Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Week & A Day

Leaving MN/WI
How does a week go by so quickly?! It is hard to believe that just a week and a day ago, I was in the air returning from my MN/WI trip to interview John Plaster. The trip was just...unforgettable. In every way that a trip can be unforgettable: ease of flight/travel, kind people everywhere you go, delicious food, and of course two of the kindest hosts/tour guides to show you around.

I'm still on quite a natural high from the trip, and have been overjoyed when people ask me to tell them about it. It's probably impossible for me to hide my enthusiasm over such a successful filmmaking adventure. And I don't just mean the travel or the experience, I mean that the interview and the subsequent scanning of images were incredibly impressive. John has written a book about the SOG history, and has an amazing library of images that he so kindly shared with me. If you're interested in war history, go pick up a copy SOG: A Photo History of the Secret Wars. You won't regret it, and I'll thank you for supporting someone who's been so kind to me.

During my first few days up north, I kept thinking, "This weather isn't that bad, actually. I psyched myself up for it, and I haven't even needed a hat!" But, of course, I spoke too soon. Friday afternoon and Saturday morning were the most frigid temperatures I have ever experienced in my entire life!

I woke up that Saturday morning to -16F, with a wind chill that made it feel like -36F. YIKES! By the time I got to the airport around 1pm, it had warmed up to a cool zero degrees. While John and Gail have a lovely haven to call home in the MN/WI area, I do believe I headed South just in time. How lucky I was to have such great weather during my trip, though. John and his wife have convinced me to return after spring so that I can see even more of the beauty there. I do hope to make that happen.

Back in Raleigh, The Debrief
The Sunday following my departure was quite exciting, too. I got to catch up with my improv community over practice, and that evening filled Surry in on details of the trip. We talked about our next steps, and created a few action items for ourselves. It was incredibly exciting to talk about the coming months of work, and recognize that we had reached a significant milestone. We have concluded the interview process, now totaling 15 interviews!

Monday: Footage
On Monday, Surry did some searching and found some 8mm of archived footage from his time in Vietnam (as well as an 8mm film projector). That same day, I found a way to *finally* scan in the 35mm slides he shared with me so many months ago. While I haven't proven that this method of scanning the 35mm slides will work, I at least have a positive lead and that feels really great. What an exciting day!

Tuesday: Career Coach
Tuesday was equally thrilling, as I checked in with my career coach and told her about all of the exciting things happening at work and on my film. She's been instrumental in helping me stay balanced, focused and energized. The phone call with her was enough of a reason to be totally thrilled with the entire day.

She's giving me the tools I need to work more efficiently, something I really appreciate because I am trying to accomplish too much in too little time. (At least that is how it feels because I'm anxious to finish the film to share it, but I work full time as well) So, the more efficient I become, the more I can do, right? (OK, to a certain extent. You don't want to become too focused on efficient behavior because then you just work too much and have no time for important conversations and fun.)

One of the lessons she's helping me understand is how to more effectively deal with paper work. I've always been terrible about paper work. Mail piles up, and I can never find what I need because books are always stacked too high and falling over everywhere. Tax season makes me nauseous because I have to collect all of my paperwork I should have been organizing for a year. It's embarrasing to admit, so I'm dubmfounded as to why I'm writing about it openly. It's such an incredibly annoying habit of mine. But no more! Just like taking one's coat off and hanging it in the coat closet immediately, I am learning to touch paper only once and be done with it. Don't even let that task get on your to do list--just deal with it right then and there.

It's the same with Surry, I have noticed. When we chatted on Sunday about calling a few folks he knew, he immediately went to get the phone. Immediate action! Today, when we talked about looking for more prints and 35mm slides, he immediately went to go pick them up for me. Immediate action! It helps you become more efficient, and everyone loves to work with a person that can react so quickly. It's delightful, and I think I'm getting better at it.

Triangle Tweetup
Thursday was the Triangle Tweetup, where I met lots of my fellow Twitter folks (also known as Tweeps) in person. It was a packed house, with an estimated 100+ people there. There were presentations on what some of those in the Triangle Twitter community are working on, and I'm absolutely fascinated. So many great entrepreneurial projects are thriving here, even in a down economy. The Triangle Twitter community is absolutely amazing--so energetic, enthusiastic, intelligent and supportive--and I'm so lucky to keep meeting these impressive folks.

For the Twitter/social media doubters, I just wish you could have experienced it. The entire evening was like being surrounded by family, where everyone was curious about what you do and wants to help. I could harldy take one step without someone else introducing themselves! It was wonderful!

