Harvey is an American professor living and working in Switzerland. I’ve shot his weeklong training sessions in Lausanne and here in Big Sur, Calif.
DIANE – HIS NEW PA
An e-mail: Hi Stefan, Harvey is teaching in Big Sur next month and wants you to shoot 12 five-minute talks. Please quote.
Hi Diane, it’s really up to Harvey. Can he do all 12 in one day?
Stefan, just spoke to Harvey. He thinks he can do three a day after the training sessions. I can send you a list of topics.
INSERT ANOTHER EIGHT E-MAILS.
Diane, our e-mails are getting nowhere. I want to speak to Harvey direct.
Stefan, I’ll organize a conference call.
THE CONFERENCE CALL
Friends, there are the three things that drive me up the wall:
3: 24p. Note that both Peter Jackson and James Cameron have ditched 24p on their next movies.
2: The current craze to shoot movies on tricked-out still cameras instead of using video cameras.
1: Conference calls. Grrrrrr…
Needless to say, Harvey never makes it to the phone. After 25 minutes with Diane, nothing is resolved.
I receive another e-mail. I’m booked for the week.
ONE DAY before the shoot—it’s all off. I’m packed and ready to go. I AM SO PISSED!
At this stage, any normal, rational person would have booked a flight to Pago Pago and gone native. Oh no, not me—I’m chewed up with angst… Sod Harvey! Sod Diane! I’m a filmmaker! I make films! I’ll shoot next week, no matter what!
A PLAN OF MY OWN INVENTION
I’ll start by shooting the neighbors: Mary next door, Carolyn up the road, Trip, our inventor friend. I’ll even shoot Andy, who runs the local deli.
Whooosh, I’m there. “Mary, tell me who you are, where you live. Talk to the camera.” She does it. I run home. It’s exactly 2’ 59”.
I immediately register 2-59.com; now, instead of shooting Harvey, I’m filming friends, neighbors and strangers.
Stephen, a musician and computer artist
I shoot Stephen, who creates visual interpretations of music. He suggests I film his next-door neighbor, Alan. Knock, knock. (The camera is running.) “Hello, I’m Stefan, a friend of Stephen. Can I film you?”
We’re driving up to Petaluma to film Karen, a vineyard owner; we pass a salvage wood outlet. Drive in. “Can I film you?” “Sure.” “It that your bike? Can you just ride around and I’ll fire questions at you from the car window.” His name is Bug and he’s great.
Dee, the general manager of Angel Island
I’ll do 1,000+ of these: firemen, architects, judges, garbage collectors… I’ll ask other filmmakers to join in and contribute. We’ll build a huge database of real people talking about themselves.
WHAT A STUPID IDEA
Then, like a hallucinatory drug wearing off, I stop. Should I continue and shoot my dentist, Andy at the deli, my actor friend Peter? I must be crazy. It seemed like a good idea—but is it?
What’s it all about, Stefan?