Documentary filmmaker Stephon Litwinczuk during work on the production of “Falling Up,” which tells the story of a homeless man in Los Angeles. Litwinczuk’s life has taken him from Littleton to Emmy-nominated productions in Hollywood. Courtesy photo. (click for larger version)
June 20, 2012LITTLETON — A documentary filmmaker who grew up in Littleton has warm memories of the town. Stephon Litwinczuk graduated from Littleton High School as Stephen Moore in 1997.
One of the documentaries he helped create was nominated for three Emmy awards. This success has not diminished great memories of the North Country. "I still have fondness for Littleton," he said. "My wonderful hometown," Litwinczuk said, was "a beautiful place to grow up."
Litwinczuk gained motivation to change his last name when he met his biological father after high school. The new spelling of his first name came about after he decided to honor his childhood nickname of Stephonovich.
Stephon's interest in "the beauty of capturing life on video" began at LHS. He worked on video production for some local events. He said his time on those duties "piqued my interest in video production."
Litwinczuk said he was "a bit of a rebel" at LHS. This led him to some bad choices, as well as difficulties in school. "I wasn't sure what I wanted to do" at the time, Litwinczuk said.
He spent some time at a community college in Concord. After a brief return to Littleton, he decided to receive an associate's degree in Bangor, Maine. Those studies led Litwinczuk to get "reconnected with my passion for video production." He also met his future wife there.
With a vision of Hollywood forming in this mind, Litwinczuk took an Americorps position in Fresno, Calif. Work in the "domestic Peace Corps" opened his eyes to groups in society that often have unmet needs, such as senior citizens and those who are homeless.
Litwinczuk began to visualize a way to help others through his interest in video technology. This was a turning point. With motivation from his wife, Litwinczuk said he was "really inspired to take that leap" to try Hollywood.
The dream has turned into reality. He has worked on two documentary series and his own productions. Litwinczuk said his "innate curiosity," along with a focus on "the experiences of real human beings" has helped him team with those who create works others find memorable.
Litwinczuk's first major projects were documentaries about the entertainment industry. He served as associate producer for "Behind the Masks: The Story of the Screen Actors Guild" and "Moguls and Movie Stars: The History of Hollywood." He performed important research and editorial roles to tell these stories. "Moguls and Movie Stars" was the documentary that was nominated for three Emmys.
After completing such rewarding work, Litwinczuk was able to spend more time on a project he had been working on for several years. His "Falling Up" tells the story of Johnny, a homeless Vietnam veteran. Litwinczuk said this project was an effort at "humanizing someone going through a traumatic experience."
Johnny "had homelessness beaten out of him," Litwinczuk said. After a savage beating that left him unable to walk, Johnny was forced into a nursing home. This led to major life transformations, including the happy ending where he finds a "soul mate" during his convalescence.
Johnny was able to "reflect on what he's doing with his life," according to Litwinczuk. This appealed to the filmmaker because it teaches "the idea of second chances." "Everybody has an opportunity to change his life," Litwinczuk said.
This is certainly a fitting story for all, including Litwinczuk himself. He has found an outlet for his talents and a way to tell stories that appeal to our collective humanity.
Litwinczuk said he shared "Falling Up" with his Littleton mentor, Bob O'Connor. Contacted for this story, O'Connor said "Falling Up" is really good work.
Litwinczuk has a short background video on YouTube. This video includes short footage of Littleton. It can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZWARyolI4c&feature=youtu.be
He can be contacted on email at firstname.lastname@example.org.