All posts in Documentary

  • My documentary being featured on NPR!

    Hey all, I just wanted to send a quick note  about my work on the documentary "Leftovers" is being featured on national radio on Monday.  NPR's "On Point" with Tom Ashbrook will not only feature me and my work on the documentary but will also feature Enid Borden who is the president of Meals on Wheels Association of America.  I got the call this morning to be featured and talk about my film that began production over a year and a half ago.  For those of you who don't know the story then please check out www.leftoversmovie.com to learn about the story, my journey, the millions of senior citizens going hungry in America and the great people who are trying to end Senior Hunger in America. This is a tremendous honor and hopefully this will generate more and more buzz for the film.  Even though it's still in post production hopefully more and more national media attention will help speed up the post production process and the movie can then get out to the theaters as it is scheduled to do.  Making this movie has been one of the most trying, rewarding, frustrating and eye opening experiences of my life and it was well worth the journey.  Make sure you tune into NPR on Monday and listen to "On Point" with Tom Ashbrook.  Here are the details of the broadcast...
    • Monday, July 30, 2012
    • NRP Radio - check your local stations
    • 11am EST - Noon EST
    • Listen online at www.NPR.org
    • Listen online at Sirius/XM radio Channel 122.
    Let me know how I did... 🙂

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  • Open Show LA

    Making my presentation at Open Show LA

    I was selected to be part of a monthly art exhibit that is part of the Open Show series throughout the country and the world.  I think it's a pretty nice "tip of the cap" to be selected for this.  Anytime someone is recognized for their work or project is a nice acknowledgement of the work that is being created.  Most of the people selected are photographers but there are others like documentary filmmakers, multimedia creators, mixed-media artists, etc.  It's an honor and privilege to be a part of this show/exhibit.  This show in late March was held at the Venice Arts Center.

    The exhibit features 4 artists and we each get to present our projects, show our work and talk with people attending the exhibit.  For some reason, I was first (alphabetically) and got to get up and make my presentation on my photography and video work for the documentary "Leftovers."  I think this may be the first time I have ever been selected first from an alphabetic perspective but I have no issue being in front of people and was able to get up, introduce my project, show the trailer and the display the photos from the project while talking about the film and life changing experiences this processed has provided me over the last 16 months.

     I was surprised at the reception this documentary received during my presentation but since a film like this has never been made before I think a lot of people in attendance can relate to what is happening to our seniors and the journey I had taken to make this film.  I was asked several questions from several different people and was genuinely surprised at the overall interest in this project.  Some of the questions asked were personal about my experiences but several people asked about a "solution" to the problem.  What's interesting about that is that the film does provide a solution but seeking a solution was something we weren't initially looking for in the initial outline/storyboard of the project.  However, after traveling to a number of places and hearing people talk about solutions (but never really offering solutions) I knew we had to get extra money to travel and find the solutions.  I am so thankful to Meals on Wheels Association of America for giving an additional $30k so we could travel to Austin, TX and Detroit, MI to talk about and showcase some solutions.

    The rest of the night went well and I got to watch and listen to the other featured artists that night.  One of the fellow presenters is my friend, Patty Lemke, who is working on a lifelong photography project of balloons.  And, another exhibitor, Bret Van Ort, talked about his photography/documentary project about Land Mines in Bosnia.  Here' s a link to Brett's work "Minescape" (http://www.brettvanort.com) - which I found quite fascinating.  If there is an opportunity to get involved or be selected by Open Show in your respective city then please do so.  Hopefully your work will be selected and you can share your passion and projects with the community.

