Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Thoughts of highlights and challenges of filming

October 9, 2007

This is hard. I always knew producing this feature film would be difficult. But the driving motivation to tell my subjects' stories outweighed all of the challenges along the way. There were many highlights and challenges along the way. Here are just a few:

The highlights so far:

  • Discovering filming our entertainers through windows –starting with Bob’s house the first night Ed arrived. The lighting looked beautiful – and matched with photographer Chris Voelker’s window frame idea for the publicity shots. [Note: this idea was dropped in the final film, but a few hundred teaser postcards were handed out with this original concept.]
  • Beethoven’s Nightmare – watching an audience member's face in sheer glee flicker in the stage lights, then realizing he was deaf blind. I saw how much he enjoyed TL's performance and pulled her over after her set. TL's hair for the show was crazy wild - with pipes, feathers, tubes and dreds tied in all over her head. She allowed the audience member to touch her hair, and he gave me one of the most memorable interviews of the evening.
  • Watching several hundred people from Kansas sign up on my mailing list after one motivated interpreter found the promo on YouTube, becoming a Team Leader and sending out the email to bunches of people.


OK, it hasn't been easy. Things you can't even begin the prepare for pop up to make an already difficult job even more challenging. Here were some of my more difficult moments:

  • My grant writer quitting because it was "too hard," my camera being stepped on and breaking requiring a frantic drive to get it repaired two hours away and my second cameraman spraining his ankle on someone else’s set and having to cancel the next day's shoot. All of this is challenging, but the fact that it all happened within 24 hours of the largest shoot of the production the day before Beethoven Nightmare was filmed performing at the El Rey.
  • The disappointment of canceled performances and rejection, although many of the performers' heartbreaking moments that comes with being in the competitive entertainment business was captured in the documentary.
  • Everyone we filmed was so incredibly cooperative and supportive. Everyone except for a few hearing people, which makes me happy to be submerged into Deaf culture at the moment. Here are a few of my Michael Moore moments when I was almost shut down:
-Philadelphia subway - they threatened to take our cameras away;
-NYC subway - they threatened to take our tapes;
-A less than thrilled individual who was filmed picking a fight with one of our subjects;
-Attempts of being kicked out of one event before the show by an unhappy stage manager (luckily my subjects fought to keep me there. Even luckier, every other event was happy to have us there.)

The list of both of the highlights and challenges is even longer - much of which will be discussed in upcoming Q&A sessions after screenings.

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