W.P. Snyder Jr. documentary to premiere online Friday

By  | 

ATHENS, Ohio (WTAP) - With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing and many area residents still quarantining at home, Cheri Russo, producer and director of the documentary “Saving the Snyder” and community engagement manager at WOUB, decided to make the film available online.

The film was originally released in 2011 and will be premiering digitally on the YouTube channel of WOUB on May 22 at 8 P.M. The film chronicles the $1.4 million dollar renovation of the W.P. Snyder Jr. steam towbot, housed in Marietta, that prevented it from sinking.

“When the governor decided to start the social distancing and the stay-at-home order, we at WOUB were asking, what can we do to help? Many of us are working from home, as well, and dealing with the challenges of trying to keep ourselves and our families entertained in a way that can be educational,” Russo said.

WOUB is digitally re-releasing a series of documentaries it has produced over the years, with a new film being posted on YouTube each week. Previously re-released films in the series, such as “Our Town: Lancaster” and “The Sky Has Fallen,” among others, have seen a positive reception among viewers, Russo said.

“We’ve had a really great response to them so far. We’ve been doing it since the end of March...I wasn’t too hopeful when we aired the first one that we’d have people tune in at 8 P.M. and watch the livestream...I thought most of the people would watch it during the week afterward. But we actually had a couple hundred people watch it at 8 P.M., which I think is great,” Russo said. “I think it speaks to the fact that people want to have something to look forward to, and a shared experience while we’re being told to stay apart,” she added.

During the livestreams, the producers of each film are online, live-chatting with viewers, answering questions, and sharing stories.

Russo explained that the process of repairing the Snyder was quite involved and, she feels, makes for an interesting topic for a film.

“There was a whole process of getting the Snyder out of its current location and down the Ohio River to where it had to be fixed...There were bridges that had to be cranked open and all kinds of things that hadn’t been used in years to be able to get the Snyder out of its location in Marietta, down the river, and then back. It was a big undertaking and we documented it for a good two years,” Russo said.

Creatively, Russo said making the film was different from previous projects she had worked on.

“What I found challenging about doing the documentary was that most of the time when you’re doing a historical documentary, you’re doing it on the life of a person. Well, this is the life of a boat. And so I needed to humanize a boat, which I found super challenging but also a lot of fun because that boat has had a pretty cool life,” Russo said.

Those interested in viewing “Saving the Snyder” or any of the films shared on WOUB’s YouTube channel can find the link under Related Links on the right side of this screen.