    SH

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  • Open Show LA to feature my photography and documentary

    I have some really cool news to share... There's a great group of artists in LA who, once a month, find a very select group of people (4 to be exact) to feature.  And, yours truly was just selected because of my photography and videography work on the documentary "Leftovers."  This is a great honor and privilege to be selected and featured as part of this great group of people.  This project/documentary has been a labor of love for more than a year now and I cannot wait for the film to come out this summer.  The distributor is chomping at the bits to see this finished product and so are the PR people.  The edit is coming along nicely and this will be an amazing story that the American public has never seen before.  It's going to be great and unique. If you want to come out and here about my documentary and adventures over the last 15 months then please do so on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 7:30pm in Venice, CA.  I would love to see you there.  I am posting the link to OPEN SHOW LA so you can see the address and details of the event and some of the other great artists attending/presenting.  This is really a great honor and something with which I am flattered to be involved.  The long days, weeks and months are paying off and it's nice to be recognized for the work I have been doing.  But, more importantly, it's incredible recognition for a growing problem in America that can and will affect all of us as we get older.  The good new is that we can change or affect this growing statistic but we have to get the word out about our seniors.  The more we can bring light to this subject the more awareness and dialogue we can create to find solution.  Hopefully, I will see you out in Venice on Wednesday so please stop by and say HI! http://openshow.org/losangeles/

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  • No more documentary…

    Nah!  I'm just kidding.  I am, however, moving all the documentary blog posting to the NEW documentary website.  Yes, you read that correctly.  There is a new, dedicated website to the LEFTOVERS documentary complete with images, video clips, new blog postings and links to all the great organizations featured in this film. I will no longer be posting any documentary related blog postings here and will, once again, dedicate this site to my photography work and photography related blog posts.  You can check out all the new information and related posts on the new site: http://www.leftoversmovie.com (THIS IS NO LONGER ACTIVE - NEW INFORMATION WILL BE POSTED SOON AFTER 1/31/15) I want to thank all of you for reading these posts and following the progress and now you can do so on a site dedicated to eradicating the plight of senior hunger.  I hope you join me there. Seth

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  • Documentary Blog #31 – New website coming

    There have been a lot of things taking place over the last couple of months in regard to the documentary.  Yes, I have been playing a massive waiting game with people in Washington, DC and my calls and emails to anyone at the USDA have fallen on deaf ears and I cannot get a response from that organization.  However, I have been in talks with Meals on Wheels Association of America, the Administration on Aging and the National Council on Aging and have some interviews lined up here.  So, I will be traveling to DC in a matter of weeks.  In the meantime, I have kept myself busy with working on and organizing my clips so that I can tell the story when the time comes.  Also, I have been sending out email after email and making phone call after phone to set up interviews and garner additional funding for the project.  All my "behind the scenes" work is paying off and so much is starting to happen. Now, there's a lot i CANNOT share with you right now because I don't want some information to get out but I can tell you that I am writing this blog post as an EXTREMELY happy man right now.  Something huge came in the mail today for me that will allow me to finish this project.  I am so happy that I want to shout it from the rooftops but am restrained to do so out of respect and admiration of the people involved.  But, I can tell you this and share this with you... We are working on a site solely dedicated to the film so you don't have to read anymore posts here on my photography site.  We are in the works of building a "Stick A Fork In It" website that will solely devoted to the film, photographs, stories, people and organizations we have encountered along the way as well as links for you to personally get involved in the lives of seniors.  It will have a new, completely overhauled logo and everything.  This is getting exciting and more and more professional every minute.  I think this is all coming together nicely. Look here for more details coming soon and thanks for all your support.  I love you all! Seth

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  • Documentary Blog #30 – Ms. Senior Florida Pageant

    So it's our last day in Orlando, FL and we had all the stuff with Seniors First already shot and had one more day to get some footage from an event that I wasn't too sure about but was excited nonetheless.  Prior to coming to Orlando I had learned that the Ms. Senior America Pageant was taking place the last day we were there.  Now, please understand this is the Florida portion of this pageant just like what you find for any beauty pageant in America.  Obviously you have to go through all the state pageants before you get to the "big one."  This was the Ms. Senior Florida America pageant and it was interesting for Kaleb and me since we really didn't know what to expect, how things were going to go down, who was competing and how this whole thing would come together.  Fortunately, I learned very early there would be no swimsuit portion of the event. 🙂

    Ms. Senior Florida America contestants leaving the stage in the preliminary round.

