Another Blast from the Past

Recently I was contacted by Michael Rawley, a Toronto actor who received a kidney transplant in the year 2000. It was my good fortune to be able to document the lead up to the operation, and result.

I had pretty much forgotten this effort, but Michael’s request for a copy sent me on a search through dusty storage in subterranean caverns. I couldn’t find any of the original cassettes, or anything labeled as final version, but I did turn up a MiniDV cassette labeled “Transplant, rough mix”. Even more amazing, I dug out my now ancient Canon GL1 camera and found that it still works just fine, despite not being out of the case for at least ten years.

The next questions – do I still have the technology to capture video from a MiniDV cassette and turn it into a digital file? That took some time and effort to figure out. But in the end, success. Now my very first attempt at digital film making is up on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

Wendy’s Michael’s Kidney” my first digital documentary. I was hooked.

The gear I had to produce this was primitive in the extreme, a tiny amateur level camera with very limited control over focus and lighting, a ridiculously shaky tripod, and only a clip-on lavaliere microphone to capture the sound. Yet I’m still impressed with the quality. Although I never made a penny from the considerable time I spent making this documentary, and could never get anybody to broadcast it, the result convinced me that I loved the new technology.

Only a few years before I made this, something equivalent would have cost thousands of dollars and required at least a two man team. Making it was a taste of things to come. The finished film still brings a tear to my eye. It was a first step toward my eventual bankruptcy and flight to China.

Funny how things get started, and how they work out.

One last thing for anybody reading this: Please, for the love of mercy, make a comment. I’m pretty sure a few people are reading my personal website now, but I hardly ever get a comment. Even if you just say hello, please please please say something. Please let me know I’m not alone. I feel so very alone.

2 thoughts on “Another Blast from the Past

  1. Dear Zale Dalen, Your filming of Wendy’s kidney-to-Michael transplant is excellent! It is an uplifting story of The Gift of a matching kidney given from impassioned donor Wendy to her friend Michael, the boundlessly grateful receiver. Within the heartwarming flow of the story I learnt a lot about dialysis, listening to Michael’s explanations, as you filmed his complicated dialysis procedures he performed on himself..
    Michael’s own piano playing is the perfect musical backdrop. Zale, your camera skills and editing choices reveal your patience, your sincerity, and your talent. You are always invisible and unobtrusive, yet very attentive to each moment of filming. I am so glad you have unearthed this ‘vintage’ film and made it available for us all to watch!

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Marjorie Cullerne. I hate to appear so needy as to beg my readers for comments, but you can understand why I did it. Your comment lifted my mood for the whole day. Also, it’s great to learn that somebody feels about this documentary the way I feel about it. It just makes me smile.

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