The Idealist - The Journey
We spent our first day shooting at York University, going through mountains of personal files in the Beveridge Family Fonds. There is so much information that it is going to take ages to sort. I wish I'd come in here before. My Dad's letters are amazing. I need to make more use of them, but there must be hundreds of them. Today was not enough time, but it was a good start for everyone.
Our first day on the road. Paul, Bongo, and myself all piled into Bongo's van and headed up to Ottawa where we saw Michel Campeau at his house. Michel worked with Dad during the Jamia Project in India, and Michel's wife Katie used to be our babysitter. It was great to see them again.
Up early again this morning, we drove out to Pink's lake. It's strange now that it is so accessible. We used to play here endlessly as kids. It was a perfect typical Canadian fall day, and the lake was just awash with the most intense colours of the season. I think we got some beautiful footage. We interviewed Gary Nichol, actually the originator of this project. He spent years with our family as one of Mom and Dad's many assistants. They tended to take in these wandering types and Gary became our babysitter while he learned the craft of filmmaking from my parents. He eventually went on to become a filmmaker with the NFB. He is an artist now and lives in the Gatineau parklands. From Pink's Lake we went to his house and had a nice interview with him in his studio.
Well - I was supposed to be filming at the NFB archives in Montreal today, but alas, passport issues brought me back to Toronto on a last minute flight from Ottawa. Bongo and Paul went on to Montreal as planned and began to prepare for the big NFB round table we're having tomorrow, while I spent the morning at the passport office. This gave me the chance however to pick up Adam and Meghan to come back to Montreal with me, because we are going to need the help for tomorrow's shoot.
What a day. I had wanted to interview the people that worked with Dad at the NFB in those first few years. We managed to pull together a round table with some of the biggest names in the Canadian film industry; Michael Spencer, Pierre Juneau, Bob Verrall, William Weintraub, and Colin Low.
It was a very long, exhausting afternoon but oh so interesting. These people made the Canadian film and television industry what it is today. Their stories were wonderful and they had some really great insight into what was going on at the Film Board during those years - the one part of my Dad's history that is still cloudy.
We got back to Toronto around 3 AM for a weekend of rest before some bigger traveling next week.
We arrived in New York last night. It's a long haul through airport security with 9 cases of equipment! We are staying at my friend Jackie's house in Connecticut.
Today we drove in to New York University to interview Red Burns and George Stoney. George helped to set us up in the beautiful Ireland House for the interviews and Red gave us an amazing tour of the Interactive Telecommunications floor of the Tisch School of the Arts - the program that she heads. She worked with Dad in those early days at the Film Board as well. George Stoney was on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Film Board. Today's interviews were really great.
A very long day today. This morning we drove back in to New York University from Connecticut to interview Amitanshu Das, a former student of Dad's from the Jamia institute who went on to become a professor in the film program at NYU. He got a studio space for us, so this worked out nicely, and he had some great insight about Dad's days at Jamia.
We had to rush to make our flight to North Carolina, but we made it. Unfortunately for us, we are now flying into Greensboro instead of Raleigh so we have to drive across the state tomorrow. We were supposed to conduct an interview over here, but plans changed. Maybe we can get some good B-roll of North Carolina on our drive tomorrow.
It was quite a drive across the state today. We got into Raleigh in late morning and headed over to the State Library. We spent the day going through the North Carolina Film Board's records and films. The people were so great and have offered to help us with whatever we need. The North Carolina Film Board was such a short-lived and quickly disbanded unit that it has been difficult to find out what really happened. I think the files we went through today will begin to shed some light on what happened here. There was so much material that we just photographed it all. I'll have to spend a lot of time going through it when I get home.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
We went back to the archives this morning for a while and got some B-roll of Raleigh. We had to get to the airport in the early afternoon to fly back home, so the day was pretty short.
We went out to Glendon College this afternoon to meet up with Rudy Buttignol, a former student of Dad's at York University and now the Commissioning Editor of TV Ontario (the main broadcaster for the film!). Rudy had a lot of great things to say about Dad as the professor.
Now we have the weekend to prep for India!
Monday, November 1, 2004
It was last minute, but our Visas came through just in time and we left for India tonight at 9:30.
Getting back to Delhi is like coming home. I was born here, and while so many things have changed since I last visited, it still feels like home. We arrived quite late and checked into our hotel. Tomorrow I'll meet with our contact here and begin work.
Today we got acquainted with the city again. Delhi is quite a place! We got some great B-roll and we met with our coordinator here. I think all is laid out as well as it can be for now. You never know in India!
Thursday, November 4, 2004
We interviewed Rajeev Sethi today, an old family friend. He said so many amazing things about my parents. India is starting to bring out the emotional side of this film, of me. It was tough. But moving right along with business, we set up at NASSCOM headquarters to interview Kirin Karnik - a man deemed to be the Bill Gates of India. He worked with Dad on the UNESCO SITE experiments in the 70's. It turns out he also later worked with Dad when the Jamia Institute was being set up. Karnik was on the Board of Directors for this push in communications education.
This morning we went to the Jamia Institute to interview MediaStorm. MediaStorm is a group of three women, now activist filmmakers and all teaching at the Jamia, who studied under my father in the Institute's first class. Shohini Ghosh, Sabina Kidwai, and Sabeena Gadihoke all shared fond memories of those early classes at the school and about my parents. We got some great b-roll of the school too. One of the things that my parent's implemented was that film was a multidisciplinary study and that idea still resonated today as we watched a drama class rehearse in the yard.