    After arriving we were very happy to know that EVERYONE there was aware of us attending the event and that helps more than anyone can imagine and I have the organizer, Kenyon Demps, to thank for that as well as Marsha Lorenz of Seniors First.  One of the things I learned very early in television and video production work is that it is always great to have contacted all the necessary people ahead of time to not have to deal with any headaches or issues that would slow us down, so that was nice.  When we walked in we were greeted by a myriad of people who were happy to see us there and were happy we were covering the event.  They then ushered us around the "behind the scenes" areas of the event facility and started talking with the contestants, judges and former winners of the event.  It was nice to learn about these women, their ages, lives, families and spirit.  I am inspired by a lot of these women and their wonderful attitudes and energy.  Hell, most of these women have more energy at 70 than I do at my age.  We just sat back and talked with so many people and learned a tremendous amount during the two hours before the event started.

    Here are the contestants for the pageant. The back row are all the contestants for the pageant and the front row are previous winners and some of the pageant dignitaries.

    One of the brightest moments of the backstage conversations was with the current Ms. Senior America.  She is absolutely gorgeous and a truly wonderful woman.  She is 61 and, I think, turned 62 during the filming of this documentary.  She had a lot of great advice for people about seniors and why we need to care about them and get involved in their lives (I would share more here but I want you to watch the documentary when it is released).  She inspired me even more and I continue to find myself caring more and more about seniors.  Keep in mind this is completely new to me since I never really cared before or thought a lot about seniors.  It also made me realize how we, as a country, treat our seniors poorly.  You may be asking yourself how this matters in this film and I will respond with this...  If we live in a country that rewards "Youth and Beauty" and seniors don't have either (in the eyes of most Americans) then how can we truly care for something or someone we don't think positively about?  I am seeing more and more how hunger and ageism/discrimination go hand in hand in the battle of senior hunger.

    Ms. Senior America - Isn't she GORGEOUS?!?!?

    The pageant started and I was saddened there weren't very many people in the audience.  It is true that the majority, if not all, of the people in attendance were family members, past winners, organizers, judges and Kaleb and me.  I don't know if there were any people who were in attendance "just because."  And, to me, that's too bad because they missed a wonderful pageant filled with some talented and beautiful women.  One of these women was 91 years old and was incredibly functional at playing the piano, dancing and speaking.  This is more proof that age is just a number and we need to stop thinking that once people reach a certain age that they no longer matter or can contribute to society.  During the pageant Ms. Senior America gets on stage and dances and lip syncs to "Proud Mary" while dressed as Tina Turner.  She was, in a word, AWESOME!

    Ms. Senior America performing as Tina Turner. She had amazing energy.

    Ms. Senior America keeping it going in her performance as Tina Turner.

    My only complaints about this pageant are that there were only 9 contestants in Florida.  Think about that only 9 senior woman competing in the state that has the largest number of seniors in America.  But I guess that will change over time as the number of seniors grow and this becomes more popular in America.  And, my other complaint is that the pageant seemed to drone on and on and on about everything and nothing but I never go to pageants and this is probably the norm in these types of things but I have a short attention span anyway and was ready to see the conclusion.  Women competed in Evening Gown, Talent and Spoken Word (talking about why they want to be Ms. Senior Florida America).  The former Ms. Senior Florida got up and did a Flamenco dance and I was, once again, blown away at her performance.  After a bit it was time to announce the winner and a great woman named Terry Vece won.  She was very well spoke, looked beautiful and did a great dance number.  There were a couple who, in my opinion,  could have won but Terry was a superb choice.

    Terry getting crowned Ms. Senior Florida America. Now it's on to compete for the national crown.

    Terry (the winner of the pageant) and Seniors First Director, Marsha Lorenz

    We left the pageant location and thanked everyone for their help.  After that we went back to our hotel to pack for the flights home - Kaleb to Indy and me to LA.  The next steps... who knows. For more information on the Ms. Senior America Pageant, check out their information here - http://www.senioramerica.org/ Seth

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  • Documentary Blog #29 – Orlando, FL – Day 2

    We met up with Lisa and Jan from Seniors First to got out and do more shooting today.  One thing I failed to mention in the last post is something about Seniors First's leadership.  You cannot have a productive and successful organization without incredible leadership and it starts with the four great women I had been working with over the last couple of months.  I couldn't have been able to get this great footage and experience in Orlando without the trust and auspices of Marsha, Jan, Lisa and Kathy.  They didn't know anything about me and trusted that I would make a great documentary and really open America's eyes to this story.  Without their trust and assistance I would not have been able to tell the story I want and need to tell for this film.  Now that I got that off my chest I want to get back to what we experienced a different community center.

