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World

Spain (Catalunya)

Documentary Series in development

Photo: Vint Blackburn 

Logline

Three years as an ex-pat in Barcelona in the dynamic 90’s was life-changing for me. Come with me as I rediscover this most extraordinary country: its people, its culture, its life…
My Spain.

Photo: Vint Blackburn 
Photo: Vint Blackburn 

Synopsis

Trying to stay afloat among the throng of singing Catalans choking Las Ramblas in Barcelona, trying to dodge the powerful firecrackers being thrown into the crowd on New Year’s Eve, 1990, terrified, I thought to myself, “What in the hell have we done?” Just that morning my new wife and I had arrived, two suitcases, a rather large Macintosh computer stuffed into one of them, $5,000 we had received as a wedding gift from our family and the vague promise from a friend that we could easily get jobs teaching English in Spain. Thus, began one of the most transformative three years of my young life, not just for me, but also the country I would grow to love and still consider my second home. It was the 90’s, the Olympics, the World Expo, exuberant Catalan pride… a time of dynamic change.

 

My Spain… Is a series of intimate documentaries designed to introduce others to the diverse, colorful culture, traditions and places that made Spain so enticing and unique to me almost 30 years ago, and that continue to draw me back again and again. Using lush images, interviews and captivating storytelling, each documentary will weave memory, history and travelogue into unique presentations that, together will present the rich tapestry that is my Spain.

Concept for a documentary series

 

The idea for a documentary series first came to me during the pandemic as I was sorting through and scanning thousands of slides that I had shot during my time in Spain. While there my wife, at the time, and I traveled extensively across the Iberian Peninsula every time a break in our teaching schedule would allow. My background in photojournalism led me to seek out stories everywhere we went.

 

There were so many stories: such as picnicking outside the Olympic Stadium, watching the Olympic torch pass by on its way inside, (too cheap to pay $100 for seats in the arena to watch the opening ceremony), and seeing the flaming arrow crest the top of the stadium wall having just lit the official flame inside; finding my way into a press conference and a meet-and-greet with the president of Catalunya, using an old press card I had and banking on the fact that I was an American with a lot of cameras, (the President was amazingly gracious and friendly, The American Consul General at the time less so); the discovery that every little town and village had its own unique and fantastic festival accompanied by music, food and often outrageous and dangerous acts of bravado, like La Patum, where one false step could literally get you trampled to death, knocked unconscious by a giant paper mâché figurine, or disfigured for life from third degree burns from the fireworks carried by the demons strategically dancing throughout the crowd.

 

Along with writing down and recording the stories that my slides were reincarnating for me, my family and I were watching all of the travel documentaries we could find on Netflix, Curiosity Stream, PBS and such.  We were doing our best to travel vicariously when no other option was available; everything from Werner Herzog's poetic and dramatic Encounters at the End of the World to the rustic but engaging French documentary series, The Silk Road by Alfred de Montesquiou.  I had long since given up photography as a vocation, moving on to teaching Science for several years, audio recording and engineering, songwriting, flying small airplanes and learning and practicing medicine.  But over the past few years I found my passion for images rekindled as I started dabbling more in video production.  As I watched many of these documentaries, I was remaking them in my own mind, And I realized that, I too, had a lot of stories to tell of a life in foreign lands… “My Spain” was born.

Narrative Structure and Characters

Each documentary will have a unique focus, whether it is one of the amazing festivals such as Catalunya's la Patum (with all of its fire and fury), a larger-than-life character such as Antonio Gaudí, a unique food such as the sublime calcot, beautiful village such as Gerona or Cuenca, or a unique culture such as the Catalans, Basques or Gypsies. The stories will combine narrative recollections and storytelling from my initial life in Spain in the 90’s, current interviews, music and cinematographic video throughout. The idea will be to bring a sense of my own initial wonder I felt for Spain to the viewer. Part history, part travelogue, I hope to enthrall the armchair traveler and inspire the adventurous one.

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Episode 1: La Patum
Of Fire & Giants
Photo: Vint Blackburn 
Episode 2: Girona
Evoloving Walls
Photo: Vint Blackburn 
Photo: Vint Blackburn 
Photo: Vint Blackburn 

Style

Imagery and storytelling will be front and center throughout. We plan to combine a narrative style similar to Spalding Gray with stories over stills a la Ken Burns and high-quality cinematography and sound production. We are shooting for a high-level of polish, but with dedication to the subject.

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