Film maker returns to Florence

Staff writer

Residents of Florence can expect to see Steve Lerner once again wandering the streets with his camera. Lerner is creating another documentary of the area, but this time focusing on water sources in the area.

“Talkin’ About Water” will center around Florence, Marion County, and Chase County and their water sources. It will be his second documentary to feature the area. The first was created in 2012, titled “Florence, Kansas.”

“We spent last week (April 18) doing preliminary filming, interviewing people in Florence, and on ranches in the area about their concerns over the ongoing drought, and other aspects of the way water impacts their lives,” Lerner said.

He will be co-directing the film with Reuben Aaronson, an award winning documentary filmmaker from Los Angeles. Jim Jewell, who filmed the previous film in 2011, will also assist on the project Lerner anticipates to be completed by the end of the year. Greg Allen will compose the music.

“It has been a pleasure to reconnect with people in the Florence area again,” Lerner said.

He chose Florence for the film for several reasons.

“When you look at Florence on a satellite map of the U.S., it sits right on the line that divides grassland to the east from irrigated farmland to the west,” Lerner said. “East of Florence is green, and west of it is more and more brown as you head out into the high plains.”

Another key issue is the lease of the property where the Florence spring is. Lerner said the lease, which was for 99 years, will expire in five years. The film will address the residents’ concerns about the lease.

“In addition, the ongoing drought has hit some ranchers very hard, others less so, but in general water is something everyone thinks about, not just in the Flint Hills and other areas of Kansas, but regionally, nationally, and internationally,” he said.

Lerner is completing a grant this week. If awarded, Lerner hopes to have the film completed in December to premier in Florence shortly after.

“Most of the time in films like this you see a lot of experts talking about the issues, we are trying to tell the story with people in the area in their own words,” Lerner said. “We want to tell the people who live there’s own experience and how water is a part of their lives and how they think and use it.”

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