March 1, 1996

Short Takes, March 1996

In Remembrance: Mike Shea

Documentary cinematographer Mike Shea was killed in August in a helicopter crash. He was 69. The accident occurred when Shea and the pilot, who was also killed, were shooting scenery of the Kern River in Sequoia National Park for a music video for rock singer Meat Loaf.

Shea began his career as a freelance photographer in the 1940s. Some of his early coverage of the Civil Rights movement appeared in the documentary series Eyes on the Prize. In 1961, he became part of a vanguard group of photojournalists who were creating the American cinéma vérité movement. His first film was the 1964 blues documentary Maxwell Street. A year later, he helped form Chicago's Film Group with partner Mike Gray. He was a cameraman on many documentaries and features and was regarded as a supremely generous teacher for many younger filmmakers.

Oscar Nominees Announced

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has nominated the following films for best achievement in a documentary feature: Anne Frank Remembered, by Jon Blair; The Battle over Citizen Kane, by Thomas Lennon and Michael Epstein; Fiddlefest: Roberta Gaspari-Tzavara and Her East Harlem Violin Program, by Allan Miller and Walter Scheuer; Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream, by IDA member Michael Tollin; and Troublesome Creek: A Midwestern, by Jeanne Jordan and Steven Ascher.

The nominees for best achievement in a documentary short subject are Jim Dine: A Self-Portrait on the Wall, by Nancy Dine and Richard Stilwell; The Living Sea, by Greg MacGillivray and Alec Lorimore; Never Give Up: The 20th Century Odyssey of Herbert Zipper, by IDA members Terry Sanders and Freida Lee Mock; One Survivor Remembers, by Kay Antholis; and The Shadow of Hate, by IDA member Charles Guggenheim.

On March 23, the IDA will sponsor the 14th Annual DocuDay, a day-long screening of all the nominated nonfiction features and shorts, and the IDA Oscar Nominees Reception, a celebration honoring the nominated fIlmmakers, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (see pages 9 and 23). The Academy Awards ceremony will be broadcast over ABC on March 25.

IDA Board Welcomes Andre Singer

The IDA Board of Directors welcomes Andre Singer as a regional board member based in London. Following an academic career as an anthropologist at Oxford University, Singer moved into fIlmmaking in 1973 when he joined Granada Television's Disappearing World, for which he eventually became series editor. He was a founding director of the independent production company InCA, which he left in 1990 to head the production unit responsible for independent productions in the BBC's Documentary Department.

At the BBC, Singer created the feature documentary series Fine Cut, which produced 33 films over his three years of editorship from such directors as Werner Herzog, Les Blank, Peter Adair, and D.A. Pennebaker. As commissioning editor, Singer was also responsible for such documentary series as Pole to Pole with Michael Palin, The Prize, Millennium, and Madness with Jonathan Miller. He founded Cafe Productions in 1993 as an umbrella for factual programming with an emphasis on adventure, anthropology, travel, archeology, and history. His recent credits include the award-winning series The World of Geo for UFA (Berlin) and the ten-part series Divine Magic for RTE, Channel 4, and the Learning Channel (U.S.).

Doc Soundtrack Label Formed

New York City-based Music Central, Inc., has announced the formation of Docutrax, believed to be the first record label devoted exclusively to documentary soundtracks. According to IDA member and joint company owner Robert Fish, Docutrax is "a natural extension of the recognition received by prior documentary clients whose soundtrack albums have enjoyed substantial commercial and critical success, including Ken Burns 's Grammy Award-winning Civil War soundtrack, which was recently certified gold.

Docutrax will be distributed nationally by Caroline Records, providing Caroline with at least three documentary soundtrack projects during the first year. Music Central and Docutrax plan to work together to provide a full range of music services in collaboration with filmmakers, including music supervision, scoring, source music, and soundtrack design.

NFPB Intros Web Page

The National Film Preservation Board has introduced a new World Wide Web home page on the Internet to replace its current, rather remote "gopher" site. In addition to information about the NFPB, the Web page contains some 300 hypertext links to other archives, studios, preservation and cultural organizations, copyright and legal sites, laboratories, film schools, Internet search devices, film resource guides, and similar resources. The NFPB home page does not attempt to be a comprehensive directory of the 3,000-plus currently existing film related Internet sites, but instead is highly selective, with major emphasis placed on film archives, preservation, access, and research.

The address to access the NFPB Web page is http://leweb.loc.gov/film. People interested in being linked up to the NFPB home page can e-mail Steve Leggett at sleggett@mail.loc.gov with his or her Internet address. 

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