Wednesday, December 27, 2006

And Another Donation!

"All God's Children" just received another large donation! We are thrilled. Thank you, Marilyn and Sean!

This is also the first online donation we are receiving through [ida]. It'll be interesting to see how the process with that works.

This should pay for our DVD duplications and maybe even the film's website.
Or maybe it will have to go to rights' clearances - a completely different kind of headache we have yet to deal with.

Again, it's not too late to make a donation that'll count for 2006.

Farewell to Florida

Today is our last day in Florida. Tomorrow afternoon we’re taking the non-stop Jet Blue flight back to JFK. Yay, Jet Blue – we love you!!! (Especially because you are saving us from any more flights on those frightening Comair buses-with-wings – the only other direct NY/JAX flights).

Last night's sunset over the wetlands:

A Great Day of Filming

Yesterday we had a very successful day of filming for "Five Sisters".

First we drove over to Jacksonville to show the trailer to Earl, Iva and their daughter Paula. Again they seemed to all like it a lot. Which on one hand is maybe not that special since the film is about their own family and is more touching to them. But on the hand especially because they're in the film it means a lot that they aren't protesting the way they're presented! Of course, it is but a fundraising trailer and doesn't tell much of the story yet.

Afterwards we filmed an interview with mainly Iva and Carolyn - and some wise insights from Earl, who a little over a week ago turned 85. CONGRATULATIONS, EARL!

I have to admit that the dynamic between two or more people is a lot more interesting than just a single person interview. It's great to see another person in frame listening and maybe even responding. But in the end it will probably make it more difficult in editing.

From there I went over to Carolyn's house, where we did a similar interview with her and her son/roommate Randy. They were even more interactive during the interview/conversation. I was thrilled. Plus we filmed in their "Florida room" - gorgeous with all the plants and sunlight.

To round of the day I got a bunch of footage of Carolyn and Randy around the house, trying to live and interact as if I wasn't there. (ahhh, movie magic).

A very productive day all around.

Oh, and last but not least I was able to drop off the audio tapes from Beth's interview in Oklahoma (and the last Rachel tape for "All Well And Fair") with Ellie for more transcribing fun. Ellie, you're the best!


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Gainesville, Florida

This little Florida college town is very special to me.

It's where I made my first films/videos (long live Dogma 93!), where I was and (continue to be) inspired by so many amazing creative people, where Scott and I met and worked on our first project together and most currently where "All Well And Fair" takes place.

Gainesville, with its memories of a liberating and creative past and with all the warm and welcoming people who still live there today, has become an oasis to me - a place I try to visit whenever I get the chance to re-energize and put my endeavors and my life back into perspective.

My feet in Gainesville (in Nick's shop).

Having gone back last year to film the continuation/10-years-later of "All Well And Fair" has been one of the most wonderful experiences of my career so far. Of course being back yesterday/today was as fun and a "homecoming" as always - but it did made me wish I was further along with cutting "All Well And Fair" together. I don't even have a trailer yet. So that's the next goal: cut together trailer for AWF.

Besides catching up with friends and most of the AWF families, I was also very lucky and glad to run into Rob McGregor, who I had unfortunately lost touch with and who is one of the most talented musicians I came across in Florida. He had originally recorded the Dioxindolly song, which appears in "All Well and Fair". It looks like he has the original DAT archived. YEAH! (It'll make a world of difference compared to the VHS version I have).

Another rare meeting was with Jason Matherne, the creative mastermind behind GooneyGooGoo Productions, the infamous "shorts shorts series" and Due Process and many other video, visual and musical productions a collaborator of Scott's from back in the day.

So all around great times in Gainesville and I can't wait to be back in February.

Some of the usual suspects after the traditional brunch this afternoon (including Rachel and Margaret and some of their kids from "All Well and Fair").

Friday, December 22, 2006

Thank You To Anonymous!

A highlight of our trip to Florida: Today I met with a very kind woman who decided to make a generous contribution to "All God's Children". Her donation will complete our budget for color correction and mastering! She chooses to remain anonymous. So we'd like to thank Anonymous!

And it's not too late if you'd like to make a tax-deductible donation for 2006. As long as your check is dated 2006 it will be submitted this year.

For online donations go to [ida] .

For donations by check, make it out to "International Documentary Association", put "All God's Children" in the memo and mail to us at:

All God's Children
P.O. Box 170077
Brooklyn, NY 11217

And tomorrow we're off to Gainesville to check in with the families from "All Well And Fair" and a few other old friends.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

All Well And Fair - Proposal Intro

"All Well And Fair" is an hour-length documentary portraying three punk rock mothers and their children over the interval of ten years.

