DIARY "HILL 789: The Last Stronghold" - Production events by Dan Dimancescu
Dec 1, 2009 - National Unity Day in Romania; 6:10-7:30 showing of HILL 789 on national television

Nov 23, 2009 - Taping on interviews at TVRI with Cristian Lascu (NG) and Nicholas D.

Nov 21, 2009 - Leave Boston with master tape for Romania

Nov 19-20, 2009 - Final edits completed and 'mastered tape' produced

Nov 5, 2009 - Interview re 'Rommel in Romania' with Prof. Robert Citino, US expert on German military history at US Military Academy Museum(West Point)

Nov 2, 2009 - Start sound mixing at Tried & True Recording (Boston)

Oct 20, 2009 - Tanner Ross joins the team to start music design and mixing

Oct 7, 2009 - Interview in Bucharest w. Major Florin Sperlea (Ministry of Defense)

Oct 6, 2009 - Agreement with TVR1 to broadcast Hill 789 on December 1, 2009

Sept 25, 2009 - Music editing starts with arrival of Steve Patton on the production team.

July 15-Aug 30, 2009 - Final shooting, computer editing, and music recording in Romania:
- WW-I re-enactments organized by Radu Oltean
- Ernest Latham history advisor
- Editing at Inn on Balaban in Bran, Romania
- Music recordings:
... with Marin Cazacu, lead cellist Romanian Symphony in Bucharest
... with Gheorghe Stan, cymbalum player from Dragobesti, Romania
- Preview of Hill 789 with Cristian Lascu and Domnica Macri of National Geographic Magazine (Romania)

June 23-25, 2009 - A sampling of two full days of work:
- Boston: Testing 3D software to edit terrain maps
- Essex, Ct: Initial narration recorded by Michael Ciulla

- Bucharest: Interview with Prof. Neagu Djuvara, 93 years-old, in Bucharest filmed by Sorin Iliesiu
- Boston: Editing 'Summer Offensive' segment
- Concord: Re-scripting Berthelot ' Spring' segment

- Boston: Editing Rommel text for 'Last Stronghold' segment

June, 2009 - First rough cut crafted by Kyle Brandse and Nicholas Dimancescu; additional archive materials gathered by Alex Arma

April-May, 2009 - Test edits in Boston for 'creative' sequencing by Kyle Brandse and Nicholas Dimancescu; National Geographic Magazine (Romania Edition) agrees to partner in the production of the documentary

March 2009 - First story board developed in Boston with thematic focus finalized.

March 4, 2009 - "Mythos Rommel" Exhibit in Stuttgart, Germany, and visit to Rommel archives to request high-resolution document copies.

February 14, 2009 - Preliminary film editing in Bucharest at Video Dialog Studios

December 8, 2008 - The December issue of National Geographic (Romania Edition) appears with feature article on Dimancescu diaries of WW-I.

December 4, 2008 - Paris: Special event in honor of French-Romanian collaboration in WW-I held at the Romanian Embassy; also interview with Prof. J.N. Granhomme author of WW-I.

November 27, 2008 - London: Recording session with Sherban Lupu and the Three Vituosos (folk musicians) at the Quiet Sun Studios.

November 3, 2008 - Bucharest: Dragos Diaconu produces WWI uniform for modeling use by George Pratt.

October 16, 2008 - Meetings in Washington, D.C. to discuss possible film distribution.

October 3, 2008 - In Seattle, Oregon, interview with Prof. Glenn Torrey, Emporia State University (Kansas) historian and specialist on Romanian's role in WW-I.

August 26-Sept 14, 2008 - Filming by Sorin Iliesiu in Izvorul de Sus, sound track recording with Sherban Lupu, and battle site visits with George Pratt.

Second round of filming on Hill 789 (Mt. Cosna) with Pratt and Otero.

August 27, 2008 - Bucharest: Discussion at National Geographic Magazine (Romania) with Editor Cristian Lascu and staff re article on WW-I.

August 13-14, 2008 - Visit with George Pratt in Chapel Hill, NC, to brainstorm ideas and to plan his first visit to Romania in September.So

July 23-26, 2008 - Nicholas Dimancescu attends San Diego Comic Con with 150,000 other enthusiasts. The purpose is to see and meet graphic novel and animation personalities.

June 10 - July 14, 2008 - Shooting by Sorin Iliesiu on site in multiple locations: Flamanda, Izvorul, Ploesti region, Oituz (Hill 789). Heli shots (SEE) over Hill 789 trenches where the setting is unchanged in 90 years.

June 1-10, 2008 - Detailed research begins by studying original sources such as Erwin Rommel's personal battle field orders to guide filmmakers to precise location shots on Hill 789.

May 23, 2008 - Violinist Sherban Lupu and Sorin Iliesiu (film director) meet in Bucharest.

May 19, 2008 - Discussions at the Romanian Military Museum (Bucharest) with archivists Nicolae Moghior and Anca Ionescu and Hill 789 researcher Alex Arma. Photo at right includes captured giant Austro-Hungarian WW-I 'Skoda' canon on rails.

May 13, 2008 - Meeting in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with artist George Pratt to discuss the project. He agrees to create graphic work for the documentary. George Pratt in front of his 1939 Hudson and with Nicholas Dimancescu in Chapel Hill.

