Equinox Documentaries Blog

documentary films which inspire a sense of "place" through stories and images

October 13th

Filed under: IMW: Intern's Journal — Jason at 2:09 pm on Friday, October 13, 2006

The houseboat - docked
The carbon monoxide alarm went off twice last night, but I was half asleep, so I didn’t care. I was just hoping that Mike would take care of everything. He actually ended up unplugging the alarm and going back to sleep. Mike said at one point during the night he opened Mark’s door and was looking to see if Mark was still alive. He stood, waited and watched to see if Mark’s chest was moving up and down. Too funny.

I slept good despite the carbon monoxide scare. I pulled the glass table out a bit and threw my sleeping pad and bag right over an air conditioning vent on the floor (perhaps had something to do with the carbon monoxide?). It was barely enough room to fit in there, but it was nice. Nice and nestled away, so when everyone else wakes up early they don’t have to wake me up because I wouldn’t be in the middle of the freaking walkway like the other night, with that stupid uncomfortable cot. A word of advice: don’t sleep on cots.

Our group in the pontoon boat
Anyways, this morning was fun. Bob, Mark, Bill Randolph, Heather and I all went out on the pontoon boat. I can’t believe this is Jim Henson’s daughter! Wow.
Heather Henson

We headed a bit south of Blair’s Jungle Den and shot some fishing scenes with Jen and Leslie on the other boat. On the way out we saw a manatee cruising down the river. This was the first time Heather and Mark have seen one in the wild. I couldn’t believe Mark had never seen one, especially since he has been on so many other shoots with Bob. Then we headed back up north to the Astor bridge. We stopped at a restaurant to shoot some dialogue with the restaurant owner and talk about the William Batram tree.

Blair's Jungle Den
Afterwards we went back to Blair’s Jungle Den and dropped off Bill Randolph and Heather Henson. Then we motored back up to where Mike had the houseboat docked and had some lunch. Jenn was cooking grilled
cheese, and she hooked me up with one. Bob was worried because we had to cross Lake George next, the largest lake in the St. Johns River. We were looking at satellite last night and noticed a front was moving in
today, so we were a bit worried that the lake might be rough. The lake has an average depth of 10 feet, which can make for rough situations if the wind is up.

Lake George
I had to stay on the houseboat while we crossed Lake George, to help Mike look after the boat just in case if it was rough out there. But Mike wasn’t worried at all. I drove the boat a bit for him while he cleaned up and took care of some other small tasks. The lake was pretty smooth all the way over. Mike taught me more lingo today, including the term “fetch”, which deals with wind and waves over a distance of a body of water. He also showed me several features of the GPS software, and how to read it.

We were headed for Bill Jeter’s house on Drayton Island, directly at the north end of the lake. Bill Jeter is a great friend of Equinox, and was having a big dinner at his house. We were planning on shooting the feast and celebration tonight and then the dialogue between Leslie and Bill Jeter tomorrow. And as usual, I would be documenting all of this, with my still and video cameras.

Bill Jeter's House
Once at Bill Jeter’s house on Drayton Island, we all began unloading gear and walking the long distance down the dock through the yard to Bill’s house. While walking through the thick grass, we noticed that we could all hear a soft buzzing sound. If you bent down and put your head near the grass, you could clearly hear a loud buzz. It turned out to be millions of blind mosquitoes (midges). Bob wanted to get some audio of this, so Mark let me operate the boom and capture some midge buzz.

Jason with the boom microphone
Mark has a wireless boom microphone setup, so he showed me how to hook up the transmitter and boom. Tom would roll tape as I would swoop the microphone near the edge of the grass line to spook the midges and get the audio as they all buzzed and flew around with agitation. It was exciting operating the super sensitive microphone. And when I say sensitive, I mean SENSITIVE. At one point I aimed the microphone at the houseboat at the end of the long dock (which was a very good distance away) and I could clearly hear a conversation between Mike McGinty and Jenn. At one point Tom (who was standing right next to me) started yelling out to Mike and I thought my ears were going to start bleeding. Luckily I yanked the headphones off quickly.

Dinner's ready
After capturing the midge audio, everyone finally headed inside to prepare for dinner. Heather McPherson cooked up the feast with help from Bill Jeter and his wife. Heather is the Orlando Sentinel food editor and also is a big time Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings fan. The food was delicious. We had alligator fritters, crab cakes, mango ice cream and countless other dishes; it was a real feast.

