Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ron Gift - Torpedo Squadron Leader from WWII

Captain Ron Gift.
Here is a famous picture of Ron Gift from Life Magazine during World War II.
I drove over the bridge to do an interview with Ron Gift for the Veterans History Project for the Library of Congress. Ron Gift served as a torpedo squadron leader in the South Pacific during WWII. I interviewed Ron at his home at Covenant Shores in Mercer Island, WA. Ron is a great guy. His son recently wrote a great book about the life and times of Ronald Gift. Ron served as a pilot in the US Navy in the South Pacific during World War II as a torpedo squadron leader. Ron earned the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war Ron served all over the world in the Navy, including Commander of a Jet Squadron, Staff at NORAD, and teaching others about flying. Ron told me some incredible stories of how his squadron landed back on the carriers at night with only a few gallons of fuel left and hardly any way to see what they were doing.
Ron's interview was so interesting, so compelling, that I wish everyone could see it. We have volunteered to shoot 100 free interviews of Veterans from World War II for the Veterans History Project for the Library of Congress. To learn more about the Veterans History Project, go to www.loc.gov/vets

Guy Townsend - First Test Pilot of B-52

It was a beautiful day in Mercer Island. I was there to shoot an interview with Brig General Guy Townsend, the first test pilot of the B52. Guy is a very nice fellow. I was there to interview him for the Veterans History Project for the Library of Congress. We have volunteered to do 100 free interviews with Veterans from WWII. Guy Townsend is originally from Mississippi. He flew in the South Pacific during World War II. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Guy Townsend knows Bob Hoover, Chuck Yaeger, and all the test pilots at Edward Air Base during the late 40s and throughout the 50s. Guy flew B17s and B27s during the war in the Pacific and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war he became one of the top test pilots of bombers, including many top secret experimental aircraft. He was co-pilot on the very first flight of the B52 bomber. In the 1960s he rose all the way up to Brigadier General in the Air Force. After 30 years in the service, Guy worked for Boeing, continuing his leadership of jet testing. It is remarkable that a hero like Guy Townsend is living just down the street. I guess its true all across America. Heroes are living next door to us and we didn't even know. They rarely talk about those times. The times of sacrifice, of service, of honor, and duty. I wish they would talk about it more.

The DecoBelles at the Art Deco Preservation Ball

The Decobelles at the Art Deco Preservation Ball at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland.

Suddenly they told me that it was a black tie affair and asked me if I had brought a tuxedo. I had driven down from Seattle to meet and shoot interviews with Zoe Dell Nutter, an aviation pioneer. The next thing I know I am putting on my dark sportcoat and we are headed to Oakland. Zoe Dell was the special guest at the Art Deco Preservation Ball to be held that evening at the restored Paramount Theatre in Oakland. Back in the early 1980s I was in the theatre business and owned an old movie palace called the Tower Theatre in Fresno, CA. I loved my time there at the Tower. Not only did I see over 1000 films a year, but I also fell in love with the art deco styling, the neon lights, the gold leaf everywhere, the majesty of the architecture, the charm and the class of the long lost art deco era. As we drove up, there were old fixed up classic cars everywhere. The men were dressed up like gangsters and in Zoot Suits, while the women all took my breath away as they were dressed like out of the Great Gatsby. I took a lot of great video footage that night. They recognized Zoe Dell Nutter for having performed at that exact theatre back in 1936-1939. The audience was very graceful and kind to Zoe Dell by giving her a standing ovation. Then the music began and everyone started doing the great dances of the Charleston, and more. The band was awesome. It was a perfect night of nostalgia. Then at 10pm the manager made sure to remind me to get my camera ready, because here came the DecoBelles, a group of gorgeous, perfectly tuned dancers, who tap danced from the hallways into the main dance floor. They gave a spectacular performance, one to remember always. After a few more hours of fun we all started back to our cars and headed back across the bridge toward the San Francisco skyline. I looked back to see the bright neon at the Paramount. I looked over to Zoe Dell and I think I could see a tear in her eye. Maybe it was mine.

