The Year in Review, Part 2

What were the most viewed posts on the A Life’s Work blog? Glad you asked.

The list is a little misleading, because some posts have been up for a lot longer than others, and so naturally will have more views. Still, a few posts are telling, like 2 and 13,  which lit up the stats because they were so timely.

  1. Paolo Soleri at Dome House: A Clip
  2. “The definition of life has just expanded”
  3. Unquantifiability of a Place, Part 1: A Clip
  4. The Redwoods: A Longer Clip
  5. Images from the MacDowell Colony
  6. It Was 50 Years Ago Today: A Clip
  7. This Post Is For You, Gearheads! (by Andy Bowley)
  8. Hardest/Easiest Work Environments So Far in 2010 (by Andy Bowley)
  9. Thank You
  10. About the Filmmaker
  11. Mike Disfarmer and A Life’s Work
  12. 10 Ways to Support A Life’s Work
  13. Top 10 Gospel Christmas Songs (by Robert Darden)
  14. Sunset and Sunrise in Arcosanti, AZ: 24 Hours Amidst a Sea of Arcology (by Niall David)
  15. SETI’s Jill Tarter on Gender Bias in the 1950s: A Clip

Apparently, you like clips (1, 3, 4, 6, 15) and you like guest bloggers (7, 8, 13, 14). You also like to be thanked or you like to Google names (9) and you like photos taken at a mysterious artist residency (5).

Why should you care? Because I want to make this blog an interesting experience for you, Dear Reader. And this is one way of figuring out how to do that. But the best way is if you actually tell me. So go ahead, tell me! What do you like? What would you like to see more of? Less of? What would you like that isn’t up there?

And what were my favorite posts? Well, they’re all my children, so I don’t have favorites. But I would add to the above list these (in no particular order):

I like guest bloggers, too (2, 4, 5, and 6). If you’d like to be one, contact me and we’ll work something out.

I also like posts that generate comments, whether that’s on the blog or Facebook or my personal e-mail. So drop me a line.

And Happy New Year. All the best to you and yours in 2011.

To Be Done vs. Done vs. Doing

Recently, I posted the following as a Facebook status. “David Licata is wondering what’s more important, what you’ve yet to do or what you’ve done?”

Paolo Soleri discussing the plans.
Paolo Soleri

It was my way of trying to be pithy and get people to click on the link that would take them to a blog post about Arcosanti and what has been done and what has yet to be done. Stefan Grace, who lived-worked at Arcosanti and who helped tremendously while we shot there, posted this comment.

“How ’bout what you’re doing?”

Spot. ON!

Soleri and the residents and workshoppers at Arcosanti–and Jill Tarter and the folks at SETI, Robert Darden and the people who are involved with The Black Gospel Music Restoration Project and David and Jared Milarch of Champion Tree Project–are  doing work NOW.

None of these folks are resting, on their laurels or anything else. All are currently working diligently and passionately. And that’s the most important thing. Not what you’ve done. Not what you’ve yet to do. But what you’re doing.

Do you agree?

Thanks for the inspiration, Stefan.

Four Minutes of A Life's Work: A Clip

Editing is a collaborative process.

In the spring I worked with editor Cabot Philbrick and constructed a 27-minute work-in-progress sample of A Life’s Work. I’m delighted that Cabot is including a portion of that work on his editor’s reel and you can view it online. I’m especially tickled because he’s showcasing the footage I shot! Of course it’s hard to go wrong when you’re shooting tree climbers scaling giant trees in a redwood forest.

This clip  follows David Milarch at Roy’s Redwood Preserve in northern California. Champion Tree Project spearheaded the project to clone the redwoods. The climbers are from Bartlett Tree Experts.

This four-minute section can’t convey the structure of the film, but it will give you a sense of the style. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Another Adventure

Wolfgang Held and I are on our way to Chicago. We return late Monday evening. I’m nervous and excited and I don’t expect I’ll get much sleep this weekend.

I received an e-mail last night from Wolfgang. The last sentence: “Looking forward to this adventure.”

When I was shooting David Milarch in the redwoods I became friends with the journalist Jim Robbins. (He wrote The New York Times article about that event.) Jim gave me a book he wrote and he inscribed it. I had forgotten about that inscription until almost a year later, when I was nervous and anxious about the upcoming SETI shoot at Hat Creek and Mount Lassen. For some reason, I picked up Jim’s book and read the inscription: “For David, Enjoy your adventure, Jim.” It calmed me.

And that is what I will try to remember this weekend. This film is an adventure! It has taken me to the frozen Michigan tundra and the baking Arizona desert, to the lush redwood forest in Northern California, and now to bustling Chicago, Illinois. It has introduced me to  architects, astronomers, scholars, tree farmers, and this weekend, a musicologist.

Thank you Wolfgang and Jim for the always welcome reminder. Adventure. I like that.

Cloning Redwood Trees?

You bet. That’s what David Milarch of Champion Tree Project has in mind. In November 2007 I went to northern California, video camera in hand, and shot the proceedings.

You can read what Jim Robbins of The New York Times wrote about the event. In a future post you’ll find out how to see some of what I shot.

How Do You Find These People? Jared and David Milarch

David and Jared Milarch

I was at my gym riding the stationary bicycle and looking through the gym copy of the March 2004 Audubon Magazine. I came across the following sidebar:

This is the clipping that brought the Milarchs to my attention.
This is the clipping that brought the Milarchs to my attention.

I stealthily tore it out of the magazine, filed it, and forgot about it. (I clip, file, and forget many articles about all sorts of things.) In March 2004 I wasn’t thinking about making A Life’s Work or a documentary at all. At this time I was riding the festival success of Tango Octogenario and hustling a script I wrote and wanted to make into a feature film.

But when I decided to embark on this adventure, the sidebar came to mind. The age of the trees was mindblowing. I went to the URL and found out that the Champion Tree Project was started by Jared and David Milarch,  his father . This hearkened back to my inspiration: medieval cathedrals that were often constructed by generations of stonemasons.  Stonemasonary, like most everything else then, was a family business. If your father was a stonemason, chances were his father was a stonemason and you were going to be one, too. Jared, his father, his father, and his father all farmed the same land in Copemish, MI.

I e-mailed Championship Tree Project and David Milarch called me. We spoke for at least an hour and I knew they were right for the film.

And that’s how I found the Milarchs.

(Note: My gym seems to be some kind of locus for finding people I’d like to capture on film.)

Where to begin?

In the middle.

That’s where I am in this documentary. Three out of four subjects interviewed: architect and Arcosanti’s guiding force Paolo Soleri; astrophysicist and Director of SETI Research at the SETI Institute, Jill Tarter; father and son tree farmers and co-founders of the Champion Tree Project, David and Jared Milarch. 70+ hours of footage shot. A 27-minute sample edited. I’m very pleased with that sample and I’m sending it to people who may want to be involved with the film in some way.

The fourth interview is on the horizon. And then I’ll be returning to the other three for follow ups. And then returning to the fourth for a follow up, no doubt.

And then post-production.

All the while fundraising and networking.

That’s where I am with A Life’s Work.

Where are you with your life’s work?