“I’ve gotta get out of here!” shrieked the voice from the corner. “You don’t understand. I’m claustrophobic!”
One warm day early last summer, Susan and I had boarded an elevator in a poorly air conditioned archaeological museum in Rome, along with a dozen people from our tour group, and Rachel, our English guide.
We only had to go up two floors, but we had already climbed many step on this tour, and the elevator would save us trekking up a couple of long staircases. Rachel pushed the button and the door closed. The elevator gave a small lurch, then nothing.
I looked at Susan. She smiled at me, her eyes a bit wide. I smiled back. I knew that . . . CONTINUE READING: The Elevator in Rome
As the Seine meanders aimlessly through Paris, Gustave Eiffel’s work of wonder appears to glide from one bank to the other. Our Batobus commuter boat docks in the shadow of the Tower, and I shepherd my small flock to the shore.
Razi, 14, and Danny, 11, have been troupers on this first trip to Europe, and they are eagerly anticipating the Eiffel Tower.
Except … my wife Susan has a phobia. Elevators make her anxious, and she’ll only ride in one if there’s no alternative. Fortunately, the small hotels we have stayed in on this trip have booked us on low floors so she can climb the stairs. But the Eiffel Tower is no walk-up, and we approach with some apprehension. . . . CONTINUE READING: Eiffel: What Goes Up
Bronze Certificate, Funny Travel Category, 9th Annual Solas Awards for Travel Writing from Travelers’ Tales, March 2015
It’s not easy being a mileage whore. Sometimes you have to do things that don’t seem to make sense.
United Airlines operates a major hub in San Francisco, and I’ve whored for their miles for years now. On my trip to Brazil recently, because I wanted the mileage, I had chosen a longer United itinerary through Newark going and Washington coming.
But when things got complicated on the return, I had to decide if the miles were worth it.
We wrapped our week-long video shoot in São Paulo on a Friday night—amid much hugging and thanking with the cast . . . CONTINUE READING: Good Night, Irene—Confessions of a Mileage Whore
At 9 am Monday, I left my home near San Francisco for what proved to be one of my longest trips ever. Twenty-nine hours later, I reached my destination, after a grueling air journey.
But I hadn’t been hurled halfway around the world. I had finally touched down in Fargo, North Dakota, just halfway across the U.S., a mere 1450 miles from home.
At that rate—about 50 miles per hour—I could have driven there.
By comparison, some years before, in 24 hours, I flew from Singapore to Johannesburg to Nairobi to Kampala, Uganda—over 7500 miles. Another time I traveled 8800 miles from San Francisco to Singapore in 23 hours, including a very short overnight in Bangkok. Twice I had . . . CONTINUE READING: Why They Call It Far-go
My book SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA tells true stories from my long career as a director of photography, working on film and digital cinema shoots across the U.S. and all around the world—Japan, India, China, Uganda, the Philippines, New Zealand, France, Singapore, England, Taiwan, Mexico, and Brazil.
The book has recently been honored as a Commended Winner in Non-Fiction in the 2014 Self-Publishing Review Awards. One of the three highest non-fiction awards!
SHOWDOWN AT SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil
New Book by BILL ZARCHY on sale now!
Introduction by Larry Habegger
Bill Zarchy’s new book—SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA—is now on sale at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle e-book versions. SHOWDOWN AT SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil tells true stories from Zarchy’s long career as a director of photography, working on film and digital cinema shoots across the U.S. and all around the world—Japan, India, China, Uganda, the Philippines, New Zealand, France, Singapore, England, Taiwan, Mexico, and Brazil. . . . CONTINUE READING: SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA Now Available in Paperback and Kindle e-Book Versions
MY NEW BOOK SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil —will be published in just a few short weeks. I have received the first test copies and expect the book to be on sale everywhere in early November.
SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA tells 18 true tales of my long career working on film shoots across the U.S. and all around the world—Japan, India, China, Uganda, the Philippines, New Zealand, France, Singapore, England, Taiwan, Mexico, and Brazil.
SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA is funny and poignant, populated with a real-life cast of characters who add serious, silly, and sardonic perspective to our adventures shooting on the road. We overcome numbing jetlag, deal with cultural obstacles, and sometimes are rewarded for our efforts with a deep satisfaction. And … every day is different! . . . CONTINUE READING: SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA Will Be Published in a Few Weeks
Ten of us arrive, unannounced, at the restaurant on the terrace, hoping for an outside table.
The staff seats us quickly, then waters, breads, menus, wines, serves, desserts, and espressos us in style. The service is seamless, though during the meal I notice one of our waitresses hurrying by, looking harried. But we gab and laugh and catch up in the sun on the terrace, enjoying the company, the food, and the splendid New England day.
