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Work Samples

Riding Wild: Documentary Trailer

Riding Wild follows Dink as he leads a tribe of BMXers to bushwhack and then cultivate an illegal set of trails along a raggedy patch of urban wilderness to keep from the hassles and violence that unfortunately has distinguished Baltimore City. Funded by the Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund and completed in December, Riding Wild was shot like a road movie considering the subjects are always in motion.

Heel on Red, The Life and Photography of Sam Holden

Heel on Red is the story of the photography of Sam Holden who died of a heart attack at 44. Sam Holden was a photographer well known for his gritty and bombastic portraits for everything from gritty alt-weekly covers to glossy commercial advertising. What is less known (although not a secret) was his pursuit of fetish photography, a body of work now under the stewardship of his long-time girlfriend Donna Sherman. Sherman, who participated in this world, is the off-camera narrator allowing his photos to make the case that his pursuit of fetish photography should be considered an art form.

Bury our Guns Not our Sons,

Whenever Joules Follier and her assistants set up the boxes of ceramic weapons, 342 of them, hand formed, dated and named for every victim of 2016, dialogue explodes on the street. This is real talk -- parents, mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, son, daughters and friends all stop and share stories of murder. These spontaneous moments are staggering, surreal and demand that I show up with camera in hand. This is an example of how I use film as the kind of activism that I prefer. I’m not looking to push an opinion, but to create the discussion that leads to action.

Crooked Tune, An Old Time Fiddler in a Modern World (trailer)

The Crooked Tune follows Fiddler Dave Bing over eight years from the hills of West Virginia to pubs in England and back again as he performs and teaches the old time tunes that he learned from elders who have long passed. By following Dave we get to see performers young and old as well as how the Celtic tradition work with the West Virginia style. We also see how Bing struggles with preserving the music but wonders if the context of old time is getting lost in a digital modern world.


About Charles

Baltimore City

  Charles Cohen is a documentary filmmaker, having produced several independent full-length documentaries as well as shorts for non-profits and news organizations. His full-length documentaries include: The Last Season, The Life and Demolition of Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, 2002; Going All Pro, the Story of how Fancy Clancy became the World’s Greatest Beer Vendor 2007; The Crooked Tune, An Old Time Fiddler in a Modern World, 2015; Riding Wild, A So-Called Documentary, 2017. His latest full-... more

Riding Wild, A So Called Documentary

The best way to look at Riding Wild is as a road movie forced to live within the city limits. Thus there is a sense of frustrated freedom, a contradiction that turns like the bike wheels they seem permanently attached. But rather than being stuck, the documentary’s subject Dink, draws inspiration, hope and solutions from his confines as well as runs into its limits that keeps him thrashing for if not a solution at least an outlet. The on the road momentum is very much the look and the experience that the filmmakers got from tagging along with Dink as he leads a tribe of BMXers to bushwhack and then cultivate an illegal set of trails along a raggedy patch of woods in the city to keep from the hassles and violence that unfortunately has distinguished Baltimore City. While Dink’s world is at best three square miles of his alley house in one of the most dangerous sectors in the city, his bond with his beat up baby blue BMX stunt bike, keeps him spinning through the street, across the sad decaying city skate park always returning to the woods that he has claimed by the highway, next to a railroad tracks, near a scrapyard. He is always on the road, always in motion even when expanding the trial adding ramps or cutting through Baltimore swamp jungle as he pushes to create a trail that he dreams will one day can stand nationally amongst the unofficial list of legendary trails nationwide.
But Dink at 36, will be the first to say he is no mentor. His employment record is spotty and has his owns problems. His dedication to the trail comes from somewhere deeper that may or may not be in sync with self-sufficiency in the same way an artist’s drive to finish an opus might not be in-line with steady employment .
Riding Wild was funded by the Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund and was completed in December. It currently is awaiting results from numerous festivals.

