‘If I Had Wings to Fly’ showing in Eugene, Oregon

If I Had Wings to Fly will be screening in Eugene, OR at the University of Oregon on Friday, September 26th from 6-8pm, in room 110 of Willamette Hall.

Bruno Seraphin will be there attempting to be clever and informative during a brief Q+A. Unfortunately, co-Director Harrison Topp will not be able to make it. Come! Tell your friends! It’s free!

Poster still being tinkered with.
Poster still being tinkered with.

If I Had Wings to Fly screening in Montague, MA

Easily the most difficult state to spell.
Massachusetts: the most difficult state to spell.

Our film goes farther north than ever before! It will be shown at the Montague Grange (36 Main Street) on Saturday, January 19 at 7 PM.

There will be a square dance and a live band following the film, with caller Jeff Golay. $5-15 at the door. Unfortunately, Harrison and I will not be able to make it for a Q+A.

Bucolic!
Bucolic!

Feel free to get in touch with the organizer, Colleen, at [email protected]

Kazoo Films strikes Historic Accord with Inner City Organic Pictures

OK, maybe that’s overstating it. But we have found a new friend in the world of film-making.

Filmmaker Brian Paul Higgins’ multiple award-winning project, Cure for the Crash, is a fellow DIY road movie that blends fiction and non-fiction elements. He’s been selling his DVD’s at public markets in New Orleans, and now he’s going to be selling our film, too.

Cure for the Crash – the Art of Train Hoppin’

Check it out here: http://www.cureforthecrash.com/home.html

You can buy both films at the French Market in the Quarter every day, and nights on Frenchmen Street!

Our films rock a similar DVD packaging style

Picture Lock and Sound Editing

Howdy howdy,

We are proud to announce that If I Had Wings to Fly has reached picture lock! The next step is sound editing.

It feels really good to have what in many ways resembles a completed film. But now, we have to do nothing less that create a soundscape for each and every scene. This means mixing and smoothing all of the music, dialogue, sound effects and ambient noise that we recorded during production, as well as going into the field and into the studio to record more of all of the above. Sound effects recorded in the studio are called Foley, for reasons beyond me. We also may do some automated dialogue replacement (ADR).

We are teaming up with local Asheville sound editor Chris Burbach. He uses the software ProTools; he’ll be working with us to craft a sound mix that does justice to all the great performers who lent their voices and music to the film. We are thrilled to add him to the Kazoo team! Welcome aboard Chris.

On an (even) lighter note, we have some good news to announce! If I Had Wings to Fly actors Forrest Oliphant (Felix) and Dom Flemons (Joe) are getting married this October (not to each other)! Forrest’s wedding will be at the John C. Campbell Folk School, around where much of the film was shot. Congratulations Forrest and Dom!


Love is in the air…..between each of them and their respective fiances.

Mind Meld

I like this blog because we can all use it as an outlet, a light melding of brains on a creative project (that allows for much less planning than making a film).

I can make an image of our favorite big rock
or an eighteen-second creative film

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyOh8K7uO7M
without discussion.

In the past month, The Flim has consumed 25 to 150 people-hours per day in interpersonal planning and consultation.  Four brains are attempting to function as one fourbrain.  Imagine four painters painting the same canvas at once.  Will it end up looking like one painting?  Reaching a singular vision means paying just enough attention to enough details so that they meld into one.  Every player can have a viewpoint on every detail.  Every detail is noticeable when you focus in on it, and the number of pinpointable details is near-infinite.  Color tone and white-balance, brightness, contrast and saturation, 24 or 30 fps, ISO and aperture, focus and depth-of-field, framing and camera motion, LIGHT, miking and mixing, pacing, posture and social communication, casting, costuming, cooking, locations, singing and strumming the right chord while not going completely expression- and motionless….  Every detail has the potential for meaning, even if it isn’t consciously taken in.  We split the responsibilities and look over shoulders, hopefully just enough that we’re confident that somebody is on top of it, whatever it is.  Sometimes we find ourselves talking about an “it” back-and-forth until we realize that we’re talking about different details.  Then it is the custom to say “Yes, you are right, let’s rock it” in unison.  I feel we are working towards a singular vision that is all of ours, and beyond each of ours.

Today we begin shooting.  Happy Interdependence Day. Our fourbrain becomes a more-and-morebrain as we pull folks into the project.  Comment, call, or email if you would like to join us.

