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Teaching | Tech | Travel

Why They Call It Far-go

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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

Books / Writing | Production | Travel

New Award & Reviews for SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil

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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!

RECENT REVIEWS

“Funny, sweet, and wise…deeply moving human interest stories…the doctor in India who doesn’t charge for treating people via telemedicine, the young man in England with cystic fibrosis who has a new lease on life thanks . . . CONTINUE READING: New Award & Reviews for SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil

Books / Writing | Production | Travel

SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA Now Available in Paperback and Kindle e-Book Versions

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

Books / Writing | Photos | Production | Travel

SHOWDOWN at SHINAGAWA Will Be Published in a Few Weeks

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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

Muse | Travel

Unpunished

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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

Photos | Travel

The Color of Mexico City

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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

Tech | Travel

Lost Wages: Everything Looks Great at NAB

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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

Photos | Travel

Prowling Through Paris

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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

Travel

Sky Jockey: Conquering Jetlag

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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

Books / Writing | Travel

Townsend 11: Volume 1 Now in More Stores, Volume 2 Due Out Soon

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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 | Travel

Streets of São Paulo

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Photos from my Brazil trip, August 2011 . . . CONTINUE READING: Streets of São Paulo

Travel

Good Night, Irene—Confessions of a Mileage Whore

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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 last month, 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 shoot in São Paulo on a Friday night—amid much hugging and thanking with the cast and crew—and had time to relax over dinner that evening. Saturday was the first day all week I didn’t have to set my alarm for 5:30, and I luxuriated in sleeping in. I had plans to meet Mush for breakfast before his 3 pm flight back home to Salvador, Bahia, further north up the Brazilian coast. My own departure for the States was scheduled for Saturday night. . . . CONTINUE READING: Good Night, Irene—Confessions of a Mileage Whore

Production | Travel

Brazil: Smooth as Silk

Shooting on the Avenida Paulista, as Ricca tries to hail a cab in the background.

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

Production | Travel

Brazil: Visiting the Rental House

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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

Production | Travel

Back to Brazil

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On my first trip to Brazil in 1993, I was shooting for a Japanese high-tech company. We arrived in São Paulo and went out to scout at our client’s manufacturing facility nearby.

We met with the general manager of the company, a Brazilian who was impressed by this visit from corporate headquarters.

“What can I do for you?” he asked our clients from Tokyo. “Where would you like to film?”

“We are here to film the manufacture of our cellular phones,” they responded.

A frown crossed the general manager’s face. “Cellular phones?” he asked, then consulted in Portuguese with several of his colleagues.

“We have not made cellular phones here for three or four years now.”

Somehow, the geniuses . . . CONTINUE READING: Back to Brazil

Books / Writing | Travel

My Writing Group Has Published a Book of Stories—No Fixed Destination, by Townsend 11, Vol. 1 of Our New Series

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For the past few weeks, I’ve been working with other authors in my writing group, passing through final stages of publication for our first e-Book … Drumroll !! …

Available NOW at Amazon’s Kindle Store:

No Fixed Destination: Eleven Stories of Life, Love, Travel

This collection of 11 personal essays, memoirs, and true stories from Townsend 11, a group of award-winning writers, takes readers on emotional journeys and adventures from California to Croatia to China and back, Ethiopia to Egypt, England to New England, and Hawaii to Hot Springs, Arkansas. . . . CONTINUE READING: My Writing Group Has Published a Book of Stories—No Fixed Destination, by Townsend 11, Vol. 1 of Our New Series