Thursday, December 21, 2006

An Chlann

Where do I start? So much happening. Robert returned from his trip down the the east coast by boat and then five days visiting his old friend in Naples, Florida. Although he had a great time he claims to be cured of the the desire to buy his own boat. I'm actually happy to hear that. I don't particularly like boats, open water, or the idea of a boat payment. I like mountains. Maybe we can divert that imaginary money to my dream cabin in the Rockies. Meanwhile, we have plenty of possessions and matters begging to be taken care of, like our leaky roof and Ryan's exorbitant dental expenses (8 cavities, 4 wisdom teeth.)

I finally finished the video project for my friend, Carol, that I have been working on for two months. It combined interviews, photos (old and new), animated text, music, and hundreds of transitions. I built it in Final Cut Pro. The process was similar to making a piece of art: assembling the materials and arranging them in a creative fashion. It gave me a lot of pleasure to create the movie and more to hand it over. Carol was genuinely moved by it. I hope it's a testament to my creativity in editing, but the subject matter had a great hand in her perception of the piece since it's all about her family's heritage. The story it told was of a family's roots and character. It condensed into 42 minutes the journey of several generations. We learn of two members fleeing the potato famine in Ireland to suffer the strenuous passage over the Atlantic, to start anew in America, to struggle to make lives, to raise children, to become Americans, to cut a path for future generations.

That subject matter ensures a movie with strong emotional impact. That is why I loved making it. To take hundreds of individual lives and compress that into essentially a "statement" elevates the emotional impact. It's what storytelling does, organize and make sense of the past and offer a theme. For this family the theme was courage, perseverance and love--three elements sure to bring out the tears. Carol and I both wept through its making. All I know is that I'm hooked and want to continue creating this very product for other families. I call it a product, but it's really like making a lovely family portrait.

The other things that are keeping me busy I'll save to explain for another day. I'll close with this Irish blessing:

Dear Lord,
Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am
Keep ever burning before my vagrant steps
the kindly light of hope
And though I come not within sight
of the castle of my dreams,
teach me to be thankful for life
and for time's olden memories
that are good and sweet
And may the evening's twilight
find me gentle still

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