Restoring views of the fair

As I've said before, one of the challenges in making this film has been gathering the photos,slides, and home movies of the fair itself. Once we get those materials though, that's only the beginning of the process to prepare them for the movie. Although time-consuming, one of my favorite parts of that process is slide restoration. 

deteriorating35mm slides can offer an incredible amount of detail, however given their small size, it doesn't take much of a scratch, piece of dust, or hair to ruin a good shot. Then there's the fact that these slides are now nearly 50 years old. In some cases, the slides after deteriorated or discolored through the years.

As I said, the process of restoring/cleaning these slides digitally takes a lot of time, especially when you have thousands of slides in front of you. At first, we planned on only cleaning the slides that made it into the film. However, the history that these slides represent is too important to not take this opportunity to clean and restore all of them. So, although it has added some time to getting the movie completed, I think it has certainly been well worth it.

Here's a look at the before and after of one slide of the British Lion Pub:



All alone in New York City, and the city was never so tiny

A few weeks back, we had the final shoot for the movie. It was a return to the Queens Museum. The museum was also the site of one our first shoots. As such, we needed to re-visit it as much had changed. The name had changed, with the organization dropping "of Art" from the end of its name. And a 50,000 square foot expansion, which was just getting underway on our first visit, had just held its grand opening gala. Everything had a fresh feel: the whole museum had the feel of what I can only describe as promise. The Promise of a bright future.

It was one of the oldest parts of the museum that struck me though. As it has half a dozen times before, and as it has to millions before me: the NYC Panorama.

The panorama is a truly one of a kind. It took thousands of man-hours to bring it to life for the World's Fair. The amount of work that went into it would never be attempted by a museum today, making the Queens Museum quite lucky. There's something about the scale of it, and the psychological effect of how large it has to be to present all of New York. At the fair, the model was viewed from a series of suspended cars on a track, that looked like tiny helicopters. I know some people were upset when the helicopters went away, but in some respects, the overwhelming size and detail of the model becomes more apparent when you can stand and, linger, just feet above the model. 

Shooting the model for the movie is nearly impossible. Get close enought to show the level of detail, and the size of it is entirely lost. Pull out for a wide shot, and you can't hope to communicate the level of detail. We use the phrase "one of a kind" a lot these days, but the NYC Panorama at the Queens Museum truly is. I'd encourage everyone to check it out.


The first (and second and third) cut is the hardest

After three years "most" of our shooting is done, and it is on to editing the project. Taking hundreds of hours of footage and cutting it down to a "feature" length is no easy task. The hardest part has to be all the great shots and interviews that simply won't make it because of time constraints, etc. However, the great thing about editing a movie in 2013 is we can offer those segments separately online, and take the time to delve deeply into fun little detours in the story of the fair. 

For now though, all efforts are on finishing the main movie. This is as good of time as any to thank everyone for your help in moving "the little movie that could" along. There have been delays along the road, but everyday we're getting closer and closer to the final cut!


Photos and more on our Facebook page

I just wanted to let you know that if you've been wondering where the updates have been lately, well we've been posting photos (and more) on our Facebook page. It makes more sense to put quick posts like a picture or two over there, and we'll continue to update the blog with longer-form info. So if you're not already doing so, please check out our Facebook page.


The fair had the power to change lives

One of the things we want to highlight about the legacy of the fair is the profound impact it had on the lives of people after the fair ended. For some, the fair led to new, lasting friendships. For others, it guided career choices far off in the future. For Thomas Weakley, it led to a life-long interest in travel. 

Weakley worked at the fair, starting in May of 1964. He worked at the Sinclair Dinoland exhibit. By the second season of the fair, his responsibilities included serving as a host/guide for V.I.P. visitors. He had a chance to see parts of the fair not seen in public: the secret lounges at each exhibit, and "backdoor" entrances, allowing V.I.P. guests to skip the lines that were such a big part of the fair.

The thing that stayed with Weakley though, was his exposure to a wide swath of cultures and art from around the world. While he's travelled to 30 countries, Weakley still ranks his experience at the fair, as one of the top five experiences in his life. For a kid from Indiana, the New York World's Fair served as a gateway to lands never imagined.

Here's a clip from our interview with him: