Last week, I went to my mailbox expecting nothing, but hoping for something — a note from an old friend, a card with a bird’s feather in it, anything. It’s rare I receive actual mail these days, and if you’re my Facebook friend you probably have seen my celebratory posts when I do receive real mail that isn’t junk mail.
To my surprise, there was an envelope addressed by hand in my little metal mailbox. I reached in, pulled it out and before I closed and locked the door, I saw it was from the Puffin Foundation. I had applied for a grant in December 2016, and kind of forgot the notification date was July.
Looking at the envelope, I was certain it was a rejection letter. After all, 99% of the time that’s what they are. And I’ve applied several times for a Puffin grant and been rejected each time. On my way to the elevator I thought about just tearing it in half, decided to open it, so I used my key to slice the top open. I was surprised to find more than one sheet of paper in the envelope. Usually a rejection is kept to one sheet, economical, short, and not so sweet. Removing the papers I also saw what could only be the back of a check! Yippee!!!! I received a grant from the super awesome Puffin Foundation.
The Puffin Foundation is based in a small New Jersey town adjoining the one I grew up in, so it kind of feels like a gift from the homeland. And it couldn’t have come at a better time for A Life’s Work ! It is a tremendous financial lift, but also a welcome psychological and emotional lift as I head into the nerve-wracking final phases of post-production.
As of the date of this post, we’re still looking for about $7,000 so that we can get the film into a finished and beautiful enough state for the Sundance Film Festival application deadline (early September). If you’d like to help us reach that goal, consider contributing $5 or $10 to A Life’s Work. It’s super easy to do via the New York Foundation for the Arts web site, and it’s super secure, too.
Like most people, birds fascinate me. I’m not a birder, not even close, but I enjoy listening to and looking at them. I also enjoy filming them, when they’ll cooperate, which isn’t often. Working with cats and kids are a cakewalk compared to birds.
Here are some shots the cinematographers of A Life’s Work captured. The first two minutes were shot by Wolfgang Held in Copemish and Manistee, Michigan, Chicago, Illinois, and Cordes Junction (Arcosanti), Arizona. I shot the next thirty seconds at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.* Andy Bowley shot the remainder of the clip at the Allen Telescope Array in Hat Creek, California. There is sound throughout, but it’s very quiet. The first shots were taken from inside looking out, so you won’t hear any chirping or squawking or feather-rustling or nothing.
It was fun putting this clip together and I find it very soothing to watch. I tried to tell a little story with the SETI footage.
What do you make of it? Do you have a favorite shot?
And if any of you birders out there would care to identify some of these beauties, please leave a comment here or on Facebook or send me a direct message. Thanks.
* My lame shots have no business being sandwiched between such fine work, but I like the sound of grackles, so I decided to use that footage.
As far as spiders, well, take a look around. But don’t kill them because they’re really our friends.
Do you still have things you owned as a child? What are they?
If you want to contribute to A Life’s Work, you can do so via the New York Foundation for the Arts. Donating is easy ($5 – to you name it!) and that money will be earmarked for this film, spent responsibly, and will be a tax deduction for you.