Just six months after the terror attacks of 9/11, March 11, 2002, to be specific, a camera was placed in the graveyard of St. Paul’s church. This final resting place sits across the street from what was Ground Zero. Since that day the camera has taken a picture every five minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Time lapse photography isn’t new, but this is one of the most ambitious efforts ever undertaken with this filmmaking technique.
"That's the thing that is somewhat unexpected the emotional power of the time lapse,” said Brian Rafferty.
Rafferty is the Chairman of Project Rebirth and the emotional power he refers to is something you need to see to believe.
“I don't know how to explain it but it's a powerful thing to watch," he said.
The film “Rebirth” makes its premiere this Friday, Feb. 20 at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in Utah. But you can get a preview of this amazing footage tonight on Fox Report with Shepard Smith, 7 p.m. ET.
All told there are 14 cameras circling and chronicling the building of the new World Trade Center, and what they have captured to date is monumental.
"We have 900 hours of footage thus far," said Rafferty.
But this literal rebuilding of office towers is only one part of Project Rebirth’s mission.
"The film is meant to serve as a fundraising tool and a call to action for communities to be better prepared for the long term grief and trauma that befalls them in any major disaster, whether it be manmade or natural,” explained Rafferty.
Beyond the building at the new World Trade Center, the filmmakers have followed the lives of nine people directly affected by 9/11. A survivor from the South Tower, an NYPD officer and a construction worker who lost his brother and is now rebuilding the site, are just a few of those featured in “Rebirth.”
The nonprofit venture will eventually have an exhibit in the National 9/11 museum, scheduled to open next year. Proceeds from the film will help fund a Project Rebirth Center. This center will serve as a forum for victims and first responders to address the emotional weight of their experiences.
The goal? Taking the lessons of those who have suffered and making it a teaching tool for victims and first responders so that recovery from the next disaster is an easier process. Project Rebirth has already partnered with The Arlington County Fire Department and the NYPD. Rafferty said he sees it as a way of “learning how to make something good out of something horrific."
According to Rafferty, filming will continue until the work at the site is complete, four or five years from now. Project Rebirth's goal is to stand as a lasting tribute to those most impacted by 9/11 and remind us all that we should never give up.
"I think the moral is the amazing resilience people have in the face of the grief and trauma,” said Rafferty.
To see the latest segment in the Rise of Freedom series, tune into Fox Report with Shepard Smith, tonight at 7 p.m. ET. You can learn more about and make a charitable donation to“Project Rebirth” at their website www.projectrebirth.org. You can also see this segment and exclusive web content at www.foxnews.com/freedom. To learn even more about the work and progress at the new WTC, you can visit these sites: www.wtc.com, www.panynj.gov/wtcprogress and www.national911memorial.org.
Martin Hinton is Executive Producer with Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @MartinFHinton.