Manning massive fire hoses, rushing into burning buildings and serving their community was an unparalleled adventure in bravery for a tight-knit group of teenage boys in the 1970’s and early 80’s in a Memphis suburb. HOMETOWN GLORY, written, directed and produced by Hollywood entertainment manager/publicist Ray Costa is a riveting documentary film that chronicles a subject he knows well. As a teenager, Costa was among the ranks of volunteers who risked their lives to protect their town of Germantown, TN. HOMETOWN GLORY screened recently at the Germantown Performing Arts Center and was followed by a reception with Ray Costa and the Germantown firefighters chronicled in the film.
HOMETOWN GLORY is the recent “Best Documentary” winner at the Mississippi International Film Festival. It broke all attendance records when it premiered at On Location: Memphis International Film Festival last spring, and received an award at the Los Angeles International Film Festival. The documentary was an official selection of numerous film festivals, including Temecula Valley, Newport Beach, Lake City, and Crossroads Film Festival in Jackson, Mississippi. HOMETOWN GLORY crossed international waters to screen at the Tenerife Film Festival in Spain’s Canary Islands. Although enjoying accolades with his first documentary, Ray Costa has chiseled a successful career in the entertainment industry representing many Oscar winning clients. In 2011, Costa Communications’ clients Alan Menken (Tangled) and Alexandre Desplat (The King’s Speech) both achieved Oscar nominations.
Cross cutting archival footage, hundreds of vintage photos, present day interviews and dramatic reenactments, HOMETOWN GLORY pays homage to Chief Phil McCall who enlisted a dedicated force of adolescents that would fly from their classroom desks to battle blazes. McCall, a father figure to the boys, would exert his considerable authority through brusque professionalism, punishment and an endearing support of his teenage charges that were required to maintain high grade point averages in order to participate in the program. While McCall and his firefighters are the heroes on the screen, many of the behind-the-scenes talent are also Germantown representatives: co-Producer and Director of Photography Waheed AlQawasmi is a graduate of Germantown High School and GHS-TV and GHS former drama teacher Frank Bluestein was an invaluable asset. Other Tennessee born contributors include Casting Director Lisa Lax and award-winning composer George S. Clinton (Austin Powers).
By the mid 1970's, the population of Germantown had swelled to 20,000 residents and the local teens were trained firefighters. During the brutal Memphis fire fighters’ strike of 1978, the Germantown volunteers assisted that city, dodging gunfire to extinguish arsonists’ blazes. Additionally that same year, the crew traveled to Waverly, TN to offer aid in the catastrophic Union Tank Car explosion that took 16 lives, including the town’s fire and police chiefs.
“Becoming a firefighter at 16 was an invaluable experience,” acknowledges Ray Costa, “and we learned lessons that I apply everyday in my life. Everyone profiled in the documentary has given back to the community and I wanted to find a way to honor the firefighters I worked with, the Chief's legacy and the city of Germantown.”
As seen in the documentary, these boys have been transformed into men whose reminiscences and revelations convey a captivating tale. “Before they were men they were heroes,” confirms the film's narration: The courage, valor and commitment of a gusty group of Southern teens shines in HOMETOWN GLORY.