  • Fire needed

    The power this crew's endeavor is the determination to not just reclaim a throw-away piece of woods, but the passion that they put into creating their space, from the constant manicuring of the dirt tracks done by hand tools to their ability to find salvation in this urban wilderness.
  • Riding Wild: Documentary Trailer

    Riding Wild follows Dink as he leads a tribe of BMXers to bushwhack and then cultivate an illegal set of trails along a raggedy patch of urban wilderness to keep from the hassles and violence that unfortunately has distinguished Baltimore City. Funded by the Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund and completed in December, Riding Wild was shot like a road movie considering the subjects are always in motion.
  • Shoot on Wheels

    Much of our shooting was done with small cameras called Osmos, which sat on balancing systems. This project allowed me to explore collaboration with the subjects. Dink, the main subject, shot this of his friend Ian Burke. Dink proved to have a strong eye and a knack for getting shots, better than me when on a bike that's for sure.
  • Trail Life

    Riding Wild, Baltimore bikes,
    We opted to film as they lived even if it meant not getting the standard three point lighting interviews -- Thus the subtitle, “A so-called documentary.” As a result, Riding Wild offers a different view where urban woes don’t follow a problem-solution narrative that seems to be a prerequitive for any social docs. Rather our prime direction was reveal what was it like to be with them. As a result Riding Wild shows them in a perpetual state of aspiration, like any person riding on the fumes of creativity, which in their case lives on the road, on the trail, always in motion.
  • Dink and his shovels

    Riding Wild was a subversive nature doc showing how people get the most out of their surroundings and with this perspective, the beauty was revealed. I allowed the film to breath in these parts. I collaborated with Musician J Gray, who made an original score for these moments where the environment emerged as the major point.
  • Riding or Punch in the Face

    In this documentary I worked with composure Jay Gray to create eight pieces to emphasize points or capture the rhythm that was present during the shooting from always being on the move. I embrace music in documentary filmmaking and believe the right use of a tune can transform a scene. Here's one example. Password music
  • Riding Wild, A So Called Documentary

    This is the entire film. A password should have been passed on with this portfolio, but. I afraid I can't post it here since Riding Wild is still being considered for festivals. Hopefully you should have been emailed the password by the GBCA but if not you can email me at [email protected] and I will promptly send it to you.
  • instagram vid

    This is the example of the instagram campaign I'm employing to support the documentary.

Heel on Red

When Sam Holden died at age 44 he left behind boxes of his photographs that demonstratedmuch range and a definitive brazen style that playfully pushed boundaries whether it was for an alt weekly or for a glossy advertising spread. But it was his fetish work where he threw down all his stops. Not just in the subject, but in the lighting, the color saturation and attitude. A photographer with a sideshow interest in fetish gigs isn't that unusual, but having his story told as a visual personal essay by his long time girlfriend Donna Sherman offers some deep looks into a hard to articulate passion. Sherman was a participant and champion of his art, but at times resented having to accept the endless stream of women injected into their personal relationship in the name of his art, In Heel on Red, Sherman explores her conflict, including how Holden’s pursuit strained their relationship made more complicated due to her conviction that he traversed the clichés of fetish photography into the sanctity of art. All the while they both embraced that the mainstream may not take too kindly to the explicit photos. To make her case, we employ an essay technique, using monologue but never revealing the narrator, . We rarely show the Holden. Instead we focus on the photographs and bits of found footage, a kind of box in the attic esthetic.
Due to Sherma 's personal narriative, the film speaks to the universal sense of a survivor's seemingly fruitless struggle to find purpose out of the yawing sense of loss. The search for what is left after a death is universal but has a special resonnance for artists, whose work can easily be rendered obsolette. The actual act of making this film in itself is a repurposing, a regeneration of the work -- photographs, many done by hand and meant to be seen in a frame or a book -- have now been collected into a rapid-fire digital infusion --- certainly something that was never intended when Holden was still alive.

Heel on Red is currently in production.

  • Holden Silhouette.jpg

    Sam Holden shot most of his work on a Hasselblad making the prints by hand.
  • paperHeel.jpg

    So how do you do a documentary about an artist who died just as he found new levels of success? The obvious tact would be to do interviews and utilize footage offered by family and friends. But with the Sam Holden project, we wanted to steer clear of the pitfalls of being a praise singer. Also, we were dealing with the controversially- charged fetish photos and how it would play during this period of reflection on sex and gender roles. The strength and the real reason to make this film is Donna Sherman’s point of view. She reveals her conflict.
  • Embedded video media on Vimeo

    Password Red This is the set up for the ending 25 minute documentary. This sequence demonstrates our use of found-footage, photos and narration. We will be turning over the piece to a graphic artist to ramp up the transitions etc. For me this sequence is a surprising turn in the documentary. Leading up to this sequence is the evolution and then the exploration of Holden's fetish photography. Then we land here in this (If I may be so bold) wholesome vivid seaside memory that is universal for us all.

