Working on a strategy to continue the storytelling at Tar Creek. Looking to produce a 4-6 episode series that could be picked up by one of the big streaming services. Looking for interested parties and/or producers that might be able help me see this through.
Working on the script for this concept, based on my recently completed short film of the same title.
It’s a nerve wracking feeling packing, labelling, and shipping the film. You wouldn’t think so but given there are customs forms, labels, packing, and payment, and then once it leaves your hands all you can do is hope it makes it where it’s supposed to go.
The next day I left on a work trip and during a layover at the Denver, CO airport I received a call from UPS. Something to the effect of, “We have your shipment here and we need some additional information about it.” Was not a good feeling to know it was stalled along the way. I worked feverishly to both call and email the necessary “missing” information – basically, they just wanted a description of the what was in the box. Yet another reason to sweat. I wouldn’t feel good until I received a confirmation that it’s in the hands of Cinelab in London.
Unlike digital formats where a backup is possible. If this film gets lost or damaged in transit, that’s it, it’s over. Gone. Lost forever. No returns, refunds, exchanges, do-overs.
Thankfully, a couple of days later I received confirmation that the film was received.
Now that I had an idea, my next step would be research. I had a lot of history to cover, a lot of catching up to do on the history of Tar Creek. I spent time reading, discovering scientific articles, news stories, videos, and more. Most of all I’d hope to discover someone to speak to, I needed to have a voice and a perspective of someone who lived in the area. During this process I found LEAD Agency and Executive Director, Rebecca Jim. I reached out to Rebecca explaining what I wanted to do and expressing my interest in meeting with her. This step alone felt like a big one, to reach out and share a vision and to ask someone for their time. In that email I expressed:
I was pleasantly surprised that she returned my email quickly and enthusiastically.
Story & Planning
After making contact and receiving confirmation that I’d have someone to interview, I was anxious to get going. Maybe a little too anxious. At this point I felt like there were some major piece in place to create a production but didn’t really have a fully fleshed out story yet.
So much of “story” comes from exploration, brainstorming, testing ideas out loud, maybe talking through them, sharing them with others willing to listen – and sometimes, for me, writing my way through a concept. My writings these days often take place spontaneously through the Notes app on my phone. If something strikes me, even a fleeting spark of an idea, I will often make a note of it. Often times I’ve found, the ones I come back to more than once are the ones that have staying power, and end up in the film.
Through all of this, I’d been pondering the angle I wanted to take. i think of this style of film; these short Super 8 films, most akin to a poem in many ways. Knowing that I wouldn’t have time to introduce the entire spectrum and breadth of Tar Creek, this would not be an all encompassing documentary of the area – that’s not what I wanted. This was an opportunity for a singular perspective – and what better than the perspective of Tar Creek itself?
And so I began to think in this way, as if the Creek could speak. Then to begin thinking about titles, because the title could be the essence of the story. So many ideas came to mind, so many titles, but the one that kept coming back up, was “Take Care, Tar Creek.” It was as if the film would be an open-letter from Tar Creek to the world, and then at the end would be the salutation, Take Care, Tar Creek. And credit where credit is due, my wife helped me to solidify that concept when she suggested that the film could begin with “Dear…”
With that, I felt that the film, at least in my mind, presented a bookended concept with what could be a clear beginning, middle and end.
Then, to assemble the pieces in a meaningful way. I’d need music, I’d need some narration and of course, some moving pictures.
More to come on the shooting day, music and more in next posts…
I recently attended the ‘friends, family, and movie-people’ premiere of This May Be The Last Time, a documentary produced by Matt Leach, Sterlin Harjo, and Christina D. King and directed by Harjo. This was the first feature-length film backed by This Land Films a section of This Land Press based in Tulsa, OK. The premiere took place at Circle Cinema in Tulsa on the heels of a successful debut at Sundance Film Festival in January 2014. Here is the posting about the film on the Sundance site.
I was hired to work on the film last year. I worked with the director and producer and other members of the cast and crew to capture re-created historical events that took place decades. Though, there was some original home movie footage of other stuff they could not unearth any archived footage from this particular significant event. So the goal was to re-create several scenes in a manner that might pass for film footage captured in the early 1960s. Super 8 film shot in a hand-held ‘man-on-the-scene’ type way was used to create a stylized, authentic appearance.
Coming into the picture I had seen a rough cut of the film and I understood the scenes and what they wanted to capture.
The shoot was a memorable one for me as many of the shots took place with me standing in the North Canadian River with a camera in my hand. All told we shot 7 rolls of film that day at 24 fps which amounted to about 17 minutes of film. The film stock was Agfachrome 200D Color Reversal film and shot on a Canon 814 XLS.
