Here is a nice article written in the Seattle Times in November 2007:
Local vets relive memories of war for national project
By Sherry Grindeland
Seattle Times Eastside bureau
When Albert "Bud" Campbell, of Seattle, was getting out of the U.S. Army, a young officer asked him to join the reserves and gave him the paperwork. Campbell tore the papers in two and handed them back.
"I'd seen enough death and destruction," said Campbell, an infantry captain. Until last week, the 89-year-old World War II veteran didn't talk about his war experiences in New Guinea and the Philippines.
Norris Bevan, of Bellevue, spent his 20th birthday fighting the pivotal Battle of the Bulge in Europe. He, too, never shared the horrors buried under a half-century of normal life.
When he talks about finding the bodies of 150 Americans, captured and then massacred by German soldiers, he cries. Then there was the small village where many villagers were executed. Bevan didn't join a veterans organization because he was done with war. He didn't want to remember his life in the 30th Division.
But this fall Bevan and Campbell put aside their reluctance and told their stories in front of a video camera. Like thousands of other veterans, they were persuaded to participate in a massive national project trying to capture a piece of American history before those who lived it firsthand are gone.
But getting those Tom Brokaw dubbed "The Greatest Generation" to participate in the Veterans History Project (VHP) at the Library of Congress has been a challenge. Many are reticent, saying they just did the job that needed doing. For others it's still too painful to talk about, even 60 years later.
RJ McHatton, of North Bend, knows how difficult recruiting these veterans can be. He's one of eight official VHP partners in Washington state and hopes to complete 100 interviews in the next few months.
He's been to service-club meetings, chambers of commerce and military groups. "We thought that after the Ken Burns movie, 'The War,' came out, there would be a swarm of people wanting this done," McHatton said. "We have not seen the rush yet."
Part of the reason is emotional.
"These are doors the veterans don't want to open again," said Robert Patrick, director of the VHP at the Library of Congress. "What they went through is too difficult to talk about."
Others are too modest to speak up.
"This is a generation that is humble," said McHatton. "They went through the Depression and then World War II. They don't consider what they did a sacrifice."
Still, since the project began in 2000, the Library of Congress has received more than 50,000 veterans' stories. More than 30,000 are from World War II, although the project seeks material from veterans of all wars.
Most of the $2 million annual budget goes for a staff that includes 12 to 15 archivists who catalog and process the oral histories and donations of letters, photos, diaries and other memorabilia.
"Because this is volunteer-driven, we get a lot of bang for the buck," Patrick said.
The VHP was started, he said, to create a source for research, fill a chapter in our national history and provide inspiration for the nation.
"The stories we're getting are a great example of what it means to serve your country," he said. "We enjoy our freedoms because these people defended our country."
While official partners such as McHatton, who runs a video biography company called Inventive Productions, turn in professional-quality materials, anyone is welcome to send in their own stories or those of family members, he said.
The project has become the largest oral-history collection in the country, said Patrick, and the material is already a vast treasure trove for historical writers and researchers.
Burns, the film director, partnered with the VHP to produce "The War." Another collaborative effort with National Geographic produced two books from the stories, "Voices of War: Stories of Service From the Home Front and the Front Lines," released in 2004, and "Forever a Soldier: Unforgettable Stories of Wartime Service" in 2005. A four-part radio series, "Experiencing War," aired on 100 Public Radio International stations.
Tim Mallory, reference librarian at Timberland Regional Library in Tumwater, said Burns' "The War" prompted an onslaught of calls to his office. The library will videotape any veteran in Thurston, Lewis, Mason and Pacific counties. Mallory said they've done more than 150 histories for VHP.
Like many veterans who agreed to be interviewed, Campbell and Bevan broke their self-imposed silence at the urging of friends and family.
For his taping, Bud Campbell sat in a comfortable chair in his North Seattle living room. His wife, Mary, watched from the dining-room table as McHatton set up a small bank of lights, a microphone and a video recorder on a tripod. McHatton used flashcards of questions to prompt Campbell.