Bury Our Guns Not Our Sons

Bury Our Guns Not our Sons is an example of how I sometimes use film as activism. I’m not looking to push an opinion, but to create the discussion that leads to action. This is what we refer to in newspaper business as setting the agenda. Unfortunately, the mainstream agenda tends to be removed from the urgency in the streets. And as documentarians or narrative storytellers, it’s no longer sufficient to believe that our job is to get their stories out. With social media and a saturated market, they can do that themselves. At the very least, social docs and narratives need to give a good push of the issues they are covering. Follier was featured in Riding Wild, but this piece is a collaboration. Guns isn’t just focusing on her art, but actually is her art as the interaction on the street was her aim all along.

Currently, Follier and I are in production.

This is a short.

Password Abell

The Crooked Tune and the love of illustration

I guess one central theme in my films and my feature stories is to somehow capture the inspiration to create the narrative in the first place. I want the viewer or reader to experience the same lightning that struck me.

I am fascinated with these moments that stop you in your path and tempt you off into the thickets with the promise of a great discovery, a great story.
The Crooked Tune, the documentary about the very much under-appreciated Master Fiddler Dave Bing, illustrates my point because his entire life started out with one of these stories. Above is the illustration of the late great Sherman Hammons, a backwoodsman, who use to serve as fishing guide for a young Dave Bing and his father. One day they went to Sherman’s shack (yes it was a shack) to buy bait. When they spotted a banjo sticking out from under the bed, Dave’s life would be changed forever. The music that the old man played was “this weird archaic, out of this world sound that I had never heard before.”
It’s not like Dave was a neophyte to traditional music. As a West Virginia native, he grew up playing blue grass and standards, but what he heard that morning was a unique blend that had been fermenting with the Hammons family that goes back before the founding of this country. In fact, the Library of Congress did two years of field recordings of the Hammons. Dave knew none of this. But “I dropped everything, I was a foreman of a construction crew, I was engaged to get married… and I just lived up there months at a time.”

And it was this story that put me on an eight -year filming journey. I heard this while I was randomly filming his fiddle class for a folk music workshop. I was done. I marveled at the idea of spending months in these remote woods, year after year hanging out with Sherman Hammons, who apparently had that charm over many people. The idea of Dave recording Sherman when he picked up the fiddle and then going by himself back to his campsite to somehow to figure out by firelight the odd tuning, odd timing, what is known as a crooked tune, seemed pulled from America’s rich wilderness literature tradition. I was determined to throw everything I had to introduce Dave Bing and his journey through the old time tradition into the cannon. In fact, while at grad school at American University, I wrote a feature length screen play based on this pivotal time in Dave Bing’s life.

The campfire illustration drawn by Tom Chalkly reflects my love of collaborating with artists to inject varied visual layers into a film. Since Dave’s story was relayed to me like an old-fashioned tale, I used a series of old school illustration, a throw-back to reading those Random House classics and gazing at those plates every 30 pages or so. This illustrated sequence has been repeatedly praised during film festivals.

I look forward to employing more of these illustrations with future projects.

Note I used graphic art intro done by Adam Bender to give the viewer some background on old time music.

