OFFBEAT: Valparaiso Firm’s Emmy-nominated film about 1812 War at Smithsonian

Phil Potempa’s daily entertainment news column

History is being made in Valparaiso, literally…

A Valparaiso firm’s film is now being featured in Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian‘s National Portrait Gallery Exhibit.

Native Sun ProductionsEmmy-nominated film “First Invasion: The War of 1812” is being featured in several vignettes in the Smithsonian galleries.

It’s included as part of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 titled “A Nation Emerges.”

This special commemorative exhibit runs now through January 27, 2013. The History Channel first aired it, as described to me as “the highly successful two-hour special” in 2004.

“First Invasion: The War of 1812” became their highest rated program ever at the time, and received a Prime-time Emmy nomination. The program was created by Valparaiso’s own Native Sun Productions and their San Antonio, Texas, production partner, 1080, inc.

“We knew we had a terrific team performing on and off camera from the very beginning, and the results were breathtaking,” said Gary L. Foreman, of Valparaiso, president and CEO of Native Sun Productions.

Foreman served as the executive producer and director.

There are many production highlights throughout the program that include feature-film-quality battle scenes that are expertly blended with cutting-edge computer generated imagery (CGD) from their San Antonio facilities. Most striking are the moments capturing “the burning of the White House” by British troops, the massive British fleet, and the day and night bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, MD, which became the backdrop for Francis Scott Key‘s writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” our national anthem.

Foreman recalls one of the challenges to create a pivotal scene as especially tricky to produce.

“We created the burning White House scenes on both our Ohio and Texas sets, and they still blended seamlessly together,” he said.

He said the entire production was filmed on land and water in four states, including part of Indiana, and employed hundreds of authentic reenactors from a dozen states and Canada.

Foreman describes his Native Sun Productions as “a multiple award-winning, full-service, multi-media production company specializing in HD, still photography, educational and cultural programming for television, print, museum design, and large format EPIC/rl@ murals for national and international markets.”

For more information about the production company, call (219) 477-3744 or visit and

A funny visit

Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo has booked legendary comedian Dana Carvey of “Saturday Night Live” fame for one show on Friday, Oct. 12.

Tickets are $40 and available at (800) 745-3000 or

Carvey rose to national prominence during a six-year run on NBC’s “SNL” where he became famous for such memorable characters as Church Lady, Garth and Hans, as well as impersonations of President George H.W. Bush, Johnny Carson, Ross Perot and Regis Philbin. He has been nominated for six Emmy Awards, including a win in 1993 for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.

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