It's July, almost the 4th, a time of celebration.
Ok, that's not a bad opening line.
I haven't blogged in a while, ever since Kickstarter ended and the prep for filming my film began shortly after a mental break and after transplanting myself again to NYC from the island of Kauai where I had sequestered myself for the 45-day online fundraising campaign. I love that word sequestered, it has many uses these days.
Can you tell I am making this up as I go? Why? Time is precious now as I begin to shoot my film this month with a to-do list is endless. So I'm writing off the top of my head, it's an improv, something I am learning about working on this film of mine.
In journalism, back in the days of my J-School years, we called it "free writing." Wikipedia defines it as: Free writing is a prewriting technique in which a person writes continuously for a set period of time without regard to spelling, grammar, or topic. It produces raw, often unusable material, but helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and self-criticism. It is used mainly by prose writers and writing teachers. Some writers use the technique to collect initial thoughts and ideas on a topic, often as a preliminary to formal writing.
In jazz, a band free writes with instruments, notes and chords. It's called improvisation. Some improv in jazz is so free, i.e. they go wayyyyyy out with their feelings, thoughts and emotions as they composeon the spot to express something new and fresh. That's what I am learning as I research the Thomas Chapin story. He was a free man, and he loved taking the journey to wherever it led him and his band, and he loved drawing the audience into that journey to give them one helluva ride!
Well, I hope my improv here is going to draw you in, but I promise it won't be so wild.
The last few months, though, have been a wild ride for me. Packed up again and left Kauai for Jackson Hts, NYC where I am living and working on my film. I'm in the space where Thomas used to live with his wife, my sister Terri. She's a gracious host and good company, especially when I need to take a break and we go out for dinner or to a movie. She understands that I have to be glued to my computer and chair to get all this shoot planning done, so we're even skipping going out on the July 4th so I can keep working. My back hurts, my neck too, not to mention my body aches caused from sitting too long. This, my friends, is the life of a filmmaker on deadline. Nose to the grind, hands on the wheel. Focus, focus, focus.
Yikes, I have 25 on-camera interviews to do this month, plus attend a big, grand wedding at the Plaza, a black-tie affair that will be a wonderful diversion in between my two shoot periods. The first shoot will be in Hartford, CT where Thomas grew up and later went to jazz school and played the clubs with friends, and where his long-time fans followed his every recording, radio interview, concerts, club gigs, and news articles from the time of his public launch into the Lionel Hampton Band and through the seven years of his own Thomas Chapin Trio. These fans are die-hards, and I loved meeting so many of them when we launched my film's fundraising trailer. 60 of them came out! And they glowed when I asked about their connection to Thomas.
I'll be seeing some of them again on July 8th on our first day of filmming, at the Monday Night Jazz Series at Bushnell Park in downtown Hartford featuring musicians/longtime friends who played with Thomas. They'll be a septet for this concert under band leader Mario Pavone, who was Thomas's bassist and fellow composer for the Trio and for all of those seven years. The band will be playing Thomas' SKY PIECE, on his last recorded CD before he passed. Thomas did it with a flute and his Trio; this will be a Septet version with horns instead. Can't wait to film this and capture it for my documentary.
The days to follow will be on-camera interviews with the Connecticut musicians who played with Thomas, including Mario. These were Thomas' homeboys. I'm sure the stories will be intimate and funny and sad. It was here Thomas played his last concert, a 10-minute flute solo at Cheney Hall when some 60 musicians played for him and a turn-away audience of some 500 fans and curious folks. Thomas died 12 days later; what's not to cry about. He was so beloved in Hartford.
One of the interviews will be with someone who only played with Thomas once, and that was in Hartford. But while Jaimoe of the Allman Brothers' fame, lives in this area, he is a world stage player who began as a drummer with blues man Otis Redding. Jaimoe remembers seeing Thomas for the first time and being wowed by his alto sax playing. He ended up having his gig with Thomas recorded on video, footage that we are now trying to locate. I just love gathering stories like this!
The other shoot will begin in mid-July and go for six days in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Interviewees will be NYC musicians who played with Thomas and jazz writers/critics who followed him. My sister Terri, Thomas brother Ted, educator Larry Ridley, and long-time friend Arthur Kell will share their stories too.
Yes, it's a vigorous schedule, but I want to keep the momentum up and do as much as I can with the money I raised at Kickstarter back in March. I'm working fast, I'm working hard, to keep my promise to backers to film this summer!!
One last word. If you ever make a film, don't film in July, the middle of summer in NYC! My big concerns are the heat, air conditioners that work, and city traffic that could tie up my film crew. Other than that, I'm just so happy to get this going. I'll get that massage later when I am done, because I'm going to need it, and I will deserve it!!!
Stephanie, without regard to spelling, grammar,...