HAWKWATCH

25 Jul

Hello, friends. It’s been a while. Hope you don’t mind. But as you may see, I have been running around a little bit. Playing sports, being a good dad, working up a storm. It’s all good.

Speaking of work, my company recently hosted a short film festival, asking employees to show how they are inspired to be creative. I’ve made several films back in my day, from high school documentaries about apathy, to student comedy clip shows in college, to Super 8mm honeymoon films… (don’t ask!). So I jumped at the chance… to entertain, inform and educate. Those I feel are my three major roles in life. That, and make art.

So on May 26, 2014, I trekked to one of my favorite inspiring Westchester spots—Hawkwatch, in Butler Sanctuary, armed with just my small Canon camera, a thin Minolta tripod, my sketch book and a bag of markers.

I wasn’t quite sure what I would film on my way up the mountain. I just let me feet take me on a visual journey that I thought would be nice to watch back in my old age. Without further ado, please enjoy Hawkwatch, and after the film, I’ll tell you some more fun facts and answer some FAQs.

Make sure you watch this in full screen. It won’t cost any extra. Enjoy!

 

Thank you for watching. I hope you got a kick out of that.

Here are the answers to some of some of the questions:

Who did the camerawork?
I used a tripod—I set up the shot, then walked away, eventually came back, reviewed the video and sometimes had to do it again, if I didn’t go far enough. I probably walked the same hike four times that day. Of course, it was worth it.

mrsnappy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How long have you been drawing in that book?
I’ve been making what I call “Doodle Diaries” for about 15 years. I have about 20 books so far, all different shapes and sizes—bigger, smaller, spiral bound, perfect bound, blank, quad-ruled—and I’ve doodled on them all. I used drawing as a way to pass the time, alleviate stress, and also as a cheap way of therapy. I usually don’t know what kind of truths my markers will reveal to me. “One day”, I will showcase some of my favorite drawings, sketches and illustrations online, but there are so many to choose from, it’s a little daunting.

The book in Hawkwatch is technically called “Begin Again” as you see in the film, although i call it my Spirograph Book. I started this one shortly after my leg was amputated, and the colorful cover with big blank pages is in stark contrast to the previous two books, Dark Start and DS2, both of which have black covers, and graph paper-ruled off-white paper. I drew my disintegrating marriage in the first book, and  I sorted through the concept of cancer in the second one. Each of those books ended with big fancy “The End”s. I think one of them actually says “So long and thanks for all the fish.”

I used to draw a lot more, especially on the MetroNorth train, but now that I drive in to work daily, I don’t have the time, and the Highway Patrol frowns on DWD—Doodling While Driving. So when I do get to take the time to create, I enjoy it even moreso. I just had to make sure that on this day of filming, I was able to sketch something even half-way decent, while also making a half-way decent movie, and then maybe together, it would make one full decent.

Where is Hawkwatch?
It’s in Arthur Butler Sanctuary, just south of exit 4 off of 684 in Westchester. Even though it’s 45 minutes away from Manhattan, when you climb up to Hawkwatch, you can see Long Island from there. That’s my original home, so it’s why Hawkwatch is like a vortex to me.

Screenshot 2014-07-24 20.37.44

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you see any birds when you were up there?

Plenty of times, on other occasions, but just not during the filming of this movie. In fact, I went back two more times to try to capture footage of a soaring Turkey Vulture or any other flying thing, but it was always too warm for them to be flying around. The following weekend, I went back earlier in the day to get some pick-up shots, especially to get the birds, but it was still just too late. I went back a third time the following weekend, always wearing the same clothing, always having the same amount of two-day beard, and even hiked up the very steep incline to Hawkwatch. But still no birds. There is an internet meme called “The Cake Is A Lie”, so I just told myself that the birds were a lie as well. As a filmmaker, I wrestled with whether or not I needed birds at the end, to be soaring through the sky. Would it give extra meaning, as here I am, bound to the ground with my own one foot and robot foot. It might have made for a stronger third act, but hey, It could also have been sentamental and cloying. Bottom line is, my motto is “As Is”, and I was going for cinema verite, and there were no birds, so there are no birds. Oh well. I’ll have to go back. Maybe next time.

What was it like to walk in the woods?
I have always loved nature walks, and I have walked through Butler Sanctuary in all four seasons, sometimes taking the longest trails there are to see how far I can travel and get back without a map. Now, I would rather not get lost, because, while I get around very well, still every step on the prosthetic is a minor challenge. In the film, I did not show the steepest, most treacherous parts of the trail—up or down—because there was a little bit of a struggle, and it didn’t make for very inspiring video. “Don’t let em see you struggle” a good friend suggested. I am still pleased with the portion where I have to navigate past the fallen branches and up the rocky hill. It shows how creativity occurs not just behind the camera, or at the end of the marker. It also is how I move my legs on a regular basis.

Speaking of legs, who are you wearing?
Hey, I’m glad you asked. I am wearing an Ottobock C-Leg. It has a computer microchip which prevents me from stumbling. If I wore my first non-chip mechanical leg, there would ahve been no way that I could have made this hike.

But just as important if not more important than the leg is the socket. In fact, my physical therapist Grace said to me, “A Great Leg is Good, but a Good Fit is Great.” My socket fit was crafted by my one and only leg man, Nick, from Hanger Prosthetics, nearly a year ago, and I have had very few incidents with it. Once Nick sees this video, he will say I’m crazy, but hey, takes one to know one.

Thank you again for watching my video, and following my story. If you have any specific questions about Hawkwatch the film, or my amplified life as an amputee, feel free to ask. I’m an open book.

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5 Responses to “HAWKWATCH”

  1. Ron Rogell July 25, 2014 at 2:46 am #

    Great article!

    • David Streich July 25, 2014 at 2:47 am #

      Thank, Ron! You’re one of those Mentors/Muses I reference at the end.

  2. Grace July 25, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    Dave! Thank you for making and sharing that beautiful film. I’m so glad you’re doing what you do – I can’t draw but I do love to watch the woods and the skies — I felt like I was hiking with you, and you know that would be a good time. Sometimes there aren’t any birds in the skies, but they’re in our heads from past and future hikes.
    I love this and I look forward to the next installment!
    Big Love,
    Grace

    • David Streich July 25, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

      Thank you, Grace! We will have to hike together. Hope all is well at Burke! XX,D

  3. Dena July 26, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    This is just a beautiful piece of film making (yes you make Hofstra proud).
    Loved all the shots, the way you did the editing and fades.
    The synch/scoring with the music.
    It was beautiful.
    Congratulations,
    Dena (up in Boston)

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