by Kirby LindsayAt the 2009 Blue November Micro Film Festival, Michael Falcone showed an extended trailer for his first documentary film. The film captures a year in the life (and then some) of the Fremont Arts Council (FAC), and their many celebrations – especially the hard work done by volunteers to create annual favorites such as the Solstice Parade, Luminata and their May Day. The film will give a new perspective, for those who have never stayed up all night nailing together a float or rehearsing an ensemble, as soon as it is finished.
Yet, Falcone has already begun work on another documentary, about the Fremont Troll, in its 20th year. “I did come into the Troll documentary a lot better informed,” Falcone admitted, and he hopes that this second film will attract funding – and a professional editor – to help finish the first.
All About F.A.C.
Falcone met Oleana Perry, a FAC volunteer, at the Fremont Sunday Market, in 2008. She staffed a booth to inform and sign up volunteers to help build the parade. Hearing about this spectacular celebration – and the work required to get it to the street – he recalled his first thought being, “anyone covering that?”
Falcone had some film experience. He’d worked as Director of Photography on a non-profit recruiting short, and as a location scout. He also took classes on the study of film. He also had interest, but no actual documentary experience.
Yet, he started filming the parade, workshops, ensemble rehearsals, and interviews with volunteers. “Nobody really covers the people behind the parade,” he said, “I was trying to get at it as a big show that comes off every year.” He captured the back-breaking labor that made the 2008 Solstice Parade happen.
“I like the people, and what they do,” he admitted, so he joined the FAC (now he serves as a Board Member) and thought, “what if I document what this organization does through the year?” When the 2008 snowstorm cancelled on of the celebrations, he waited to capture it in 2009. “The parameters got stretched,” on the film’s focus, he explained, “I would have done a lot of things different.”
All About A Troll
This time, he has Hank Graham, as Director of Photography. Falcone described Graham as “great to work with,” and the reason this has gotten done. Also, last fall, Falcone audited classes at the Seattle Film Institute, to learn the rudiments of documentary filmmaking. Finally, for the Troll doc, he has kept to one subject. “I’m focusing on how it got off the ground, and how it got built,” he described, “how the surrounding area has changed.”
He’s researched on-line, at the library, and through interviews. He has already collected approximately 8 – 10 hours of footage (for a finished film in the 15 – 20 minute range.) With every interview, he asks the subject to share photos, documents, newspapers and any other ephemera they may have. He continually is, “finding out what else I need to know,” through this collection of historical information. And with each bit, he copies an electronic version to make future research easier.
He’s been impressed by the stories on the public vote to decide on art for the location. “It was a big news item for the time,” he said. “Steve Badanes didn’t know it was going to be the thing he’s known for,” reported Falcone from his interview with the lead artist of the piece. Falcone also found an art critic that “pooh-poohed” the piece, at first, and when it became popular, ate her words and admitted her error.
He’s not surprised at the turnaround – kids love the Troll; it’s accessible. “It did take care of an area that was an eyesore and a depository for junk,” he described, “it created something to give people joy.” He hopes to create a film that expresses how public art can define a neighborhood – and how a ferro-concrete creature clutching a Beetle can become an icon.
“There are so many great stories in the neighborhood,” Falcone pointed out, “I would like to do more documentary work,” once he completes this film. In the meantime, he’d like any materials, photos and information on the Troll that people can share. Contact Falcone by e-mail, and check out the trailer for the FAC film!
©2011 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.