By the time she reached college, Mary Haverstick '82 had drifted away from her childhood passion for making movies.
The Lancaster native took up geology instead, fascinated by the subterranean processes involved in shaping the earth.
But her youthful enthusiasm resurfaced when she went to Montana for geology fieldwork during her senior year. A nearby town was showing old films in the evening.
"I looked forward to that more than the geology," Haverstick said.
Newly inspired, Haverstick set out to produce movies in Lancaster County. In the 1980s, however, no clear path lay before her. "There were very few independent filmmakers," she said.
Today, Haverstick embodies the spirit of independent filmmaking, having reached a new peak in her career with the 2008 debut of Home. The award-winning drama, which she wrote and directed, stars Academy Award-winning Marcia Gay Harden and counts F&M students and alumni among the crew members and producers. The executive producers are Paul Ware '72, P'99 and Judy Ware P'99.
Set in 1969, the movie is the intimate portrait of a young mother and poet recovering from breast cancer, troubled by a difficult marriage and coming to terms with the impact of her own mother's painful illness. It is set in Lancaster, where most of the filming took place.
The movie was inspired by stories and poems written by Haverstick's late mother. But the narrative contains personal themes blended with fictional ones, Haverstick said.
Haverstick began her film career in the studio of Lancaster's local NBC affiliate, WGAL-TV. She spent three years on both sides of the camera, putting herself through what was, in essence, her own version of film school. One of her early works depicted a futuristic Lancaster where farms had moved indoors and tourists stalked the few remaining Amish people.
When she could, Haverstick also traveled to study with other filmmakers. One of her biggest influences was the late Ralf Bode, a German-born cinematographer whose credits include Coal Miner's Daughter and The Accused.
Sally Potter, who directed Orlando, has also been a mentor, Haverstick said.
After leaving WGAL, Haverstick began producing commercial work for the Lancaster-based venture she dubbed Haverstick Films.
She also kept a hand in more creative pursuits, steadily building her way up to the production of Home. With the movie now available on DVD, Haverstick is looking forward to her next feature. "We've learned a tremendous amount," she said.