December 11, 2007
As I finally sit down to review the 3,000+ photos of Chris Voelker’s photo shoot, I find it impossible to narrow it down. I think on the question that I am often asked: Who is my favorite? My response is usually “That is like asking me to choose whom my favorite child is. Very Sophie’s Choice.” All four are equally important to this documentary, like four table legs that are needed to support a table. If any of the legs are missing, the table goes lopsided. I actually think I have a better answer below. There are favorite moments of each that I enjoy the most:
I think I like interviewing TL the most – I just turn on the camera and she can talk for an hour, opening up, crying, laughing, spilling her guts – all unprompted, candid and honest.
I like filming CJ’s shows the most – watching the audiences laugh so hard that they cry. I love when I film him discovering something on stage that is a comedic accident, making the audience laugh all over again.
I like catching Bob when he isn’t aware that he is being filmed. He is so proud of his show, his work, and filming his delight in telling anyone who will listen is just a joy.
And I like following Robert the best – walking through every day life as a prankster. I think I probably burned the most tape on Robert because when he was around I learned early not to turn the camera off since he is constantly jesting, impulsively joking around. Early on I missed some of the best moments while waiting for a meeting to begin or walking down the street and by the time I was rolling the moment was over. Luckily for me there were still months left to go and hundreds of moments of Robert pretending to walk into poles, scaring people, hiding in public spaces while he played cops and robbers and countless other hijinks. I don’t think I could ever get tired of filming Robert.
There were dozens of other entertainers I filmed, not knowing at the beginning who would fit into the film the best or have performances planned for this year. I was seriously torn that some of the best interviews didn't make it into the final film because there wasn't enough hours to show everything. Luckily we will have a great DVD extras section where I can show many of these highlights of some of my favorite performers:
Shoshannah Stern - one of the greatest interviews and most inspirational entertainers ever. Not only does she seem to have everything going for her, but I was surprised by how NICE she is. Sho is extremely genuine and down to earth. She is a trailblazer and a star in my book, and I would be lucky to cast her in future films.
Michelle Banks - she made me cry during her interview. Michelle is so passionate, and cares so deeply about motivating others - especially kids - to be their personal best. Michelle could be the next Oprah - or anything else this powerhouse actress wishes to become.
Evelyn Glennie - Evelyn was so generous to allow a full interview and for us to film her performance at UCLA. She is not only a brilliantly gifted musician, but charming and insightful.
Bernard Bragg - the father of Deaf theater. Bernard kicked to door open for just about every performer out there by being one of the co-founders of the National Theater of the Deaf, and blazing paths after studying with Marcel Marceau. To film such a legend was an honor. His friends know all of BB's famous stories which he regales in telling, but now they are recorded for generations to come.
John Maucere - John was so generous to allow me to film him during one of the busiest times of his life as the first cruise director aboard the Deaf Freedom Cruise. He not only entertained 4,000 deaf passengers for a week, but juggled dozens of shows while directing an ensemble of 16 deaf performers as part of his Deafywood production. Through it all he remained calm, humble and maintained a sense of humor. Did I mention his impression of Jay Leno as his deaf brother John Leno is pretty spectacular?
Alan "SPO" Schwartz - I love SPO's story about his nickname, an acronym for "Signed Performace Only." SPO was one of the first to share his honest convictions without censoring himself. Knowing that he was sharing some potential controversial topics, his point of view and opinions are a unique insight. I have so much gratitude for SPO taking the risk to open up on camera and trusting me with his stories.
Max "Max-i-mime" Fomitchev - a good deal of Max's interview made it into the final film. He is not only an extraordinarily talented performer, but has an incredible personal story. Being raised in Russia, Max lives in Canada and was a performer with Beethoven's Nightmare. My only risk is that Max has a way of stealing the show - a risk I am very happy to take to share his talents with the world.