When Manny Perez walked into the Darien Library a couple months after it was built two years ago, he was immediately inspired to create a documentary about it. His film recently won the "Best in Show" award from the Connecticut Library Association.
"I was absolutely blown away. It was like walking into a Four Season Hotel," said Perez, who performed multiple duties as writer, producer, director and cameraman for his hourlong film " Darien Library: The Great Good Place ."
Perez worked for more than 30 years in the advertising business, mostly for the firm Young & Rubicam . A former Darien resident who currently lives in Fairfield, Perez also played an important role in setting up the U.S. Navy's Motion Picture Production Unit , where he created films depicting life in the Navy.
He took the idea of the film to the library workers after he was struck by the beauty of the building and the quality of its staff. "They're all so friendly. They're really hired for their personality as well as their expertise," he said. "It's really of a cultural center; it's more than just a library."
The film explores the building of the new library, as well as delving into the history of libraries. He said the exciting thing about filming a documentary is how it changes.
"Halfway through filming you're exhausted, and you don't know if you have anything good. But the editing process is amazing. Things you thought would work didn't work, and things you didn't think would work end up working." He said that it is important not to stay fixated on one specific vision of a documentary. By reinventing your ideas in the editing process, something new and better can emerge, he said.
Perez is CEO of Alexandra Productions in Fairfield, which produces commercials, public service announcements, short and long films, and biographical family films. He will receive his award May 3 at the Stamford Hilton.
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