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Quick Update: Where We Are

3 Nov
December  2012 is here, and we have some news (and special dates!) to share with you.
  • There will be a prescreening of AMSTERDAM STORIES for the American Club. 
  • We will be holding the official World Première this month in Amsterdam at the IDFA – the biggest international documentary festival. An event, as the film is going to be shown twice in it’s integral version (6 hours) on November 19 & 21.
  • The first screening on RTBF (Belgian TV) in January, one chapter each Tuesday (4×90′ : East-South-Midwest-West)
  • We are now in negotiations with the Dutch & Flemish television for further distribution. 
  • The 6-hour film is going to be shown in the US in 2013. When ? It’s still a question… Wait & see… We keep you informed !

All very amazing news that we are thrilled to share with you. The film is all but complete. Now, the rest of the world can share in the stories that we have kept so close to our hearts during this one-of-a-kind journey,

All good things…

17 Aug

Houston would be our last stop. There, on the steps leading to our hotel, we said our goodbyes. Rogier and Rob head an afternoon flight for Brussels, Ben flew straight to NYC, and Matt headed to Syracuse.  A few hugs, and the taxi man drives you away.

We can’t thank enough the beautiful people that made this journey possible — Elinor Tatum, Kristin, Russel Banks, Ann and Rachel, Mia, Sheriff Wiley, Dana, Carol Heard, Oscar, Ms Duren, Mr Montgomery, the Wingate family, Kevin, Vivacious Val, Jacqueline, Johan, Charles Evers, Bob and Billie, Bill, Derek, LaDonne, Diane, Tommy, and many, many others we met along the way.

And a big thank you to the radio stations, news magazines, and newspapers that were there with us every state we hit.

6 States, 14 hotels, thousands of miles. But none of that compares to the amazing people we met. More so than any other journey, every state we went to had its own life. Each state had something to really hold onto.

Packing up your things, grabbing the pavement, and heading out onto the road, that’s something that is distinctly, and beautifully, American. And here we were, two foreigners and two Americans, going off and trying to do something that has never been done before. But through all this — through the miles, the hotels, the restaurants, the ups and the downs, the backroads, and the dead-ends — one thing has remained true: it’s the people that make this country great. They didn’t have to let us into their homes, but they did. They didn’t have to meet us for coffee, show us onto their pontoon boat, reveal parts of themselves, but they did.

Nowadays, it’s easy to lose sight on the good in people. It’s easy to write people off as rude, as uncaring. A person does you wrong, the actions of people on the news get you down — it’s become the thing nowadays to not trust people, to stick close to what we know and hold tight to that.  But from town to town, we found how that belief kept falling to the side. People are good. People do let you into your home and treat you like family. People surprise you.  People change and people grow. You can come in with a preconceived idea of someone, and two days later, everything you thought you knew goes right out the window. That’s an amazing thing.

We don’t know everything. And we don’t really know what makes a person until we take the time to get to know them. The people we met during these five weeks are as unique as anyone could be. But never once did they push us aside, never once did they tell us to go somewhere else. It takes great compassion to believe in the good in others. It takes care to know that people aren’t what they seem.

We set off to show America. We set off to show our audience that America is full of many different kinds of people, many different voices, and many different lives. But through it all, we are bound together by life. And in the end, these differences actually bring us together.

Once again, endless thanks to the great people of New York, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. You made this journey incredible. We thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. And it’s nice to know that wherever life takes us, we always have a place in your home to hang our hats and catch up on old times.

Here’s to you all.

