When I first had the idea for A Life’s Work, I was considering a number of subjects/projects. Here are some of them.
10,000 Year Clock – “A monument scale, multi-millennial, all mechanical clock as an icon to long-term thinking” to be built on a high desert mountain top in eastern Nevada. I was very interested in this project, and I reached out to them, but The Long Now Foundation, for reasons unknown, weren’t interested in participating.
St. John the Divine Cathedral – A cathedral seemed like an obvious choice (why?), and I thought about focusing on a few stone masons who worked on it, but this angle seemed a bit unfocused and had the potential to be unwieldy.
Sagrada Familia – Gaudi’s cathedral in Barcelona. When I give the elevator pitch to people, this is cited the most often. I’ll take any excuse to go to Spain, but I thought this may be too iconic.
The Crazy Horse Monument – Since 1948, members of the Ziolkowski family have been carving a monument to Crazy Horse into the side of a mountain down the road a piece from Mount Rushmore. I liked the family angle. I was discussing the possibility with them when Soleri agreed to participate. Obviously, they’re very different projects, but I didn’t want two “building” elements in the film.
Michael Apted – The filmmaker responsible for the “Up” films. I thought this might be a little too meta, plus I couldn’t imagine shooting Apted shooting his subjects. I’m sure the subjects wouldn’t have been too keen on it, either.
Water Tunnel No. 3 – “The largest capital construction project in New York state’s history and among the most complex engineering projects in the world.” I had wanted a project in NYC, because it’s my home and that makes a shoot logistically easier and more flexible, but in this case it didn’t seem like I could focus on one person.
Organ2/ASLP – A mechanical organ plays a John Cage composition “As Slow As Possible” (the ASLP in the title). The performance is scheduled to take 639 years. The first sound was heard February 2003, the first change of tone occurred July 2004. “More than a dozen generations of musicians will be needed to play it on an automatic, as-yet unfinished organ in Halberstadt, Germany.” Visually not too exciting.
An insect hunter – “It has long been recognized and documented that insects are the most diverse group of organisms, meaning that the numbers of species of insects are more than any other group. In the world, some 900 thousand different kinds of living insects are known. This representation approximates 80 percent of the world’s species. The true figure of living species of insects can only be estimated from present and past studies. Most authorities agree that there are more insect species that have not been described (named by science) than there are insect species that have been previously named. Conservative estimates suggest that this figure is 2 million, but estimates extend to 30 million.” (Smithsonian Institute web site, Buginfo.) I still love the idea of filming someone who does this.
And there are others. So many in fact, that I sometimes think this is a Discovery Channel series waiting to happen. Hello? Discovery Channel, are you paying attention?
So, why did I go with Soleri-Arcosanti, Tarter-SETI, Darden-BGMRP, and the Milarchs and CTP/AATA? That’s another post.