Coming Soon: December 2021
The Masonic Table
A Feature Length Documentary About Masonic Dining
The Making of the Documentary
Seemingly casual conversations sometimes have significant consequences. Such was the case in what became the production of a full-length documentary about the history and form of the Masonic dining experience. In the early months of 2021, Brothers from Kentucky’s Lexington Lodge No. 1, William O. Ware Lodge of Research, and The Rubicon Masonic Society began to discuss the possibility of producing a visual record of Masonic dining. Later adding The Masonic Restoration Foundation to the group of producers, they partnered to script, cast, direct, film and edit a roughly 90-minute exploration of fraternal dining called, “The Masonic Table.” Incredibly, less than six months passed between the initial conversations about the idea and the actual filming.
Featuring W. B. Andrew Hammer, 32° KCCH, “The Masonic Table” provides a visual outline for the organization and form of the Masonic feast. Filmed at Lexington’s historic Spindletop Hall, production of the documentary brought together Brothers from at least six different Masonic jurisdictions to participate in the event.
Proving the adage of the importance of having the right man in the right place at the right time, W. B. Brian T. Evans, Jr., Master of Lexington Lodge No. 1 in 2020 and 2021, as well as the current Chairman of The Rubicon Masonic Society, added his talents as owner and operator of his production company, BT Media Productions, a division of BT Web Group, LLC. A man of indefatigable energy, W. B. Evans wrote the final screenplay, served as Executive Producer for “The Masonic Table,” and was also Director and a leading cast member.
Careful preparation went into refining the plans for the documentary, writing a script, storyboarding the event, securing and scouting a location for filming, and identifying potential members of the cast. Equally important was the necessity of securing the funds needed for production. The announcement of the plans for the documentary created a great deal of enthusiasm, and generous donations from Lodges and individual Masons came quickly. Producer/Director Evans shared his thoughts about being involved in what appears to be a ground-breaking approach to the topic of Masonic feasting, “Freemasonry is the oldest and most honorable fraternity in the world, yet membership is declining. Much of the public is unaware of its existence, and even members are largely unaware of its landmark traditions, such as this. Through this documentary, we hope to educate viewers more about Freemasonry by demonstrating the pleasing elegance of fraternal bonding as Brothers near and far gather together outside of the Masonic Lodge for a memorable dining event.”
W. B. Hammer, along with W. B. John W. Bizzack, 32°, carefully developed the “Form and Order” framework that incorporated many of the historical elements of Masonic dining. The traditional toasts were included, along with songs that were seamlessly woven into the pageantry of the evening. W. B. Hammer described the essence of the message of “The Masonic Table” as follows, “Insert first quote from Andrew.”
On the eve of production, W. B. Evans and his production team moved their equipment into Spindletop Hall. After performing lighting and sound checks, all was in readiness for action. For W. B. Evans and his crew, the day of the event began at 7:00 A. M. and ended well after midnight. Commenting on the challenges of completing the filming in a single day, W. B. Evans said, “To creatively capture this documentary within three acts, forty-six scenes, and up to four takes per scene within one day of filming left no room for error. It required a tremendous amount of pre-production planning by the producers and the crew, as well as extraordinary patience and resolve by the 34 participating Brothers in the cast.”
Interspersed throughout the documentary are portions of interviews with several Brothers who offered their views on the importance of Masonic dining, their experiences with respect to Masonic toasts, their favorite elements of Masonic feasting, and the meaning that the act of gathering around the Masonic table brings to them.
The producers of “The Masonic Table” view the documentary as a resource that Lodges, or other groups of Masons, may use as a guide in developing their own Masonic dining traditions. W. B. Bizzack said, “What this documentary presents is how these events have been coordinated and conducted over the past decade. We include what we know to be customs, and we’ve fine-tuned the evening to the satisfaction of all who attend. A few years ago, the slogan, ‘A splendid time is guaranteed for all’ was adopted for these events, and the evening of Masonic ambience, education and fellowship meets that guarantee.”
W. B. Hammer added his views about how the documentary enhances an understanding of Masonic dining. W. B. Hammer stated, “Insert second quote from Andrew.”
Although physically and mentally exhausted after the filming, the Brothers who participated in the cast were excited about being a part of this historic contribution to the store of Masonic education. W. B. Bizzack added, “As we note in the film, what we do is what works for us, and in no way do we suggest that this is the only way to create the Masonic table experience. The commitment that we saw during the 18 hours of filming is a testament to each of the men attending, and speaks to their wish to offer the experience to all others who may seek the same.”
“The Masonic Table” is undoubtedly a unique offering to the Craft at large. Whether seen as an overview of the history of Masonic dining, or viewed as providing guidance for the execution of such an event, it is another vehicle for assembling men under the banner of Masonic brotherhood. “The Masonic Table” seeks to enhance and advance the spirit of Freemasonry.
“The Masonic Table” is expected to release in December 2021 on the Rubicon Masonic Society website, and on streaming channels yet to be determined. Check back here for updates.