Eventually the waitress brings the check, with amends. “I’m so sorry about the delay. Thanks for your understanding.” . . . CONTINUE READING: Unpunished
Lots of time in Latin America lately.
In the past two years, I’ve been to Brazil on two work trips, vacationed in Baja, visited my son in Chile, and now I’m in Mexico City for nearly a week, shooting a medical video. Everywhere we’re surrounded by wonderful faces, fascinating street scenes, huge swaths of color, unique art, and both traditional and innovative design. A visual smorgasbord, for sure. Also, amazingly, we have a whole weekend off.
Here’s a sample of the color around us. Photos from Coyoacán and Palenco Districts, Frida Kahlo’s House/Museum, and the Museo de Arte Moderna. . . . CONTINUE READING: The Color of Mexico City
In my mind, I’m Danny McCoy, deftly easing my washboard abs into my 69 Camaro ragtop, trolling confidently up and down the Strip, the wind ruffling my hair as I head for a liaison with my all-grown-up childhood pal Mary Connell, or a dalliance with Delinda Deline, the boss’s daughter.
In RL (gamer parlance for Real Life), I’m a middle-aged guy with grey hair, a little too full of sushi and sake, ambling and people-watching from Luxor to New York, New York, trying to take a few interesting photos on the Strip before collapsing into bed after a long day walking the floor at NAB.
Obviously I’ve watched too many episodes of “Las Vegas!” Like the Josh Duhamel . . . CONTINUE READING: Lost Wages: Everything Looks Great at NAB
I shot a one-day HD job this week for a Silicon Valley company … in Paris. Another shoot with two Canon 5D Mark II cameras, mine plus one belonging to the production company.
All in all, I was in the air about 22 hours, and on the ground for about 48. I did have a couple of hours to prowl around through the heart of Paris on our arrival day with my camera and director Dan Smith. . . . CONTINUE READING: Prowling Through Paris
Busy week. Lotsa time in the air:
Last Monday—Fly SFO to Washington-Dulles / Tuesday—One-day shoot near Dulles airport / Wednesday—Fly Dulles to SFO / Thursday—Breathe, pant / Friday—Scheme, pack / Saturday—Depart SFO to Paris / Sunday—Arrive Paris / Monday—One-day shoot in Paris / Tuesday—Fly Paris to SFO / Today—Breathe, pant, blog
Mastering jetlag is the only way I can get through periods like these. It’s an imperfect science at best . . . CONTINUE READING: Sky Jockey: Conquering Jetlag
News from Townsend 11, the writing collective I’ve belonged to for years, here in San Francisco:
First—Volume 1 of our new book series, No Fixed Destination: Eleven Stories of Life, Love, Travel, was originally published in July as a Kindle book. But now we have made it available at most e-book stores.
Next—Volume 2 of the series, No Set Boundaries: Eleven Stories of Life, Misadventure, will be published in a few days on the Kindle Store, and through other e-Book outlets a few weeks later. . . . CONTINUE READING: Townsend 11: Volume 1 Now in More Stores, Volume 2 Due Out Soon
Photos from my Brazil trip, August 2011 . . . CONTINUE READING: Streets of São Paulo
Less than an hour after my last post (Brazil: Some Days the Bear Eats You), my friend The Dave Mitchell responded on my Facebook page: “Nice, Bill. Easy days are completely forgettable.” Isn’t that the truth?
“But,” added The Dave, a freelance gaffer/key grip, “I’m available if you’ve got any coming up.” If only!
After our tough time at the tower, the next couple of days shooting in Brazil were smooth as silk. Just as The Dave said, I can remember little about those shoots except for what we did and where we did it. I always find it amazing that I can easily spin out 1500-2000 words describing a bad day, but smooth shoots leave me with less material. That’s why OO stories (Overcoming Obstacles) are so popular in movies. It’s hard to find a narrative arc in a yarn about happy professionals cheerfully moving apace from setup to lovely setup. . . . CONTINUE READING: Brazil: Smooth as Silk
On my first day in Brazil, I visited the rental house with Mush and Heeka.
I brought my Canon 5D, a slew of lenses and two GoPro cameras with me from the States, but we’ve arranged to rent a second 5D camera body, two tripods, a small monitor, a wide angle lens, and some accessories from Universo Imagens here in São Paulo.
Visiting the rental house is a time-honored ritual on international shoots. The most interesting rental house experience I can recall was in India several years ago. In a small warehouse crammed with a variety of battered and somewhat obsolete lighting instruments, a dutiful staff brought out each light we were renting, then plugged in and turned on . . . CONTINUE READING: Brazil: Visiting the Rental House