New documentary captures essence of Valmeyer

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Pictured, an ARCOM Productions crew uses an aerial drone to film inside the limestone quarry that is now the Rock City business development in Valmeyer. (submitted photo)

It was a labor of love for an Arkansas filmmaker who wanted to honor his ancestors’ hometown.

And for all the passion poured into the project by the man behind the camera of “Valmeyer, IL: The Documentary,” it is equaled or exceeded by those who have either lived through the town’s unique history or heard stories passed down by generations of family members.

The 42-minute video, which was released on YouTube.com over the weekend, tells the history of Valmeyer through its current and former residents with the help of majestic images captured by filmmaker Danny Moore of ARCOM Productions.

The documentary covers Valmeyer from its earliest days of settlement as a village nestled against the bluffs in the Mississippi River valley, to the Flood of 1993 that threatened its existence, and finally its inspiring rebirth on higher ground.

“It really lends itself to an entire movie,” Moore said of Valmeyer’s history.

Moore typically shoots corporate marketing and training videos as part of his production company based in Little Rock, Ark., but he was compelled to take on this project as a personal mission.

His mother, Yvonne (Allgire) Moore, was born and raised in Valmeyer. His grandmother was related to the Meyer family who founded the town and ran a successful milk farm.

“My dad was a city slicker from Belleville, and when they married, they moved down to Arkansas,” Moore said. “We would always go to Valmeyer for Christmas. The family would tell us stories about the town.”

In the back of his mind, the story of Valmeyer was always something he thought was worth sharing. Moore vividly remembers watching the 1993 flood and its aftermath on TV in Arkansas.

Moore got to know former Valmeyer mayor Dennis Knobloch over the years and had expressed a desire to film a documentary about the town.

That interest was driven even further in 2013, when Moore’s mother was battling cancer. Moore began shooting the documentary in May 2013. His mother — who shares memories of horseback riding in the bluffs during an interview that appears in the film — died in July 2013 at the age of 78.

“Just going to Valmeyer, it was therapeutic for me getting over the death of my mom,” Moore said.

Moore made it his mission to put his heart and soul into this project in honor of his late mother. In total, he made five trips to and from Little Rock encompassing 4,000 miles and spent about 75 days on the documentary.

“This was all done on my spare time,” he said. “All of us were doing it as a labor of love.”
Moore’s son started a Kickstarter crowdsourcing project online to help pay for Moore’s gas expenses and hotel stays, which raised $1,100.

Those who watch the documentary will most likely be drawn in by the colorful video footage captured by aerial drones and other cameras throughout the filmmaking process.

Moore credited Knobloch for assisting with much of the historical context for the project.

“He helped me immensely,” Moore said.

One of the more emotional moments of the documentary comes when Knobloch tells of that sad evening in August 1993 when he gave the order for the utility company to turn off the lights in old Valmeyer for what would be the last time as floodwaters swallowed up the town.

“I stood and watched as street by street, Valmeyer went dark,” a tearful Knobloch says in the film.

Moore said he has entered “Valmeyer, IL: The Documentary” in the 51st Chicago International Film Festival, and also plans to talk to regional PBS TV outlets to see if they might have interest in airing it.

To view the documentary online, visit http://arcomproductions.com/valmeyer.

A limited number of DVDs are available for purchase as well by emailing the Valmeyer Community Heritage Society at knobloch@htc.net.

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