WIMBLEDON, N.D. — Mary Beth Orn was growing nervous Monday, Aug. 26, as the cameras began to roll.
The door of the Midland Continental Depot Transportation Museum featuring Peggy Lee swung open and in came David Sabbath, director for Three Dog Films. Sabbath and Orn, a volunteer at the museum, shook hands and the pair toured the museum, talking about Peggy Lee and her life before fame.
"It was nerve-wracking," Orn said. "I just kept hoping I was going to say the right thing."
Sabbath said his interest in Peggy Lee brought him to Wimbledon.
Born in Jamestown, Lee graduated from Wimbledon High School in 1937 before starting a career as a musician that spanned over six decades, earning her a Grammy for the Lifetime Achievement Award. Lee received North Dakota's highest honor, the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award, in 1975. She died on Jan. 21, 2002.
"You appreciate people like Peggy Lee," Sabbath said. "They were what was hot back in the day."
Sabbath selected North Dakota as the host for his pilot episode for a new series called "Generation Hops," which will first appear on YouTube before being offered to Netflix, Amazon and HBO among other networks. The director's television series centers around the craft beer industry, but his fascination with Lee connected him to the museum in Wimbledon.
"It's not all about the beer," Sabbath said. "It's about the community and the culture around it. If you have a beer with somebody, you really get to know them as a person."
Sabbath, who directed "God Don't Make the Laws" in 2011, chose North Dakota for filming the series because it was the last state he needed to visit in order to see all 50, and seeing Wimbledon on a slow and windy Monday morning went exactly as he'd expected.
"I don't see unfriendly people, I don't see litter, and I don't see homeless people," Sabbath said. "That's a good start for any place in the world."
Orn participated in the filming of Peggy Lee's old home because of her knowledge of the famous singer. Orn said her mother, Myrna Bultema, was a museum board member who helped move forward the restoration project for Lee's old home.
"I picked up a passion for Peggy Lee from my mother," Orn said. "It was nice to have the opportunity to share that passion with an audience."
Despite directing the project, Sabbath finds himself on camera often, even slimming down 18 pounds in preparation for filming. Sabbath, who graduated from Bowling Green State University with a film studies degree, began his project in Bismarck and will be traveling to Fargo next.
"It's all about local flavor," Sabbath said.
Sabbath said anywhere from two to five minutes will be used from production in Wimbledon. After filming in Fargo, Sabbath will travel to Santa Catalina Island to present a trailer of the footage to producers next month.
"This thing is going to be dynamite," Sabbath said.
The pilot will be available on YouTube later this year.