This week two television documentaries I worked on premiered in the United States as part of Discovery Channel’s high-profile ‘Shark Week’. My job on these shows was to track down and get permission to use any video footage or photographs that we wanted to include. I don’t blog about my day (and sometimes night) job often but while working on one of these projects I came across an image that was too good not to share.
I was digging through several archives for old photos of fishermen posing with ‘monster’ sharks when I came across a fantastic photograph taken here in New Zealand. It didn’t make the final show but the kind folks at Allied Press have given me permission to share it with you.
It shows what looks to be a little person posing next to the jaws of a shark to exaggerate its size.
Otago Witness, 23rd March 1904 Courtesy of Allied Press
In the same way that early twentieth century safari hunters used to pose for a photograph next to a tiger or elephant that they had slain, it was also common for fishermen to proudly show off the size of the ‘monster’ shark that they had caught. New Zealand waters are home to many species of shark including the infamous great white – so photos like this are reasonably common.
Here is a similar photograph of fishermen posing with an 18 foot shark caught at Port Chalmers. Continue reading →
Today marks eleven years since the terrorist attacks that changed the world. I’m not going to dwell on the facts, or repeat the stories that we have all heard before, but I do want to share one perspective on the event.
My day job involves sourcing archival footage for many different types of television productions. One of the projects I worked on last year was a documentary about some of the survivors of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It was an interesting experience to spend a decent amount of time researching the audio-visual record of that day, talking with those who were there and then watching the tragedy unfold over and over from many different perspectives – all from the guilty comfort of my office.
Photo taken by ‘TheMachineStops’ Flicker Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
In my profession it isn’t unusual to be called upon to trawl through footage of some of the more tragic events in human history – be it war, natural disasters or terrorist attacks. I suspect it might be similar for anyone with an interest in history as it often seems that stories of suffering and the extremities of human behavior demand more interest and attention than stories of peace and normality. Few people want to watch a documentary about the day that everyone ate ice-creams and played croquet but there is always an audience for yet another documentary about Auschwitz. Continue reading →
This afternoon I jumped at the chance to view the 1926 silent black and white film ‘Mantrap‘ at the Regent Theatre in Dunedin, screening as part of the International Film Festival. It is a rare experience to attend a silent film with live piano accompaniment, something that must almost be considered a forgotten art. I’ve been meaning to occasionally blog about historical dramas and while this film is historical only because of its age and not genre, I think it is worth a write-up.
The history of media is an important part of my day job as I work with many international film and photo archives. Something that has always fascinated me is how the way we experience and share media has changed over the last century, or even just in the last decade. The transition from silent to sound marked a pretty big change in cinematic history so it is something that I love to experience firsthand at the cinema when possible. Continue reading →
Today I thought I’d share a bit about an explosive topic. My daytime job involves sourcing all kinds of film and photographs for use in television documentaries. One of my current projects recently gave me an excuse to re-visit a fantastic archive – the U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration’s Nuclear Testing Archive in Las Vegas, Nevada. Check out their list of films here or check out their YouTube channel.
I was looking for footage of a specific test and the good folks in Nevada have coverage of most of them. That is, most American tests. You’ll have to look elsewhere if you want footage of nuclear tests from the U.K., France, Russia, China, Pakistan, India, North Korea (good luck) and whoever may or may not have nuked fish in the South Atlantic.