wanna participate in my next documentary?
When I was a kid, my Papaw use to try to get me to sit on his knee to tell me tales and share some wisdom. I did not have time. I was a young man on the go and today, having plenty of time to soak in wisdom, papaw is no longer with us.
So I am creating a new documentary called Papaw's Knee. I am interviewing folks at retirement homes, down the street and, well, in my living room, who have been there, done that and love nothing more than to talk to people who listen. I am finding we all live very paralell lives, plus or minus a few details and would like to branch out even further. If you have a mom, dad grandma, grandpa, neighbor or friend with years and experiences, please sit them down, throw a camcorder on a tripod or book shelf and ask em to tell you some of their favorite life's stories. I think this will add to what I am trying to create as most of the folks I have spoken with would rather tell loved ones all about than a stranger with a big camera. I want the laughs, the tears, and the surprises as they recall things not thought about in decades.
Here is a clip I shot of my Dad before he moved on to the next life:
Any photos, film clips or video you can provide to enhance their stories will greatly help the viewability factor.
If a shining star surficed in your mind or heart as you read this, please sit em down and talk to em, even if you don't record it. If ya do record it, PM me and I'll let ya know where to send the tape. I will send it right back to you and you and your wisdom-giver will be in the credits. I will be pitching this documentary to the Biography Channel.
Many thanks. Listen well.
Oral History recordings are wonderful pro-bono projects of lasting value. I've done a number of cool ones for my job so far. We did a series of WWII vets (while we still have them around). One guy did an entire tour flying B-17's and he was less than twenty years old when he did it. His luck: bad. His first mission out of the box: Schweinfurt. Pretty much 6 out of 10 of his buddies didn't make it back from just that one mission. He said "You could walk home on the tops of the flack clouds, they were so thick..." Another guy was a Polish Intelligence officer, overrun by the Germans the first day of the war, he was kept in a German POW camp, then a Russian one, then another German one, before he got out. Another guy was a signalman at Iwo Jima. Stringing telephone wire from Palm trees and looking down at Japanese soldiers patrolling right under him. Another guy was a beach master at Normandy beach, loading and unloading boats under continuous bombardment. We talked to a Nurse who followed her flyboy husband out to Hawaii, arriving December 6th, 1941. Lots of interesting stories, great to catch them and put them in a jar to keep forever, so to speak.
We also did a series of interviews with farmers who have had their land for 100 or more years. Tracing the innovations and changes in agriculture was interesting. I met the guy who basically invented the modern hog farming system, he sort of feels like doctor Frankenstein now: he developed the system to make individual family farms more productive, but stimulated by commodities traders, big business took it over and scaled it into the monster it is today - the farmers we talked to are not really family farmers anymore, they are tenant sharecroppers on their own land, sub-contracted out to one of three multinationals.
And we interviewed a farmer of the future: a guy raising tilapia in a closed-loop environmental system where the fish water feeds growing plants, which in turn filter and clean the water that goes back to the fish. Biggest, cleanest-looking fillets I ever saw; make the imported Chinese ones look sickly. He can't keep up with demand, and wants to franchise and spread his operation into urban city centers so poor city people can get cheap, safe, good meat and veggies, locally grown.
Fascinating stories, everywhere you point a camera. Just have to look.
Mark's 1st paragraph reminded me of a great period of work.
For the best part of 5 years the majority of my work time was spent interviewing experts and veterans of WW2.
Old boys that you pass on the street, totally unaware that they have these intense and moving stories just a scratch under the surface – did maybe a 100 of them, hard to count it all up, but if you watched any of those WW2 doco on Discovery/History channel back in the late 90’s / early 00’s I’m sure you know the kind of thing I’m talking about.
Damn I miss that stuff. 3 hours drinking tea and chatting to some guy you’ve just meet about the most incredible things imaginable – what’s not to love.
Grinner – let me know if there is ever a demand for anything from Oz – I’m certain I could get some fresh material.
The Brit in Brisbane
The Pomme in Production - Brisbane Australia.
Starting in 1995 I started making videos for all our big family events. The first one was a 30 minute photo montage for my grandparents' 50th anniversary. Cutting to MII in our online edit bay took about 3 weeks after hours. Every cut, for you youngin's reading this is another edit (tape machine pre-rolls, previews and records the few seconds to tape. Every picture zoom is a programmed ADO move. Ah those were the days. But it was a touching video, that brought us right up to the present. Between the 50th and 60th, I was able to record about an hour or so of Grandma talking about the old days. That was my favorite part of visiting was hearing the same stories about life in the Depression, the miracle of television and watching the Moon Landing, and of course the stories about my dad and aunts and cousins. Not really of interest to non-relatives, but the very essence of my existence.
I feel so lucky that I always had a video camera with me, recording special memories right up to the year they departed.
Here's my blog about this subject: