All posts in Personal

  • Documentary Blog #12 – Marin County Day #1

    Having lived in Northern California before moving to Los Angeles, I am familiar with Marin County.  Although most of my experience with Marin County consists of stopping at some area for lunch at In-N-Out Burger, going to Muir Woods, driving through to get to San Francisco and stopping just short of the Golden Gate Bridge (on the north side) and just off Sausalito to photograph the great view of SF from the Marin County side.  So, I don’t really have a lot of experience with Marin County save for what I just mentioned.  I was looking forward to seeing what Victor could share with me and learning as much as I could about Marin County.
    View of the Golden Gate from Marin County and Sausaliton

    View of the Golden Gate from Marin County and Sausaliton

    He came by to get us in the morning and his car was already loaded with food schedule to be delivered that day.  Imagine if you can three adult men, all well over 200 lbs. getting into a 4 door Prius hatchback while carrying loads of video equipment and trying to maneuver around enough food to feed 35 people that day.  Needless to say, it was cramped and crowded for me sitting in the back right behind Victor while he drove.  I am already claustrophobic and being in the situation just added to my uneasiness.  I am trying to conduct a documentary on a topic that I really haven’t ever thought about or really cared for and now have to sit, completely squashed up against a car door and hundreds of pounds of food.  This should go well…
    B-Roll Footage Marin County, Catholic Church, Fountain, Marin County

    Here's Frank Nolan getting a shot of some fountain at a Catholic School. You can see the small car filled with food behind Frank.

    We got Victor mic’ed up and loaded up the car with our gear (somehow) and were off to feed the hungry of Marin County.  While driving around I started learning more and more about the county.  I was surprised to see how many people are actually going hungry in this county considering the vast amount of wealth here.  Marin is the 16th wealthiest county in the country but would be listed considerably higher in the rankings if it were more populous.  I say this because as we were driving around and I was noticing all the grand, beautiful homes with great gardens surrounding the properties, breathtaking views of the bay and air that is more pure than most cities to which I have traveled.  It is a remarkable and magnificent area.  I started to wonder how anyone in this area could go hungry considering most of these homes are worth well over one million dollars.  So, like all good documentarians, I asked Victor how could anyone go hungry while living here?  This area is loaded with wealth and these homes are wonderful.  It was here that I really started to understand the plight of a lot of seniors and learned what is happening to a lot of seniors.  Victor explained it this way (and I’m paraphrasing)… He informed me that a lot of seniors in this area have lived here their entire lives and when they bought these homes 30-40 years ago and none of them were worth that price then.  Obviously they have increased their value over the years and these people don’t want to leave their homes, therefore, they have become house rich.  They are still paying property taxes, utilities and other bills while trying to afford their medications and food.  And, most of these people don’t want to leave their homes because it’s all they have left in this life.  I started thinking too about what I would do in that situation.  It’s easy for me to just sit back and question their decisions and life and make snap judgments about these seniors.  But since I have never been in their situations I cannot completely comment.  I know a lot of readers would just say, “Why don’t they sell their home and move into a smaller place like an apartment or nursing home?”  Believe me, I know you’re asking these questions because I thought the same thing.  But if all I had in this world was my home then you can believe I would stay. As we continued to drive around Marin County we kept delivering food over and over and over and over and over again.  He and his staff deliver 330 meals each day and there is a waiting list of more than 200 people just in Marin County.  Each time I was amazed at how many people Victor delivered food to, where they lived and the fact they needed food.  It was a great interview (I am saving the majority of what we talked about for the documentary because it’s pretty in depth) and I couldn’t believe how many people are going hungry in this country.  It once again confirmed my belief that if hunger can happen in Marin County in can happen anywhere.  By the time we had finished delivering food I was exhausted.  This is hard work and I am amazed at the commitment and knowledge Victor has.  More importantly, I was amazed at the relationship Victor has with his clients (people receiving food).  He really cares about these people and knows many of his clients’ interactions with other human beings takes place when he delivers the food.  That’s just sad to me and I hope that never becomes my life; I love people too much.  But the one question that kept playing repeatedly in my head during that day was this, “With so much wealth then why are the people going hungry in this county?”
    People love supporting Victor Buick and Marin County Meals on Wheels

    Victor Buick with one of Marin County's Meals on Wheels biggest supporters. If you can't tell she and Victor have a very close and caring friendship.

    More tomorrow about what Victor is doing to try to get funds and I think you would be surprised to learn about his operating budget (or lack thereof). Seth  

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  • Documentary Blog #11 – Meeting Victor and changing attitudes

    On a Wednesday morning my videographer for this part of the documentary, Frank Nolan, and I jumped in the car and made the six hour drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco/Marin County.  We had our hotel in Marin County booked and wanted to get into Marin in time to meet Victor, grab some food and get some sleep before three action-filled days of filming and learning with Victor Buick.  Along the drive I learned a lot about Frank, his wife, their son and his background in Australia.  Frank is also a musician (as am I) so we talked a lot about music, bands, songs, albums and concerts along the drive.   It actually made the trip go significantly faster.
    Victor Buick of Marin Meals on Wheels

    Victor Buick of Marin County Meals on Wheels

    We got into the SF area a little earlier than expected so we had to time to get some great B-Roll shots of SF and the Golden Gate Bridge before meeting up with Victor at the hotel later.  Victor told me he couldn’t meet up with us until around 7:30pm or so and he could not stay for dinner.  So, we have about 1.5 hours to get some footage so I pulled off HWY 101 just before the Golden Gate (on the SF side) and drove down by the Presidio to get some time lapse and scenic shots of the Golden Gate, barges passing through the channel and Alcatraz.  We spent about an hour down in the area getting some great footage that I know will make the final theatrical release. We then got into the car and made our way to the hotel, checked in and waited to meet Victor.  I remember Frank asking what Victor looked like and I informed Frank that I couldn’t tell him that because I had yet to meet him (however, thoughts of what I thought he looked like based on my previous judgment were running through my mind and made me laugh as to how much of an idiot I was in judging Victor). VIDEO B-ROLL CLIPS OF THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE Time Lapse Fast Time Lapse Slow Meeting Victor at the Hotel Frank and I walk outside to meet up with Victor.  We see this little white Prius (or something like that) pull up and someone started to get out.  I was not prepared for what I was about to see.  A man came up to me and said, “Are you Seth?”  Clearly I could tell it was Victor but the booming, deep voice.  I answered, “Yes,” and then we shook hands and talked for a bit.  Another side note – As many of you know me, you know I am not a small man, never have been nor ever will be.  I am 6’3” tall with very broad shoulders and weigh (currently) 237 lbs. so not many people dwarf me.  However, Victor dwarfs me.  Victor stands about 6’4” and weighs (I’m guessing) around 265 lbs.  He frame is that of an offensive lineman from college or professional football teams with formidable facial features in his cheeks and chin.  He looks like on of those guys in the movies who don’t flinch a muscle when hit with a folding chair.  He is a big man but not someone I would call fat.  His shoulders are much more broad than mine and while standing next to him I look thin!  He also has dark, dark hair that is pulled back into a nice ponytail.  It’s a cool looking ponytail and not one that looks like a lot of the white trash ponytail the thugs in my high school use to sport.
    Victor Buick Meals on Wheels

    Victor Buick standing in the hall of his Meals on Wheels organization

    After the “official” meeting Victor asked us to help him get something of the car that he had brought for us.  It was a large white cooler filled with water, soda, beer and snacks.  Once again, this man, unknowingly, made me feel like a complete idiot about what I thought of who he could be and what he is all about.  I think subconsciously my judgments of Victor are more about me projecting my thoughts of this documentary and seniors than anything else.  Remember, I didn’t care about this topic and my commitment to this documentary was/is part of me trying to figure out why I never cared.  It’s hard for me at this time to wrap my head around the thought that anyone around the same age or younger than me can really care about this matter of senior hunger and be so completely selfless and, well, a really good, caring person.  But, that’s exactly who Victor Buick is.  I cannot believe how sincere, genuine, warm and caring this man is and how he is treating Frank and me.  I look forward to seeing what makes this man tick.  Yes, I spent some time on the phone with Victor prior to coming to Marin Co. but that was to understand what is happening in this part of the country.  And, not knowing him or his genuine concern and care our conversations were little more than me listening to him explain his anger and frustration.  Frankly, he came across as “angry and frustrated” but now I am starting to see a gentle man who is passionate about that in which he believes, is adamant about his position, is intelligent and articulate and cares deeply about what he does and the people whose lives he helps.  I started to see a lot of myself in Victor.
    Victor Buick - Life-Saver, Thrash Metal Drummer

    Victor Buick - Life-Saver, Thrash Metal Drummer!

    I am looking forward to riding along and feeding the masses of hungry seniors in Marin Co. tomorrow. Day #1 recap tomorrow.

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  • Documentary Blog #10 – Heading to San Francisco

    Golden Gate Bridge at Night

    Golden Gate Bridge at Night

    After working with and interviewing Carla Laemmle, I wanted to stay in California for a bit as to not completely exhaust my travel budget.  I know I want to get out to other parts of the country to tell the story so I started looking around other parts of California to see what I could get before leaving LA.  While conducting my research I learned about a guy in the San Francisco area who is a punk rock/thrash metal drummer by night and a meal deliverer by day.  More importantly, I learned he was young guy in his early 30s.  This intrigued me on a couple of levels.  One, how does a punk rock/thrash metal drummer get involved in meal delivery and, two, how is it that someone in his early 30s is caring about elderly and seniors.  Of course I had to learn more about this guy.

    Working past my own shortcomings I picked up the phone and decided to call this guy.  His name is Victor Buick (yes, that’s his real name).  Initially, I was a little curious about this guy and many thoughts (judgments, I’m ashamed to admit) started racing around my head about who this person is and what he’s all about.  I started picturing what this guy would look or sound like, how serious could he be about being a thrash metal drummer or taking care of senior citizens and how intelligent he could or could not be.  Again, I apologize for making these judgments about a person who I know nothing about, have never met or with whom I have never had a conversation.  Yet, my idiotic, small-minded approach and thoughts were still getting the best of me.  (As a side note, I am working with a Life Coach to remedy this mental road block I have put upon myself and thusly enslaving me to my own prison of thoughts and judgments about people based on names, professions, education levels, living conditions and looks.  I know this is deplorable, reprehensible behavior and I am consciously working to remedy this behavior.)  Back to the story… I called Victor and was surprised to hear this deep, resounding, intimidating voice answer on the other end.  Immediately all my previous thoughts/judgments about this man were starting to become shattered.  He was articulate, friendly, knowledgeable and warm.  I was completely thrown off by what I was hearing on the other end of the line.  His voice also sent a shock wave, a warning if you will, through my body that if I piss this man off then not only will I have no chance of interviewing him but that he might take out his frustrations, anger or emotions on my head rather than the drum skins.  But, then again I was making my own judgments about a man I have never met or seen.  So, I decided to turn my brain off and just LISTEN to this man talk. Taking the time to just "Listen" I learned how passionate he is about both drumming and feeding the seniors.  I also learned that he operates out of Marin County, California and not San Francisco.  His family is extremely active in San Francisco but he runs the Meals on Wheels program in Marin County.  Marin County is the area just north of SF across the Golden Gate Bridge.  It is home to Sausalito, Tiburon and other REALLY, REALLY wealthy cities in America.  In fact, I learned that Marin County is one of the wealthiest counties in America (and from what I have found that it is the wealthiest county – per capita - in the country).  My conversation with Victor was one of the most informative, friendly and inspiring conversations I have had regarding this documentary.  Although his voice was still so deep and powerful that I had to remind myself to keep my brain turned off or this man (based on the tenor of his voice) could pummel me rendering my brain inoperative…permanently.
    San Fransisco, Marin County, Golden Gate Bridge

    The view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Marin County

    We wrapped up the conversation by exchanging email addresses and with a commitment to talking more about this project.  I informed him that I wanted to come to Marin and interview him, ride around with him and see his band play.  He told me that his organization had been burned in interviews before so he would have get it approved by the board but he would get back with me and let me know their thoughts.  He didn’t think it would be a problem considering what I was producing and creating with the documentary but he had to get approval.
    Fog and Mount Tamapais at Sunset in Marin County

    Fog and Mount Tamapais at Sunset in Marin County

    Two weeks passed and I finally heard back from Victor.  I was informed we had approval to shoot and we set the dates for the ride along, interview and band performance.  I was excited about this opportunity and looking forward to meeting the man I had wrongly stereotyped and categorized.  And, more importantly, my conversation with Victor created a direction for the documentary.  When he mentioned something about Marin County being one of the wealthiest it got me thinking about what hunger in seniors must be like in the poorest places in America.  Before I received Victor’s confirmation email I had begun researching poor areas in America as to juxtapose two areas of the country and show hunger is not defined by geography or money.  So, thank you Victor. Moral The moral of this story is this kids… Don’t judge a book by its cover and don’t be an overly judgmental, myopic, categorizing douche bag like me.  The Life Coach lessons are already paying off! My time with Victor is tomorrow.    

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  • Documentary Blog #9 – Carla Laemmle – Silent Screen Star, Hungry Senior

    Carla Laemmle Dancer Headshot

    One of Carla Laemmle's many headshots

    My first big interview/contact for the documentary is a former silent film star, Carla Laemmle.  She is the niece of Universal Studios founder, Carl Laemmle and got her big break in Hollywood as a dancer in the original version of the 1929 “Phantom of the Opera.”  She also had a speaking role in the 1931 original version of the movie “Dracula” featuring screen icon Bella Lugosi.  One would think that a former actress with ties to Universal Studios would not have to go hungry.  However, her uncle sold Universal Studios in the 1930s because of the financial effects of the Great Depression.  So, the studios have not been in the family for more than 70 years.  I have to admit I was a little, ok, make that a lot, nervous about meeting and interviewing her.  I have interviewed a lot of celebrities/actors/actresses in my previous life and that wasn’t the issue.  I had never interviewed someone who was 101 years old.  I didn’t know how her cognitive functioning would be, if she would be able to hear me or if she would remember everything I wanted to know about that has occurred during the course of her life.  Yes, I stereotyped her and thought of everything that could possibly go wrong.  But, as a producer/director I had to think about these things and come up with a “Plan B.”  But that still doesn’t excuse the fact that I was guilty of generalizing about senior citizens.
    Carla Laemmle Dancer Photograph

    Carla was an incredibly accomplished dancer throughout her life.

    I arrived at her house at 10am on the morning of our interview.  Someone from Sister Sam’s office (Darryl Twerdahl) was also meeting me there since they had helped in setting up the interview.  I had met Darryl before and really liked her so having her there was really comforting too.  I saw Darryl and she took my camera operator (Frank Nolan) and me into meet Carla.  When I first met her I was completely blown away, surprised and shocked to see how absolutely beautiful she is and how well she presented herself.  Of course she was “putting on the dog” since we were there to interview her but she looked great.  And, after talking with her for a couple of minutes I knew the interview would go swimmingly considering she was as sharp as a tack and could provide any and all answers to the myriad of questions I was going to ask her.
    Carla Laemmle Senior Hunger, Carla Laemmel Ballerina

    Carla Laemmle looking at a picture of her as a ballerina.

    As a documentarian, it’s my job to ask questions that are nice, not so nice and possibly offensive.  I have to ask all the questions people watching this documentary might possibly ask.  So, I gave her some parameters about the questions and told her I am going to ask a lot of questions and some of them might make her mad.  I asked her to just answer the questions as best as she could and if they make her mad then please don’t end the interview or walk away but just understand I have to ask a lot of questions.  I felt bad saying that to her because she is such an awesomely sweet lady but it’s something I say to every interviewee and my way of getting the truth.  She obliged and was willing to answer any and all questions as best as she can remember.  I absolutely LOVE her.
    Carla Laemmle Sitting at her house, Laemmle Theaters

    Carla Laemmle sitting outside her house and posing for an impromptu photo shoot with me.

    We stayed at her house for about 4 hours, which was 2 hours longer than expected.  But she wanted to talk with us and was open to share her life with me.  She showed us the boxes and boxes of fan mail she still receives, the photos she signs for her adoring fans and the various memorabilia from her life.  I cannot tell you all the things we talked about that day because I want you to watch the documentary once it’s completed! J  However, I will leave you with one thing that we discussed.  I asked Carla, “Why don’t you go to a nursing home instead of living by yourself?  At least you can have constant companionship and care, right?”  She responded as brilliantly and as insightfully as I could have hoped.  She responded to my question by saying, “Even though I am 101 years old I like living in my home.  I have lived here for more than 70 years and I still think I have a lot to offer this world.  I still think I can contribute something.” That was an absolutely wonderful response.  ‘Nuff said!
    Boxes of Fan Mail, Hollywood Star, Carla Laemmle

    Here are two boxes completely filled with fan mail and requests for autographs. At 101 years old, Carla Laemmle is still adored by people around the world.

    If you want to contribute to this documentary and help me finish it then please do so at my Kickstarter.com page - http://kck.st/hof7M7
    Carla Laemmle, Dracula, Phantom of the Opera, Hollywood

    Carla Leammle reminiscing about her many, many roles and experiences in life

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  • Documentary Blog #8 – Photos coming, I promise.

    As a photographer you would expect that I would augment these blog posts with photos.  Well, you’re right.  I should have been doing that along the way.  But, since I am in research mode, I am not thinking about photos as much as I am thinking about research, learning, finding the story/voice of the film and the overall direction.  However, I can assure that with all of the subsequent blog entries there will be photos of what I have experienced, the people I have met and the places I am traveling. One person Sister Sam (see previous blog post) informed me of is named Carla Laemmle.  She is the niece of Universal Studios founder, Carl Laemmle, and was in the original “Phantom of the Opera” in 1929 and the original “Dracula” (starring Bella Lugosi) in 1931.  She is 101 years old and gets meals delivered to her on a daily basis.  We are trying to secure her interview right now.  So, if that happens then I will be getting photos of Carla and will include photos from this point forward. BLOG UPDATE:  SCORE!  Carla Laemmle agreed to be interviewed so I will be heading to her house within the next week to get her story.  I don’t know if it will make the documentary or what she will have to say but I cannot pass up this opportunity to interview her and see what she has to say, how she lives her life and why hunger is an issue for her. Check out the experience I had with her in the next blog post (Hint, MONDAY). 🙂

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  • Documentary Blog #7 – My first big breakthrough/meeting

    During the process of researching anything and everything about this documentary I was in constant contact with the executive producers.  I am sure they were getting annoyed with my questions and me.  But since this is something I have never really cared about I had to think and look at this subject matter in every way possible.  I didn’t care if they were getting annoyed, I just had to try to understand this topic, wrap my head around the possibilities and tell a story that impacts lives.  During my line of questioning one of the EPs told me about a woman in Los Angeles who is very well known as a humanitarian and activist.  Her name is Sister Alice Marie Quinn (Sister Sam to everyone in LA).  The EPs didn’t want to feature her since she is very well known, has been featured in videos and was written about in the Los Angeles Times.  We were looking to create a new story, one that I could call my own and didn’t want to re-hash old stories that have been covered many, many times.  The one great thing about this film is I, once again, have complete creative freedom and control.  As I stated in earlier blogs, that was something I was concerned about.  I have creative freedom but needed a little guidance since this was something of which I know nothing. I got around to calling Sister Sam and set up a meeting with her.  I told her about the project and what I want to accomplish but need some advice or direction.  She provided me with directions and a meeting time and said she would be happy to talk with me.  A few days later I jumped in my Jeep and headed toward downtown LA to meet with Sister Sam.  She happens to run the Meals on Wheels program in Los Angeles and had been doing this for a number of years.  So, I knew that I would glean a wealth of knowledge from her.  On the way to the St. Vincent Medical Center (where her office is located) I was at a stoplight at the corner of W. 3rd Street and Alvarado when I noticed a man standing in the middle of this three-lane road.  The light was red and I was in the middle lane.  I was the third car from the light and I started watching the man in the middle of the street.  He was walking through the cars, knocking on the rolled up windows of the different vehicles and rubbing his thumb around his pinky, ring, middle and fore fingers.  This is the common symbol for money, scratch, greenbacks, etc.  I have never seen someone so brazen.  Sure, I have seen the people standing on the street corners asking for money or holding a sign that briefly describes their plight and why they need help. At that time I was on the phone with my mom informing her of my meeting with Sister Sam.  I had sunglasses on and was staring at the begging man while talking with my mom.  Yes, I openly admit I was trying desperately to ignore this man hoping the light would change before he got to my window.  It didn’t.  He approached my window, knocked aggressively and did the thumb/fingers rubbing action.  I tried to ignore him while I was talking but that didn’t work.  He knocked again on my window.  I asked my mom to hold on for a second, put the phone away from my mouth and yelled, “NO! I don’t have any money.  Go away!”  Shortly thereafter the light changed to green and I was on my way to my meeting with Sister Sam.
    Sister Alice Marie Quinn, St. Vincent Meals on Wheels Los Angeles