    Marsha Lorenz is the Executive Director of Seniors First in Orlando, FL.

    Today is Friday and we are heading off to the L. Claudia Allen Community Center to film another Neighborhood Lunch Programs Seniors First provides.  As at Engelwood they also have an on-site coordinator who is responsible for getting the activities and food ready for all people coming that day.  It should be noted here too that this Neighborhood Lunch Program is something that takes place FIVE days a week and not something just happening on the day we were filming.  Again, like before, we wanted to sit back and listen to people, watch their interactions and learn a thing or two.  The woman responsible for this site is name Gloria and I looked forward to seeing her again.  I had met her before when I had scouted these locations for my initial visit.  Gloria was someone I immediately bonded with when talking with her.  I think you can always tell when a person is genuine, sincere and cares what they are doing to work with people.  Gloria works to ensure the food is prepared correctly and meets standards set forth by the government, coordinates the events and makes certain everyone has a great time.  Nilda, who I spoke of in yesterday's blog, does all the same things as Gloria and is an employee of Seniors First.

    Here's the wonderful Gloria - the woman who rules the roost at the L. Claudia Allen Center. She makes sure everyone gets take care of when it comes to getting attention and lunch.

    On this particular day the Neighborhood Lunch Program (NLP) is not only offering lunch but they have provided a health fair for the attendees.  Also, on Fridays, an Asian group meets at this predominantly black community center to join in the festivities and then us the community center for some socialization and some kick ass Tai Chi.  I thought it would be interesting to see the two cultures interacting and talk with the Asian women about how different their culture is from the predominantly Caucasian beliefs and treatment of the elderly.  So I was really looking forward to seeing everyone in action and the how different or similar the two cultures would be while interacting.  And, this day was truly, truly special because they were not only offering the Health Fair but they were providing BINGO.  I think it was the largest BINGO group I have ever seen - then again, I haven't stepped into too many BINGO parlors.  But the best part of this is that yours truly will be calling some of the BINGO.  There was another group from a different community center/area also in attendance (Three Groups - two African-American and on Asian) that day so we had a bit of a rivalry with the BINGO.  Gloria gave Kaleb and me some L. Claudia Allen Community Center T-Shirts to wear so we donned them proudly and started filming the festivities.

    Land of the Free, Home of the Forgotten, Hungry Senior.

    Before BINGO and lunch everyone was there for the Health Fair - this was a great added bonus for the seniors in attendance.

    I had a chance to call BINGO for the entire group. I don't think I disappointed anyone was able to hold my own as a BINGO caller.

    I talked with the people at the Health Fair (those displaying as well as the attendees) and wanted to hear how important they thought this was.  It was interesting to see the weight machines, blood pressure machines and nutrition information.  This information is important to all of us regardless of age.  But the most interesting display on hand that day was the STD Awareness table/booth.  After doing some research I have learned that seniors are one of the bigger rising groups contracting STDs.  I guess it is true that some things don't have to stop when you get old. 🙂  As the Health Fair ended and in between the BINGO session I started walking around taking photos of some of the people in attendance.  I took a lot of photos and too many to post here but I will do something with them eventually.  I saw all kinds of people and they were doing everything from knitting to talking to laughing or playing cards.  After a while of taking photos I started having people come up to me and ask if I would take their photo.  I could see the joy in their faces when I would take their photo because someone was paying attention to me.  In fact, one woman approached me asking me to take her photo stating, "I just bought this dress.  Do you think it's pretty?"  That statement made me somewhat sad because, even though I could see the joy in her face, I believed her request to be more about attention than anything else.  I could tell she wanted someone to pay attention to her and that's what I did.  I took her photo and thanked her for letting me do so.  I also let her know how beautiful I thought her dress was.  She smiled and walked away.  After calling a few rounds of BINGO I handed the mic back to their normal BINGO caller and started taking more photos.  One photo, shown below, I took at the end of the BINGO session.  I wanted to get all the people I could in frame and just snap a photo.  This photo brought a tear to my eye (literally) because all the people here were so happy and grateful someone was there to film them.  Everyone there was so happy and it was great to see the three different groups interacting together and enjoying their time at the community center.