He talked about being stationed at Camp Roberts in Northern California on Dec. 7, 1941.
"I was on a weekend pass when Pearl Harbor was bombed," Campbell said. "They kept saying on the radio that all military personnel should return to base immediately. I didn't go back until 2 a.m. because I knew we'd never get off base."
He was 23 years old and overnight his one-year commitment became five. He became an officer and fought in New Guinea and the Philippines.
"In Luzon we split into three groups. One went up one road, one another road and my group went through the jungle, up the hills. Each hill was higher than the last and each hill was a battle," he said.
Once the Philippines were secure, his 33rd Infantry Division trained to invade Japan. Experts were predicting a horrific invasion battle with massive casualties. Then the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
"That's one of the things that bugs me," Campbell said. "There's so little taught about World War II in our schools. My kids came home from Nathan Hale High School and were saying we shouldn't have dropped the atomic bomb.
"I told them, I wouldn't be here and they wouldn't exist if we hadn't. They never brought it up again."
Those memories are just what McHatton and other historians want to preserve.
"The children and grandchildren and future generations need to know what our veterans have gone through," McHatton said.
McHatton is focusing on World War II veterans, an endangered demographic. Fewer than one-fourth of the men and women who served in the U.S. military in World War II survive. More than 1,000 die each day.
Sometimes the stories he hears make him laugh; sometimes he cries. The rewards are immeasurable, he said.
"I haven't done a story yet that I haven't pulled something out for my personal life," he said. "We're doing the veterans' stories for the generations that follow.
"Think of what it would be like today to have a video of Abraham Lincoln."
Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is an article written in Wealth Manager Magazine in 2007
An estate plan should include stocks, bonds—and a life story.
Several years ago, a successful entrepreneur approached me about ghostwriting his autobiography. His goal was to share his business acumen and personal values with employees and family members; given his accomplishments, it’s likely the book would have found an audience. We discussed the project in detail, but it quickly became apparent that he couldn’t spend the time needed for interviews and subsequent edits.
This man wasn’t alone in wanting to write his memoirs: the urge to tell one’s life story seems to spreading. The Association of Personal Historians, a trade group for those who produce personal histories, has grown from 12 members at its founding in 1995 to over 700 today. Approximately half the members create print biographies, with the remainder divided between video and audio biographies.
Subjects initiate their own memoirs in some instances, but while it’s tempting to attribute the growing interest in memoirs to self-obsessed Baby Boomers, industry sources say that motivation accounts for a relatively small part of their business. R.J. McHatton, owner of Inventive Productions LLC in Bellevue, Wash., started filming video biographies as a side business 19 years ago and switched to a full-time service one-and-a-half years ago. He assumed initially that affluent seniors or business owners would be his primary market. “But the audience is the market,” says McHatton. “As boomers are getting into their 50s and 60s, they’re starting to think about their parents’ and grandparents’ legacies. So it’s the kids and grandkids buying this service for their parents and grandparents as the subjects.”
Bob Norris, founder of The Personal History Group in Lombard, Ill., provides print biographies with the audio interviews on accompanying CDs. Norris has found that many parents don’t commission their own biographies because “there is a certain amount of modesty” and a concern that their lives haven’t been particularly interesting. When their children commission the memoir, however, parents often say it’s an honor to participate because someone wanted to hear their story. Consequently, the subjects’ children commission 60 percent to 70 percent of Norris’s projects.
Some financial advisors believe that memoirs can play an important role in sharing formative experiences and values between the generations. Randy Kim, CLU, ChFC and owner of R. W. Kim and Company in Bellevue, Wash., started urging clients to consider autobiographies several years ago, and he now refers clients exclusively to McHatton. “Years ago the price for a high quality video production was out of sight,” says Kim. “But today’s technology makes it much more cost-effective. I plan to discuss biographies in every annual review with my clients.”
