Film poster

Film poster

Friday, December 16, 2011


We are still in script-writing phase!  Do you know how hard it is to reduce the story to an 80-minute time length and still include depth?  It is both glorious and painful.

Our friends Dawn McCallum and Diana Rohrback have stepped in to help. Dawn has worked on sections and helped to cull out the most significant aspects of certain locations. Diana is working on some related projects--a list of places and dates and the re-keyboarding of the Green Acre book, which we hope to publish in its third edition next summer in honor of the centenary.

Tomorrow we will be going to the SED conference in Florida to present a workshop and have a table display.

This morning we had a request to send a segment of the film to Switzerland for their winter school!  Alas, we haven't finished a segment to send--but have gathered so much footage, so many photographs, so many ideas. . . . Onward!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Washington, DC: Light upon Light

Tim, with ginkgo leaves
ah! It's been incredible--filming in Washington, DC.  We ended our last night with shooting ginko leaves falling against golden boughs under a warm-colored street lamp, until around 2 am.

We went to many of the sites visited by 'Abdu'l-Baha, with some costumed scenes.  Little sleep, much work, some play. Incredible.

A small cast/crew--but quite an incredible one!  The blessings cascade around us. . . .

We stayed with our dear friend Margaret Mattinson, at 8 Logan Circle. Within minutes of arrival, we began taking up the living room with costumes. . . .
Some new fez acquisitions

Margaret & Anne, looking at hats
Mona Khademi and Lex Musta 

Lex Musta served as our guide and research companion throughout. Mona Khademi, who is writing a book on Laura Dreyfus Barney, played a character and also served as consultant, guide, companion.

Transforming into characters . . . 
Filming on Logan Circle

Mona took the part of Laura, I as Alice Pike Barney (her eccentric mother and arts enthusiast) and Margaret Agnes Parsons--so pivotal to the activities of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Washington, DC and in Dublin, NH. Lex then declared he was Joseph Hannen--so there we were, pretending to be these illustrious early believers, coming to a home in DC and being greeted by Persians of the entourage (played by Saam Youssefi-Rad and Anis Ragland--whose middle name is Saichiro, after Fugita).          

at the DAR building

DAR building 

From there we filmed at the DAR building, where the Master had addressed a woman Suffragist Meeting. He shared the platform with Samuel Gompers of the American Federation of Labor and Mrs. Monogan of the Bureau of Education (Equal Rights for Women). 

Then we made what was for Mona and myself a sort of pilgrimage to "Studio House," now the Latvian Embassy, where Alice Pike Barney had hosted the Master.  I actually kissed the gate--and Mona was visibly touched, just being there. She, of course, has been all through the house / studio--I wish I could have done that.

"Laura" and "Alice"

in the spirit of Alice 

with dear "Agnes"
ah! the stalwart "Laura" 

three "graces"?

evoking the days of 1912
In the park, across from Studio House

From there, to Margaret's to change personas (hadn't we been impostors for long enough?)

And then, to Howard University, where 'Abdu'l-Bahá spoke at the Rankin Chapel to a mixed race audience, giving a message of hope
regarding race unity. . . .
Calvin FINALLY got to play
a character role after being a
production assistant so long
Howard University
Margaret, Calvin, Erika, Lex

through the monitor . . . 

    A lovely young woman joined us--Erika Carroll, the grand-daughter of the Hannens, who did so much to promote race unity in DC in 1912 era.
Erika with Christian, one of her friends
and a fellow student at Howard

Portraying an inspired young couple

1336 Harvard St. 
 At Howard, we met an interesting couple who had seen us filming that morning at Logan Circle (what are the odds?) and knew something about the Faith.  Such connections kept on. . . .

From there we went by one of the houses where 'Abdu'l-Bahá stayed--1336 Harvard Street (now apartments).

