Suntree man films documentary at dad's orange grove
Florida Today – June 22, 2011
During his working career, Andrew Graham was a no-nonsense trial lawyer, a respected Melbourne attorney who argued some big cases at the Florida Supreme Court.
His transformation from high-power barrister to laidback citrus farmer began when he purchased a hundred-year-old grove on 13 idyllic acres in Scottsmoor.
Graham built a log cabin and settled in with his three dogs and his 89-year-old mother, who graciously is succumbing to the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Their domain of old trees is dotted with equally old palms that soar to the sky.
“He lives by the rhythm of the grove, getting up at dawn and going to bed at dusk,” said Graham’s son, Jeff Thompson of Suntree.
Graham grows the fruit using organic methods.
Thompson, director of Merritt Island Public Library and an amateur filmmaker, wanted to record this magnificent environment.
“I was struck by the amazing landscape and the wonderful story,” he said.
“What I’m witnessing will not go on forever. Another reason I’m making this film is because of my love for the land, farming and farmers.”
After more than two years planning, Thompson began filming in January and recently wrapped up the last shot of “The Florida Suite.”
He has taken a vacation day every Friday for four months to travel from his home to Scottsmoor to begin filming before dawn.
The documentary is set to the music of Frederick Delius’ largely unknown “Florida Suite.”
Delius was born in England in 1862 to a wealthy family of German extraction. The young man was tasked with managing an orange plantation near Jacksonville, where he neglected the grove while indulging his passion for creating music influenced by the African American rhythms he heard at the plantation.
“It is a gorgeous piece of music that is dedicated to the people of Florida,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s documentary is structured to the music. The Space Coast Symphony will provide the soundtrack.
Thompson is seeking sponsors to finance the production.
He created a production company, Atelier Sonnenbaum, German for Studio Suntree, to produce the film.
He hopes to enter “Florida Suite” at the Florida Film Festival and other film festivals in the United States and abroad.
“Florida Suite” arrives at an auspicious time, for 2012 marks the 150th anniversary of Delius’ birth.
“We’ve got a rich history in citrus and I want to help keep it alive,” Thompson said. “It’s easy to forget that citrus built the state.”
For information about “The Florida Suite,” contact Thompson at 321-426-5832 or jeff_thompson@earth link.net.