Password Crooked Fiddler

  • Illustration Hammons telling a story.jpg

    The Crooked Tune
    This illustration by Tom Chalkly is part of a series used to describe how Sherman Hammons, a backwoodsman, would visit Dave Bing and his father’s campsite. Years later, Hammons would change Bing’s life when he played a “strange weird, archaic, out of this world tune,” on a banjo sending Bing and his brothers on a lifelong excursion through West Virginia’s rich old time music. Today Dave Bing is one of the last to learn from the old timers like Hammons and stands as arguably the ambassador of West Virginia Old Time music.
  • Crooked Tune

    Password Crooked Fiddler
  • Sherman's Cabin

    Sherman's shack served as a backwoods salon where the old man would hold court to an odd selection -- a poet, an academic, some wry locals and musicians. By the time I got there, Sherman was two decades dead and the shack was rotting back into the ground with much of his furnishings crumbling with it. I spent time filming this historic wreckage. I love how this drawing captures the charm of how the cabin looked to Dave Bing.
  • tape recorder

    One of the themes that surfaced in The Crooked Tune was the musician's reliance on archiving. Some, including Dave Bing, would make their own tapes of musicians that they sought. A major component was how these tunes were passed on from individual to individual. But with the advent of the online archive, there's a fear that the intimacy, the home grown aspect of Old Time, would be lossed and yet everyone obsessively records This conundrum was something I emphasized by using this Nagra as a familiar image. The nagra was used as a field recorder by the Library of Congress.
  • The intro pic 4.jpg

    It soon became evident that I was doing my own field work with my camera and mics, which was just fine by me. I always wanted to do field work, going back to my college days. Dave Bing served as a tour guide as he traveled among amazing musicians in the far reaches of West Virginia and England (where I also tagged along). Seen here is Lester McCumbers. At 91 he was the oldest renown fiddler in West Virginia. Some of his fiddles he made from trees in his backyard, one from the floorboards from his kitchen. It was an honor to record him and he died two years later.
  • Hammons Family Graphic

    I am committed to integrating innovative graphics into my documentaries. I believe that people get if not bored, they at least appreciate a change in scenery. This pieced helped me answer a nagging question -- how to explain Old Time. This was particularly finicky since the term is rather open ended. It pre-dates bluegrass, which was a rather modern invention and the definition varies from musician to musician. So the best way, I figured, was to embrace the vagueness and allow the exploration to be part of the definition. Working with Artist Adam Bender, we pulled from archival photos.
  • Fiddle Making

    Dave's handcrafted fiddles required a whole another level of focus. This was slow tedious work, but one that Dave turned into meditation and one that lent to some nice filmic opportunities. Through my years visiting Dave Bing I would always set up in his workshop recording how Dave made fragile fiddles from chunks of wood with hand tools. I used several cameras. The Bolex, I will admit was my favorite. There is so much I love about shooting this process, the glint of the light off the chisels, the detail in the calibers and of course the grain in the wood.

Fatback's Funeral and the Future of A-rabbing in Baltimore

My link to the Baltimore A-rabbers, the last horse-powered-produce peddlers in the country, goes back to my childhood. I remember hearing the jangle of the horse’s harness and the call from the man who would haul up my street – like a vision he stood there, a fable come true.

I still feel this way and am convinced that the A-rabber tradition is one of the few elements that differentiates Baltimore from every other city in the country. The fact that this tradition is still around, although for how much longer we don’t know, says something right there. To follow A-rabbing is to witness the fusion of southern and urban cultures, rural America making its place in the city. I have covered and filmed the A-rabbers since the mid-90s. I have written articles for the New York Times, Reuters, The Christian Science Monitor as well as the City Paper and have filmed and posted online to keep their story out there.

While the forecasted demise of the A-rabbers can be found in newspapers going back to the early 60s, there is no doubt the tradition at will morph into an unrecognizable tourist attraction or recreational activity, if not vanishing from the streets all together. This summer saw the passing of the senior A-rabber Eugene Allen, better known as Fatback. At his funeral, there were the customary rows of horse and wagons, but none of them were led by someone under the age of 50. And few of those old timers ply their trade anymore. The grandsons and granddaughters still have horses in their blood, but are more interested in riding than selling fruits and vegetables.

This spring through the Baltimore Youth Film Arts project, I have designed a class that will tap youngsters who are steeped in the family tradition. It’s my hope to spark the storytelling bug in them and record their experience with not just the past, but their present relationship with the animals and the A-rabber life. It’s my hope that this class leads to an on-going filmmaking project loosely modeled after what Canadian filmmakers did with indigenous people. They place the camera in their hands.

