GAC to premiere documentary

By Patricia Ann Speelman -

SIDNEY — Its title is “Shelby County Workforce: Moving a Nation,” but Gateway Arts Council (GAC) hopes area residents will be moved by its long-awaited documentary film.

The movie, which celebrates the workers and workings of local businesses and industries, will premiere in two free showings at the Sidney Auto-Vue Drive-In, Oct. 15 and Oct. 16.

It has been more than three years in the making and is the second of the organization’s planned recognitions of the segments of Shelby County society memorialized in the George Danhires millennium sculptures on the courtsquare. In 2008, GAC presented a multi-media event celebrating agriculture.

“Shelby County Workforce: Moving a Nation” comprises still photos taken by Pat Elsass, of Botkins, and video footage shot and produced by John Ondo, of Columbus. The trailer of the full-length documentary can be seen at

Teresa Covington, manager of the Auto-Vue Drive-In, is excited that GAC chose her facility for the premiere.

“I think the Auto-Vue Drive-In is an important part of the community because it represents family and community,” she said. “What a perfect place to bring people together to celebrate community. To have it on the big screen under the stars — it doesn’t get any better than that.”

The film showcases a representative cross section of Shelby County workers: retailers, assembly line workers, truck drivers, manufacturers, food servers, health care providers and more.

“There is a story here to be told about our local workforce that should make every local resident swell with pride,” said GAC Board President Chris Gibbs when the trailer was posted in August.

Thursday, he added, “This has been a long process with a number of starts and stops. For me, I just wasn’t satisfied until we captured the story of hardworking Shelby County people in their own words and through their own eyes. It wasn’t until we shared our vision with filmmaker John Ondo that this project really came together. He understood our concept and was able to package it into what I believe is going to be a timeless program.”

Ondo began shooting here in April.

“The thing I’ve been impressed with as a filmmaker and storyteller is that Shelby County industry is growing,” he said at that time. “In big cities, buildings are rusting. In Shelby County, there’s a workforce and businesses that have been there for 100-plus years that are thriving. We’re going to focus on the blue collar workers that make it happen.”

GAC Executive Director Ellen Keyes came to important realizations about life in the process of managing the project during its rocky journey.

“Throughout the entire process, I kept believing that this was a project that Shelby County could be proud of,” she said. “Each and every picture or interview that we did further reinforced that belief. I saw firsthand how amazing the people of this county are. I learned amazing life lessons throughout the course of this film. Thanks to filmmaker John Ondo, I think anyone who watches this film will come to the same conclusions.”

Because GAC is planning additional events for the premiere, the times of the showings will be announced in the near future when plans are complete.

By Patricia Ann Speelman

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.