Filmed in 1996 and 2006, "All Well And Fair" gives voice to three young women and their children living on the fringes of society. While questioning the stereotypes of “welfare moms” and alternative culture, it also examines the pitfalls of capitalism and mass market culture and living on the cusp of poverty.

"All Well And Fair" is both an inspiration and a warning as it explores the women’s successes and failures, their ambitions and procrastinations. They prove to be nurturing and self-destructive, angry and funny. They are questioning, creative, imaginative – but above all: mothering.

Through the unique approach of filming the women and their families twice over ten years, "All Well And Fair" furthermore considers how much we all change as we grow up and move from our twenties into our thirties – and how much we might stay the same.

Second Proposal in Florida

Wrote the fiscal sponsorship proposal for "All Well And Fair" today in St. Augustine, Florida. Though I was missing the solitude and quietness of my office - being back in Florida and breathing the humid warm air set the right mood and brought inspiration.

Something about Florida always makes me want to make films and be creative in general. Probably because I made my first films here and eventually attended film school.

Although I think that this proposal still needs quite a bit of work before submitting to foundations for grants, I'll again post the first few paragraphs to give an overview of the project here.

By the way, it's quite a bit cooler here than I thought - but still 25 degrees warmer than Brooklyn (Fahrenheit, of course). This is what everyone wants to know, right?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Five Sisters - Proposal Intro

Five Sisters (working title) is an hour-long documentary produced by Good Hard Working People, LLC. The film paints a portrait of five sisters, ranging in age from their late 60s to mid 80s, during the aftermath of the first of the sisters’ husbands having passed away. It is a film about the “greatest generation”, about sisterhood, about aging, and about family values.

The central character is Beth, at 68 the youngest, who is on a quest to learn from her older sisters how to deal with issues of transition and aging. We attend their annual get-together with this year’s theme of “facing old age”, tag along on a tour of their childhood hometown, visit their current living situations and witness their lively interactions among each other and with other family members.

Moving and enlightening, Five Sisters is full of joy and grief and tackles a subject that is essential to all of us – how to live fully and gracefully and yet be realistic about getting older and eventually dying.

The subject of old age and death are universal – yet we do not speak of them often. Five Sisters will encourage the discussion of how to live and age well and thus bring comfort and inspiration not only to the elderly but also to the successive generations.

The documentary is being shot on 24p Mini DV and will be mastered to Digi Beta for broadcast. Five Sisters will include interviews with the sisters and their husbands and children, vérité footage of their time together, archival film and photographs.

Monday, December 18, 2006

One down, one to go

Finished the proposal for "Five Sisters" yesterday. I'll go ahead and post the introduction page here to give you a better idea of that film.

Now I still need to polish up the proposal for "All Well and Fair". Looks like that'll have to wait until we're in Florida. We're heading on our next trip tomorrow. It'll be a combination of more filming for "Five Sisters" (maybe even "All Well and Fair"), some holiday R&R with Scott's family and hopefully the completion of our website overhaul.

In equally exciting news the bocce team The Reels (Scott, Jeff & James from Back and Forth Films, photographer Jamie and architects Dan and LJ) placed third at Union Hall Fall 2006 Bocce Tournament. CONGRATULATIONS!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Proposal Writing

Today I'm working on proposals for fiscal sponsorship for "Five Sisters" and "All Well and Fair".

I have to admit I don't love the proposal writing. Wouldn't it be so much nicer to just make the film and let it speak for itself? Ah, there's only the little catch that you have to somehow raise the money to make the film first, which in turn, of course, means: writing proposals and grant applications.

And to be able to apply for a lot of grants and to make private donations more attractive you need to get tax-deductible status from non-profit organization acting as your fiscal sponsor. Which brings me back to the proposals for fiscal sponsorshi
Publishp I should be working on right now.

The sponsor for "All God's Children" is the International Documentary Association
[ida]. Click HERE to make a tax-deductible online donation.

Alright, enough procrastination - back to writing.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Oklahoma Wrap

This will be a short one. Turns out our flight back to NY is at 7:20am tomorrow - we'll have to get up in 5 hours. And it's been a long but wonderful day of shooting. We did a few pick-ups this morning from things not quite right the day before. For one I decided to go with a tripod for all the items, pictures, furniture after all - even though "the tour" was handheld.