This edit, which was done with my intern Brittney Burgess, was the model for the class

  • Fatback's funeral 2.jpg

    Baltimore Arabbers
    One of Fatback's dearest friends, known as Frog, readies the carriage that will carry the casket through East Baltimore. The carriage was followed by several wagons, but the one wagoned loaded with produce left the procession to sell. I worked on this piece with an intern, who hales from Southern Maryland and had never been to West Baltimore before.
  • Freemont Stables

    I worked with a photographer as I wrote and video taped the remaining A-rabbers recovering after the city raided and closed one of the stables. After a two year legal battle, all charges of animal cruelty were dropped, the stable was back open, but the original animals had since been auctioned off.
  • Arabber article NYTimes

    I wrote this article for the New York Times. Stringers rarely got bylines. This was before I would pick up a video camera, but even then I thought their story was filmic.
  • New York Times Article.pdf

    Here is a better copy of the article.
    PDF icon New York Times Article.pdf
  • Urbanite Arabber Story.png

    I did this article for the Urbanite, a now defunct magazine. I spent months visiting the stable and I also filmed the process, which was posted as a compendium. I believe I may have been the first to offer video with a printed version for that magazine as I was for the City Paper. I believe that the Arabbers offer an amazing way to look at the city. While there is an obvious nostalgia to them, I would like to do my next piece where Arabbing is just a reality in their lives, which are as contemporary as anyone else.
  • An A-rabber and his Horse

    I took the photograph of the man and the horse, one of my favorites. I love the emotion and the focus in the man's face. This stable is located in an alley Stable and paddock in West Baltimore not to far away from Hollins Market.
  • Year of the Horse 1

    This started out as a compendium to the Urbanite Story. But with the closing of The Retreat Street Stable and the fiasco that followed, I found myself compelled to follow the story even though I didn't have a commitment from the publications, I still had to follow the Arabbers as they were tossed out and relocated to first Pimlico Race Track and then to some tents under Monroe Street in West Baltimore
  • Year of the Horse 2

    Here you see how the news is unfolding raw and unclear. Many times I find myself in these situations where the media is not there and I just shoot and see if the story evolves into a documentary. Of course there is massive factors of money, time and stamina.
  • Year of the Horse 3

    The Arabbers were and remain controversial with animal rights groups. At times, it seemed that just covering them made me complicit. But I saw this as a human story, about culture, and whether city has the capacity to come up with a solution. These issues are still at the forefront today.
  • Year of the Horse 4

    The Arabbers never got the promised city built stable that was geared to integrate them into historical tourism movement. The woman featured in this segment, Dorothy Johns will be working with me in 2018 to set up the class with the youngest generation of Arabbers to teach them filmmaking. The plan is to have them tell their story and to create a momentum to do a documentary taking a more contemporary look at some Baltimoreans who happen to have ties to the last urban horse-powered peddling operation in the country.

The Last Season, The Life and Demolition of Baltimore's Memorial Stadium

The Last Season, The Life and Demolition of Memorial Stadium, was my first documentary and remains a guiding light on what can be possible. This project was a team effort with filmmaker Joseph Mathew, whose follow up film Crossing Arizona was selected for Sundance.

Back in the early 2000s, I came to him with the idea of following the auction of the seats at Memorial Stadium. A book of my columns called Charmed Life, focusing on unsung stories, had just been published. I believed that the imminent demolition of Baltimore’s beloved “World’s Loudest Outdoor Insane Asylum” was a cultural pivot. Apparently he agreed, for after that day where people left with urinals and seats, we spent two years following the prolonged demise of the stadium, all the while covering the political grandstanding, the preservation crusade, and the steady pilgrimages of people whose family history was intertwined with 33rd Street.

The Last Season was my first taste of artistic empowerment. The 2002 documentary was the dark horse darling of the Maryland Film Festival. And while we were told we were one selection away from making it into South By Southwest, we mass produced the documentary for retail and sold thousands of copies through DVD stores and chains, an era that has since disappeared.

Today, I still pull out Last Season as an example of creating your own artistic success.