    While waiting for the BINGO and lunch some people find time to socialize or get some knitting done. Regardless, she's not sitting at home knitting alone and has companionship here at the center.

    This woman saw me taking pictures and asked if I would take her picture in her new dress. It really touched me that she just wanted me to take her picture. I felt so very special to make that happen for her.

    All the people at the L. Claudia Allen Center Waving at Me!

    After BINGO was finished then everyone ate lunch.  I made my way over to the Asian table and started talking with the group there.  Fortunately I had an interpreter who was able to tell me everything the people were saying.  Most knew English but some of it was broken so Andrew (the group leader) was able to interpret for me to make things easier.  The only time I have been yelled at during this entire documentary process came when I asked the table of Asian women a question about the treatment of the elderly.  When I asked the table if it would be acceptable for them to put their elderly relatives into a nursing home or assisted-living facility like it is in the United States.  After the interpreter asked my question one of the Asian women started speaking very quickly and angrily and pounded her fist on the table while looking at me.  I had no idea what she was saying but I am smart enough to realize she was PISSED!   Andrew told me that this question is an insult to the Asian culture and something that is just unheard of to them.  However, Andrew informed me that this is starting to change in the Asian culture.  He said that as more and more western culture trickles into the Asian culture the younger generations are not seeing the importance of taking care of the elderly relatives.  It appears as if this problem could be growing because I have always admired the way the Asian (as well as many other cultures) admire, respect and revere their elderly.  After talking with them it was time for me to get out of their way and let them do their Tai Chi.  I ended up snapping off a few photos while being completely intrigued and mesmerized by their balance and patience while performing this beautiful, ancient art.

    The Asian women were doing all sorts of Tai Chi that day and this particular exercise these beautiful fans

    The lovely Asian women posing with their fans for me.

    My friends from Seniors First, Jan and LIsa, giving Tai Chi a try.

    On the last blog of the documentary I will share an interesting time Kaleb and I had at the Ms. Florida Senior Pageant.  The women competing are gorgeous and wonderfully agile.  It's nice to see how some seniors are not letting life pass them by and are as active now as they were in their younger years.

    See you then, Seth

     

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  • Documentary Blog #28 – Orlando, Florida – Day 1

    Kaleb and I flew from Indianapolis to Orlando, FL to begin filming what I had already scouted and researched a couple of weeks earlier.  I had booked my trip back to Orlando through Expedia.com and was able to get a great deal on hotel and airfare through Expedia's package deals.  I ended up booking Kaleb and me at The Peabody Hotel across the street from the convention center.  It was a complete departure from what I just experienced in Booneville, KY.  Now, before anyone goes off and starts asking me about staying at The Peabody while I am asking for money for the documentary please note this was paid for by the executive producers and we got a REALLY great deal at this hotel and it was incredibly cost effective.  In fact, my flight and hotel expense was just a little more expensive than what the costs were in Booneville.  But, as I have said many times, the costs of this entire documentary add up and can be expensive when trying to tell the accurate story of Senior Hunger in America.  Anyway, when we got to the hotel we were fortunate enough to be put in a suite (thanks to the help of the great people at Seniors First) on the 22nd floor of this massive hotel.  Again, this was a welcomed relief after roughing it in Kentucky for the last several days.  Yes, I'm spoiled.  I like my little luxuries like a 7-11 close by, more than 3 restaurant choices serving fried, deep friend and deep fried on a stick food and I like being able to have cell reception and instant email.  I will be the first to admit that I am completely, hopelessly and shamefully addicted to email.  As you can see from the pictures below we were in a REALLY sweet hotel with a wonderful view of downtown Orlando and one of the many pool areas.  Again, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to stay at this hotel.
    We were in building #2 of this massive hotel. In front of us is building #3. The Peabody is an unbelievably classy hotel and organization.
    Here's the view of downtown Orlando from our 22nd floor balcony.
    Here's the view from our balcony overlooking one the many pools at the hotel.