    Sister Alice Marie Quinn (aka Sister Sam) of St. Vincent Meals on Wheels

    In that short drive to St. Vincent’s Medical Center (2 additional blocks) it finally hit me.  The average grandmother or grandfather isn’t standing on the street corner asking for help.  I openly admit that I don’t give money to the people standing on the street corner asking for help.  I have become just as jaded and desensitized towards the panhandlers or beggars as most people in this country.  We have seen the stories about how a lot of those people are conducting a scam, make $40k-$60k a year and use that money for alcohol or drugs.  Yes, I know, not all of those people standing on the street are performing a ruse but we tend to lump them all together and assume they are trying to scam.  It’s hard to separate the real people in need of help from the people preying on our sensitivity.  It made me start to wonder if this is just one of the many factors that have made our society less sensitive to the needs of others.  But I also kept thinking that if my grandmother needed money or food then she would NOT be standing on a street corner asking for help.  That made me wonder how many seniors really need help that we just don’t see or know about. I proceeded to go to my meeting with Sister Sam and meet some of the people who work with her.  When I first walked into her offices I had to pass through their giant kitchen where food/meals are prepared.  I had never seen anything like it and couldn’t believe how a kitchen like that could feed thousands of people.  It was magnificent, large, shiny and spacious.  There were around 10 people finishing up the cleaning after another successful day of preparing meals for the seniors of Los Angeles.  Then I walked around a corner where I finally got to meet the infamous Sister Sam. The meeting was supposed to last for 30 minutes.  2 hours later I was leaving her office.  It was a great conversation and a tremendous learning experience.  That woman is a wealth of knowledge and she provided me with some great direction.  I look forward to catching up with her again some time. When I drove home I passed by the same intersection where I had witnessed the man knocking on windows for money.  He was nowhere to be seen. I know this was a long post but a story I think needed to be told. Please help us tell the entire story by donating to our production on Kickstarter.com - http://kck.st/hof7M7

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  • Documentary Blog #6 – My journey and storytelling style