Nandan Arrives

Dear World,

My name is Nandan. I recently joined the boys at 2671 East Fork to embark on my health-retreat of 2+ solid months of filmmaking. I have a room for me, myself and I, and if I lay down either direction I can’t touch both walls at the same time.

I arrived Saturday evening to meet my three friends in a hot new (used, but new) car that took me directly to one of the phenomena in the world that keeps me up latest at night: Cookout. For $3.99 I ate a platter made up of a pulled pork sandwich, onion rings, and hush puppies (new to me – imagine taking the hotdog out of a corndog). $1 more gave me a milkshake from one of forty different flavors.

Before I could finish my sandwich I was abruptly ushered into my second surprise: Sunrise Drive-Inn. $8 per car for a double feature – Toy Story 3 and Twilight: Eclipse.

I’m sorry this is sounding an awful lot like weird food/travel blog. Let me give you a quick run-down of my situation and thoughts about the film. I’m here to help these many good men make a movie, specifically I was asked to be the cameraman. After a few days of listening to the musicians and songs, I’ve recently been feeling extremely nervous. There is no possible way that the visuals of this film could approach an imitation of doing justice to the songs that are being sung. I’m actually just straight-up scared. I’m suggesting we release this as a radio-show.

Besides that – the country around here is gorgeous, the majority of this film is going to be in beautiful forest and super-cool looking old homes, and I’m surrounded by fresh bread and baked beans. And everyone plays some instrument proficiently and consistently. And I’ve completely lost any desire to shower consistently.

Here are some pictures of our hard prep-work:

The Good, The Bad, and the Amazing: Texana

Harrison and I just returned from a lovely if whirlwind visit to Brasstown.

The Good: The John Neil Memorial Contra Dance, Charlotte Crittenden (who hosted us on Saturday Night), Sourdough Pancakes, all of the inspiring and wonderful people that you are guaranteed to come across on a visit to Brasstown, Paul Garrett, Lake Chatuge

The Bad: Our car is in the shop getting the timing belt replaced, and our loaner-car came across some difficulties, so we are reduced to biking and hitchhiking around to all the various places that we need to be (the least of which is not the radio show: http://www.ashevillefm.org/the-invisible-worm that we are going to be heard on tonight). Honestly, it’s a place we’ve been before. It’s just one of those things that makes life hilarious and exciting. At least our bikes are up and running. So, anyway, if in the next few days you get a call from one of us saying, “so…are you planning on heading into Asheville at any point…” don’t be shocked. Consider yourself warned.

The Amazing: This Sunday we attended the service at the Mt. Zion Baptist church in Texana (outside Murphy). Harrison and I went for the first time last week on LaKisha’s recommendation. We met the pastor, the deacon, and what seems like a good portion of the congregation. Everyone was unbelievably welcoming, and seemed genuinely pleased by our presence and interest. Before the service, we talked with the Pastor, J.P. Webb, briefly about our idea to include him and his congregation in our film, and he seemed understandably apprehensive, but not totally opposed.

LaKisha's great-grandfather walked and rode freight trains to Texana with his dog named "Let's Go."

So last monday we sent him an email explaining a little more about our intentions and methodology, and we attached the film’s outline. This week in service, he asked us to stand up and speak about our project, and I did, and then amid a chorus of “amens” and applause,  the pastor pledged his own support and that of the congregation, asserting that ours was a worthy project and that he looks forward to working with us! My heart soared! We were so touched, and excited, and we are just so glad to be able to include Texana’s rich and complex history in the project.

I consider Kisha to be Texana’s historian. Whether she is generally considered as such, I don’t know. But Harrison and I were blown away by her wealth of knowledge, her dedication to local genaeology and history, and her insightful wisdom. She can speak on the subject much more eloquently than I can write about it here, and hopefully she will in the film, but let me share a little bit. The Joe Brown Highway, she told us, which runs out of Murphy and by Texana, was actually the first leg of the Trail of Tears, where the Cherokees were brutally and almost completely driven out of North Carolina. Those Cherokees that stayed had to hide their Indian heritage. If they could pass for white, they could live in Murphy, and if they could pass for black, they settled in Texana, which at the time was one of (if not) the only self-sufficient all black communities in North Carolina. So to this day the heritage of Texana, and Murphy as well, is deeply mixed, and perhaps bears the remnants of a great burden of shame and fear.