Mark LaSpisa, CFP and principal of Vermillion Financial Advisors in South Barrington, Ill., works with clients between ages 50 and 70. As dynasty-planning techniques became more popular over the past decade, he found that the focus of estate planning changed from leaving assets to the next generation to setting up transfers for multiple generations. In turn, the longer horizons led clients to consider other aspects of their legacies, such as passing on the family’s values and history.
LaSpisa introduces clients to the idea of writing a memoir by posing a hypothetical scenario. “I ask them if they would rather leave their heirs $1 million or $995,000 and their life story,” he says. “When it’s presented that way, most clients start realizing that documenting the family history is important. My clients understand mortality. They’ve had friends and spouses die; their health may not be the best. There is a saying: When an elderly person dies, the library is closed—that history is gone forever.” Most clients react positively to the idea and LaSpisa estimates that 10 to 15 have commissioned the project, but that is still less than 10 percent of clients who expressed an initial interest.
Kim’s experience has been that clients are frequently “somewhat mesmerized” by the idea, but that reaction is often tempered by self-doubt. Some clients doubt that their story is sufficiently interesting, and many are camera-shy. Others are concerned about the cost and counter that they can create the video themselves. Kim acknowledges their concerns but points out the value of having professionals create the memoir. “There is nothing like having a professional do it,” he says. “The images, interview, and story all come together in harmony.
An interview or series of interviews is the initial step in capturing the subject’s story, whether the memoir will appear in audio, print, video or multiple media. Consequently, the interviewer’s ability to draw out the subject is critical to uncovering interesting material. Jane Wollman Rusoff, a journalist and author in Los Angeles, Calif., had over 20 years of interviewing experience—including numerous celebrity interviews—before launching Family Star Productions in 2005. She interviews her subjects by phone or in person; the process usually requires a one-hour initial interview and one to two hours of follow-up conversations as needed. In Rusoff’s experience, a subject’s lack of celebrity is not an obstacle to a compelling story. “I don’t think there is any life that doesn’t lend itself to a legacy profile,” she says.
Inventive Productions’ initial interviews take two to three hours, and the interviewer provides subjects with cue cards and a teleprompter so they don’t have to rehearse their responses. The interview starts with a personal timeline: parents and grandparents, childhood, school years, work and military careers. That’s interesting information for descendants, but McHatton believes the most effective part of the video is what he calls the “wisdom section.” In this latter part of the video, subjects share their thoughts on why they are who they are, the defining moments of their lives, and who had the most influence on them. “We ask them about the regrets or unfulfilled dreams they might have,” says McHatton. “What advice do they want to give their descendants who aren’t even born yet?”
The Personal History Group (PHG) takes a two-stage approach. The first stage typically requires eight to 12 hours of interviews in four-hour sessions. PHG compiles this material into an unedited transcript; subjects can stop the process at this stage if they wish and PHG will deliver the raw transcript and the audio files. In the second stage, PHG takes the material through editing to book format. Norris says that the time required from the first interview through to book delivery is six to 12 months, depending largely on how quickly the subject completes each phase.
Production costs vary with the medium selected, and each of the biographers cited gives subjects several options. Rusoff’s average cost for a written Legacy Profile is $2,500. Inventive Productions offers five production packages; the average charge for a full video biography is around $6,000. PHG’s fees range from $3,500 to $5,000 for the first stage services; $7,000 to $11,000 for a biography; and its professionally written and illustrated “Miography” costs between $20,000 and $30,000.
There are no credentials or required training to write memoirs, so clients will want to see work samples and get referrals. Advisors and clients interested in locating historians for potential projects can search the Association of Personal Historians’ online membership directory at www.personalhistorians.org. For firsthand experience with the process, consider commissioning the biographer. Both Kim and LaSpisa have done this for their family members, and the insights they gained into the process sparked their enthusiasm for recommending memoirs to clients.