    NEIGHBORHOOD LUNCH PROGRAM

    The following morning we were meeting Lisa and Jan at the west-side office of Seniors First, getting some interviews and video here and then making our way to the Engelwood Community Center where their Neighborhood Lunch Program takes place.  As I mentioned before, I want to show different elements of senior hunger in this film and not just people delivering food to seniors.  Let's face it, 20 minutes of seeing people delivering food will get old very quickly to the viewer of this movie.  And, seniors have so many more needs than just food.  One of the most critical elements to anyone's well-being is social interaction.  We are all social creatures and having that time to connect with other humans is something we often take for granted but are reminded as to how precious that interaction is when left alone - sometimes for days.  Seniors First does an incredible job of not only feeding seniors but working with city and county officials to provide a lunch program at a community or city center.  The day we were coming was a special day too in that the community leader (Nilda) was having a post-Easter celebration with dancing, and a DJ and balloons and cake and the most wonderful chicken I have ever tasted.  Did I mention that this location serves a large Hispanic community?  One thing I have to mention here too (as to not polarize the people reading this blog or who watch this film) is most of the people you see at Engelwood hail from Cuba, or Puerto Rico and are very much here legally.  I know the immigration issue is one that can polarize many people but these people are no different than any other red-blooded American who came to this country in search of a better life, pay taxes, worked for many years and are now enjoying life in a better environment than they once had and are close to their families.

    A celebration so big they even had to bring in a DJ. I think I may be wrong but I could swear I heard him say, "Hey! Who rocks the party that rocks your body?" He even broke out some karaoke and gifted the crowd with a little Neil Diamond. All kidding aside - this guy was great!

    We arrived at Engelwood and are immediately greeted by a bus dropping off passengers coming to the celebration.  These are regular attendees but today was a little more special considering all the festivities taking place.  As you can imagine, most arrived in their best attire ready to dance, socialize, laugh and enjoy some great food.  I love that Seniors First makes it easy for their clients to utilize their services and enjoy time socializing with one another and still feeling like they matter and people genuinely care about one another.  We started getting video of everyone and thankfully Seniors First took care of getting all the waivers and releases signed by the people attending.  Personally, I believe people in attendance were happy to see Kaleb and me and were smiling and waving at his video camera and my still camera.  I had no issue taking photos that day.  Before lunch was served the DJ fired-up his laptop and began spinning the hits.  It was great to see so many people dancing and one man even brought his own maracas.  He only stopped playing his maracas whenever it was time to eat.  You just had this feeling that he was happy to be there and loved being able to play his maracas with passion and finesse.

    Kaleb getting some shots outside the Engelwood Neighborhood Lunch Program.

    One of the great staff members who drives around picking up seniors and taking them to the different Community Lunch Programs

    Time passed and we got some wonderful interviews with many of the people in attendance as well as the community leader, Nilda. But the one interview that stands out to me was when Tony (I forget his last name but he's in the documentary) a politician from the community and former Deputy Sheriff came to visit the celebration. He also agreed to be on camera and talk about how important something like this is for the community.  He then started talking about how he got involved and shared a story about his mother who had special needs and relied upon services like the ones Seniors First provides.  During that conversation he became choked up and started to cry and I could tell the true emotion and sincerity this man has for seniors.  You know, I don't have a lot of love or positive thoughts towards our politicians these days but was reminded how great politicians CAN be when they truly care about being civil servants.  I expressed my position and thoughts with Tony and thanked him for reminding me there are still some wonderful caring people working in politics to truly make a difference in this world and their communities.  I also have to thank Lisa and Jan from Seniors First who really know how to work with the people in their communities to make a difference in the lives of seniors.

    Tomorrow I will share our experience at the L. Claudia Allen Community Center where the African-American community and the Asian community share an great space.  Until then, enjoy these pictures from our time at the Engelwood Neighborhood Lunch Program.

    Seth

    A great group of seniors dancing, laughing and enjoying life during this Easter celebration function.

    I loved watching this woman move around the dance floor. She was vibrant and happy and could kick my ass in a dance competition.

    Don't knock it 'til you've tried it... Meals on Wheels food is DAMN tasty!

