Epic day in the lab processing 11 rolls of film back to back: everything needs to get done today and everything needs to turn out because there’s no time and no film for reshoots! So we say a little prayer, add a dash of our special secret ingredient–a magical elixer comprised of the Wild Weeds of Baltimore we’ve been foraging from cracks in the sidewalk and down the little lanes–and stir the brew exactly 99 times in a counter-clockwise direction (okay, I made that part up), add it to the tank and rock it like a baby for 18 minutes (this part is true), rinse, fix, rinse again and then, FINALLY, the big reveal: IMAGES, GLORIOUS IMAGES!!!!!!!!! 11 for 11! We got a movie! Special thanks to BSA teacher and renowned social justice photographer Joe Giordano for generously sharing your darkroom, your powerful images, and your 80s playlist that transported me right back to the raucous bush parties of my Canadian youth.
You’ve probably heard about the Baltimore Orioles, named after Maryland’s official state bird (Fun fact: an earlier baseball team in the city also named the Orioles moved to New York City in 1903 to become the Yankees!) but what about the Ravens? I’m not much of a football fan so I didn’t know that when the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore in the 90’s the citizens got to vote on the new name (proposed options included the Americans, the Marauders and the Railers) and chose the Ravens in honor of the famous poem by Edgar Allan Poe (who wasn’t even originally from Baltimore, but died here under mysterious circumstances in 1849). Anyway, all this to say, Baltimore is truly for the birds.
We flocked together for Grace’s 2 pm film shoot at Belevedere Square Market (“Where Ordinary Meets Extraordinary”) and then flew through the (booze free) Sunday streets arriving home just in time to watch a magnificent storm roll in: rolling thunder and lashes of lightening followed by torrential rain…oooeeee, let it come down! We’re soaked to the bone by the time we get to True Vine Records for Seamus’s 9 pm punk rock party but who cares? It’s Sunday night and the kids are alright!
On Saturday, pollen is permeating the air, humidity is off the charts, and the temperature is going up up up into the 90’s but at 5 am, the world is a cool blue oasis filled with birdsong, sleepy trees and…donuts! Thank you, Wanda, for stopping off at Dunkin’ Donuts before the crack of dawn to start off a long day of filming with a gesture as sweet as the treat. Thanks for your purse full of Production Assistant Sharpies, your hilarious stories and the unbounded love you have your granddaughter. Paris is sure to achieve every one of her cinematic dreams with the combination her own talent and your support! Where better for breakfast than Pete’s diner where the waitress calls you “Hon”, the coffee never stops flowin’ and there are giant piles of scrapple just waiting to hit your plate. We pick up some strawberries from Reid’s at the Farmers Market and head over to Meg’s to drop our bikes and hop in the car to meet Kai over by the Friends School for a walk in the beautiful woods…. watch out for angry dogs, though! Amirah goes on a sentimental journey back to her old neighborhood; Dylan also explores the past with an eye on the Belvedere Hotel and its notorious Owl Bar as well as some of the many treasures on display at The Walters Art Museum, an institution reckoning with both its own history and the contemporary treatment of its workers. Alex takes us on a tour of Fells Point where pirate party ships mingle with pleasure craft and naval vessels, and the cutest houses appear on quiet side streets. In the midnight hour, Seamus documents modern hieroglyphics at the Skatepark of Baltimore and then it’s a quiet bike ride home, the streets cool and quiet once again…
Every project has its challenges… with The Sound We See, it’s not a case of “if” or even “when” but “WHAT???” because it’s always something new! We realize that one of the cartridges that we thought was shot through yesterday was actually jammed and not advancing at all. [Insert sad face emoji here.] Luckily we checked Denzel’s cartridge today with Paolo’s patented Double Dot Test before filming which revealed ANOTHER faulty cartridge. Huh? Time to check ALL the cartridges! Yes, folks, 6 out the 20 in the carton we brought are duds, with the film either not advancing or tearing as soon as the first few feet roll through the camera. What’s up, Kodak Quality Control??? What’s a group of filmmakers on a super tight time frame to do? Call on the Baltimore Witches for a little extra magic so we can just squeak by with the remaining cartridges. If Denzel’s segment in the park and Lara’s ice-cream and mural amble around Hampden are any indication of what’s to come this weekend, it’s all going to work out just fine.
When you wake up on Eager Street, it feels like the city is saying Good morning! Let’s get this adventure started! It’s the first day of The Sound We See: Baltimore and we’re off to the Baltimore School for the Arts to meet the crew. Housed in the former Alcazar Ballroom and Hotel opened in 1924 for the Knights of Columbus and the neighbouring 1850 Graham House, the BSA is renowned performing arts high school focusing on dance, music, acting, stage design and production, visual arts and (our personal favorite) film & visual storytelling. The end of the school year is nearing and there is much to do but everyone seems down for a whirlwind city symphony project on Super 8 so off we go! Planning, plotting, practicing and even popping off two hours of the actual film all in 4 hours? Gotta be a new SWS World Record! Special thanks to Rachael for bringing me to the Peabody Library for her 4 pm slot… a book lover’s dream! We reward our collective good work with a fabulous screening of student films in BSA’s glamorous cinema and a stroll home through sultry streets filled with the scent of spring flowers….
A very Day of the Locust departure from LAX, a turbulent red eye across the country, but Baltimore welcomes us early in the morning with sunny spring weather, green trees and blue skies. Meeting our dear friend Meg Rorison for a tasty lunch and tour of the town in the afternoon makes us feel instantly at home. Tomorrow, Sound We See #24 begins!!!
This morning, we wake up to the sad news that Muhammad–elder, neighbor, friend, formidable chess player, and beloved member of The Photo Gallery community–passed away in the night. Was it just a couple of weeks ago we were filming a scene in the caravanserai courtyard for The Sound We See? Was it just a few days ago we were celebrating the film’s premiere together? Was it just Saturday afternoon he was telling tales about the flea market, his blue eyes sparkling as he talked? We honor a life lived in all its complexity and find gratitude in walking side by side for a moment along the infinite road of existence.
This is a trip that almost didn’t happen. A global pandemic whirling. Emotions swirling. Health afflictions. Shifting restrictions. Heart and mind in a tug of war…eyes glued to statistics on the internet, searching for assurance where no assurance existed.
Shavkat Boltaev, the great artist and great friend to artists, said simply “Come. We are waiting for you.” And the heart won.
Thank you to Susan Katz and everyone CEC Artslink for providing the opportunity, the funding, and the encouragement that set the stage for this journey. Your generous work makes amazing art possible and builds friendships that last forever.
Thank you to the people of Bukhara who welcomed us as soon as we set foot in this holy city…the crossroads of the world!
Thank you to Nuriddin and Zilola, the wonder twins of compassionate creativity. Thank you to our new cinematic family, anchored in the pure soul of The Photo Gallery, whose eyes are always on uplifting and celebrating community.
Thank you Shavkat, Umida, Hofiz, Behzod, Ruhksora, Baby Behtarin and The Cat With No Name for opening up your beautiful home to us and embracing us as one of your own.
We love you all so much!
Sacred sites and shared stories… the magic of the everyday is everywhere.
Tonight we’re climbing aboard the night train for Tashkent, our cinematic compass set for Istanbul.
But that, dear ones, is another story…