Today was the most productive day so far.
Although technical issues continue to slow me down, I shot two separate interviews as part of my continual search for the right story for the project. Firstly I spent the morning with my envoy Ashley. Due to the stormy weather throughout the night, the sea was churning out interesting items on the beach, so Ashley decided to go beachcombing for items to add to his now 17 year long ‘Dolphin House’ project. Ashley built his house entirely from recycled materials scavenged from the island – conch shells and bottles for ballast, tiles and coral washed up on the beach for decoration, and strangely a large collection of donated number plates and coins from around the world to add to his Bimini born house of imagination. Although we can make a film on anything we want here on our islands, I’m drawn to this story for its environmental messages, but will decide later in my stay whether this is the strongest candidate for the final submission. One major positive is that due to the time spent with him living here in Dolphin House, I feel he has a good understanding of the limitations of this challenge, and I find it easier to communicate my ideas than the other people I’m bumping into.
The second interview was far less simple – in fact it was extremely challenging. We arranged to film with local legend, and world’s oldest ‘popstar’ Nat Saunders (Ashley’s Uncle) – otherwise known as Piccolo Pete. At 96 years old (a guess… no-one is sure), ‘Piccolo’ is the island’s oldest person, and has intriguing tales to tell from stories of Hemingway’s antics in the 1930s, to meetings with Al Capone (Bimini has a history of drug smuggling), as well as his own long career as a banjo player and folk singer/storyteller. I filmed him playing a few songs, followed by a short interview where I discovered his inspiration for his thousands of songs, came from his rich adventures and everyday life – the things he saw. Sensing I was impressed by this, he promptly improvised a song about me (everything rhymes with Jan) which was amazingly flattering… if not a little embarrassing. Pete is a charismatic and interesting man, but stubborn to the point where I can see editing this interview down will be a real challenge. I wanted a detailed rundown of a specific Hemingway related incident, which I’ve been hatching plans to enhance with a ‘dramatic reconstruction’ (A first for me), but it was like trying to get blood out of a stone at times. However, I’m feeling confident I can make this work, but I do need to hatch a plan to bring others in to help the narrative a little.
Piccolo lives in an amazingly ramshackle but charming old house, which apparently used to be the local ‘disco’ in its day – night long parties for the travelling fishermen, as well as the occasional celebrity visit. Although he was a musician, and is famous for being so, he had also been a self proclaimed ‘jack of all trades’ in his youth, including plumbing, shipwrecking (piracy!?) and electrical work. It became clear that Piccolo Pete is a resourceful man, and this photo is of one of his amazing beatboxes made from electrical odds and ends, scattered in odd places like this – very cool.
Thanks for reading… You might also like to follow ‘fellow Buzztard’ Robin Schmidt’s island antics here.
He has a nicer camera than me.
Am very jealous… I’d bite your hand off for a decent camera right now… even a Z1 would be heaven.