Ben Wiener - The History of the Generic Drugs Revolution

Ben Wiener – Generic Drugs pioneer
I drove down to Vancouver WA to interview Ben Wiener. Ben is a pioneer of the Generic Drugs industry. Back in the late 1940s, Ben began to realize the incredible disparity between the costs and prices of prescription drugs. He began a lifetime quest to bring generic drugs to the American mainstream. Today as Ben looks back at his incredible career, he cannot believe that because of some bad decisions he is broke and the industry he founded is positively impacting every American family. This interview is just the beginning of a new documentary we are creating about the History of the Generic Drug Industry. The interview with Ben went very well. We talked for almost five hours. I was totally fascinated by the incredible history tales of the birth of Generic drugs, from stories of "patent jumping" to scary scenes of death threats and battles with the FDA. Ben is a very interesting fellow with a remarkable story. We are working now to put together a proposal we can show investors to really do this film as a major motion picture for national distribution.

Zoe Dell Nutter - American icon

Zoe Dell Lantis Nutter

I was invited to a special weekend down in San Francisco to interview an American icon, Zoe Dell Lantis Nutter. Zoe Dell was being honored for her role as the original "Pirate Girl" or "Theme Girl" of the Golden Gate International Exposition which occured at Treasure Island in San Francisco in 1939-1940.
Zoe Dell Lantis Nutter has led an interesting life. She was originally a dancer from Oregon who grew up in the timber falling industry just west of Portland. During the Depression her father lost his lumber mills and the family moved down to Medford. Zoe Dell always has been drawn to the Ballet, and she loved dancing. Eventually she broke away from the family and moved down to the wild town of San Francisco, where she instantly got multiple offers to dance in the vaudeville chorus lines. One day she was approached by the promoters of the new Golden Gate Exposition to be held at Treasure Island. They wanted her to help promote the new aviation industry. At that time most people were afraid of flying. Zoe Dell became the infamous "Pirate Girl" and started travelling all across America, meeting every Governor and Mayor she could find. One day the Governor LaGuardia of New York said he wouldn't be seen in a picture with Zoe Dell unless she wore a coat, and the national press picked up on the story and instantly Zoe Dell was the "most photographed woman in the world." Her picture was published in every major newspaper and magazine, including Life Magazine. During World War II Zoe Dell volunteered for the USO show circuit and returned to dancing. She had a short career in Hollywood. Eventually Zoe Dell started working for the Piper organization, promoting family aviation. She eventually learned to fly herself, and she became a major promoter of bringing women into aviation. She travelled all across America promoting the new Piper Cubs and other aircraft. In later years, Zoe Dell became involved and led the formation of the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio. Recently Zoe Dell was recognized as a Living Legend of Aviation by the Kiddee Hawk Foundation.

Village Theatre fundraising video

Here is the video we created for the Village Theatre.

Barb & Bob Balkema Movie Trailer

Here is the new Movie Trailer for the Bob and Barb Balkema video biography.

Marc Castillo - Editor for The New Fighting Seabees

Marc Castillo - New editor for our documentary "The New Fighting Seabees"
I am proud to announce that our good friend Marc Castillo is back on the team, taking on the editing for our new documentary "The New Fighting Seabees." Marc was one of the founding fathers of Inventive Productions, as one of the original editors and producers in our early days. Marc has substantial experience in the entertainment business and has proven to be a great storyteller, with his editing of "Mr. Baseball- the biography of Woody O'Rourke" and "A Woman of Faith - the biography of Colleen MacIntosh." We are pleased to have Marc helping us put together the exciting new documentary "The New Fighting Seabees."

Schneider National Case Study Video

Here is the Case Study video we made for Schneider National and Excellent Cultures.

Greater Nashville Association of Realtors

Here is the final version of the video we made for the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors and The Pacific Institute.

RJ asked to Speak at PEVAN meeting

I was asked to speak at the monthly PEVAN meeting in Redmond. PEVAN is a professional organization of video producers who meet once a month to network and to get ideas. The meeting was held at the Redmond Library. I told them a little bit about my filmmaking background since the 1960s and then showed some samples of my work. The PEVAN group was very hospitable to me and had lots of questions.

We now are WEVA Members

Recently we were approached to become members of the WEVA International. This is an association for people who do Videography of weddings, events, and other types of video productions. What I liked about WEVA is their committment to integrity, and to helping educate video producers all around the world. We now are a proud member of WEVA.