Then finally Beth and I were able to sit down for the interview bit. It was great. My questions focused a lot more on aging, this new phase of her life and the transition. Her answers and thoughts were fascinating and gave me a big new boost for the whole direction of "Five Sisters".

Later we went over to the house of her daughter Reta and her family for a wonderful dinner. I did a little bit of B-roll filming there and eventually got to capture some family discussion and a short Reta interview as well. I am so thrilled about it.

We also watched the short fundraising trailer for "Five Sisters" which is always unnerving, since it's just a short introduction of characters and setting and not a real trailer or anything truly comprehensive. But the reactions from the family were very moving. If nothing else there's a few dozen grandchildren who'll be interested in the finished film. LOL.

Obviously this has been a wonderful trip all together - both personally and professionally (and culinary). I'm only sorry we didn't have time to see some cowboys... and take pictures to post in the blog.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Another Day of Shooting

Tired again. Signs of yet another productive day.
We almost finished everything I wanted to shoot around the house. For the "items/memorabilia" alone I finally used a mono-pod - which should still match the "talking footage" but was a bit more steady. I find mono-pods very limiting - pretty much as limiting as a tripod when it comes to fluid movements. But at least I can move the camera and pod itself faster.

Another great lunch. This time at The Coach House, where we sat near a Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice. Beth and Bill have really taken great care of us - including all their hospitality and culinary indulgences at their house.

Tomorrow we'll wrap up the house and then Beth and I will sit down for our interview. I anticipate that we might do another interview in the future - when I've actually had a chance to get a cut of "Five Sisters" together and know better what else I might need. The time was just right to catch her in her current house and during this time of transition to a simpler, scaled down life as a retiree.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Oklahoma City

After switching planes in Detroit (and once again admiring the fountain in Terminal A - and the psychedelic tunnel leading to Terminal C) we made it to Oklahoma City on Saturday night - even though one of the flights was in those claustrophobic Canadair Regional Jets (you know, the ones that have less seats than a Greyhound bus).

Beth, who is one of the "Five Sisters" and her husband Bill picked us up and took us straight to the Nikz - a slowly revolving restaurant/bar with an amazing view of Oklahoma City. Our next stop was the swanky Waterford Marriott where I stepped on a nail (it made it through my shoe, but not far into the foot). Yup, you guessed it, the very next day I had to get a tetanus shot at an urgent care clinic. My arm still hurts a bit - but I'm glad to report that it didn't interfere with our filming today.

Sunday we got to have a fine brunch at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art Cafe and meet more of Beth's family.
Like so often I became aware of how lucky I am to be making these films and therefore travel, experience so many different places
and meet such wonderful people.
We also checked out the very nice art house theater of the museum (ahh, wouldn't it be nice to show a film there one day...). They were showing Terry Gilliam's Tideland. I can't wait to see it.

We ventured on into the museum where they have a permanent Chihuly exhibit (I had recently seen the big pieces in the Bronx Botanical Garden but actually enjoyed these smaller lighted pieces and their reflections and channeled lights onto walls and floors much better) and the fascinating art video "Der Lauf der Dinge". We toured more of Oklahoma City, including the the memorial for the Oklahoma City bombing. A sad place, for sure, but a moving, peaceful and appropriate memorial. I wish they'd get it together in New York.

Another highlight have been the great discussions we've had with Beth and Bill. Again, it's what I love about making documentaries and about traveling - all the conversations, exchanges, contemplations, questions, theories, learning, sharing, maybe even the breakthroughs - and certainly the plans how to better this world!

And today we even got some work done, too!
We mainly captured Beth and Bill's house and all the the items (pictures, furniture, etc.) that represent them and their history. They are getting ready to store and give away a lot of their possessions and memorabilia as they transition to a new phase in their lives. It's been fascinating and a lot of fun.

Today we filmed the first half of the house (interrupted by Southern BBQ at County Line, a former speakeasy set up like a horse stable). We plan to finish that up tomorrow. Then Wednesday I'm planning to film an additional interview with Beth. I've been shooting around the house all handheld (for easier movement and efficiency) - so I'm looking forward to just letting the camera rest on the tripod for the interview.

Saturday, December 9, 2006


YES! It finally happened: "All God's Children" is picture-locked.
This means: No More Editing!
Well, at least no more picture editing. Tom Lino will be doing plenty of sound editing.
Scott is watching through the entire film one more time right now just to make sure no errors snuck in. I'm in the midst of preparing for our Oklahoma trip & shoot - but thought I should capture the current mile stone.