    Here are some of the people that made this day at Engelwood so special. The woman on the far left is Lisa from Seniors First, the woman in the middle behind the man's left shoulder is Nilda. the woman in blue and the woman on the far right are daughter and mother, respectively and the man in the middle is the one who helped to create a chicken masterpiece that day.

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  • Documentary Blog #27 – Good-bye Booneville, Hello Orlando

    Well, it's time to say good-bye to my friends in Booneville, KY.  I had a great time getting to know some wonderful people and had some experiences I will never forget.  More importantly, I was able to capture some incredible footage and interviews for the documentary.  I was somewhat reluctant to come to Booneville initially but my fears quickly dissipated when Kaleb and I started to immerse ourselves into this culture. I am really going to miss the people here but have vowed to return within the year for the documentary premiere or just to help deliver meals.  The only thing that will be different from this trip is I am bringing my wife with me.  She has heard all of the stories about this place and wants to experience for herself and she will make the trip with me whenever I return.

    In the center of town is the Owsley County Court House. I can tell you stories about what goes on around this building that will have your mouth agape (a-gape and not a-ga-pay).

    I did fail to mention that Kaleb and I had ZERO internet connectivity and extremely limited cell phone reception while in the area.  When we returned to our house/hotel and walked into the front door we would immediately lose reception of any kind.  We had to stand on the front porch most of the time to talk with our significant others.  Most nights were rainy, windy and cold so it didn't make it any easier trying to talk with someone on the phone.  One night we got locked inside the house/hotel when the handle on the door was stuck and the door wouldn't open.  Neither Kaleb or I couldn't get cell service to call Linda and have her come and save us.  We couldn't escape through the back door because it was completely boarded up. We were trapped.  Finally I put my phone as close to my bedroom window as I could and was able to get ONE bar.  I used that good fortune to call Linda and have her come and free us from our time in purgatory.  Kaleb and I have several little stories and experiences like this one that will gladly share over drinks with any of you reading this some day.  As we drove away from Booneville I was somewhat sad in knowing that a part of me will always be in this city and these people but I have to move on because I have four interesting, personable and caring women waiting for me in Orlando  at Seniors First.

    This is one of the last pictures I made before leaving Booneville. Here Kaleb is posing on the highway and some random guy rides by on a four-wheeler... SCORE!

    While working in Booneville I used my phone to check my email whenever I had a signal.  During that time I was alerted that I was given permission to film the Ms. Florida Senior America pageant while in Orlando and can use it in my documentary.  Not only does Seniors First kick some serious ass they also we helpful in lining up this opportunity to share a story with American most people don't get the chance to see.  So now it's off to Orlando!

    Miss Senior Florida 2010. If you think she's HOT it's because she is! We can only hope to look at good and be that nimble when we're seniors.

    By the way, I finally got 3G service on my iPhone about an hour after leaving Booneville.  Praise Tom Cruise! 🙂

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  • Documentary Blog #26 – Senior Center and The Hollan Family

    It's been almost a week since we've arrived in Booneville, Ky and considering it's such a small town we have started to become locals.  People are no longer curious about us and just accept that we are running around all over town shooting video and taking pictures.  We have spent time gathering B-Roll and interviews and people getting food.  All in all, it's been an incredible experience and I don't regret choosing to come here and meet with these amazing people; but we're not done yet.  We were scheduled to make our way to the Senior Citizen Center to share a meal with a lot of seniors in the area who use this center for camaraderie, socialization and lunch.  We had stopped in early in the week to meet with the seniors here but they told us we needed to come back at the end of the week because they were serving a special meal and all the seniors in the area would be in attendance so we obliged them and agreed to come back at the end of the week.  The senior center is a great community center and while we were filming they were in the process of constructing a new gathering area so all the seniors were in a smaller area of the center.  Even though it was a smaller space it was still full of great, jovial seniors who, like the rest of the people I have met, were just as friendly and welcoming as most everyone I had met in Booneville.

    Owsley County Senior Center where great people get together everyday for food, fun and socialization.

