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Short Order, NCC win rare Emmy award

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“The Pathway Home,” a Short Order Production House documentary on New Castle County’s Hope Center won a Mid-Atlantic Regional Emmy. | PHOTO COURTESY OF NEW CASTLE COUNTY

WILMINGTON – When New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer put the county’s efforts and funding behind a new facility to house and serve its homeless population, he never imagined the project would earn him a new title: Emmy-winning executive producer.

But that’s exactly what happened last week as “The Pathway Home,” a 16-minute documentary produced by the county and directed by Wilmington-based Short Order Production House, won a Mid-Atlantic Regional Emmy for long-form content on societal concerns.

New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer and Digital Content Manager Kyle Grantham earned Emmy’s for producing the documentary. | PHOTO COURTESY OF NEW CASTLE COUNTY

“It’s really exciting and it’s a testament to a great policy that we did right and a video that was done really well by Short Order,” Meyer told Delaware Business Times.

It’s rare for Delaware, which has only two broadcast TV stations in the state (WHYY and WBOC), to earn a Mid-Atlantic Emmy nomination, let alone a win. A documentary on Wilmington’s Kalmar Nyckel historic tall ship was last nominated in 2018. Wilmington-based production firm and documentarians Teleduction has won nine regional Emmys, but has moved away from the awards program toward film festivals in recent years.

The win for “The Pathway Home” was a first for both the county and Short Order.

Meyer said that about six months into the project to purchase and convert the former Sheraton Wilmington South into what is now The Hope Center in New Castle, he consulted Kyle Grantham, the county’s digital media manager, about doing more.

“We were getting more and more requests from people around the country who are looking at this project as a model, and rather than telling bits and pieces of the story, I wanted to put something together that tells the whole story,” Meyer said.

They sketched out an idea for a documentary and contracted with Short Order, a 9-year-old video and production company that handles a range of marketing, promotional and training projects, but has also done some short documentary work. Matt Sullivan, chief operating officer of Short Order, said they jumped at the opportunity.

“We were flies on the wall. We went to the Hope Center, rode with the police one day to do welfare checks and interviewed people who were just there,” he said, noting that included residents, program leaders and even Sen. Chris Coons and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester.

Sullivan noted that the county’s hands-off approach to their work helped the documentarians tell very personal stories of struggles.

“The great thing was the people who were just were very willing to talk. I think you can see in the documentary how grateful a lot of folks were for the care that they’re receiving at the Hope Center,” he said.

Seeing the first draft of the documentary and hearing the Hope Center residents’ stories was emotional, Meyer said.

“The tears were flowing the first time I saw the rough cut. They were asking me what edits I wanted to improve it. I was like, ‘I didn’t even see the last half because my eyes are so watery,’” the county executive recalled.

While some questioned the location and more than $20 million cost of the Hope Center at its outset, Meyer said the savings on health outcomes alone would justify the investment. He also noted that 197 families have gone through the Hope Center and are now living in permanent stable housing.

The now Emmy-winning documentary will help the county show the importance of the taxpayer investment, Meyer said.

“It’s always important to tell good stories, particularly in government where we’re at a time when government programs don’t always have the best reputation. When we do something well, it’s important that it be told well,” he said.

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