Later, I was shown a couple of films made by those first students about Mom and Dad. Dad spoke in his usual candor about making films while Mom had her own forum for justifying her role all these years and promoting gender equality. It was an interview with Jamal Kidwai, after whom the school is now named, that really got me. He spoke of my Mom and his fondness for her. And then he spoke of her final days and about how she had wished to die in India, but it was not to be, and she died instead in a foreign land. This was very hard for me to hear and it took me a while to compose myself. But there you have it, the emotion is starting to force its way out - and I'm learning a lot.
My parents' influence and reach here in India is truly beyond the scope I had expected. Today we are interviewing I.K. and Sheila Gujral's. I.K. is the former Prime Minister of India. They became very close with my parents at the time when Dad was setting up an institute for film studies in Poona and remained friends throughout the rest of their lives. I.K. had some great insight into what my parents did for India. Then we went to Chandichowk and got some wonderful b-roll of Indian life - the people, the streets, and the performers.
Today we went to Carterpuri village where we interviewed Sadhan Mulick who worked with Dad on the SITE experiments. He helped us to set up a reenactment in his village of those experiments. It was really quite extraordinary. We also got some great interviews with some of the village people who were around during the experiments and they talked about the incredible changes that television actually did promote. We also got some great B-roll of the village and camels and the likes. All in all, it was a great day.
We caught an early morning flight this morning to Mumbai - my birthplace. We got settled into the hotel and interviewed Vijaya Mulay in the afternoon.
Today we spent the day at the Indian Films Division, where, it turns out, my Dad was the Chief Consultant for years. Yet another job that I didn't know he had had. His name is still up on the board there. Raghu Krishna and KL Khandpur talked to me about what my father did there and the type of films that he promoted. He worked to document the Indian story - as factually and realistically as he could tell it, and he helped to ensure that these films got made and were seen. The Films Division is today, what my father made it to be. We also got to watch some of the original footage from the SITE experiment. This is going to go very well with the reenactment we just shot the other night.
Still in Mumbai, this morning we saw Shama Habibullah. What an incredible woman. She was the Production Coordinator on the film "Ghandi", responsible for coordinating thousands of people and camels and costumes etc. She has had quite a history and is now one of the most respected filmmakers in India.
We went back to the Films Division in the afternoon to interview Shyam Benegal.
We left for Thal this morning. It's a crazy drive. We are heading to the home of our friends Tina and Bakhul Khote for the weekend of Diwali, a wild and crazy Indian Holiday. When we arrived, we were invited into the home of a Freedom Fighter to witness the religious Puja ceremony that kicks off Diwali. His home was near the Tidal Flats and during the pre-Independence days, the Freedom Fighters created a system of secret tunnels and caves under the city leading out to the flats so that they could move around, or disperse, quickly and undetected. It was all rather fascinating.
The Puja was amazing to witness. The villagers lit oil lamps in beautiful statues and displays and there was music everywhere. It was incredible.
Tina and Bakhul Khote have a beautiful beachfront house where my Dad used to love to vacation. It hasn't changed at all since those days. Our interview with the Khotes was great and it was so nice to see them again.
As we were leaving, we stopped at a traditional "ghat", no longer used as it used to be, and met a few water buffalo along with their master.
Later in the afternoon, we packed up again, and took the ferry back to Mumbai.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Not much shooting today. We shot a lot of b-roll as there were quite a few people in the streets celebrating Diwali. In the evening, before we flew back to Delhi, we managed to get some shots of the fireworks on the water.
Poor Paul, he is out of commission today. A case of Delhi Belly it seems. Nothing that a little arsenic won't cure. At least that's what I found out during the interview with Mike and Ranjana Pandey today. I interviewed Mike Pandey at the Delhi Zoo, by the pelican pond. Sadly, his voice was drowned out by the birds he loves so much. Mike Pandey is an independent filmmaker in India and Ranjana is a puppeteer. The two became fast friends with my parents during the Jamia Project and had some great insight into what they brought to India.
Today we met with Tom Slevin, a PBS filmmaker who hired Dad to direct Bismillah Khan and Satyajit Ray - two films for the Creative Persons series. He had some great insight into Dad's life. Stories about Dad and his briefcase and some good stuff about Dad's style of verite.
Amjad Ali Khan's interview was today. Dad made the first documentary film on him. He is a world famous sarod player who has since had many films made about him. After the interview he played for us - and allowed us to record it to use in the film. It will be really amazing. He really thought a lot of Dad.
Later on we went to a place called Shadipur and filmed a great puppet show.
We didn't do any shooting today. We met up with Anees Jung, but she did not want us to videotape her. So we just had a nice visit. We leave tonight at 2:30 AM so we had to get everything packed up to go.
We did manage to go to a place called Humayans Tomb and Lodhi Gardens to get some b-roll of me.
Damn! We missed our flight. It turns out that it was a 12:30 flight not 2:30. Something gets lost in the translation when files get re-edited into itineraries. So it looks like some new expenditures for missed flights and new tickets. We'll be trying to catch the next flight at 12:30 tonight.
The extra day here did allow us to go into this ancient Muslim village here in the city.
Friday, November 19, 2004
Finally we're home - and now we begin on post!