On-Camera Interview with Jeff Stein in the Can

One of the reasons I keep blogging is it seems to lead A Life’s Work down roads it might not otherwise go down.

Case in point: Jeff Stein, AIA

In the summer of 2012 I had the idea of conducting an email interview with Jeff Stein, Paolo Soleri’s successor as President of the Cosanti Foundation, the umbrella organization that includes Arcosanti. I approached the kind folks at Arcosanti to see if Jeff would be amenable. He was.

I sent him my six questions and I promptly received six very thoughtful answers. (Read the mini interview.) During our email exchanges, the notion of an on-camera interview arose.

“Production is over!”

I’ve declared many times here and elsewhere. And yet…

When it became known that Jeff was coming to the Northeast, I had to take advantage of the opportunity. We struggled to find a date that worked for both of us. During that time, I had a sense that the interview might be a very important piece of the A Life’s Work puzzle. Stein was something like an heir. In a film about legacy, heirs can be very important.

After a little searching, we found a place to conduct the interview.

Meeting Jeff Stein

The night before and the morning of the 20th I was a little nervous  because I always am, but once Jeff arrived, whatever jitters I had disappeared. He came bearing gifts, including a book, which I had him sign immediately, along with the release. And within minutes, we got to work. Cinematographer Andy Bowley worked his magic while Jeff and I chatted for three hours about his work, Arcosanti, and Paolo Soleri.

I figured the interview wouldn’t go longer than two hours, because anything more than that and I get tired and the interviewee become tired. Focus is lost. But this interview went on for something like three and a half hours and it was all good. Jeff was articulate, thorough, funny and charming. Best of all the camera captured his enthusiasm for his work at Arcosanti.

That Was Easy!

It turned out to be probably the easiest interview I’ve ever done. The reasons for this?

  • I didn’t have to hop in a cab to JFK, go through security, sit on a plane for hours, drive a rental car somewhere. I took the subway to the location for a godsend 11 a.m. call time. Not even a transfer. When I was done I walked a couple of miles and was in my apartment.
  • I would ask Jeff one question and he would answer it and the next four questions on my list. The interview was more like a conversation. This makes my job very easy.
  • Jeff is very personable and open. He looked very comfortable under the lights and in front of the camera. If he was uncomfortable, he didn’t show it.
  • The supersecret shooting location was very  quiet. There was a small break while we waited for some street noise to abate, but otherwise, it was as quiet as you can get in NYC.
  • Andy shoots with all his own equipment and doesn’t let me touch his lights, stands, camera, or any gear. This means I don’t  lug anything or  set up or break down anything! Sweet!

Afterwards, Jeff, Andy, and I went out for an early dinner at a cozy Korean restaurant where we talked about the David Wright house, motorcycles, and Julius Shulman. It was a very good day.

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