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there is always something (why I shoot film)

There are maybe ten shots left on the roll. Outside the metro, a collection of pigeons sit on minuscule ledges above two old men. They talk as all old men do, with operatic waves of their hands, sour expressions, belly laughs, eventually scratching their chins as they stare off at nothing in particular. I am pretending to take pictures of something near them, then swing across when they are not looking to shoot a few frames. At one point I surrender to the afternoon and move on.

And now, the courtyard that leads to the film lab. A great old building rests here, a school of architecture where students mill around dressed in black sucking on cigarettes with giant portfolios tucked under their arms. A young man approaches me. I am ready to tell him I have no idea what he is saying, but he wants to know where the film lab is. I jut my chin, telling him the door is just beyond a few bushes. He nods his thanks.

There are screens set up in a jagged line, sheathed in filthy white plastic to …

no one wears white


Dick Rogers leaned in, right up to my face.
"No one wears white." He said, the words separated by angry pauses.
I swallowed, embarrassed.
"No one." He added, his hand waving around with a flourish.
My cheeks ran red. I could feel every hair, right up to the top of my head. I suddenly felt like I smelled terrible. My stomach made an empty noise. A pen hung limp from my hand, then rested on my notebook.

Later in the hallway, he smiled at me. A tiny encouragement.

The film was about my father and my brother, as much as myself. There were heartfelt sessions in front of the camera, the film whirring slowly, the microphone perched just out of frame. There were trips home to shoot my father ice fishing, or painting, or just having a coffee alone at the big kitchen table. Then my brother, doing chin-up after chin-up. The story was wandering, turning blind corners.

In the end, I animated a story that my brother mentioned. A parable.
A deer and a lamb are in a field, eating fresh green grass. The deer's antlers fall off at one point, and he puts a bag over his head, embarrassed. And then the bag falls off. The sheep looks at him for a moment.
"You aren't as important as you think you are." He said.



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