The intention was to use about 5 minutes of the footage. I was happy to see that every roll of film turned out wonderfully; good light, good focus, and framing. Plenty of the footage made it into the final film and the trailer.
I was happy to have been given the opportunity to share in this experience. The documentary is beautiful, heartbreaking, and uplifting, all at the same time…it’s a story worth watching.
Posted below is the official trailer for the film:
I added a new film to my Vimeo channel last night. This one is from the Oklahoma State Fair this year and features my fam at the livestock barns and at the midway. This was the first time I used my “nicer” camera at the fair. I used my Canon 814 XLS to shoot the footage. I shot on Kodak 500T Color Negative film. The soundtrack is from live recording at the fair using my Edirol R-09.
Taking my Super 8 camera and filming a roll or two has become a new tradition for me. I have been doing this for 7 or 8 years now and it makes me wish that I’d been doing it since my first visit there. I think the color and movement of film really captures the authenticity of being there.
This was also the first footage I’ve edited using Final Cut Pro X. I just downloaded the trial version yesterday and was able to quickly cut together the footage and the soundtrack without any real problems – which was great. I was a little hesitant about the interface to begin with but it turns out it was more intuitive than I originally thought. I didn’t search any help documents, just went right to work. Granted, there were no real edits within the film as I like to keep the film “whole” and as uncut as possible. But I did add titles, credits, and a layered audio track. Looking froward to playing around with FCP-X some more. Migration from FCP-7 looks imminent.
I received word that a film that I did some Super 8 film work for has been accepted to Sundance. The documentary film This May Be the Last Time, directed by Sterlin Harjo and Produced by Matt Leach, both of This Land Films, will be shown at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 16-26.
Here is the announcement on the This Land Films website:
Here is the short description of the film on the Sundance website:
“This May Be the Last Time / U.S.A. (Director: Sterlin Harjo) — Filmmaker Sterlin Harjo’s Grandfather disappeared mysteriously in 1962. The community searching for him sang songs of encouragement that were passed down for generations. Harjo explores the origins of these songs as well as the violent history of his people.”
My contribution to the film was minimal in terms of the overall production but I had a fun experience working with these guys, the talent and other crew. I was hired to shoot several rolls of film as a part of the film that re-created a specific historical event. I shot the film using a Canon 814 XLS and Agfachrome 200D Reversal film stock. The film was then digitally transferred and scanned at HD resolution.
I have seen the raw footage but not the final cut of the film – so I’m excited to see how the footage was integrated into the story.
Congratulations to all those involved! We’ll be watching the progress of this film to see the progress it makes.
This is a short wedding film I shot in October 2013 for my brother Adam and and his wife Lauren. I’ve been shooting Super 8 film for a long time now and with this film have decided that I’m going to enter the world of Super 8 wedding films. So pass on the information and if anyone out there would like to have their wedding filmed please get in touch with me. I will have a complete website with all the information soon!
I don’t know why I hang onto good stuff like this instead of putting it out when I get it. I have a bunch of Super 8 films that I shot years ago that I have yet to share. There are two films here, one is from October 2007 and one is from October 2008. Maybe I thought that I would add sound to them at some point but I never did. Instead they’ve just sat at home. I was happy to rediscover these wonderful pieces of family Americana and I am happy to share them.
I hope I don’t need to restate the importance and value of film in recording memories. The footage speaks for itself – so much more than an iPhone recording, don’t you think?
This is a short film that I shot sometime in Fall 2012. It takes place in El Reno, Oklahoma at the site of Rick Sinnett’s mural titled Guardian of the Mother Road. One of the projects Rick has been working on is painting a series of murals along Oklahoma’s Route 66 – known as the Mother Road. Each mural draws in components of the Oklahoma landscape and Rick’s representations of native symbolism and presents them in a symmetrical and colorful array. This short (one cartridge/50 ft reel) highlights Rick’s presence and pride in his work and how his art is positioned in relation to Route 66 and the open fields surrounding it.
I shot this film with a Canon 814 XL-S on Kodak 500T Negative film. Edited in Final Cut Pro 7. The music was a lucky find (creative commons licensed). Intro sound effect is my own recording of me putting a Super 8 cartridge in the camera and pulling the trigger.
Processing and telecine was performed by my friends at Yale Film & Video in Burbank, CA.
Thanks for watching.
More about Rick Sinnett (aka Mothman) and his current projects can be found online at:
and of course on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.