2004 Retrospective – part 2

This bit is all about April to June.


April started with a special preview of Super Size Me at the Michigan Theater. Special preview because it was (a) set up for students at the UofM and (b) the executive producer came to answer questions about it afterwards. This was April 1st, the same day our landscape architect, Craig, came over to the new house to begin preparing for ground work.

April 3rd, we shot images of the Artrain moving off to start its latest tour. Russ and Deb then took me over to a huge garage that stores custom and classic cars over in Ypsilanti. Every month, they have an open day and you can wander around people’s Porsche’s, Merc’s and classic American automobiles. The same night, Laura and I had tickets for a modern ballet, Tricodex, at the Power Center in Ann Arbor. Weird costumes and whimsical wobbling things gyrated across the stage. From the sublime to the bizarre; it was as far removed from classic cars as you could get. Well, except for some of the mechanical oddities.

On April 8th, Ascalon Films shot a commercial for Home Appliance Mart, a shop belonging to Big George’s which is a well-known local store up on Stadium. Then it was Easter. I can’t remember much about Easter, although we did go to church. Church in the US always seems to involve some kind of performance, or many performances, and even some performance art. It’s a full-on show and they didn’t disappoint.

Easter Monday, we flew to Arizona. Artrain had paid for my air ticket and hotel room to film the Artrain official opening in Tempe. We thought it would be a good idea to pay for another ticket plus some extra nights at the hotel and extend it into a mini-honeymoon, so off we went. We drove up to Sedona and stayed in a cabin for one night. Another night, we were taken out to a sumptuous dinner with members of the Artrain board of directors. We took the Verde Canyon Railroad out and saw American Bald Eagles nesting. We checked out the cactus and we drank many beers. It was a great week.

Cinema Slam came round again at the end of the month and I also went out on my first camerawork gig for BMC Media, part of the university’s medical school. Paid work. Gotta love that. And the bonus with camerawork is that someone else has done all the recce work, organized the kit and will be doing the editing. Nice.


In May, we took delivery of a lot of baby trees–and two slightly larger ones which we could just about wrestle into position at the head of the drive. We planted the other saplings around the perimeter of the property, which took a long day of hard spade work. Craig’s crew came out and built a patio and porch. BMC Media gave me more work and I cut together the Home Appliance Mart ad.

On May 16th, I saw West Side Story at the Michigan and met one of cast who was appearing in the theater’s production of Candide the next week. Russ had already asked me to film Candide and I was now the Michigan Theater’s “resident filmmaker”, a title that has now become official. Kind of. Well, it’s on their website and that’s good enough for me!

May 22nd, a group of us went down to Cedar Point, a giant rollercoaster park in Ohio. Laura’s friend Anthony had organized the trip for some of his Japanese friends, who didn’t speak a lot of English. We joined a line for the first ride and I remember not seeing how high it went until we were right up against it. Uh oh. It hit something like 85 mph after dropping almost straight down then shot us back up. I rescued my stomach and only tried a few more things after that. Madness, I tell you! Madness!

At some point in the month, I met up with local jazz guitarist Carl Michel and asked him to get involved in producing music for the Artrain project. I also had an interview with Granada Television in the UK (by phone) for a series called Animal Rescue which is shot in Detroit. No dice on that but there you go. Russ and Deb had a barbeque for Russ’s birthday and there was much rejoicing.


June was Benji month, Benji being an intern I’d agreed to take on for a couple of weeks from a local school. He helped out with editing and office work and I found it actually helped me stay focused throughout the day and over the fortnight. We got a surprising amount done, more than I would have thought, so maybe I’ll take on someone else another time.

June 4th we went to an “Ice Cream Social” at Lawton School. This was a fundraising event which would be called a summer fete in the UK. I took part in my first cake walk and won a cake. Mmmm. Cake. So did Sam. We brought home lots of cake.

June 6th, we had a fence painting party with straw hats and buckets of white paint. A couple of our neighbours joined us, Kate and Amy, plus Russ and Deb and Anthony. We got about a third of it done then stopped for food and drinks.

In the middle of the month, I helped Robin Browne on a shoot for a local producer/director, Beth Winsten, who is making a film about author and undertaker, Thomas Lynch. This was an enjoyable three days, although I did get soaked to the skin, running to a coffee shop one day in a torrential downpour. We went back to Thomas Lynch’s funeral parlour where I squelched around in wet clothes among the coffins for the morning. The usual surreal stuff. Not.

On June 13th, I went over to Detroit to record music for Artrain with Carl Michel and native American DJ, Joe Smith. June 14th, Current Magazine took a picture of me for the local what’s on guide. June 15th, I had lunch with another native American, photographer Kay Young, and that same evening Laura and I went to the David Byrne concert at the Power Center. He played a lot of new material and a good selection from Talking Heads’ days. There was dancing in the aisles. It was a treat.

At the end of the month, John asked me to help him on camera for his new short film, Europa Society. What this actually meant was, John hadn’t asked anyone else to crew except one other guy to do lighting. Who had no lights. And who left at around midday on the first shoot. I’m not saying he wasn’t good, but I ended up doing the lighting, camera and sound. John dealt with the props and wardrobe. John is still learning about filmmaking. You can see my eyes rolling, can’t you.

I got away in time to see Gone With The Wind at the Michigan, another film I’ve never seen before and a fine opportunity to see this on the big screen. An epic film, if ever there was one. Later that week, I had the first rehearsal for my own micro-epic, Serial Dating. Michael McCallum and Hillary Richmond. We sat down in the basement, drank beer and improv’d around the script for a good long time, then arranged to get together in early July to film.