    When given this project and asked to make it I was incessantly wondering why I never cared about the subject matter of senior hunger.  And, the more I kept thinking about it the more I realized I had to include myself in this documentary.  In a lot of documentaries the viewer rarely sees the person asking questions or narrating the story.  Sure there are some exceptions like Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine, Roger and Me, Fahrenheit 9/11) or Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) who completely immerse themselves into the film as their journey.  I really believed that I needed to make this film more about my journey than someone sitting behind the camera asking questions and narrating the story.  Again, since this issue was something I never thought about I believe I cannot be the only person who wasn’t thinking about this matter.  I thought that if I have never cared about this topic then there have to be others like me who have never thought about seniors, hunger and ageism.  So, telling the story from my vantage point will hopefully make others relate to what I was thinking (or not thinking about) and how it can affect any of our lives in the future. My generation (Generation X)  is a big part of the “ME” generation.  I also refer to it as the “NOW” generation.  We have grown up with getting everything we could possibly imagine NOW.  We have never had to want for food, clothing, cars, houses, electronics, etc.  If we don’t have money we just put whatever we want on a credit card.  So, my thought process is that my generation and younger doesn’t really know what it’s like to “want for something.”  I may be completely off base here but I have to believe I am not the only person in this society that never really thought about hunger, getting older, health problems, money problems and life challenges.  But then I remembered – I am a small business owner with no 401k or pension plan.  I live day-to-day and week-to-week.  Yes, my wife has a great career and savings plan but my situation is completely different.  And, all of sudden, I really started caring about this documentary and MY future.  I got scared… literally.  This solidified my direction and style for this documentary where I had to tell the story, let people see this through my eyes and bring to light this issue with the hopes that others will start to think about their lives and the future.  So, you will be seeing this documentary through my eyes and will see me (sporadically - I don't want to completely turn people away) throughout the film.  I hope you like it… 🙂 See ya tomorrow.

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  • Documentary Blog #5 – Research, Information and Direction.

    Once I started telling people about the documentary I was creating I started receiving loads of information from all my friends and contacts in LA.  I had fliers about hunger, names and phone numbers, locations of organizations helping people and personal stories of people they have known who are going hungry.  It was amazing to have so many people wanting to impart their knowledge for the benefit of this film.  It was overwhelming but that the same time refreshing to know that maybe, just maybe, this project is going to be more sexy than I had ever imagined.  I knew I was going to have to spend the next 2-3 months doing nothing but research, “Googling” everything imaginable about senior hunger and ageism, making phone calls and trying to determine what direction I was going to take to tell this story. The first thing I realized about this documentary is I CANNOT have it take place in Los Angeles.  Most of the people outside of LA are completely fascinated by the celebrity lifestyle.  This is evident by America’s zombie-like following of “reality” shows based in LA like the Kardashian’s or TMZ or The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Orange County (even though some people in LA  refer to the OC as "Behind the Orange Curtain").  Let’s not forget about the many successful television series that take place in Los Angeles (Way too many to mention here).  And. I can't count how many times I have heard people not living in LA refer to it as “La La Land.”  Those people see the city as a fantasy world and in many ways they are right - you would not believe the amount of "posers" I have met in the time I have lived here.  A lot  cities don’t have a “Rodeo Drive” area or multi-million dollar homes comfortably nestled in the hills or mountains, a Maserati here, a Bentley or Rolls Royce there freely navigating overly crowded freeways and “celebrities” (yes, I use that term loosely) walking down the streets.  LA is a beautiful, amazing and heartless city but one I think the rest of the country may not care about  or relate to when it comes to hunger or thinking of people in need.  I really couldn’t imagine living anywhere other than Los Angeles but I am acutely aware that this film needs to involve the rest of the country so that my audience watching this film will take notice. This is solely a “creative call” on my part.  I had to determine what type of story I wanted and need to tell so it will impact others.  The EPs were in agreement on this direction and we are on the same page for the purposes of telling this story.  While parts of the film are in LA the majority of the story will take place around the US. The second realization is that this story is more complex than I first imagined.  Initially I thought many seniors just didn't plan well or were using their money for travel, clothes, furniture, etc.  Basically, I thought they were trying to live a life that was beyond their means.  I was proven very wrong very quickly.  What I found was most seniors are barely getting by with whatever money they do have.  Some of this money is from their savings while other monies are from Social Security or Social Security Disability.  Many seniors are having to make choices between food and medication and rent.  Food usually falls to the bottom of their priority list.  This realization made me angry and scared that this could happen to me or any one of us in the US.  But since we live in the wealthiest country in the world it shouldn't be happening, right?  That's another point this documentary will be exploring. So, that's what I have for now.  I need to keep researching and finding more great stories to share with America.  What started out as a laborious project is now starting to become something I am in which I am truly interested.  Let's see what else I can find... Another post tomorrow.

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  • Documentary Blog #4 – What’s in it for me?

