RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE - SHOOTING HDTV
by RICHARD STRINGER, CSC
I was working with Yaphet Kotto, a principle actor
in "Homicide - Life in the Street" which
has been going for seven seasons on NBC TV. He has
been in films for many years, including the original
"Thomas Crown Affair", "Alien",
"Live and Let Die", and "Brubaker".
I was approached by Yaphet to shoot some documentary
footage at a farm near Marmora, Ontario. He told
me it was an active site for apparitions by the
Virgin Mary, similar to Fatima and Medjugorje. It
seems Yaphet, who is Jewish, has a devout Catholic
wife (Shirley), and she enjoyed visiting this farm
so much, she wanted to move to the country (they
have been living in Toronto since 1992). They are
staying in a condominium in Mamora and are having
a house built there. Yaphet is working in Baltimore
this month on "Homicide - The Movie".
Yaphet was thinking of shooting his documentary
on film, but with the high shooting ratio, film
would be too expensive, especially on a speculative
project. I convinced him to try HDTV video origination
as the cost would be much lower and the quality
of the final product would satisfy any market.
So, John Martin (sound) and myself shot at the farm
on two different occasions, filming pilgrims coming
by the busload hoping to see a possible miracle.
We did not see any paranormal events ourselves,
but over the past few months, Yaphet has been fascinated
by his mysterious experiences at Mamora: observing
the sun falling from the sky, coloured lights in
the clouds, and rosary beads changing color.
The farm's owners, John and Shelagh Greenside, have
set up a trail around a hill forming the Stations
of the Cross. We interviewed the Greensides, and
they explained that they are not after any financial
gain. But they do accept contributions for maintenance,
"gravel for the parking lot", and so on.
We shot a sequence with a visionary supposedly talking
to the Virgin Mary ("visionaries" are
individuals who are privileged to see the apparitions),
and covered various emotional outbursts from the
pilgrims as they were overwhelmed by religious experiences.
Even though we did not see any miracles, there was
much documentary material to be had with as many
as 5,000 visitors there on one day. One big bonus
was the opportunity to purchase a bumbleberry pie
from the local restaurant, The Ice Cream Bakery
on Hwy 7. Mighty Fine Pie!
Anyway, I was glad to shoot some HDTV video on a
real production as I have done much research recently
on the new format. Yaphet was quite impressed with
the rushes - his comment: "Looks just like