By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
TID celebrates 125 year anniversary with documentary
Placeholder Image

‘The Irrigationist'

Delete - Merge Upbodycopy

What: Historical documentary that chronicles the creation of the Turlock Irrigation District
When: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Feb. 25
Where: Turlock Community Theatre, 1574 E. Canal Dr.
Tickets: Free for TID customers, however, there is limited seating. Tickets are available at any TID office on a first-come, first-served basis to TID customers only.
* After the screenings, DVDs of the film will be made available for $5, and Blu-ray discs will be sold for $15.


Going to the movies is one way to celebrate a birthday.

But commissioning a movie – as the Turlock Irrigation District has done to celebrate its 125th anniversary – might be a better way to celebrate.

The new, custom-made 62-minute historical documentary entitled “The Irrigationist” will chronicle the district's past, transforming Turlock from a sandy, seasonally dry valley into an irrigated land of agricultural bounty – despite myriad challenges.

“It really puts TID in perspective,” TID Director Rob Santos said. “People see us as an irrigator and utility, but when you start understanding the history, TID becomes more of a symbol, actually, of hope.”

The film's roots lie in 2009, when Santos served as TID Board of Directors president and Larry Weis was the district GM. Santos, a member of Turlock's Centennial Committee, helped with voiceover duties on “Turlock: A Historical Documentary” – a full-length documentary film commissioned to celebrate Turlock's centennial.

Weis and Santos brainstormed a laundry list of planned activities and events for TID's 125th, but due to cost concerns that list was pared down to only contain “The Irrigationist,” Santos said.

The film, produced by Turlock's The Creation Lab, follows in the footsteps of “Land, Water and Power,” a historical book commissioned for TID's centennial at a cost of $45,000. “The Irrigationist” cost the district $219,200, paid over the past three years, from the General Manager's Administration Budget.

That cost was more than worth it, according to Santos, who has seen the film and provided some voiceover work.

“If I had to describe it in one word, it's 'epic,'” Santos said.

The film was shot on state-of-the-art RED cameras at 4K resolution – more than four-times the resolution of Blu-ray – presenting unprecedented images of the Central Valley. More than a year and a half was spent shooting “The Irrigationist,” which also features a custom soundtrack.

But more so than the music and visuals, it's the story which sets “The Irrigationist” apart, according to producer Michael Everett, who also made “Turlock: A Historical Documentary.”

“It's a compelling story,” Everett said. “... 'Turlock (: A Historical Documentary)' was good, but I think this is better.”

If Everett is right, that means “The Irrigationist” could find itself up for awards; “Turlock” won nine and was featured in nationally-renowned film festivals.

But before it goes on any film festival tours, “The Irrigationist” will make its debut at the Turlock Community Theatre in a special, free premiere for TID customers.

“I think it's something everyone in Turlock should come out and see,” said TID Board of Directors President Michael Frantz. “TID has a great story to tell.”

Those interested may have to act quickly to secure free tickets to the 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. Feb. 25 screenings at the Turlock Community Theatre – currently the public's only chance to see the film at no cost. Already, about two-thirds of the 1,850 available tickets have been distributed, per TID spokesperson Herb Smart. Those free tickets are available at any TID office on a first-come, first-served basis to TID customers only.

After the screenings, DVDs of the film will be made available for $5, and Blu-ray discs will be sold for $15. Those costs represent only the district's cost to produce the discs, Smart said.

For more information, call 883-8300.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.