    Once I fully committed to making this documentary, I have had several people ask me about what I am getting in return for this project.  Well, I am here to answer that question.  When I spoke with the executive producers (EPs), I informed them that I no longer have any video equipment.  I gave all of that up when I left video production to pursue photography.  I stopped editing, motion graphics work, sound editing, etc.  I wanted to focus solely on photography so ALL my extra money when into buying lights, lenses, light modifiers, renting studio space and other photographic accoutrement.  The bottom line is that I had none of the equipment to make this documentary. In the process of working with the EPs, I shared this information with them and informed them that to make this documentary I would need the following:
    • A new Mac Pro Computer and monitor
    • Video camera
    • Light for camera
    • Microphones
    • Audio interface equipment
    • Software
    They complied and purchased everything I need to make this film.  In a matter of two weeks I had everything I needed to make this documentary.  Once I make the film then the equipment if officially mine.  If I don’t make the movie then I have to send all of the equipment back to them.  In my mind, I don’t have a choice in the matter.  I now have the equipment, my experience and my pride.  I am going to make the best damn movie I possibly can even though I am only getting paid in equipment.  So, I hope that answers the question about what I am getting paid.  I walk away with equipment and nothing else.  I won’t start a project and then stop it so in my mind, there’s no turning back now.  I need to own this movie. It should be noted here too that the EPs are helping to fund almost everything in this film but they do not have endless, deep pockets.  They are paying for a considerable amount of travel, videographers, airfare, food, hotels and rental cars.  They have been extremely benevolent with their funds.  Unfortunately, production costs for a project like this can be pretty high.  Considering I am trying to make this a national documentary, I need to travel to various places in the US to show what is happening.  The only reason I made this post is to show my commitment to this project and that I am not taking a salary over the many months it takes to shoot, edit and distribute this project.  The EPs have been more than generous and supportive and I truly believe in this project to put my career and business on hold to tell the story that ALL of America needs to see. If you want to contribute to this documentary (and I really need all the additional monies I can get my hands on) then please do so HERE.  Thanks. Another post tomorrow!

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  • Documentary Blog #3 – Old people aren’t interesting, are they?

    Getting motivated for a project that I never really cared about is hard, damn work.  I sat down at my computer and started researching this project and found my self getting distracted by Facebook, Twitter, L.A. Times (online), photography blogs, etc.  I couldn’t get motivated to care about researching this senior hunger epidemic (as I had been led to believed).  I had to force myself to look up some of the items the EP and I spoke about the previous days and thought I would just go from there.  Fortunately, I had been forced to research topics and subjects while in college so working on something that wasn’t very interesting wasn’t new to me; I just thought I left that behind several years ago when I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree.  I went and grabbed my trusty can of Diet Coke, cracked it open and sat down at my computer bound and determined to start researching this subject matter for the film,. When I started researching information about seniors, hunger and ageism I started to realize that this is something that is running rampant in this country.  What I found over the next few days and subsequent months is this problem goes beyond senior hunger.  Clearly, we live in a society that likes to throw away our elderly.  Yes, there are some cultures and societies treat their seniors as sages but it seems to exist in Asian, African, Middle-Eastern and some European countries and cultures.  But, for the most part, in our Anglo-Saxon, Caucasian world we have come to throw away our seniors by putting them in nursing homes, decreasing our visits or phone calls and thinking that once they retire they can no longer contribute to modern society.  When was the last time a Fortune 500 corporation hired a 65+-year-old person to head up their corporation?  It has probably occurred in the past but I am not sure about it.  According to Wikipedia, the average age of Fortune 500 CEOs is 56.  For some reason we think that once people hit the retirement age of 62 they can then no longer contribute to society. For something that wasn't initially interesting to me, I am finding myself more and more intrigued by this topic.  Perhaps it's because I was never interested before and am experiencing an "awakening" of sorts.  Or perhaps it's because I realize I am going to be old one day and this may affect me.  Regardless, I find it fascinating that I am starting to become completely interested and immersed into a world I couldn't have cared less about .  Perhaps it's because we, as a society, don't want to think about getting old and love to live in that little, comfortable world known as "denial."  I am just glad I'm starting to care about this.  Maybe my documentary can be good after all. More on Monday.

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