Curiosity: forget “Cherchez la femme” (Look for the woman.) “Cherchez l’histoire.” (Look for the story.)
My friend Pat Meyer and I arrived a few minutes early on Thursday morning. She provided moral support and documented the adventure with all these great photos. We found the Woodcut Media crew preparing to interview another Pat, the Railroad Museum Equipment Curator, by the Haupt bridge truss–ordinarily shrouded in that pile of protective orange mesh.
It was a dreary, chilly day. I was grateful when they said my turn would be inside: dry and warm. We waited in the lobby with document curator Dodie, who led us to our appointed location when the crew came in shortly after 10:00.
I signed releases and gave Olivia the draft reference letter I’d prepared. I learned that there are to be eight one-hour episodes and we were engaged in Episode One–since the US Civil War was the first war in which the railroad played a key strategic role. The series will be shown on the History Channel in the UK, Australia, India, Norway, Russia and several others.
Our backdrop was the oldest locomotive in the collection, a Baldwin 2-6-0 built in 1875. I showed Jonathan some background information and a few period documents I’d brought. Jonathan explained that we’d be doing a Q&A: he’d be off-camera, voice-over, and I’d be the talking head. Of course, during the edit, my head will go away; other relevant images will accompany my voice.
Strange thought: for non-English-speaking release, my remarks may appear as sub-titles or I may be dubbed.
Particularly, Jonathan explained, I must look up, at him–not, of course, at Ian, the camera man.
Of course, I love the way the bronze version of Matthias Baldwin–owner of the eponymous locomotive works–seemed to be supervising everything.
In the event, as the saying goes, it was a great team effort.
There were a few ‘do overs.’ A couple were my fault, but more were the result of loud children’s voices echoing from the other side of the huge train shed or the train whistle from across the road–where they went later to shoot wheels and steam in action.
This was not the first shoot of their trip. They arrived on Tues. and had done two on Wed. One was in the secret train station under Grand Central, built to serve President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It allowed him to conceal his confinement to a wheelchair as he shuttled between the White House, NYC and his estate at Hyde Park. The second was with Simon Winchester, noted author of many books, including The Men Who United The States: America’s Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics, and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible. They have a hectic summer schedule ahead–including, I believe, on-site work in Myanmar. At some point, back in the UK, they hope to interview Christian Wolmar, whose books Engines of War and The Great Railway Revolution are especially pertinent to this project.
Just before driving away, we saw Pat and Dodie wrapping up the truss in its protective orange shroud.