Key Largo -- Now and Then

Sunset in Key Largo, Florida

Director John Huston with stars Humphrey Bogart, and Lauren Bacall at Key Largo, Florida during the making of the movie in 1948.

Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to go to Key Largo. I had read some of the short stories by Ernest Hemingway and saw the movie by John Huston. I really liked that movie because it was in black and white and Lauren Bacall was so beautiful in black and white. Humphrey Bogart was great and Edward G. Robinson was so mean in that movie. It had a fantastic cast including Claire Trevor (who was awesome in "Stagecoach" with John Wayne) and Lionel Barrymore (Mister Potter from "Its a Wonderful Life).

When I found out I was going to Miami to shoot the Sonosite Convention interviews, I desperately tried to find time to drive down to the Florida Keys.

It was already getting dark as we approached Key Largo, so instead of going all the way down to Key West, we decided to stop in Key Largo and catch a beer and the sunset. The people at Key Largo were very nice and hospitable. We met a lady whose husband is a writer and they live in a sailboat in Key Largo. That would be the life.

Well, back to Miami we went to go do some more interesting interviews with the Sonosite team.

Sonosite Convention in Miami

The Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort
We were asked to go to Miami, Florida to capture interviews for a case study video we are creating for Sonosite. The weather was perfect and the people were incredible. I first was introduced to Sonosite when we interviewed their CEO for the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce Eastside Business Awards. I was instantly impressed with the incredible products that Sonosite makes. They are the leading manufacturer and distributor of handheld ultrasound devices in the world. The Sonosite headquarters is located in Bothel, Washington not far from our Inventive Productions studios. While doing the interview, they took the time to demonstrate the machines in use, and also to do a Drop Test, where they drop the devices to see how durable they will be in the field. These devices are used all over the world, from the battle lines in Iraq to the fields of Uganda. These devices can really help people. Bill Maxwell and I flew to Miami and immediately started interviewing the people of Sonosite. People from all corners of the world were congregating here in Miami to talk about the successes of the Sonosite devices, and to learn about the new products of the future. I have become a number one fan of Sonosite and recommend you learn more about this unique team. I will upload more stories from Miami soon.

Cathy Crosslin - CEO of InStar Performance

Cathy Crosslin
My team and I drove over to the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle to record a Gordy Graham speech and a Cathy Crosslin workshop. We shot using three HD cameras. Two were stationery cameras and one was moving around throughout the crowd. After Gordy’s speech ended, everyone headed across the hall to the Cathy Crosslin workshop. We shot that workshop too. My son Jason was manning one of the cameras and he got very involved with the topic Cathy was talking about that day. In fact he suggested to me that I should go through and follow Cathy’s advice about being a better parent. He told me to fill out the workbook immediately.
Cathy Crosslin is one of the most inspirational persons I have ever met. She has dedicated her life to helping others achieve greatness and to fulfill their potential. She works all around the country with all kinds of organizations to help them get along better. To get along with others is a most important characteristic. Cathy has just announced the formation of her new company, InStar Performance.
Thanks, Cathy, for inspiring my son to want me to be a better parent.

George Schaeffer - CEO of Puget Sound Security

George Schaeffer - CEO of Puget Sound Security

It was great to interview George Schaeffer, the new CEO of Puget Sound Security, for their YouTube video. George has a tremendous record in the security industry and he did a super interview. I was very impressed with his philosophy of education, training, and treating people right. George came over to our Green Screen Studio for his interview.

Robert Cremin - CEO of Esterline Technologies

Robert Cremin - CEO of Esterline

The minute I met Bob Cremin I knew I was in for a great interview. Bob is the CEO of Esterline in Bellevue. Esterline is a hugely successful billion dollar business that hardly anyone has heard of, even in the local community. My goal was to interview Bob for the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce for their Eastside Business Awards. Esterline was nominated as a finalist for the Eastside Business of the Year. Located in downtown Bellevue, Esterline is a leading manufacturer in the aerospace, defense, and medical industries. Everything from electronics to casings for weapons, Esterline is involved in thousands of unique products. Bob has been with the company for over 30 years. He is a sought after speaker and a mentor to many. I was impressed with Bob's enthusiasm for Esterline and his focus and philosophy on always doing your best and always doing the right thing. Great fundamentals achieve great results. I think the future will be very bright for Bob Cremin and Esterline Technologies.