In June I had a still assignment from DOM Publishing of Berlin. DOM is publishing a four-volume survey of the architecture of Sub-Saharan Africa. I was fortunate to get to shoot the chapters on Senegal and The Gambia. While taking over 2700 images I managed to shoot some for myself. I’ve been working in Senegambia for over the course 16 years, mostly shooting video. This trip I had the joy of working with stills almost exclusively.
Here are my favorites from this trip. Starting in Dakar, overland to The Gambia. Dakar, Thiés, Djilor, Janjanbureh, Banjul, and back to Gorée.
Much of the fall and winter was spent on a fascinating project with the Anacostia Community Museum. Yellow Cat Productions provided production services to capture family stories about the war. Visitors could hear these stories on ipads placed throughout the exhibit using custom ipad apps Yellow Cat developed that allowed random access.
I was watching Bertrand Tavernier's beautiful 1981 film "Coup de Torchon" which takes place in Senegal. It seems that both of our eyes were captured by the stairs of the old Sisters of Saint-Joseph de Cluny convent in St Louis, the old French capital. They are rather beautiful. I recognized them immediately.
A number of people have urged us to release our ancient Rita Mae Brown documentary (1986). So we've done that and it's viewable at vimeo.com/ondemand/rita. The project was a co production between Yellow Cat and Joel Foreman. Our previous effort with Joel was a documentary with William Styron.
The project was a long-term effort. We went down to her farm in Charlottesville, VA once a month for over two and a half years; I don’t think people get that luxury as often these days.
Every winter we feed the birds out in the back. There’s times when there’ll be 25 mourning doves and 6000 tiny, and pretty quick birds eating their hearts out. The squirrels do all right as well. We provide a heated bird-bath for drinking water. So all in all it’s a pretty good place to be a bird in Winter.
Well you learn something everyday. All these years of visual research, programs in maritime and naval museums and there are still large surprises in American history. I just found this arcane bit and was intrigued.
John Paul Jones was one of my boyhood heroes. I’ve visited his tomb in Annapolis. His famous quote “I’ve not yet begun to fight!” was not only inspiring but he meant what he said. He and his crew boarded HMS Serapis while Bonhomme Richard sank along side taking its colors to the bottom.
We did the red carpet as the house crew for Sony at the Newseum premier of Captain Philips. We are glad to say that Tom Hanks is as nice a guy as legend has it. Katie produced the interview and acted as reporter. He gave us over 5 minutes which is an awful lot. Then high-speed upload to a FTP in LA and on the air almost live.
Grad students from Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University are finding out what the DC news scene is all about this summer. They are learning how to navigate the metro tunnels and halls of Capitol Hill. The Capstone program gives grad students an opportunity to cover Washington stories for stations across the nation while receiving intensive support from seasoned journalists in DC. Starting on July 1, the 6-week program will go through the middle of August. Students hit the road running on July 4th, covering bands participating in the National Parade. They wrote, shot
Lou and Albert test our new PMW-320. I've been using it handheld lately and am very happy with it. It is light and easy to hand hold. The weight is distributed very nicely. The lens is 16X with a useful lower end. The lens is also interchangeable with our Nikon telephoto lens. The layout of switches is pretty much the traditional layout that has worked well in multiple generations of Sony cameras. Gen lock, HD-SDI, TC in/out, 4 channel audio are things one misses in camcorders.
In March 2013 The Library of Congress acquired the “Michael Ford Mississippi Collection.” The collection consists of 16,ooo feet of 16mm film, 10.5 hours of recordings of interviews and music, and 1000+ still photographs made during the production of HOMEPLACE in 1972-73. The material will be used in a 40 year retrospective documentary presently in production. The material to be gathered on the 3 week shoot this spring will be added the Library’s holdings at a later date.
In a way Yellow Cat was founded in a blacksmith shop in Oxford, Miss 40 years ago. HOMEPLACE, our first doc, was centered on Mr. Hall's forge. Smithing has been a part of our corporate gestalt ever since. This spring we’ll be working on a documentary in Mississippi that will include blacksmithing. So it was time to pick up a hammer again.