Is Courage the American Revolution ‘Downton Abbey?’

..An appeal from Jim Riley, Creator of Courage, New Hampshire

If Facebook is any guide, we are getting new fans every day from every walk of life, from every corner of the world.   As a long time lover of American history, I was very tickled to get this email from a resident of that shrine of liberty — Concord, Massachusetts:

Courage, NH came on my radar via Facebook, I think. I have genealogy and history interests in NH. I just watched Episode 1 and liked it. It’s more nuanced than I expected, very nice. I’ve ordered Ep. 2 and contributed to get the next fix, Ep 3…  Thank you for educating folks that lots happened years before April 19 and in other places. I do always imagine that the farmers in Lexington/Concord woke up that morning still feeling British and maybe not so much at the end of the day. I look forward to this being the American Revolution “Downton Abbey.”

Let me tell you, when you are enduring sixteen hour shooting days and tramping around in the snow and watching a crew and cast give it their all, those words feel like soft honey butter on mom’s fresh baked bread after a day of chopping wood in the rain.

As good as that feels (I love the production quality of BBC period pieces), what really seals the deal are those two words “next fix.”   This fan of the show liked the first episode so much, she was willing to pay for the next and help fund the one we’re working on right now.

Which brings me to the appeal…

I have to be honest with you: the odds are against a project like “Courage, New Hampshire.”  As I write this, our art director, Katharine Gallagher, is downstairs in a cold, unheated tavern, getting props ready for a shot between Sarah Pine and Bob Wheedle.  That scene will be staged in a remote part of our 700 acre location, Riley’s Farm in Oak Glen, California.  In this weather, it will be a strain.  As a producer, director, writer, and actor I can tell you that the contribution of so many people humbles me.   I was trying to direct a scene in the tavern the other night and, to the humiliation of my children, I couldn’t contain my emotion.   I was so grateful for so many people willing to huddle outside the tavern, in the cold, waiting for the lighting to be ready for an 18th century post-dance scene, that I broke down.

The truth is there is a lot of pure love going into this production, from people of all different backgrounds.  Last night, watching Isabelle Gardo and Donal Thoms-Cappelo throw their hearts into a tense moment in the Courage story, I got chills;  it was that feeling that you’re watching something of great moment being created.

But everyone needs to eat and pay the rent.  I like to think Courage can run on pure love and friendship, and if the expanding viewership is any guide, we won’t need to ask for help someday, but for now we do.

Many of you have given an enormous amount.  Many of you have given more than you can afford.  Some of you face circumstances that won’t allow any financial help.  We understand.   Your good will and prayers and word of mouth is enormously appreciated.

But some of you know that you can help.  You have the means and you know we’re telling an important story.

If you can, please consider a contribution today.



About James Riley

James Riley is the owner/operator of Riley's Farm in Oak Glen, California and a senior partner in Colony Bay Productions. The father of six children, Riley performs "Patrick Henry" and supervises a living history program visited by hundreds of thousands of school children. He holds a degree in history from Stanford University.
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4 Responses to Is Courage the American Revolution ‘Downton Abbey?’

  1. allen.marsh says:

    “soft honey butter on mom’s fresh baked bread after a day of chopping wood in the rain.” It’s picturesque phrases like this that first attracted me to this project. Whatever his other qualifications, Jim Riley is a top notch writing talent.

  2. James Riley says:

    Ah, thanks, Allen.

  3. Rebecca Stewart says:

    I’m a costume designer with 40 years experience living in NH (and DAR to boot). I don’t have funds, but I do have skills to donate. Let me know if I can be of assistance.

  4. James Riley says:

    That’s very generous, Rebecca! If you send an email to, she can put you in touch with our costumer.