Highlight reel --

  • lastseason_poster.jpg

    The Last Season was a top ten seller in the Baltimore metropolitan area, back when DVDs was actually something that you could sell. This was my entree into filmmaking world as still sits as an example of creating your own market for your work.
  • Unitas.jpg

    There was a lot of archival footage in this film -- all of which was attained rightfully. As my first film, I didn't know how far I could go. When we started, I thought if I could convince Wild Bill Hagy to do an onsite interview then that would be enough. But I kept pushing, interviewing sports figures from Brookes Robinson to Johnny Unitas. (Apparently we got the last Unitas interview before his death) This scavenger hunt process appeals to my love of research. The archival footage was found through the college at the Babe Ruth museum, which had rights to the locally shot footage.
  • Demo Site

    We soon discovered how filming this project was like an anatomy of city life and we were determined to explore it all from the workings in Annapolis to the demolition crew that spent two years demolishing the stadium. They got to know us and allowed us amazing access. We saw a beauty in this demolition, the way the rubble stands like Joseph Tree rocks or how the towers looked in the gloaming the night before they were torn down. We took the time to share all of this but without fanfare. In the end I have a special love for this film for I know no city that has something like this.
  • Jessie.jpg

    We embraced the scavenger hunt vibe while filming the Last Season, especially the people we ran into - so many people. This may have been the most diverse happening I have witnesses in this city.
  • Embedded video media on Vimeo

    This is the entire documentary. Password Unitas

Housing is Health Care

Health Care for the Homeless was an ideal model of finding that equilibrium between the practical needs of an organization to make their points and an artist’s desire for expression about issues in which he/she cares.

For the last three years, I have been putting together mini documentaries for Health Care for the Homeless to be shown at their largest fundraiser, The Chocolate Affair. The idea is to illustrate an aspect of homelessness, such as HCH’s mobile medical unit, in a narrative form. While the organization had its talking points with each project, the process was very much a creative one and I was given room to tell the story through filmmaking devices, including the use of music and B-roll.

The result is when these docs premiered at The Chocolate Affair, Health Care for the Homeless had consecutive record fundraising nights, bringing in more than $250,000 each year

  • Zina

    When working with Health Care for the Homeless it was always important to respect how people want to be portrayed. I found allowing the film to breath a bit was a way to pay tribute to the time shared.

Air Cooled

This is an example of creating projects on the fly, something that is a requirement for DIY filmmakers. I met Ira Supra and Avery Griffin on a set and organized a shoot of Montez Williams, a wizard of a mechanic who only works on air cooled Volkswagens. I always thought he would make a great little film in fact I did one as a compendium for an article I wrote for the Baltimore City Paper.
For one day, we came together to create this faux commercial that was entered in an international Porsche Contest even though we had no chance of winning in a field of high end advertisement firms specializing in luxury cars. We thought it would be interesting to show another aspect of their world, how, the Porsche engine, now a product of luxurary can make its way to the poor. Porsche invented the Volkswagen engine.

  • Montrez Williams

    Montrez Williams has quietly super up VWs Bugs since the early 70s "making hot rods for poor people" out of his garage on North Avenue
  • Air Cooled

    Here is the short

The Script of the My Dreams.

The script of the my dreams would be when any one of these three screenplays are made into a film. Being a writer at heart, I have been quietly learning the craft of screenwriting. I concentrated on screenplay writing while at graduate school at American University and have worked with individual screenwriters. While I would happily sell my screenplays, I would prefer to make my own films. 1. The Eastern is a film about two brothers who get shanghied onto a skipjack in the middle of the Chesapeake Oyster Wars of the 1880s. Picture Gangs of New York on the waterfront. While I will pursue traditional live action feature, I do have several illustrators interesrted in the project. 2. The Terminator vrs. The Fire Breather is based on the true story of William Morrison ,who at 14 - years -old, became the most dominating speed chess player in New York during the 1970s. This was derived from a cover story I did about Morrison for the City Paper. Picture The Duece without the prositutes being the focus, but instead we would utilize that 70s Funk street culture. 3. The Crooked Tune, The Movie is my first finished full length screenplay. The Crooked Tune script is based on Dave Bing who is featured in my documentary. The film would focus on his indoctrination into old time when he befriends backwoodsman Sherman Hammons, who hails from a storied musical family in West Virginia.