    One couple in particular, Henrietta and Clyde, was so much fun to be around and just had me laughing.  Clyde is 86 and Henrietta is 81.  We first met Henrietta on Saturday night when we went to Dooley's Diner to listen to Bluegrass music and go Clogging with the townsfolk.  Yes, I just used the word townsfolk. 🙂  And, we met Clyde at the "Table of Truth and Knowledge" earlier in the week at Dooley's Diner.  I hope I am as active, sharp and spunky at 81 as Henrietta is; she's someone I really enjoyed getting to know and talking with whenever I saw her.  She is, as I have heard people say before, a "firecracker."  I hope I get back to Booneville soon enough just to spend time with her and Clyde.

    Some seniors enjoying lunch and Easter flowers at the Owsley County Senior Center.

    We spent time with the seniors while they had lunch and they were gracious enough to allow Kaleb and me join them for a great meal.  Prior to the meal they wanted me to call Bingo so I, once again, obliged them and called several Bingo games (which has become a recurring theme whenever I would travel to a senior center) and I had more fun than I expected I would calling Bingo.  I attribute that to the company of people more than the act of calling Bingo.  The people made it so much more enjoyable for me and truly enjoyed making them laugh and, at time, entertaining them.

    Henrietta. She looks great for 81 and the smile you see here is how I will always remember her.

    I was feeling very benevolent that day.  I don't know what it was or why but the people of Booneville had affected me in a way that I had never experienced.  So, I wanted to do something nice for some of the people we had met.  Whether is was buying lunch, dinner or dessert I wanted to spend my own money and give back to the people who have given Kaleb and me so much.  One family in particular, the Hollan family, really resonated with me.  I don't know if it was my first meeting with Stormy who is originally from San Diego but now lives with her husband Simon Hollan in Booneville (Simon is originally from Booneville and they moved back to help take care of the family), or the first time I met the matriarch of the family Nannie Hollan or just talking with all of the members of the family that made me really like and connect with these people but something happened and I hold a special place in heart for them.  So I wanted to do something nice for them and I wanted to take their photo.  Since I was going to their home to ask to take their photo I had the manners enough to go there with something in return.  Kaleb and I went to the local Dollar General Store (there are two in Booneville - The Family Dollar and The Dollar General Store) and I bought two gallons of milk and I bought Nannie some "comfy" clothes.  When I first met Nannie she was wearing some fleece-type pants and a matching shirt. I don't know if it was her pajamas or her "lounging-around" clothes but they were bright, colorful and looked really comfortable.

    Kaleb and Nannie. As always, Nannie is in her comfy clothes. I wish I could walk around every day in my comfy clothes. You go, Nannie!

    After stopping at the dollar store we made our way to their house and went up to say hi.  When we approached the house, I noticed the front door open but couldn't see inside so I just started calling out for Stormy or Nannie or Simon to come out.  When I did I saw more of the Hollan family than I had met so far.  Not only was there Nannie, Simon and Stormy but they all paraded out of the house and onto the porch.  Here I met Stormy and Simon's two children, Patrick who is Simon's other child and Simon's sister Betty who is dating Shawn (pictured with the buzz cut - I had met Shawn a couple of times before this photo was taken).  I was expecting to see a few people but now there were eight.  We presented them with their goodies and they were, as I expected, thankful and grateful for their gifts and I asked if I could take their photo.  They agreed and we took a few pictures.  Some are good and others are not so good.  That last statement has nothing to do with the Hollan family but the fact I was only traveling with my camera and a couple of speed lights and no light modifiers or softboxes.  Could I have taken better photos if I had my studio equipment?  Well, um, YES!  But I made the most with what I had and tried to take really nice snapshots and not award-winning photos.

    My friends, the Hollan Family of Booneville Kentucky.

    We chatted for a while and went on our way.  I think of the Hollan family as my friends and hope to see them again someday.  Once again, they are a prime example of people who may not have a lot in terms of money or fancy, designer clothes or a house full of frivolous items but they make the most of what they do have.  "Keeping up with the Joneses" is not a way of life for most people in Booneville and that's OK with them.  They are happy to have their lives and try to make the most of what they do have while living in one of the most beautiful areas of the country.

    The Hollan Family in Black and White.

    Tomorrow we say good-bye to Booneville and start to make our way to Orlando. See you then, Seth

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