A filmic juxtaposition to this, a negative of this photograph, is the later scene in which Felix meets Charlie while they are working together on a traveling medicine show. The miracle elixirs sold in these charlatan acts were often advertised as coming from ancient Indian recipes, so a medicine show would travel around with an “Indian Chief” who would vouch for the medicine’s authenticity. Perhaps these “chiefs” were Cherokee from time to time, but often they were white or black folks wearing inaccurate, gawdy head-dresses. Charlie is a black fellow who makes a living pretending to be an Indian. Race is a weird thing. It’s never as simple and easy as people want it to be, and its construction is so often tied to economic and political ventures.

"The Banjo Lesson" painted by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1893

Ok, so we know that our film is going to be kind of romantic. But we want to be serious and genuine about some complicated and rarely-talked about socio-cultural realities. In 1910 the black population of North Carolina’s Appalachian counties was 11%. Now, that’s not exactly Bed-Stuy or Watts, but, folks, that’s more than 1 in 10. There weren’t really urban centers at that time, so we are talking about black farmers and craftsmen, laborers, people working on the railroads, and one in ten is a sizable figure, especially for a region that people swear up and down is and always has been totally white. “There are no black people in Asheville” – don’t let people tell you that; Asheville is 17% black (for some reference, New York City is about 23%).

There has been some amazing scholarly work done in the last few decades, by Cecelia Conway and others, talking about old-time fiddle styles and the tradition of African-American fiddle music and musicians, not to mention the banjo itself, which has its roots in West Africa, and for a long time was played mostly by enslaved black people on plantations. Old-time and bluegrass music, thought of by some to be a white trash stereotype, by others a pure Anglo-American art form, actually has a exciting genesis rooted in cultural interchange! YES our film will be a romanticized portrait of the region, but it’s bound to, because it is art and it is a movie. But, dag-nabbit, most romanticization of this region has been about cultural and ethnic purity, and I just think that Western North Carolina is more INTERESTING than that.

New Characters and Great Rehearsals and Good Feelings

We’ve just returned from Brasstown! For those folks who don’t know, half of the film is going to be filmed in Madison County, NC (a very mountainous, sparsely populated county) and Cherokee County (a slightly less mountainous, sparsely populated county, and home of the John C Campbell Folk School).  We’ve been approaching people and telling them that we are community supported filmmakers – that our goal is to emphasize the participation and contribution of groups and individuals (we’re still seeking donations *wink wink*).  When it comes to getting actors on board, our approach is to get their full input and from there work with them to incorporate the character that they want to be into the film!  When an actor, or location owner, or organization feels dedicated to their role like we feel dedicated to the film, then everyone leaves the table feeling pretty great. Everyone we met with this weekend was like that.  One fellow insisted on driving to the location and blocking out how the scene should go.  Another asked question after question about our sound equipment and then couldn’t stop playing, singing, and throwing out ideas about what his character should be like.  One woman told us that she’s wanted her Grandmother’s house to be in the movies since she was a little girl.  Basically, in the past few days we’ve been able to gather some amazing locations and characters.

We’re trying to employ similar techniques in our rehearsals.  This past week we began rehearsing with our leading man, Forrest, and leading lady, Sadie.  They so closely resemble their characters that the chemistry they feel together translates to their acting, or at least that’s what it seems like.

The next two weeks will be a circus of rehearsals, tying up of loose ends, and dancing, and prop shopping.  If we can be half as productive as we were in this past week then we’ll be sitting pretty on July 1st, just in time for Nando to arrive and shooting to begin.

Title

The search for a title, even a working title, goes on.

Nothing has emerged as an obvious choice, and it may be that one day Harrison Forrest and I will be passing a billboard or listening to a song lyric, or reading something written on the inside of a bathroom stall and simultaneously all point and say, “That’s it!”

But until then, we are definitely entertaining suggestions.

“The Heart of a Stranger” appeared as an early idea, sort of a play on the “Dedication” poem. But honestly it’s a little too sappy for my taste. Lyrics from some of the film’s more important songs like “Mole in the Ground” and “Queen Jane” seemed like obvious places to look, but nothing really came together except for maybe “Root That Mountain Down” or “Roll On Buddy.” A rereading of the book of Jonah (to me one of the film’s thematic foils) was basically fruitless. Maybe we’ll find some good stuff in the book of Ecclesiastes.We shall see.

Anyway, send your title ideas and five dollars to: 835 Cargile Branch Marshall NC 28753. Until then, it will just be “THE FLIM.”