And then, to dear Anita Chapman's home, where she entertained us for "tea."  
I got to see  an old friend and poet, Donna Dennize. 
Anita's daughter Jennifer was there, but not in this photo: 

Calvin, Tim, Anne, Lex
Donna, Anita, Mona

Arlington National Cemetery
The next morning we had the opportunity to go with Mona to the Arlington National Cemetery, first to visit the grave of one of her Baha'i friends and then to the grave to Agnes Parsons' parents, the Royalls, where the Master had taken some white roses.

filming in a subtle way--no tripod

Filming the shadows of roses

Union Station
Then, to go to Union Station, where Calvin would meet us. Of course, Union Station is significant in its own right--so we both got some footage there, I using the small flip camera without a tripod.

From there, Tim and Calvin went to the Washington mall to shoot monuments--and I got to go to the Library of Congress Jefferson building, the most beautiful building in DC.

There, I took many photos and video with the little flip camera, astonished at the beauty the Master, too, got to see. . . .
Library of Congress, Jefferson Building
"Art is long, and time is fleeting." 

entrance to the famed reading room
(no photos allowed)
Bill Collins 
 I  had a delightful meeting with my dear friend Bill Collins, who works at the Library of Congress in another building.
and then took photos of a fountain at sunset
1901 18th Street

Agnes Parsons' home
In addition to shots of monuments, Tim (on an early-morning expedition with Lex) had taken footage of  190118th Street (another place the Master stayed) and of Agnes Parsons' home, where so much took place. 

This shot conclusively proves we were in DC. What a trip! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

CHICAGO: Continued Confirmations

 Lincoln Park--1912 or 2011? 

"Lua" at Hull House
Our time in Chicago, Evanston, and Wilmette was quite splendid, with lots of special connections. It was supposed to be stormy that weekend--but it was actually beautiful--perfect weather!

We filmed at Hull House, Lincoln Park, a church in Hyde Park, the grave of Corinne True and family, the Baha'i House of Worship, and a grassy area next to Lake Michigan.

One thing that happened is that we (actually Laurie Eley, seamstress extraordinaire) had made a Lua costume, and "Lua" showed up, in the form of our long-time friend, Becky Jones now Hillman. She was quite convincing as "Lua"--and since Lua had been in a number of the Chicago photos, it was fun to have her appear there.

Group at Hull House
We stayed with Rhonda Harrison-Tang and her wonderful husband & two kids, who played immigrants receiving coins from the Master.  Others who joined us included Candace and Rick Hill and their teenage kids, Ellen Price and daughter, Harold Williams, a young Persian man, Carmel Esmailzadegan (the youngest we've had yet), and a friend of Ellen's, Cindy Groetzinger and her daughter. 

We also had great technical help--Craig Rothman, Charles and Majid Nolley, Colin Hill--as well as Richard Hillman, Becky's husband. 

Charles Nolley
Craig dispensing coins on
behalf of 'Abdu'l-Bahá

Richard, Charles, Craig, Tim, at Hull House
Candace Hill "played" Jane Addams, speaking to us all on the importance of Hill House. 

 More shots from Hull House . . .

The scene to the right depicts 'Abdu'l-Bahá handing silver coins to immigrants He encountered at Hull House. Of course, we don't show the hand of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Craig was careful to place the coins in the children's hands without his own hand getting in the shot!

great shot of Tim & Craig, by Majid

Candace as Jane Addams

Lincoln Park Shoot
And a very handsome Persian "entourage"

What a great crew!

At the end of the shoot we gathered to look at some of the footage and someone began singing, "Look at Me, Follow Me." It struck me then that we were already commemorating the visit of 'Abdu'l-Bahá befittingly--by gathering in a small group and remembering His time there. It was a potent realization! 
At Corrine True's family gravesite
At one of the churches where the
Master spoke (now First Baptist)

great shot by Charles Nolley

Wilmette shoot--looks like a painting! 

We were lucky to have NSA member
Erica Toussaint-Brock among our
costumed ladies
"Lua" with three Persians

lovely mother and daughter

Middle Persian is our executive producer, Bahram!

Bahram and Tim, Evanston restaurant

Four young boys were in the shoot!

Aren't they cute!

A magical day!

An amazing project!

Persian dance to end our time there!