The last few days

7 Aug

We closed out our time in Mississippi this week. We thought we could get a top shot on the roof of town hall, but that didn’t come through. Instead, we adjusted. We found these kids who ride horses across the town, we found little pockets of the Old Amsterdam that still exist. Thankfully, we didn’t find any snakes! Edwards, MS began as a town we didn’t really know what to do with — could it work? do we have enough to go with? how are we going to make this happen? There were a lot of worries. But we came  in with an open mind, and we took on the town. Val, Charles Evers, Nancy, Dave, Oscar — these people we didn’t plan on finding, but we did and it made all the difference. We also had tapped into the media in a great way — two radio spots and a newspaper that really wanted to follow us. Everyone we meet always says “why would you want to film here.” Looking back on our time in MS, we had good reason to film here. Thank you to everyone in Edwards and Vicksburg that made our stay so worthwhile. We will miss you. We will miss your town.

Yesterday, a much deserved day-off came our way. We spent it, as everyone should spend days off, in New Orleans. What a town! There are trams, there is amazing coffee, there is so much music. It’s a really spectacular town. Rogier found his way to the WWII museum and an art gallery. Rob walked around the city, soaking up the life that exists. That’s really the thing that separates New Orleans from other cities — the life. The pulse of the city is always at a fever pitch. It’s incredible. The second you step inside, the music and the colors and the people grab you. It’s infectious. There is nothing small or inhibited about New Orleans, and that’s what makes it great.

Today was spent mostly driving. We did get some great shots on a ferry boat across the Mississippi. For $1, you can take it back and forth. Set up the tri-pod, shot some gorgeous pieces on the water.

In Baton Rouge right now. A gorgeous Embassy Suites hotel. Tomorrow, we have a lot to do. Sleep well. We will see you in the morning.


Another place in history

4 Aug


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Yesterday, we had a radio interview with WMPR. It’s one of Mississippi’s premier radio stations, playing blues, R&B, gospel, and soul. The interview was pretty quick, but like a lot of your encounters, it became something even more special.

Charles Evers runs WMPR. Charles Evers is the brother of Medgar Evers. Medgar was a famous Civil Rights activist. His brother, Charles, was there on the front lines with him. Bobby Kennedy, Nixon, Bush, Muhammed Ali — Mr Evers knows them all. He was especially good friends with Bobby Kennedy.

Mr. Evers is a remarkable person. An independent man his whole life, he has started businesses, brought up an amazing family, and has remained an activist. 89 years of age, and he is as strong as ever. What was probably the best thing about Mr Evers was the faith he still had in this country. He believes in America. He believes in what makes it great. It’s very easy to look at how things are going, to get caught up in the media, and to become jaded. Mr Evers has seen oppression, he knows a world where he had to walk on the other side of the road simply because of his skin color. But still, he remains positive. He never gives up. It’s a testament to the human spirit.  Mr Evers is a brilliant man, a revolutionary, and despite all the hardship, he has never given up hope. If only we could all be like him.

Montgomery to Alabama

30 Jul

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Montgomery to Selma, A Journey Back

30 Jul

The last few days have found us taking the scenic route as we head for Mississippi. With a desire to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement, we headed to Montgomery Alabama.

Montgomery is a place dripping with history. It’s incredibly humbling to walk the streets, knowing that this is where so much history has taken place. The streets we walk on are the same that the activists walked on. The churches and the buildings we go through are the same where change was taking shape 60-7o years ago. You walk through a city, and sometimes, you forget what the world did before your feet found the pavement. That’s what Montgomery was for us. We wanted to see where everything changed. Where the Capital, once a beacon of Confederate oppression, towers above the streets of change and progress, somehow, these two opposing forces still coexist. The people, the history, the pulse of life in Montgomery really got to us. Sad we had to leave it.

From there, we went to Selma. Selma, also a big catalyst for MLK’s movement, has seen better days. The economic collapse hit the people hard. You head over the famous bridge to find the Main Street with so many varieties of architecture and personality — it feels like a new world. You get closer, and many of the buildings have “FOR RENT” signs, many are abandoned and broken. It’s troubling to find this vibrant city fallen on hard times. But it’s clear to see that the people still push on, the folks still have a beating heart left in them. There are still the sights and sounds and noises that call to an earlier age of excitement and purpose.

