Documentary filmmaker Jo Throckmorton '87 premiered his latest project, Over There: Hoosier Heroes of the Great War, on Monday, April 10 in Korb Classroom in the Wabash College Fine Arts Center.
Over There focuses on seven people from Indiana who served in World War I, and tells the stories of the story of the first U.S. soldier and first American Red Cross nurse to die in the war. The film also includes the stories of five others whose sacrifice, courage, and bravery earned them a place in Throckmorton’s documentary, which combines historical footage and artifacts with realistic reenactments to honor those who served.
Throckmorton, who owns Blue Ace Media in Bloomington, got the idea for the film after producing and directing a major film for a museum installation at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne, France in 2016. He captured so much material while there – and built relationships with major World War I historians – that he decided to focus his own documentary on forgotten Hoosier heroes in the Great War.
“The more I dug into it, the more I wanted to tell their stories,” Throckmorton said. “I picked a few subjects who were important: a Medal of Honor recipient from Indiana, the first nurse to die overseas, the first U.S. soldier to die in action, and the most decorated African-American soldier from Indiana.”
Other subjects included soldiers from Bloomington, Goshen, and Throckmorton’s hometown of Veedersburg, all of whom were killed in action.
After its premier at Wabash, Over There will air on Indiana PBS television stations that reach 1.1 million people, including Indianapolis, Bloomington, Gary, and Muncie, with the possibility of picking up additional stations in-state and Ohio, Kentucky, and Illinois.
In order to make the film, Throckmorton had to raise the funds in accordance with PBS underwriting guidelines, and create a detailed production plan, including who and what he needed to capture. He hit the ground running in February 2022 when he interviewed the great-nephew of Indiana’s only Medal of Honor recipient, and concluded 10 months later when he interviewed a military historian in Washington, DC. He started post-production last November and wrapped it up in just last month.
“During production, I traveled to Eastern France to ‘follow in the footsteps’ of the soldiers – capturing on tape where they fought and where every one of them had been killed in action,” he said. “Planning for that trip alone took two months of mapping, coordination with local experts, and travel planning – all for seven days on the ground.”
Throckmorton’s research also took him to St. Louis, where he pulled 105-year-old records out of the National Archives and Records Administration vaults for those soldiers in the film who died overseas.
While in France, Throckmorton authored “Dispatches from France” for the Bloomington Herald-Times – short, first-person accounts of his work on the ground with photos and video clips that got shared across social media.
“I was up really late writing and sending the articles and photos after each day’s work,” Throckmorton said. “It made for really long days, but those articles and the social media were invaluable in raising awareness for the project.”
An Emmy-Award-winning producer and director, Throckmorton is a graduate of Fountain Central High School and Wabash College. He earned a master’s degree from Miami of Ohio and has been making corporate films, videos, TV spots, and documentaries for 30 years.