Sunday, August 30, 2015

PBS Documentary

This summer, a kindly seeming (his first impression was only reinforced by our actual meeting) television producer named Mark called and invited me to participate in a PBS documentary about my father.  He said they'd interviewed my older brothers and needed a female voice. I couldn't help but wonder if the female voice required whining and wailing - which, believe me, I'm ready to produce on demand - but it turned out they expected me to act like an normal, articulate adult. I declined, aware that such a role would be too much of a stretch, but during our conversation, I related a couple of stories on the topic which  he encouraged me to tell on tape and the desire to share what I believe to be a fascinating story got the best of me.  I said yes.  Then, the next day, I waffled, and said no. Whining, wailing, indecision.  My specialties.  It wasn't fear of speaking on camera.  It was fear that I wouldn't know when to stop speaking.  Fear that a routine interview would turn into the long-needed therapy session and I'd spill my guts and get way off topic rambling on and on about attics, pot pies, my brother taking my door off the hinges so I wouldn't slam it, Cheatham Annex, my sleeping baby sister, Billy, my father's tackle box, tissues under my mother's pillow, Bill McFarland, pets, sneaking out of my bedroom window at night, the Little League field.  There's a volcano lurking beneath my calm exterior.

Mark may've regretted the invitation, but before he could cut and run, I concluded that I'd regret it if I didn't put in my two cents and that I could refrain from making it a dollar.  So, I said yes and, as it turned out, all four M Society members participated.  Michael, Mary and I, in person, and Mom through her diary entries and letter excerpts.

Come and see...

The plan was for Alvin Townley, author of Defiant, and Michael, Mary and me to be filmed on Aug. 10.  The night before, we met at Jimmy's house on Capital Hill for dinner. (Like how I blurred out his street sign to protect his privacy?)  It's an established fact that Jimmy is the coolest of my siblings. Mark decided that his art collection, antiques and beautifully decorated home would make a better setting for the interviews that the one he'd planned on, so the next morning, we returned to Jim's house to film.

I snuck a quick picture of Mary as Mike and I headed up the stairs to the Green Room.

Michael and I waiting in The Green Room


Alvin, at head of table, is in danger of become in closer contact with some of my siblings than I am. I'm starting to feel competitive about it.  Evidently I'm the jealous type.  His long reach has even extended down to Mobile where he's made friends with my beloved Fontaine and Marion.  Alvin is a people person and even I can't resist his charm.  In this shot, he's talking to Steve and, on the right, Luis. I've managed to weasel my way into communication with Luis, because he was charged with gathering photographs for the film and I've stealthily cornered the market on family pictures.

Because I'm childish, I kidded Alvin that I'd put this picture on my blog with a thought bubble around the painting.  Can't figure out how to apply the special effect to carry through with the threat.

My sister, Mary, and part of the crew - lunch break

Alvin Townley
Dapper author about town
~ provider of huge chunk of insight into the experience of the "Defiant"Alcatraz Eleven ~
We are indebted to him beyond measure.

Mark Fastoso - Producer, confidence builder - during Alvin's interview (see Alvin on the monitor?)

Collaboration.  I wish I could be personal friends with both of these guys - Mark, the producer/director, on the right, and the man who interviewed me, Steve, a writer, whom I'm sure told me his name that day, but I was too amped up to remember, so I had to ask later. They've both studied French art, history, literature and/or lived in France.  In another setting, I'd have soaked up the exchange of thoughts on all, plus their PBS project, and the whole Vietnam era.  Another time, perhaps. 

Jimmy sent this to me.  I don't recall telling a story about The Claw, but who the hell knows.  Maybe I did.  It's all a blur.  Michael made an audio recording of my interview.  It wasn't a complete disaster. It may or may not contain anything they need for the documentary, but the experience was awesome and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  I'd do better the second time around.  I was just getting warmed up.

Heath's interview was taped a week after mine, but she sent me this picture.

I often consider the truth that some of the best things in my life have fallen into my life with no scheming, no planning, often no concrete wish on my part.  People with whom I feel an instant connection appear out of nowhere to fill a need I scarcely realize I have.  Case in point:  Heath Lee. She contacted me last Spring in connection with a book she's writing about the POW wives' movement and when I googled her and found this, well, anyone who knows me will recognize the potential for sisterhood with this woman!  French language and literature, American history and from Virginia.   Warm, witty, bright. What's not to love?  

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