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Stories of the Little Red Schoolhouse

This film documents, still living, elderly, former students of a Connecticut "one-room" schoolhouse that closed in 1957. It tells the students stories of attending the school, historic national policy that affected them and, their reflections on the last school, "Marm" who taught them life lessons.

  • John D Murphy
    Have Steam Engine Will Travel - D.P. (PBS)
  • Ruth A. Kelley
    Key Cast
  • Tom McLane
    Key Cast
  • Steve Gravereaux
    Key Cast
  • Anne Sigurdsson
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    37 minutes 5 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 14, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    2,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography

John D. Murphy
National Creative L.L.C.
Director of Photography

Career Stops
My career first started out while an undergrad at the University of Kansas. In the year the Jayhawks won the NCAA Basketball National championship, I shot post-game locker room interviews with Danny Manning and Coach Larry Brown.

Moving back to Boston in 1988, I worked for WBZ and the start-up broadcast arm of The Christian Science Monitor - The Monitor Channel. At these studios, I worked along side:
Tom Bergeron - Host, Dancing with The Stars - ABC Network
Chuck O’Neil - Director, The Daily Show w/ Jon Stewart - Comedy Central
Dave Mazza - Chief Engineer, Olympics - NBC Sports

Answering the call of Los Angeles in 1992, I accepted an offer from CNN’s L.A. Bureau. Little did I know that the Southland would be under FEMA for wildfires, floods, earthquakes and riots for the next four years. And, there was a relatively known court case I covered for CNN - the O.J. Simpson Trial. Other events covered:
The return of President Marcos’ body from Hawaii to the Phillippines
The Federal investigation of Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh
Camp Pendleton Marines deployment to Somalia

In 1996 I followed the former, Miss Kelly Vahey (Wellesley High ‘83), back to NYC and the east coast. Atlanta was my first Olympic job for NBC Sports (Dave Mazza above) - I worked with the Sportsdesk Unit responsible for shooting athlete interviews, features and breaking news such as, the Centennial Park bombing.
Access Hollywood/NBC was a start-up entertainment news program and I was part of their initial NY Bureau. While I have shot too many celebrity interviews and red carpet premieres to mention, I have also covered stories such as:
The Red Sox World Series win in 2004
John Kennedy Jr’s Death
Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton’s visit to Prince Edward Island - 2011

I have recently begun my own freelance business working with independent production companies shooting for Major Film Studios, TV networks, and corporate clients.

BTW, Kelly and I were married in 1996 and we have two children. We reside in New Canaan, CT. When not working, I enjoy photography and painting, vacationing in Chatham, MA. with my family and coaching my kids in their various youth soccer, ice hockey and baseball programs.

Awards - Four Emmy Awards, Two Cable Ace and a LA Press Photographers.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

National Creative L.L.C
“Stories of the Little Red Schoolhouse”

I approached the Director of the New Canaan Museum and Historical Society and said, “You’ve got to document this first person narrative before it’s gone forever.”
“Great idea, we have no funds for it.”
To which I replied, “Let me see what I can do.”
Stories of the Little Red Schoolhouse is an important ‘first person’ account of not only our Connecticut heritage but, our national heritage as well. The narrative of the film takes its roots all the way back to the 17th Century when the formation of the United States had barely begun. The educational seed sown then grew all the way to the mid-twentieth century here in Connecticut. Here, in generations gone by, in my neighborhood within New Canaan.
I have driven past the one-room, “Carter Street” school for many years. It’s preserved almost precisely from the day Miss Kelley closed the door for the last time, behind her last students, in 1957. Not only can you walk around the original wood desks but, also touch the faded books, maps, Victrola and physical teaching tools used to educate earlier generations. And, to capture all these tangible artifacts on camera in a room primarily lit with direct and ambient natural light, very cool.
While they were living, I conducted interviews and produced programs with two of New Canaan’s internationally known mid-century modern architects, John Johansen and John Black Lee. When I read that Docents of the school, former schoolhouse students, conducted open house tours of the, ‘One-Room’, I knew I wanted to document their personal remembrances, their histories as well.
What I’ve found along the journey of principle photography has fascinated me; from the change in the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ after WWII to learning of Ozzie Sweet’s book, My Camera Pays Off (Ozzie lost most of his original work in a house fire). This film has been incredibly fulfilling to me as a Nutmegger, a historian and filmmaker.

John D. Murphy
New Canaan, CT