A new documentary film, Denison Dam - Taming the Raging Red, a history of Denison Dam and the creation of Lake Texoma, will premier this Saturday during Denison’s annual Main Street Fall Festival. Three free showings of the 40-minute-long documentary will be held at the Rialto Theatre. The showings are scheduled for 10:30 a.m., 12 noon and 1:30 p.m. DVD copies of the documentary will be available for purchase at the theatre.

A new documentary film, Denison Dam - Taming the Raging Red, a history of Denison Dam and the creation of Lake Texoma, will premier this Saturday during Denison’s annual Main Street Fall Festival. Three free showings of the 40-minute-long documentary will be held at the Rialto Theatre. The showings are scheduled for 10:30 a.m., 12 noon and 1:30 p.m. DVD copies of the documentary will be available for purchase at the theatre.


Gene Lenore, the film’s writer-producer-director, says the film has as been in development for several years. It contains archival footage and historic photos from the dam’s earliest construction days through the 1957 flood that sent water over Lake Texoma’s spillway for the first time.


Among the archival film highlights are scenes than have not been seen in more than half a century These include: construction footage in the dam’s power house area in the early 1940s; the official dam dedication on July 1, 1944; footage of an American military demonstration on Lake Texoma in June, 1945, showing how invasion landings were being made in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. The demonstration was part of a War Bond drive effort; scenes from Burns Run - Lake Texoma’s Coney Island - in color - from the 1950s; and water flowing over the spillway at Lake Texoma for the first time - May, 1957


" Putting this documentary together on a shoestring budget has been an amazing journey, but the story is one that needed to be told", says Lenore. "Denison Dam can trace its roots back to the disastrous 1927 flood of the Mississippi River that inundated more than 27,000 square miles of America’s heartland", Lenore added.


The idea for a documentary surfaced when Lenore was working as a writer on a series of aviation-themed television documentaries being produced by Fiveson Entertainment for the Smithsonian Channel. Although it was felt a documentary of the building of Denison Dam wasn’t a strong enough story for a national or international audience, Lenore said he knew there was a lot of interest in the story in the Lake Texoma area.


"A lot of people in that area of North Texas and Southern Oklahoma are there because they had relatives that moved there in the late 1930s and early 1940s to work on the building of the dam," says Lenore.


With a background in television news, where he had worked on documentaries in Texas and Arizona, Lenore says he began working on the project slowly at first. He did research on Denison Dam while developing a video production business based in Sherman. By early last year, he had gathered enough information and archival films to produce a short concept video to explain the scope of what he envisioned for the completed documentary. He used the concept video as a basis for several speaking engagements in Texas and Oklahoma.


"The turnout at those speaking engagements told me I was on the right track with my documentary," says Lenore.


A major discovery was more than an hour’s worth of color 16mm motion picture film shot at the lake in the 1940s and 1950s. Lenore had the film color corrected and transferred into high definition.


In July, 2013, a Facebook site, Denison Dam 2014, was created to attract attention to the project. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the closing of the floodgates at Denison Dam and the beginnings of Lake Texoma. A short film clip taken from the concept video posted on the new Facebook page attracted more than 20,000 views in the first month it was up, according to Lenore.


"There’s been tremendous interest in the Denison Dam/Lake Texoma story and every time we post something new on the Facebook page we get thousands of hits," Lenore adds.


The filmmaker said he intends to enter the documentary in film festivals and take the film on the road to make presentations to interested groups whose members could not make it to Denison for the premier.