April 2008 - Visiting the Stuttgart Archives where the Wurttemberg Regiment records are kept, I find Rommels' hand-drawn Hill 789 maps and 100 pages of his personal notes on the two-week 'Last Stronghold' battle.

March 2008 - Searching Romanian archives proves fruitful when Alex Arma, amateur military historian, finds very useful Cosna photos.

February 2008 - To confirm my father's Military Cross award by the British, I search in vain for the record. While on a trip to London, I plan a visit to the National (Military) Archive at Kew. I am fortunate to have Col. Michael Carrington with me. Together we search through all detailed listings of MC awards of that period and find nothing. As a last resort, he asks for an expert and by chance an elderly retired archivist on volunteer duty knows exactly where Romanian award winner listings are. An hour later the documents arrive with confirmation - including a list of 55 other Romanian Military Cross winners.

January 2008 - At the Romanian Embassy in Washington, I meet violinist Sherban Lupu. During a coffeee break, he hears about the "Hill 789" project and agrees to collaborate on the musical score. His grandfather was a WW-I veteran.

December 20, 2007 - My son, Nicholas, and I sit down and write a one page outline of a documentary production based on my father's memoirs and experiences including his involvement with Col. Norton Griffiths (sabotage of Ploesti oil) and fighting against Lt. Erwin Rommel on the Romanian front. We decide to call it Hill 789.

March 2005 - Founder of the Romanian Boy-scouts in 1913 modeled on Lord Baden-Powell's movement, my father's illustrated diaries are a unique personal insight into Romania's entry into WW-I in August 1916. They become the first inspiration to create a documentary on the War.

August 2003 - During a business trip to Bacau with American business clients, I took the opportunity to detour to Oituz. Catalin Mardare, the County Prefect, called on the Mayor of Oituz/Grozesti to show me the site of the Cosna battle. Meeting him we follow him up into the hills along dirt roads and reach the monument to the Hill 789 events in WW-I. This is clearly a strategic point facing west into the Carpathian valley that was the entry point for the Alpen Korps and the Wurttemberg regiment.

Click on either Rommel notes pages to enlarge
Click on left photo for more images of Military Museum
Top: Helicopter to Hill 789 July 08; Mid: Along Danube River Je 08; Rt: ComicCon event in San Diego
Top Lft: Natl Geog Bucharest offices: Top: Pratt w. Prof A. Ciobanel (ethnographer) in Bucharest; Rt: recording violinist Sherban Lupu in Bucharest
Left: Iliesiu shooting at Izvorul bridge on Teleorman River

Rt: Nicholas Dimancescu shooting sequence in Izvorul

Left: Erwin Rommel field sketch of battle zone;

Rt: Romanian trenches in Marasesti-Oituz front in 1917

Left; George Pratt and Nicholas D. in Chapel Hill, NC
RETURN to Hill 789
Soldier's uniform created by Dragos Diaconu (top) and worn by ND
Nicholas Dimancescu at NG (Wash, DC)
Top lft/top CLICK photo London recording ; Left: Prof Grandhomme recorded in Paris; Rt: Dec 08 National Geographic Magazine feature on WW-I authored by Dan Dimancescu
Lft: Catalog from large exhibit on Rommel's life in the Stuttgart Museum (Dec 08 to Aug 09); photo shows him with his WW-I commander Major Theodor Sproesser
CLICK storyboard photo left to enlarge
Lft: Ronnie Otero on Hill 789 (Mt. Cosna) in Moldavia with film crew

Rt: Interview with 'Romania in WW-I' historian Prof. Glenn Torrey (Seattle, WA)

Lft: Nicholas D. with Marin Cazacu composing original music for Hill 789 - CLICK photo above lft to see more
Rt: Friedrich Niemann and Kyle Brandse recording "Rommel" German voice track
Gheorghe Stan recorded at his home in Draganesti (south of Bucharest)
Creative edits by Kyle Brandse (w. Dan Dimancescu, Producer)
Historian Ernest latham with Dan D. at Military Museum of Bucharest
Radu Oltean in WW-I Romanian army uniform for Re-enactment scenes shot by Sorin Iliesiu and Nick D.
Editing team with re-enactment specialists clockwise from left:
Cosmin Anastasiu
Ana Iliesiu
Kyle Brandse
Radu Oltean
Mihnea Serbanescu
Sorin Iliesiu
Nicholas Dimancescu
Dan Dimancescu

At the Inn on Balaban, Bran, Romania

Music& sound tracks by Tanner Ross & Steve Patton in Boston
Tp Lft: Prof. Robert Citino, US German Military History Expert
Tp: Storyboard of edited segments
Far Lft: Cristian Lascu (Natl Geog Editor) and Nicholas Dimancescu at TVR1
Md: Interview with Major Sperlea at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Carol Park)

Tp: Final storyboard edits & sound mixing by Nathan Bice at Tried & True Recording (Boston)
At U.S. Military Academy Museum (West Point) with prof. Robert Citino and Cuator Les Jensen filining German weapons of 1917 period CLICK on photos to enlarge
Top - Celebrating in Bucharest on Dec. 1 premiere on TVR1 (Romania)
Lft - Editor Brandse and Director Dimancescu celebrate final edit and master tape Nov 21.
Rt: Final editing notes (nov 19-10) CLICK on photo to enlarge