So much has happened to this project this month that I've lost track of time.
I located some actual footage of Providence's "Baby Roger"! It was taken in 1900 by a Long Island filmmaker who worked with DW Griffith early in his career. Anyway,after a daylong hunt, and some extremeley good luck in finding a friendly archivist at UCLA, I located the only existing copy of this film at the Library of Congress. They're making a digital copy for me as we speak. Though I haven't seen it, and don't expect much from the quality end of things, I'm totally jazzed about having some real moving footage of an actual player in this movie.
And speaking of moving footage- I spent time with Jan Mariani out at Roger Williams Park Zoo hanging out at the elephant yards. It felt great to see the girls (Alice, Kate and Ginny) cruising their yard in the sun, taking dust baths, etc. We made tentative plans for me to see some footage of elephants at home, and even to shoot them from a platform as they leave home for the day. And I get to talk to a keeper and a vet as well! Though this is a while off, after the school trips subside.
The really major development, though, was in finding a producer/coach to work with in making this film all it can be. Her name is Diane Hendrix in Sommerville, MA and her credentials are very impressive (see http://www.hendrixproductions.com/). We met yesterday morning to go through my treatment and as a result, the whole core and vision of this project has morphed. It has gone from an interesting, amusing and general story of the interaction of Rhode Islanders and elephants, to a passionate tale of our love for these animals in this state and how we've carried out that love.
Though I've been urged to change the title from "Hunting Elephants in Rhode Island", I'm still pretty attached to it. Perhaps a more accurate title would be "Hunting Elephants in Rhode Island; A Love Story". Because this, indeed, is what it is.
I had thought that my research would show the evolution of awareness of man to animal over the centuries. But, amazingly, what I found was that we almost immediately connected with the pachyderms. From the beginning, when Betty was shot in Chepachet, there was a huge outcry. And, on a wider scale, when "The Elephant", the first of his species, was brought to the US by Captain Crowninshield in 1797, there were essays on the animal's nobility and dignity.
What is it, I ask, about elephants and people? And what is it especially, I ask, about Rhode Islanders and their elephants?