This fall 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 film!".

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