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Davis Journal

LDS documentary filmmaker Lee Groberg shares insights at SUP dinner

Dec 14, 2023 09:57AM ● By Becky Ginos

BOUNTIFUL—The Sons of Utah Pioneers Bountiful Chapter presented their annual Modern Day Pioneer Award at last week’s meeting to Sandy Inman, Director of the Bountiful Museum. The award goes to individuals who make a significant impact on the community.

“Sandy has donated countless hours over two decades toward the establishment and operation of our current museum and to the preservation of Bountiful's treasured past,” said Ron Andersen, president of the SUP Bountiful Chapter.

“This is what I was meant to do in this life,” said Inman. “When I was teaching second grade community history we didn’t have a museum for the City of Bountiful. I relied on reading books and took them on history tours.”

In 2003, they formed the Bountiful Historic Preservation Commission, Inman said. “We had a small office space downstairs by the Library.”

After 12 years, Bountiful City Manager Gary Hill asked if they’d like the Smedley Manor for a museum, she said. “In 2017, we opened the museum. It was a dream realized. I’m not just accepting this award for myself but for all of those who have worked for us.”

In addition to the recognition, the group’s keynote speaker, local LDS documentary filmmaker, Lee Groberg, talked about his project, “Trail of Hope: The Story of the Mormon Trail.”

“We spent 2,000 hours on the film alone,” said Groberg. “It took two years at least. It was scripted by historians. We wanted to make sure we weren’t spreading lies.”

Actor Hal Holbrook narrated the film. “I hired him because of his voice,” Groberg said. “I’ve used him in two films, this one and the Nauvoo Temple film.”

Holbrook isn’t the only notable actor who is in Groberg’s documentaries, Gregory Peck narrated “American Prophet: The Story of Joseph Smith.” “I worked hard to get him,” Groberg said. “I got along so well with Mr. Peck. He would give me a big hug and he’s tall, maybe 6’ 4” or 6’ “5. I always called him Mr. Peck, never Gregory.”

Groberg said Peck arranged to get together. “He said, ‘I’ve never seen a Book of Mormon.’ I told him ‘Mr. Peck I can do something about that.’ I had Elder (M. Russell) Ballard sign one and I delivered it to Mr. Peck in California.”

Several of Groberg’s documentaries have aired on PBS. “They assumed that I had the golden plates (the church believes the Book of Mormon was written on) in an archive,” he said. “I told them the plates were returned to the angel and that was the end of it.”

Groberg started his filmmaking career in college. “I had a professor who took a liking to me,” he said. “He said he knew a guy who makes films. I met up with him and did a film for Prudential in New York. We filmed it and it made money. That was a revelation to me. It got me hooked.”

A new film, “Lift” connecting humanitarian service all over the world is set to air on PBS in April 2024. Groberg was an English major and got his master’s in business management. “I’ve been greatly blessed.”