This part of the filmmaking process has often felt solitary because it requires a lot of reading, writing and research. It was rewarding to learn that people in the Triangle have been enjoying my writing about the filmmaking process, and are exciting to see the finished product. I feel like I've learned a lot from them. There was a lot of love in the room, for sure.

Here's a picture taking by Jeff Cohen, who is also on Twitter (@dgtlpapercuts, Edge Office was so packed! While I don't know the folks at Edge Office, I do most certainly appreciate their support by providing a place for us to gather--especially such a stylish place as theirs.

Meeting with Matthew
On Saturday, I met with one of my editors, Matthew. We had a long conversation about the film, creating the story, the filmmaking process, and what to expect in these next months. It was really great to sit with someone and tell the story: what do I want the audience to take away at the end of it? How do I want them to feel? It was unexpected, but not surprising, that I felt a rush of emotion wash over me as I talked about the Montagnards and how I want each person to feel a sense of honor and pride when they leave.

Matthew allowed me to explore this through comparison to other films, and I immediately thought of Braveheart. A story about a man who loves a woman he looses, but he stays incredibly strong in the face of adversity, and he leads his people to stand and fight for what's right. Although that film is quite long, you leave it feeling stronger and prouder. You feel the honor he felt in fighting for freedom.

Each time Matthew and I sit down to talk, I feel a sense of relief. He's been editing for about 10 years now, he said, and so he knows the process (both technically and emotionally) and gave me some serious insight and advice. I hold his words in such high regard, as he seems like a kindred spirit--someone willing to work on something because of the potential in the project. He helped me remember that I'm now entering uncharted territory again, and that it's OK to take small steps in order to learn how to walk again. We spent about 2.5 hours talking, and at the end of it I felt like a great weight had lifted. It was more therapeutic than he probably knows!

More Archived Footage
Today, Surry and I met to talk some more about where we are in the project, and where we need to go next. I filled him in on the things I had been doing all week, and he did the same. It's delighftul to have a partner in crime, someone there to help you work in the right direction. I feel like we make a pretty damn fine team, if ya don't mind me sayin' so!

Here's a picture of all the archived footage he has shared with me (both 35mm slides, printed images and 8mm films). Quite a collection!

I am overwhelmingly inundated with exactly the visuals I need--and from so many sources: Mike, Charlie, John, Surry and his contacts. Ask and you shall receive! There are still avenues to pursue for more archived visuals, and Surry and I are working on those diligently. I would much rather have too many images now, than get three or more months down the road and have to start the hunting process all over again. 'Tis better, in my opinion, to have too much good stuff from which to choose than not enough. The last thing anyone wants to watch is talking heads (improv taught me that).

The Website
We also talked about the website today. I've noticed that interest is growing in our project, and I have spent a fair amount of time explaining it to various folks in face to face conversations. That leads me to question how many others want to know more of this overview? And how many others are scanning the blog to hunt for information I should be putting on display?

The website, to me, was going to be a part of the post-production process--something to be completed when the film is finished so that the visuals are consistent with the branding of the movie. I'm quite a branding geek, and love to have all visuals consistent (DVD lables, cases, posters, website, and so on).

However, I now recognize the need for a website to pick up where this blog leaves off, something that can help introduce people to the movie even before it is completed. And now that I sit down to think on this, it seems like a natural step in Hollywood to build excitement about a film that has not yet been finished. So, it seems, we will have that project to work on while simultaneously writing the script (a blueprint for all volunteers to help build the same movie). The website may not look like the final brand, but I think that's alright. Right now, if we focus on creating the content and navigational architecture, that will make the work at the end of the project run so smoothly.

There is still much work to be done. All of it is exciting--never a dull moment!

This week has been one of the most amazing by far, though. I even went running on Saturday--for the first time in months because I was so sick with bronchitis. It feels amazing to be healthy and hustling towards our goal of completing the film in the coming months. I finally feel like the old Camden again. Ohhhh, and for that, I am so thankful!

In short, I feel like I am soaring--not because of what I have done, but because of the talent, passion, intelligence and dedication of those that surround me. Building a power team like this helps one be a true mover and a shaker, and I am starting to really understand that now. I always knew it, but had not really experienced it until now. I'm surrounded by greatness.

1 comment:

Paul S said...

Such amazing adventures! So glad the folks were kind along the way.

Soaring, great! Remember this feeling, it will serve you well in the future.

Wish I'd known about the slides, my dad has been scanning them for a couple years.

Sounds like you have a clear vision of what you're doing, and thats exciting stuff! Have fun, hope you learn lots.