Photo Credit (c) Shaheen Haq
Finished. A month long epic journey of filming in Mexico, Los Angeles and New York. I had started with high ambitions to blog regularly during our trip but it was clearly unrealistic once we hit a couple of roadblocks. Namely an urgent need to find a replacement DOP for our LA and NYC shoots. Yikes.
This challenge turned out to give us two blessings in disguise. Namely, DOP Gale Tattersall who joined our team in LA and Simon Dennis, my regular DOP, who flew out to NYC from the UK, literally a day after finishing a 7 week shoot on a feature. I had started this film with Simon in Atlanta 2009 to film the opening of the Alice Walker Archive at Emory University so it was fitting he was here for this penultimate shoot. I first had the pleasure working with Si on my debut narrative feature, Nina’s Heavenly Delights, back in 2006 where we bonded in a way one does when dealing with some pretty dire circumstances. Enuf said!
So, the goddess of celluloid smiled and gave us two magnificent painters of light in our hour of need.
I wanted to bring my NYC crew home with me. What a fine crew. We had a lot of laughs. Ryan, our driver/assistant who negotiated our 15seater van filled with crew and equipment around NYC and New Jersey, was a fabulously, engaged presence. Ryan, a drummer with an all girl band called Megabush, had the habit of listening and rehearsing to Nirvana percussion beats on a guide track – which admittedly did cause a few moments of panic on the freeway. We found Matthew Henderson, an incredibly able and fast Camera Assistant after umpteen emails and phone calls. He came on board and kindly dropped his normal rate for us because “he valued the content of the project”. Bless him. He has a loyal director in me as of now. And he diligently kept the best ‘Driver’s Log’, a DIT has ever provided. I was amazed at how Judy Karp, our sound recordist came on the subway from Brooklyn into Manhattan every morning with her sound gear in a couple of bags. She looked like she was going away for the weekend. Judy works regularly with one of US’s uber indie directors’ John Sayles and had been with him on his latest film, Amigo set in the Philippines under US occupation. It was one of those times when the ‘chemistry was just right’ for all of us.
We filmed some extremely interesting interviews with individuals who have both shaped history and as well as lived through its tumultuous political and cultural moments. Its’ tough to control myself and not start writing about each one of these people but we want to leave a few surprises for when the film comes out.
An Angel Sang To Me
However, I can’t resist mentioning one person- LaChanze who was our very last interview in New York. Wow, we went out on a sizzling bang, especially when she sang the opening lines of the song, The Color Purple from the Broadway musical. All I could do was not cry there and then. What a stunning woman and a beautiful voice. LaChanze and her two beautiful daughters made us all feel very welcome in their gorgeous home. The crew couldn’t get enough of her.
I remember the momentous occasion of the opening night of the musical on Broadway when she first came on stage. It was electric. Her embodiment of Celie’s journey from a sexually abused domestic slave to a self determining, self loving, fully realized woman is one of the most moving and heartfelt arc’s I have ever witnessed on screen or on stage. LaChanze deservedly won the Tony Award for her leading role as Celie, Alice Walker’s unforgettable heroine, a part she played for 3 years.
Thank you LaChanze.