Filmmaker to document era of change at alma mater
David Barrow said he wants to go back and be the curious person he never was in high school and remember a time “when we were all Broncos.”
The 1973 Denton High School alumnus plans to direct a documentary about Denton during the period of 1968 to 1973, when schools were integrated and high school students were brought together, all under one roof.
The 57-year-old, who now lives in DeKalb, Ill., was in Denton last week doing some research and meeting with prospective donors for the project. Barrow said he and a five-person crew will start shooting the film When We Were All Broncos in June with the class of 1973 — which is meeting for its 40th reunion — as its “narrative backbone.”
Over the years, Barrow said he’s shared stories about the Denton High football team he was on, the people he met and the times he lived through, and he wanted to do something more with those stories. His high school friends and their response to the idea are what made him decide to do the project, he said.
“I’d thought about this story for years,” Barrow said as he sat under a shade tree at Denton High earlier this month. “I would not have had the courage to do this if people had not been so supportive of the idea.”
The documentary, Barrow said, will examine the diverse cultures of Denton at the time and share the efforts of residents to come together in a time of transition. He said the film also would give a “fun narrative” about Denton High football and the district championship team of the 1972-73 school year.
Barrow said he intends to interview 60 to 70 former students, school staff and community leaders over the course of production.
“I do think this will have an interest for a much broader audience than just the Denton audience,” he said. “The subjects that we’re dealing with in the documentary — integration, the social upheavals of the 1960s and early 1970s … things like how the Vietnam War affected people, those kind of things — those cultural elements I think are going to be interesting to a broader audience that either grew up during that time, or maybe their parents grew up during that time.
“What I like about our Denton story is that there’s this broader historical setting, this broader story we want to talk about — how it affected those of us that were in school here at the time.”
As an adult, Barrow said he’s more curious about Denton High and the people who inhabited it. In retrospect, Barrow said he realized how little he and his classmates knew about one another.
“I’ve seen all these things that people have to offer now and the things they’ve done with their lives, and you know in high school we’re pretty much zeroed in on ourselves,” Barrow said with a laugh. “We don’t really think a whole lot about who other people are, where they came from, what their lives were like outside of school.
“And as an adult, I’ve become much more curious about those things. That’s something else that I want to be able to cover … go back and reintroduce us to ourselves and say a little more about who these people were that made up the students at DHS back then.”
The project budget is an estimated $60,000, Barrow said, which is being funded by contributions from individuals, businesses and organizations.
Ten percent of contributions for the film, he said, are being donated to the Denton Public School Foundation. Once the cost of production — $50,000 — is covered, all other funds raised and revenues resulting from the film will go to the foundation, he said.
Barrow said he hopes to create a $10,000 permanent endowment for the foundation that will go toward a scholarship for a Denton High graduating senior.
He said he’s nearly reached the $20,000 goal needed to start production in mid-June.
Barrow’s friend Laurence McClendon — who graduated from Denton High in 1973 and now teaches at the school — said he thinks the project will show “what Denton High is all about.”
Principal Dan Ford said he intends to open the campus doors for anything Barrow needs, including a prospective meeting space for the film’s premiere. Ford said he envisions the documentary will display “the great culture and history of Denton High School.”
“The reasons behind the documentary, and the purpose of it, seems like it was right on target to share the great things that have happened at Denton High over years and years,” Ford said. “I think it’s something we’re going to show to all of our students the beginning of every year, to show how Denton High School has been impacting kids’ lives for years.”
Barrow said he hopes to complete the film this fall, in time to submit it to the 2014 Thin Line Film Fest, a documentary festival that happens in February at venues around the Denton Square.
“My real goal is to come back and say: You know, this is a time where Denton really in a lot of ways achieved some things, and let’s examine those things and in some sense celebrate that time,” Barrow said. “I really do hope at the end of the day that we end up with something that will be valuable to our kids and grandkids.”
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.