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3-Minute Interview: Documentary director Peter Swanson

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Local,People,3-Minute Interview,April Burbank

Swanson produced, directed and edited the documentary "Let There Be Light," which follows two stained-glass masters, Rowan LeCompte and Dieter Goldkuhle, as they work on their final window at the Washington National Cathedral. It won the Best of Fest Award this year at the DC Independent Film Festival.

How did you first hear about the story of the cathedral's stained glass?

My mom used to work at the cathedral. I graduated from Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, and one of my summer jobs was carrying the mail around the cathedral, so I knew the building ... I wrote a proposal for doing a film about the glass, maybe about 8 or ten years ago, and couldn't raise any money. But then I heard that Rowan was going to make one more window for the building, and I just couldn't let him do it without shooting it.

What surprised you about the story as you were filming?

The film for me is about art and creating art, and passion. I get tired of films that glorify blowing things up, and I think there is drama in creation. And this film kind of proved that ... It's not the film I intended to make. I intended to start out just doing a celebration of the stained glass at the cathedral. It turned out to be a much more personal, character-driven drama about these great artists.

What was it like to screen the film at the Washington National Cathedral, where it was filmed?

It was a thrill for me because of my family history there ... And the cathedral deserves a lot of credit, too, because the film is not always -- it's not unkind to them, but it tells the whole story ... I think in the end the film celebrates the cathedral as a place that allows this art to be created.

- April Burbank

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