As night fell, we headed to the Elk’s Lodge for some Blues and to meet new friends. We had such a blast. Everyone was dancing and singing. The merriment was palpable. It was encouraging to see the people of this town, who have seen it through both light and dark, still banding together to enjoy the family they created.  The smiles never left them. Selma will find a way to bounce back, that’s for sure. With people who care, people who continue to push onward despite the hardships, this town will begin again. The paint will find a new coat, the streets will brighten again, and Selma will be stronger. Stocks can rise and fall, houses can lose their foundation, but you can’t break the community that lives and loves like Selma.


WCTV in Tallahassee

30 Jul

Georgia Clay. Watch out.

29 Jul

It was quite the day.

We began with visiting the local sheriff, Wiley Griffin, at the Decatur County Jail. We couldn’t have asked for a more accommodating person. Sheriff Griffin was amazing. He helped out with anything we asked.

First, we shot some footage of the Sheriff at his place of work. Despite the early morning Georgia gnats, we were able to get all the shots we wanted.

The big goal of the day was to head to Amsterdam Road and take some footage. One of the Sheriff’s deputies, Dana, agreed to come by and be a part of the film. By noon, we all joined up there. Sheriff also got in touch with the local media down in Tallahassee and had them come by. Caroline Gonzmart showed up. She was such a trooper through the whole thing.

Despite a rainstorm that delayed us about two hours, we made it back to the site. The first shot was a crane shot. We didn’t have a crane, so we managed to acquire a front loader. DP Ben and Rob headed onto the lift, tri-pod all good to go, and rolled camera. Somehow, we made it work. And Dana did amazing. We had her walk down the dirt road until the end of the trees. I’ll tell you, there is something special about a dirt road in Georgia, just after a downpour.

Then, it was onto the goodbye shots. The trucks headed a little further down the road, hoping for more open spaces. Well, what we found is that you can’t really compete with Georgia clay after a rainstorm. It thickens and you will get stuck. After two other rigs tried to save us, we finally got out of the car and headed back to camp. We did some work we could still do, did the goodbye shot in a different car, and waited for the clay to lessen. Finally, this guy came by and used his big truck to get us out. 30 minutes later, another rig came by and also  got the front loader home free.

You go into each day, and you never know what’s going to happen. But you make due, and soldier on. Endless thanks to Sheriff Griffin and his fantastic staff. A big thank you to the guys who came to help us out of the clay. Georgia has been one of the most memorable places we have been to.

Now, we’re on our way to Alabama. Keep a look out!

7.19.11 Return to Amsterdam, NY

20 Jul

Today was a great one. We returned to the Amsterdam Castle, where we began our journey. We spent the morning shooting around the fabulous castle. If you have never been, you really need to go. It’s a testament to people who want to preserve such fantastic structures.

From there, we headed into town. The plan was to find a woman and shoot her near a train. We got a contact at the Walter Elwood Museum, where we met Rebecca. She was wonderful. We got her measurements, and headed off for the nearest dress shop. There, we found four dresses. When Rebecca tried them on, turns out only one of them fit. We went with that one!

We brought her to this abandon building in town and started filming there. The old building used to be a mill factory, but now, it’s nothing. However, it’s totally cinematic and we got some amazing shots. Rebecca was such a great sport about the whole thing.

As the sun grew lower, we ventured to the Amsterdam Train Station. It’s a very small little station, but trains move in and out all throughout the day. It’s a beautiful sound to hear that whistle coming. It fills the whole town. Every window catches it. Folks in town even come by to watch the train. People hold gatherings for it, too!

We shot Rebecca, and her friend, Ann, by the train station. We could only get one shot, but it was a lovely one. By the time we were prepped for the next one, it was already dark. As we drove off, the train made its way. We caught the end of its siren call as we headed onto our next adventure.

Tomorrow, we head to Georgia to begin the Southern leg of our journey.

Stay tuned!