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Film To Capture Reston

Steve Resz hopes to show four seasons of Reston and 40 years of history.

The other day at the Brown's Chapel baseball fields, Reston resident Steve Resz was recognized by a couple of Little Leaguers.

"Look, it's the cameraman!" one said.

More and more, Resz is becoming known around town as The Cameraman due to his omnipresent Canon digital video camera and because he has been filming at almost every major event in Reston in recent months.

Resz is working on a feature-length documentary about Reston's history, people, culture and environment.

"There's that old adage that says write what you know, write what's around you," Resz said recently in his condominium's former dining room, now a video editing bay. "I just started thinking, Reston's really neat, there's lots going on here, and it's pretty."

THE PROJECT has grown far beyond what Resz originally intended when he started in fall 2001. So far, he has filmed about 100 hours of footage and plans on filming another 50 hours before he starts the editing process.

The target date for the finished product, a two-hour DVD documentary, is scheduled for release by September next year.

"It's kind of insane doing this for three and a half years," he said.

The project will show four seasons of Reston life, including shots of children sledding in winter, boaters floating on Reston's lakes in spring, swimmers at Reston Association's pools in the summer, and the myriad colors of Reston's trees in autumn.

Resz also attends a few Reston events a week to shoot footage and document the town's current history. Recent examples of this include a hardhat tour of Reston Hospital's new West Wing Patient Tower, the Founder's Day celebration at Lake Anne last weekend, and Reston Community Center's Eggnormous Easter Egg Hunt.

"I consider myself a journalist with a video camera, that's all," he said. "Everybody is going to know somebody that's in it."

RESZ'S PROJECT became his full-time job in April 2002, when his telecom career was cut short by downsizing. Now, he lives off his savings and dividends and is in the process of selling a solar-powered West Virginia house he designed and built.

"I have a pretty cheap lifestyle," he said.

Overall, he estimates that the project will cost him about $45,000, though he hopes to recoup most of that when he prints around 3,000 copies of the DVD. He hopes his movie will find the same market niche as the three coffee table books about Reston's history and nature.

If the movie turns out to be a success, Resz hopes it will further his freelance video company, Let-There-Be-Light Video Services.

Much of the project's cost lies in Resz's professional-grade camera and editing equipment. Also, he bought himself a new Subaru with a moon roof so he can shoot footage while someone else drives. Last week he was scheduled to fly over Reston in a rented helicopter and shoot aerial footage.

"Hopefully this thing isn't going to come out as junk," he said.

That's unlikely, said Lisa Adams, a writer and actress who has assisted Resz on the project, judging from Resz's extensive, self-taught knowledge of digital video recording and by the sheer volume of research he has conducted.

“He really loves Reston and he brings that love and passion to his project,” Adams said.

He spent most of February in the Planned Community Archives at George Mason University, scanning historical documents and photographs, and has accumulated binders of newspaper clippings and other research materials.

"I've pulled together material that has never seen the light of day," he said.

Resz’s attention to detail and devotion to the project will most likely be reflected in the final film, said David Gaetani, Resz’s longtime friend and colleague.

“He’s extremely detail oriented,” he said. “He’s going to cover every possible angle of Reston’s history.”

NOT ONLY will Resz's film benefit the community by documenting 40 years of Reston's history, it has probably also helped save his life. A long-time cigarette smoker, Resz bought his first professional digital video camera as a reward for himself when he quit smoking four and a half years ago.

He promised himself that if he relapsed and smoked a cigarette, he had to smash his camera.

"I knew that I could pay for the camera in three or four months out of the money I was saving by not smoking," he said.

He didn't relapse, instead throwing himself into learning everything about how to become a digital video documentarian.

"To me, this is the best of all worlds," he said. "I love high-tech stuff. I consider myself an artist and I love doing research. Hopefully I can impart some sense of wonder and history in all this."