Finally … AMERICA, our video documentary based on the song of the same name; a song I recorded 40 years ago, but never released, is up and running on various websites, including this one, as well as on Vimeo and on YouTube.
What an incredible team I’ve had the pleasure to work with. I absolutely couldn’t have done it without them. Laura Moretti, my web designer and site administrator and my dear friend, has been my right arm. She taught herself the craft and did the edit and all the visual effects and audio on Final Cut Pro. Laura lives in California, an 8-hour time difference from London. For five (or was it six?) months, we would connect up on Skype at 5:30pm U.K. time and 9:30am California time and work for 2 to 4 hours in our ‘locked down’ offices, five days a week. Laura, bless her, was learning on the spot and, if she ran into problems she couldn’t fix right away, she’d use the rest of ‘her’ day to figure it out and have the result ready for me the next day. Amazing.
And then, of course, there was the time-consuming process of photo and video selection. I would come up with an idea, do my research … read, review, go online to find the material I thought could tell the story, and I’d throw all of those ideas at Laura who would, in turn, toss them over to Lisa Adair who lives in Texas. Of course, I couldn’t possibly use all the material she would find, but Lisa followed up on every single one of them, making my choice (HA!) even more difficult. She would get the details from the watermark or photo credit and contact the source: news or photo agency, library, archive, photographer, wherever, and put the photo or video on hold. Having put it all together, she would then forward the choices and any necessary information relative to the materials to Alison Knox who, of course, lives just around the corner from all of us … in Sydney, Australia. Alison, a lawyer, volunteered to serve as our legal consultant. Based on the fact that the video was a ‘not-for-profit’ project, she contacted all sources, mostly in the U.S., negotiated prices and clearances for every photo and video. I think she saved us tens of thousands of dollars off the actual costs.
So, while Laura, Lisa, and Alison did all their work gratis, obviously we would have to pay for visual and audio rights. So Laura set up a Go Fund Me fundraiser with a target of $25,000. To date we’ve raised $31,000 and counting… the list of people—contributors and supporters—is simply amazing. I’m stunned. Photos and videos are not cheap, but the outpouring was and has been incredible.
That leaves Lori Keefer, another ‘local’ … living in Chicago, my birthplace. As an executive producer, her contribution aside from contributing generously to finance the project, is volunteering to do PR. Her job, no less important, really begins now as the film is getting out there.
I must say, from a personal point of view, as much of a joy as it has been or me to work with these wonderful women, the experience has been a personal revelation. Even as I saw myself as a storyteller, I realized that I am, in fact, a part of that story … involved in the lives of fellow citizens, past and present, in their ongoing struggles for racial justice and equality; values that I have enjoyed, but which have eluded so many. I feel this: I can no longer pay lip service to some quasi-patriotic slogan like ‘Make America Great Again’ … She’s already great! She just needs help from ALL of us to fight for the rights of others.
Our greatness comes from within, even as we maintain our Democracy, created and instituted by the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Our job is to continue to work together to finish what was begun in 1776 … to create, for ALL, a ‘more perfect union.’ It may sound hokey and naive, but, my friends, arrogance and politics aside … it’s TRUE!
Think about America then
She’ll love you if you let her again
We never had it better than when
We stick together … we can weather any storm
We have a choice. We can take for granted what, through no effort of our own, has been given to us; stand, waving the stars and stripes, hand-on-heart and sing the national anthem and keep that ‘gift’ ONLY for ourselves … or … we can humbly and gratefully acknowledge what has been given to us and work to ensure that all of our fellow citizens … Black, Brown, White and, yes, Naturalized Immigrants, have the same opportunities and justice that we have. Until Black, Latino, and Native Americans can share equality with white America, until the rights guaranteed to us in our founding documents belong to them as well, we cannot be proud of what ‘we’ have been given.
As we look after the other, our fellow man, we look after ourselves.
For the moment, however, we … are … gonna … celebrate! ‘Team America’—Laura, Lisa, Alison, Lori, Sheila, and David—will be popping a bottle of ‘shampoo’ and toasting each other from all over the planet. We are so chuffed!!!
Love to all,