Home Cinematography Filmmaking & Maple Syrup: A Perfect Match

Filmmaking & Maple Syrup: A Perfect Match

written by Shane Hurlbut, ASC

Before all of you knew me as an ASC cinematographer, I was a Maple Syrup Tycoon! You might think, where am I going with this? Visit this website http://buckwheathillfarm.com/.

Here is the story.

Growing up on a farm in a small rural community in upstate New York was the perfect training ground for becoming a cinematographer. I learned that weather can change quickly and you have to be able to think on your feet.  Common sense is paramount.  You have to be able to improvise when you do not have the correct part. Perhaps, you have to manufacture one from pieces that are lying around.  It taught me that community and helping each other out is essential along with learning that friendships, WELL, they are for life.  

On February 21,1978, the S-Team, which stands for Sap-Team, was formed.  Five friends (Dan Wade, Bill Wade, Jeff Stoker, Ed Stoker, Augie Gloskey) and I became a band of brothers making maple syrup with my Dad in our home town of Aurora, New York.  

Sunrise at our farmhouse

Sunrise at our farmhouse

We started small, but like all of my aspirations, it grew quickly.  We went from a flat pan on some cinder blocks out in the back lawn making 2 gallons of syrup a season to a 3’ x 15’ evaporator in a 20’ x 35’ Sap Shed that my Dad and I built together, producing over 400 gallons of Maple Syrup a year.

H & S, which stood for Hurlbut and Son, was born.

My Dad and Dan collecting sap from our Maple trees in our Sugar Bush in 1979

My Dad and Dan collecting sap from our Maple trees in our Sugar Bush in 1979

This small town cemented so much of my future. I do not think my future would ever have been this bright without my best friend in the world, Dan Wade.  This is a friendship that has lasted since we were 5 years old.  We did everything together, played sports, cut wood together, played in a rock band together, DJ’ed together and made Maple syrup together.  After high school Danny and I went to different colleges but soon found ourselves back together with his love of photography and my love of movie making.  

Dan enrolled in Herkimer County Community College and moved in with me as I finished my two year Radio and Television degree.  I enrolled at Emerson College for my BA in film and he continued his photography studies at Buffalo New York.  Dan moved to Vermont to teach art and photography and I headed out to Hollywood.  We never seemed to be able to be away from each other for very long.  My marriage to Lydia reunited Dan as well as our S-Team.

Dan and I right before Lydia and I got married on October 8, 1988

Dan and I right before Lydia and I got married on October 8, 1988

In 1991 after Lydia and I bought our first home in Pasadena, Danny came out to Hollywood to help me build my Key Grip business and stayed for 20 years.

He worked so hard and helped me build my street cred as a young gun.  He built 2 guest houses for us in Los Angeles, engineered barns, electrified, plumbed, tiled, drywalled, and painted every single one.  He is a master of all trades with a positive attitude to back it all up. He has been a great uncle and godfather to Kyra and Myles, the rock you always turn to when you need help. Nothing is impossible for this man.  He is a giant among men and always has been.  He just makes it HAPPEN.  

About 15 years ago, Dan left Hollywood to move back to Vermont.  He loved making maple syrup and

never lost that bug.  That bug of being out in the woods, the smell of spring around the corner and the camaraderie of friends pulling together.  

Dan, his amazing wife Morgan and their son John have been building a Maple Syrup empire in Vermont.  He went to the source, bought a 215 acre sugarbush on the tippy top of Vermont, right on the Canadian border.

Canaan Vermont where Dan and his family make Maple Syrup

Canaan Vermont where Dan and his family make Maple Syrup

 Dan, Morgan and their son John

Dan, Morgan and their son John

 

The ultimate Maple Syrup Agro Tourism farm.  It is a masterpiece that he built, molded, fastened, and harnessed.

Dan teaching all the school kids about the art of making Maple Syrup. Nature’s nectar

Dan teaching all the school kids about the art of making Maple Syrup. Nature’s nectar

Dan teaching all the school kids about the art of making Maple Syrup. Nature’s nectar

Dan teaching all the school kids about the art of making Maple Syrup. Nature’s nectar

Buckwheat Hill Farms Sugar House in December, waiting for Sap Season to begin

Buckwheat Hill Farms Sugar House in December, waiting for Sap Season to begin

Dan making his dream happen

Dan making his dream happen

We are storytellers, and understanding the backstory of this incredible friendship that has lasted over 47 years is powerful and delivers emotion.  Not only did he and his family build this incredible winter experience, they have also won almost every Maple Syrup tasting award that is given out in Vermont north country for their quality of Maple Syrup.  This is not your Trader Joe’s Vermont syrup. This is made with passion, care, understanding and love.

Buckwheat Hill Farm’s Maple Syrup awards for this year

Buckwheat Hill Farm’s Maple Syrup awards for this year

Many of you have asked how you can help Lydia and me. Well, here it is.  Help my best friend since I was 5 years old and his family launch their dream.  

Buckwheat Hill Farm’s Home Page

Buckwheat Hill Farm’s Home Page

Visit their website http://buckwheathillfarm.com/, drift over the products and see the passion and find a wonderful gift for a loved one for the holidays.  

**All Shane’s Inner Circle members get a 10% discount with the coupon code InnerCircle. You know who you are.  

After 40 years we still get together every summer and Christmas to tell stories, unite our families and deliver big hugs of love.  Invest in your friendships, give them the time and effort which is required.  

At the lake summer 2011 with all the S-Team members and our families

At the lake summer 2011 with all the S-Team members and our families

Wishing you all an amazing Thanksgiving Holiday!!!!

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