secretary of State; Original music ‘Now’ directed and arranged by Michael Herschede, composed and performed by Michael Craver on piano, Burr Beard on Hammer Dulcimer, and Michael Herschede on drums;  Color title backgrounds by Jayne Rosenberg; Sound mix by Lee Dichter, Photo-Magnetic Sound Studios, New York, NY; Color by TVC Labs, New York, NY

“An original and most unusual portrait of small business America…an upbeat and personal Griesinger Films production.”
- Lawrence K Grossman, President, PBS, Washington, DC
“One of the rare filmmakers who can contribute a compelling blend of color and emotion and content to the normally bland, noncreative world of the traditional documentary.”
- William F Baker, PhD, President, Television Group,
Westinghouse Broadcasting and Cable, Inc. New York, NY
“Small Business in the mid-20th century America is a tenacious reminder of the historic forces that shaped society. This film permits several small business proprietors in a rural area to reflect, not nostalgically, on the foundations of independent enterprise. The photography is good. There is no narration, but the dialog has been skillfully edited around a unifying theme.”
- Science Books and Films, An ‘Editor’s Choice-Films’ Selection, 1984
“A gem, a work of art”
- Cleveland Plain Dealer
The 1983 nationally televised PBS primetime special was produced by Griesinger Fims with additional underwriting
by Hecks, Inc., ALAMCO, Monongahela Power Co, and Union Carbide.

Finalist – 25th American Film Festival 1983, Citizen Action; Winner – 14th Sinking Creek Film Celebration 1983

Merchant People: Pride, Power and Belief in Rural America ©1984 - 29 minutes

A re-titled, re-edited educational version of the 1983 nationally televised PBS primetime special, Small Business My Way, 1982.

Additional credits: Original music ‘Community’ directed and arranged by Michael Herschede, composed and performed by Tom Espinola, recorded and mixed at Bias Recording Co., Inc.; Video post-production by TVC Video, Inc; Sponsored by Appalachian Freshwater Foods, with additional underwriting by Hecks, Inc.; ALAMCO, Monongahela Power Co and Union Carbide.

“Merchant People is an inside look at the struggles, strengths, prejudices and achievements of nine rural Appalachians. The voices and portraits ring with authenticity. Listening to them promotes, in terms both personal and memorable, a deeper understanding of an
increasingly isolated smalltown America.”
- Jayne Ann Philips, author of ‘Machine Dreams’ and ‘Black Tickets’
“The ultimate statement of this film fits the current economic and political moods of this country. Hard sustained work and rugged individualism are the keys to these ‘merchant people’s’ success as well as their personal happiness and pride. The film plays beautifully with excellent photography, color, music, sound and editing.”
- Science Books and Films, 1985
“This is cultural anthropology…an ethnographic record. It is a study of an American tribe, uninterpreted, undefended. Griesinger and Herschede have done for this dying breed what Curtis did for the Plains Indians. They recorded them before they disappeared”.
- John Warner, Jr., PhD, Chairman, Dept. of Sociology,
West Virginia Wesleyan College, Buckhannon, WV
“The shotgun editing style and rich indigenous music elevate the subjects’
heroism to a mythic dimension.”
- Scott Bartlett, experimental filmmaker ‘Offon’, ‘Moon’, ‘Medina’; Special effects coordinator,
‘Altered States’; and producer/designer of the cable access ‘Spaceship Earth’, Tampa, FL.

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