Tom and Mark
Audio man Mark Howerton spends most of his time on this documentary trip giving me a hard time, which he seems to take much pleasure in doing. He insisted that Intern was my name. People would ask what my real first name was, and Mark would say, “he has no first name, he is just Intern.” Also, tonight he was regulating how many beers I could drink, while Mike McGinty and him slammed beer after beer directly in front of me. That doesn’t matter. In the future when Mark Howerton works for me, I will be slamming beers in front of him while he is working and unable to drink. Nevertheless, I still had a good time.

Mark taught me several life lessons tonight. He said he was agitated because he wasn’t even charging me for these life lessons, like he does with his daughter. Haha. Went back to the houseboat to get to sleep early. I got a bed tonight since Bill Belleville was sleeping up at Bill Jeter’s house. Hooray!

October 12th

Filed under: IMW: Intern's Journal — Jason at 7:52 am on Thursday, October 12, 2006

Loading Deck Boat
Today was a pretty mellow day. Woke and started loading up the deck boat with camera gear. Bob was shooting the sunrise from Fred Hitt’s dock, while Tom was up on top of the houseboat shooting. I didn’t find out until later that they had spotted a black bear across the river and were trying to get good shots of it.

Fred Hitt's House
After everyone was loaded up and ready to go, we thanked Fred Hitt for his hospitality and departed. Everyone else but Mike and I went off to Blue Springs to do some shooting. I was supposed to stay with Mike and help him get the house boat to Blair’s Jungle Den, further down the river. Mike had a bunch of work to do, so he let me drive the houseboat as he took a shower and cleaned. It was tons of fun! I saw several anhingas and a few alligators.

Captain Mike's Cut
I have learned a great deal about boating on this trip. The different types of boats, the lingo, etc. Mike McGinty is a seasoned mariner, and was happy to teach me a great deal. He is great at what he does and was very easy to learn from. Unfortunately today while we were in the boat he slammed his head into the television hanging from the ceiling over by his captain’s chair.

Jenn cooked us an African meal tonight. It was delicious. We also got a wireless internet connection, which was nice. Jenn got to work on some homework, while everyone else checked and sent emails.

Tom Postel filming
Tonight we had a visitor by the name of Heather Henson. She was staying at Blair’s Jungle Den, and then coming out to shoot with us in the morning. By the way, this is Jim Henson’s daughter. Yes that’s right, JIM HENSON. Muppets Jim Henson. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but I am a huge Jim Henson fan. I have seen all of his movies. So this was cool for me. Heather showed the crew some of her theater puppetry and animation work. Pretty interesting stuff.

Everyone was exhausted tonight. Leslie brought some alcohol, but no one really touched it. Mark went into his room and fell asleep while working on his laptop, Jenn went to her room early and fell asleep, and Bob could barely stay awake throughout the night.

Bob filming
That night I pulled the table out from the wall in the houseboat, so I would have a nice place to sleep without being walked all over in the morning when Tom and Bob decide to shoot the sunrise. I threw my sleeping bag out over a large air conditioning vent in the corner of the room, not knowing that I would almost single handedly kill the entire house boat crew through asphyxiation. Not a good thing for an intern to do on a production trip. But I wouldn’t even know this until the next morning, so luckily I slept well while everyone almost died.

October 11th, 2006

Filed under: IMW: Intern's Journal — Jason at 5:07 am on Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I slept on the floor inside the main cabin area of the houseboat last night. Didn’t sleep very well for some reason. Perhaps I was too excited from the run in with Tracy the deer hunter last night. All I
know is that it sure would be nice to have a bed to sleep in.

Tom Postel filming the sunrise
Our goal today was to head to Sanford on Lake Monroe for the afternoon, and finally end up at Fred Hitt’s house near the Wekiva River for the evening. As usual, Tom and Bob were up early to shoot
the sunrise. And since I was asleep on the floor in the middle of the main cabin area, I had to get up the same time they did. I grabbed my Canon Rebel and followed Tom up to the top deck of the houseboat, and started snapping some pictures of Tom and the sun rise. I just bought my camera a few days before taking this St. Johns trip with Equinox. Since I have been wanting to further my skills in
photography, I knew this St. Johns trip was a perfect time to purchase a good camera.

