Nov. 22--Some people work all their lives to get their films in front of a mass audience.
Bob Ingram merely goes to the Wildwood Boardwalk.
Back in 1999, Ingram teamed up with a pair of Philadelphia longshoremen to produce "Boardwalk: Welcome to Wildwood by the Sea."
The documentary followed Ingram, a lifelong journalist, as he walked the Boardwalk, rode the rides, interviewed people and profiled the wooden wonder that has drawn people to this city by the sea for decades.
The documentary was released in 2004 and proved a hit, selling thousands of copies and being shown on PBS stations, including WHYY-TV 12 in Philadelphia.
"Not bad for right out of the box," Ingram concedes.
Now 75, Ingram is back with a sequel. "Boardwalk II: Back to Wildwood" follows the formula that made the first film so successful. This includes using a small staff to bring the film to fruition. His longshoremen partners are gone. His partner now is Tony Deutsch, of North Wildwood, who worked in auto body repair for most of his career before learning his way around computers and cameras, Ingram said. The film was edited by Raymond Becker, of Wildwood Crest.
"The first one was so well-received, people still stop me and talk about the movie," said Ingram, of Middle Township. "But it's been 14 years since it was shot. A lot has changed on the Boardwalk, there is a lot of new stuff, good stuff, that I thought we should cover."
Talking to Ingram about the film, it's clear he's still a passionate fan of the Wildwood Boardwalk. He'd grown up spending summers at the boardwalk in Seaside Heights and found the same vibe and sense of excitement in Wildwood that he'd experienced at the Ocean County attraction as a boy.
"When I saw the Wildwood Boardwalk, I said 'Gee, this reminds me of Seaside.' Later I started thinking this would probably make a good movie," he said. "I feel strongly about the boardwalk. As I said in the first film, from the boardwalk you can still catch a glimpse of the American Dream."
For Ingram, one of the highpoints of making the new film was talking to longtime Philadelphia DJ and Wildwood fan Jerry "The Geator" Blavat, who was a fixture at local clubs back at the dawn of rock 'n' roll, when Little Richard, Fats Domino and others could be found on local stages.
"He says Wildwood was the Las Vegas of the East. He also said it was the real home of rock 'n' roll, Cleveland to the contrary," Ingram said.
The documentary also includes interviews about the famous Wildwood tram cars -- including one segment with a woman who is such a fan that she hit upon an unusual way to pay tribute to the tram.
"We found probably the only person in the world with a picture of a tram car tattooed on their back," Ingram said.
While an unapologetic fan of the boardwalk, Ingram admits he was surprised at the fervor, and scope, of the reaction to his first movie.
"People are fanatical about Wildwood. I had no idea of the draw. I get requests for the movie from Virginia and New York state. People really have strong feelings for Wildwood," he said.
Ingram approached WHYY about showing the new documentary, but the reception was lukewarm -- the station was more interested in pieces about Hurricane Sandy, he said.
Still, the documentary was the final film shown at the recent Cape May Film Festival, where it was well received.
"I guess people liked it," Ingram said. "They laughed in the right places."
The film festival also, once again, brought home to the two-time filmmaker just how different his approach to the art is.
"I ran into a kid (at the film festival), and he had 10 people working on his 7-minute film. My film is an hour and it was just Tony, me, his son Anthony, and Raymond Becker."
Contact Steven V. Cronin:
"Boardwalk II: Back to Wildwood" is available for $20 by calling 609-465-9968 or at
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