We started this journey in the summer of 2003 - when the Bearslees first told us about the abuse their children had suffered at the missionary boarding school they attended in Guinea while the parents worked as missionaries
in West Africa. We shot our first interviews that fall - again with the Beardslee family. In April 2004 we received a Jerome Grant and the majority of production took place over the course of 2004. Two years later we are finally done cutting the film!

A very exciting but at times pretty tough journey. Today it's clear again: it was all worth it!

The last two weeks of working on the film have been some of the most gratifying. Knowing that we finally had the money to really finish the film and that it would happen soon really got us motivated and inspired again and caused us to make some great and fresh decisions.

It always works like that, doesn't it? ... the last minute inspiration. It's the best.
Now I can't wait to see the film with all the sound work done...

Friday, December 8, 2006

What we're working on right now

This is actually a very exciting time for us. And I'm not just talking about having a new logo (though that certainly is rather thrilling).

We are actually in the midst of finishing up our feature documentary "All God's Children". A few weeks ago we received a very generous donation from Rich and Maureen Philips, shortly followed by another pledge for a donation so that we are finally able to pay for sound design and color timing.

Knowing that the finish line is in sight we've been busy getting everything ready. we've been looking for some last-minute archival footage, researched statistics, put together all the credits, had another screening, fixed titles and of course made a bunch of last minute edits. While I'm writing this, Scott is fixing the last of the After Effects files that still seem to have some buzzing. Then we shall watch it one more time.

And tomorrow it's off to Tom Lino for sound design. We are both very excited to be working with him. He did the sound design for "Green Lights", a short we did eons ago - and I recorded a few lines of VO with him for Back and Forth Film's short film "The Tourist".
We're also indebted to our friend Ruth Hernandez and all her brilliant sound advice and help so far.


But that's not all. In the middle of all these developments with the company and that documentary we are also flying to Oklahoma City on Saturday to continue production of "Five Sisters" - brand new documentary I began shooting this spring.

Loosely, it's going to be a film portraying five sisters in their late 60s to early 80s centered around their first annual get-together since one of their husbands has died. It'll be about the "greatest generation", about sisterhood, about aging, about transition, about being alive and getting along - despite it all.

In OKC I'll be filming some additional interviews with Beth, the youngest sister. Scott and I will also be making a short film for personal use of Beth and her husband telling us the stories of all their memorabilia as they're getting ready to give most of those belongings away and transition into the next phase of their lives: retirement on the coast of Florida. Should be interesting and possibly provide some material for "Five Sisters" as well.

Now it's time to watch "All God's Children" again and see if there's anything else that needs tweaking.

Oh, we haven't settle on a post-house for color timing and mastering yet. Any suggestions?

Thursday, December 7, 2006

New Name, New Logo...

As of today we've changed our company name from ein-blick productions (yes, it was brilliantly clever when I was 19 - it totally sucks if you don't understand German) to Good Hard Working People.

All the paper work isn't through yet... but we already have a new logo! That's what's most important, right? Mostly we'll probably only use the top portion.

Do you like it?

(Don't even tell me if you hate it - we just received the new business cards with the logo today.)

Oh, and we now have a blog, of course. I'm also working on our new website. And the first feeble attempts of creating a myspace site have been made as well. I'll make a big announcement when those are all up and running. We might even get a mailing list together again.

By the way, it took a very long time to decide on Good Hard Working People. We've been meaning to replace ein-blick productions for a long time but just couldn't find anything that worked for us. We had already used the web address for a few years because we liked the ring of it.

So finally we just gave up the search and went with the obvious: renaming our company after our website!

My First Blog

Alright, so I used to have regular journal like postings on the Summersquash website - back when I thought we might go into production with that fiction feature film (triple alliteration - how about that for a first posting?), before I got distracted by all those documentary and most importantly before "blogs" existed. No name for those entries and certainly no comprehensive software.

Maybe once or twice I've meddled in
Scott's blog for our documentary film "All God's Children" on indieWIRE.

And there certainly has been the need to fix the spelling in our rescue cat Boxer's
myspace blog quite a number of times.

But I still like to consider this My First Blog. And you may just be My First Blog Reader.

So, what's the point of yet another blog? The same as everyone else's: just my vain need to communicate my activities and opinions with anyone willing read. :-)

But seriously, I will mostly focus on the activities of my and Scott Solary's filmmaking activities at
Good Hard Working People. I hope to keep anyone who cares updated on what's going on with our various projects as well as what else I think might be of interest in the entertainment/education media world.

Let me know how it's working out for you - of course I'll constantly tell you what I'm thinking.