Steve Barnes from the Orlando Sentinel
After the beautiful sunrise, I went out to help break down Jenn and Leslie’s campsite. A man named Steve Barnes from the Orlando Sentinel showed up and started interviewing the girls and Bill Belleville.

I kept jumping back and forth between shooting stills, video, and helping break down the campsite. With the the Sony video camera and Canon Rebel strapped on me at all times, I always have the hard decision of shooting either stills or video when something interesting around me unfolds. In most cases I would keep both cameras powered on, and try to use both as much as I could.

Fred Hitt and Bill Belleville
While breaking down the campsite and loading all of the equipment back into the houseboat, Fred Hitt showed up with his pontoon boat. Fred Hitt, retired judge and author of Wekiva Winter‘ has
volunteered his pontoon boat and services to Equinox for this trip.

Boats at Brickyard Slough
The crew loaded onto Fred Hitt’s pontoon boat, and the production armada departed from Brick Yard Slough camping area. Once out in the main channel, we started filming some pass bys of Leslie’s boat. Bob, Steve from the Sentinel, Mark, Fred and I were all on the crew boat. Mike McGinty was driving the houseboat not far behind us, and Leslie, Jenn, Bill Belleville and Tom Postel were on Leslie’s boat.

Lake Harney to Lake Monroe is a very beautiful area. This area of the river is mostly undeveloped, and retains the beauty of old natural Florida. This part of the river is most likely the same as it was when Marjorie and Dessie traveled on it. You can travel for miles and lose yourself in mother nature.

Approaching the Marino
After motoring down the channel a good ways, we finally came into Lake Monroe. We were heading for Sanford, which is on the Southeastern side of the Lake. Bob had Fred do some loops around the girl’s boat, so he could get some interesting pass by shots. After filming the pass bys, we slowly motored towards Sanford marina while Steve from the Sentinel interviewed Bob.

Watching the Rivership Romance
Once docked at the Monroe Harbour Marina, we all watched as the famous Rivership Romance motored slowly out of the marina and into the Lake Monroe. The group split into two small crews to go explore Sanford; Bob, Leslie and Bill-Group 1. Myself, Jenn, Mark and Tom-Group 2.

First we all went off to eat lunch at Willow Tree Cafe. Tom was filming Jenn throughout the lunch, and near the end a short old woman hobbled over to us and asked what we were doing. We told her about the documentary, and she went into a long story about her grandparents traveling down the St. Johns on steam boats. Tom shot the whole conversation between Jenn and the tiny old woman.

Cinema Verite in Sanford
After lunch, our group headed around the downtown area with Jenn. We explored several art galleries in which Jenn met artists and had conversations with locals on the streets. This style of shooting was true cinema verite, which we had done back at Bear Mound. I like this style of shooting, but it is prone to more technical issues, such as bad audio and/or lighting. You have the benefit of capturing that spontaneity, but you usually only get one take and you don’t have as much control.

After wandering around downtown, the crew met back up and headed out to the marina. Written about in Cross Creek, this is the area where Marjorie Rawlings and Dessie Smith had their run-in with the British yacht owner and his snobby wife. We shot a scene of Leslie and Jenn here, talking about the instance.

Leslie & Jenn in Sanford
Afterwards, everyone headed out to the parking lot area of the marina, where Leslie and Jenn spoke with writers from the Sanford Herald. Bill Randolph, the coolest man in the world, brought 4 256mb compact flash cards for me to HAVE. He said that he wasn’t using them anymore, and that they were collecting dust. I was pretty excited about this, since I only have a 128mb card that came with my Canon Digital Rebel when I bought it from a friend.

I had to go to UCF to a night class tonight, so lucky for me Bill Randolph hooked me up with a ride. While at school, all I could think about was getting back out on the river. Haha. I am having too much fun. My girlfriend came out to UCF to give me a ride back. She had to bring me back to Fred Hitt’s house, which was a good ways out, down several dirt roads. We ended up getting a little lost, but finally found our way to Fred’s, with an 18 pack of Miller Lite long necks, just as Mark had requested. The whole day before I left for school, Mark kept saying “don’t come back empty handed.” I set up a cot in the main cabin of the houseboat, and got little to no sleep. I HATE cots.

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