Jim Talone, Bill Dougherty and Terrie Cwik probably will never become Hollywood movie moguls.
They're too busy being Stone Harbor movie moguls.
The three have cooperated in various ways on making three recent movies on the history of a town now celebrating 100 years of official history. That birthday bash is because the borough of Stone Harbor was formally born in 1914, although there was life and commerce going on there well before that.
The movie crew all met and got together at the Stone Harbor Museum, an institution that's been an important party in the ongoing party for the town's centennial - and the inspiration for the ongoing run of movies about the town's old days.
The history museum was the official host earlier this month (at the local American Legion post) for the world premiere of "Stone Harbor Stories," the longest and most ambitious of the documentary trilogy. Cwik estimates the opening-night crowd was close to 130 people, which would be a considerable chunk of the winter population of Stone Harbor - the last census found just 866 full-time residents. But on a summer weekend, locals say the town's head count swells to more than 20,000.
Cwik, the museum president, is credited as producer of "Stone Harbor Stories." But Talone, a retired teacher who had the filmmaking credentials to be director of all the projects, says the museum itself could easily get that producer's credit.
"Stone Harbor Stories" hit local screens just a few weeks after "Salt Marsh Stories," which made its debut in June at the Wetlands Institute - in the middle of the salt marsh, or wetlands, just outside the town line on the main road to Middle Township.
That movie has as its official producer Dougherty, who remembers the Stone Harbor of the 1930s very clearly. His memory goes back that far because his next birthday will be his 90th - although he actually looks and sounds closer to 70 when he talks.
(He may look even younger than that when he works out. Dougherty says he does 900 crunches per week - with crunches being the modern version of a sit-up for anyone who's not familiar with that decidedly post-1930s terminology.)
The third film is a bit older. It's called "The First Air Mail Flight in New Jersey," and it's on Youtube documenting another local historical occasion - that first airborne mail delivery in the state went from Ocean City to Stone Harbor on Aug. 3, 1912. It was a trial run, to see if the new-fangled technology of flying could ever work for something as crucial as mail delivery. (Apparently, that wasn't such a bad idea.) Talone's short 2012 film starts with that year's observation of that anniversary.
"Salt Marsh Stories" is sort of a trilogy within itself. It opens with a section on the historical, commercial and cultural significance of the local wetlands, with a major assist from J.P. "Jamie" Hand, a multi-talented Middle Township resident whose own family history in Cape May County traces back to 1690.
The movie then ends with a look at the ecological importance of the salt marshes, with explanatory help from Katie Sellers, a Wetlands Institute conservation scientist.
And sandwiched in between them are real tales of salt-marsh explorations and adventures from the life of Dougherty. Take the time he was out on a light, aluminum boat in the bay behind Stone Harbor, fishing with his sons, and they got a good look at The One That Got Away. But they were thrilled to see it go, because it was a shark about 6 feet long - half the size of their boat.
As they figured it, the Dougherty boys must have drifted in slowly and trapped the shark between their boat and the bank of the marsh. The shark reacted by almost capsizing the fishermen as it thrashed away, which may be why the memory is still so fresh decades later for Bill Dougherty.
Still, he adds that historically, there was nothing rare about seeing sharks in the bays behind his favorite beach town.
"We used to catch a lot of them way back," he says.
Although this crew has been cranking out Stone Harbor movies, they don't tend to be the kind of films that put big camera crews and bright lights out on the streets to attract curious crowds. Talone learned about movie-making mainly to teach his students back at Radnor High School in Pennsylvania - and says he then learned from them, and how they used the technology.
He did shoot some video for "Salt Marsh Stories," including trips through and over the local bays in a boat and a small plane. But he says in retrospect, the still-camera shots he took were probably more useful for the documentary. And then there were the historic pictures he had access to, mainly from the museum - by his best guess, he scanned at least 1,000 old pictures into his computer as he put together the three films.
"Stone Harbor Stories" runs to more than 40 minutes, most of them featuring archival pictures and postcards. But Talone saw only positive reviews after that premiere this month.
"We got people to watch for 42 minutes, and that's not easy to do," he says. And having won over those critics, he now hopes to enter the movie in the Cape May Film Festival and find more avenues for reaching audiences.
One way the Stone Harbor Museum is doing that is by selling copies of the two longer movies to visitors to its 93rd Street home. "Stone Harbor Stories" sells for $20 and "Salt Marsh Stories" costs $15; both are for sale as fundraisers for the museum.
Talone started visiting Stone Harbor in the 1950s, but just bought a place in town about three years ago. He's a big fan of the museum, which has items even longtime Stone Harbor residents may not know ever existed.
For instance, the Stone Harbor Museum has the only known remaining piece of Stone Harbor's boardwalk - a single plank of wood. But many locals may not know their town ever had a boardwalk, because it hasn't had one for the past 70 years, ever since the wooden walkway was washed away by the hurricane of 1944.
The museum also has sections of a corroded, metal streetlight post from the old boardwalk. Dougherty, naturally, has a story about it: When it rained, he remembers, boardwalkers could get a shock just by touching one of those posts.
By the way, Cwik has an interesting bit of local history on how all these movies started.
"Jim (Talone) walked in here one Sunday afternoon about two years ago and said, 'What can I do to help?'" Cwik recalls.
And the rest is history, and history movies. And now, three films later - and still counting, because this crew isn't calling it a wrap yet - she says, "It was like Christmas morning. ... We never thought we'd be in the DVD producing business, but here we are."
That is, in cinematic terms, the classic happy ending.
Contact Martin DeAngelis:
If you go
The Stone Harbor Museum is at 235 93rd
St. Summer hours are
1 to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday,
7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. For more details, call 609-368-7500 or see