  • Scripts

    I have penned three, full length narratives.
  • Eastern Opening.jpeg

    This is the opening to The Eastern, about the two brothers shanghaied out of Fells Point right in the middle of the Chesapeake Oyster Wars of the 1880s. I've have had this idea brewing around as a novel since the late 1980s when I was working for a newspaper on the Maryland Eastern Shore. At American University, I worked with a scriptwriter and finished The Eastern. I would love to make this movie since I know a many people in the production business in Baltimore as well as know some of the Watermen along the Chesapeake.
  • Look Book Picture Eastern

    This is a photo by Aubry Bodine. I got my start out of college as a B&W photographer and darkroom technician at a newspaper in Cambridge, Maryland. I always loved his use of light. My preference, if I had a chance to make The Eastern, would be to shoot the film in his B&W style. Unlike other maritime movies, which emphasize massive war ships, I would accentuates the skipjack's sleek and small presence as they slide in and out of view. I would reveal how these skipjack seem as natural on the bay as any waterfowl and that they are beautiful to watch.
  • Look Book 2 Bodine

    Photo by Aubry Bodine. The first half of the Eastern pay tribute to maritime cinema, but the second half would play out like a Western using the tropes of vastness and nature as the two brothers find themselves on the run for murder. Unlike Westerns, this story features one brother, cagey and handy with the gun; the other brother is a bungler until he gets a fiddle in his hands. They lean on both skills to survive. I would like to shoot this as if Bodine was my cinematographer.
  • Dock Boggs

    As I mentioned in the Eastern description, one of the brothers is hapless until he plays the fiddle, which produces tunes that come as close to enchantment as it gets in the real world. In my dream of dreams, if I could make this film, I would exclusively use the music of Dock Boggs. True, Dock Boggs played banjo but his music could be transposed for fiddle especially with the help of Dave Bing and friends. Dock Boggs, in my opinion, is the Robert Johnson of banjo and deserves a documentary in his own right.
  • Mole in The Ground, A story about Phillip Roebuck,

    The fact that old time music is woven through my work is due to this man, Phillip Roebuck, a street musician in New York. I met him by chance in 2002 while we were on a shoot for a follow up project to the Memorial Stadium film, The Last Season. We were crossing Union Square when I spied him playing his banjo and percussion rig. Just like the fiddler character featured in my screenplay The Eastern, Roebuck's music might as well have put a spell on me. Joseph Mathew, my cinematographer and I began shooting right then and promised to return to get more time with him, which we did.
  • Cover Story

    Writing this cover story introduced me to William Morrison. I spent months hanging out with him and his scene and the process served as good preparation for how I would approach filmmaking a year later. His story about how he was recruited in a chess gang, The Black Bear School of Chess, stuck with me.
  • Chess script sampler.pdf

    This is an excerpt from the chess movie, The Exterminator Vrs. The Fire Breather. Here is the set up: This is when William, who has been schooled in chess by his father, meets up with a rowdy speed chess crew in Prospect Park. Wendy is his friend. The script is currently being reviewed by Morrison, who would serve as my consultant. This isn't a bio-pic but rather a fiction film based on his life and his environment.
    PDF icon Chess script sampler.pdf
  • ChessarticleLEDE.JPG

    This is the lede from the cover article. William Morrison's Clint Eastwood style of playing chess is something I want to capture. In the world of speed chess, where trash talk is an art form, The Exterminator plays with an ice- cool precision, which no doubt adds to his mystique.

Silent Film

This is the full short.

We filmed on the streets of Baltimore, trying to avoid the trappings of the modern world to keep with the Midevil setting. Unfortunately there is some graffiti in one scene and a mid century apartment building.

  • Silent Movie pic.jpg

    I made this silent era film for a Johns Hopkins Italian literature professor, specializing in the fables of Calandrino e l'Elitropia/Calandrino and the Heliotrope. It was his wasy to commerate the book's 800 year anniversary . The short film showed at the Italian Embassy as well as was featured at a literature convention. For me, it was a test on shooting a narrative short in one cold afternoon. I had these actors for one day. It's a little confidence booster reminder that I have the stanima to get projects done under tough conditions.

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