Admittedly, suggesting that clients create personal histories falls outside the usual range of financial services, but it can benefit both advisors and clients. Rusoff suggests introducing the idea of writing a memoir when the advisor is learning about the client in the first part of the relationship. She notes that the memoirs give advisors additional insights into a client’s life, values, and what their dreams were and might still be. In her experience, memoirs encourage a deeper bond with clients for advisors seeking consultative relationships. Kim shares that assessment: “I don’t think that an advisor whose model is driven by the numbers—that is, their goal is to be best in class at investing money—will benefit from this. But an advisor who has a relationship-based practice should consider this.”
Tell Your Story
Some resources for the memoir-oriented client:
• Association of Personal Historians: www.personalhistorians.org
• Family Star Productions: www.familystarproductions.com
• Inventive Productions: www.inventiveproductions.com
• The Personal History Group: www.thepersonalhistorygroup.com
Additionally, clients who wish to write their own memoirs can find dozens of how-to guides on Amazon.com. —EM
Ed McCarthy, CFP is a freelance writer in Pascoag, RI.
Here is a nice article written in September 2006 in the Seattle Times:
With personal histories, everyone can star in their memoir
By Marsha King
Seattle Times staff reporter
As the camera starts to roll in the living room of his Edmonds penthouse, the great-grandfather sits up a little straighter, clears his throat and reads the first cue card.
"My name is Dean Echelbarger. And this is my life."
Then, for the next three hours, Echelbarger — a prominent Snohomish County land developer — humbly spins out the story of his 83 years:
About growing up as one of nine kids during the Depression: "We didn't have any money, but we always had full stomachs."
About liberating concentration-camp victims during World War II: "They were so weak they couldn't stand by themselves."
About being married nearly six decades to Gladys, who died of cancer five years ago: "She was a beautiful girl. But she had a mind of her own. Don't most women?"
As a man who rarely talks about himself, this wasn't his decision ... to be a movie star.
His adult children, nudged by a grandkid who heard about the idea, hired a film company to capture his personal story on a professionally produced DVD, complete with live interviews, old photos and music.
"He just had a lot of stuff to tell. We've been wanting to get it down on paper," daughter-in-law Kathy Echelbarger said. "We just thought it's a great way to get all this family history."
The explosion of interest in tracing one's roots has given rise to another phenomenon. Ordinary people — particularly baby boomers and their elder parents — are hiring filmmakers and writers to immortalize their histories on pricey videos and books that can look good enough for the History Channel or bookstore shelves.
"It's entertainment combined with history," said RJ McHatton, whose Bellevue company, Inventive Productions, is producing the Echelbarger video. "... We're trying to learn about their personalities, the lessons they learned, the family values and ethics, the wisdom and advice."
The trend, while not in the mainstream, is hot enough that an international conference in Portland on Oct. 4-8 for producers of personal histories is sold out.
Typically, the videos use high-definition cameras and combine photo montages and music with live interviews. The books can combine first-person narratives with photos, images of legal documents or letters, and even audio interviews on disc.
Speculation varies about the stepped-up interest in documenting personal history. Some say the 9/11 terrorist attacks forced us to confront our mortality. Others claim this fast-paced, transient society is looking for its lost roots. Still others note that time is running out for the World War II generation.
"People are trying to make sense out of their lives," said Karen Lynn Maher, a personal historian in Kirkland.
The trend reflects a revolution under way in how we regard social history. Homage to the achievements of generals and presidents has broadened with a recognition that a nation's history can't be authentic without the stories of average citizens.
Museums, historical societies, even the Veterans Administration are all scrambling to build their collections of oral-history interviews with the likes of World War II veterans, Rosie the Riveters and African-American pioneers.
And people are simply becoming aware of what's possible, thanks to an explosion in online search tools, new accessibility of historical documents and genealogy databases, and the ease of desktop publishing and digital cameras.
"It's absolutely wonderful for people to see themselves as actors in history," said Lorraine McConaghy, historian at Seattle's Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI), which is building a collection of oral-history interviews with metropolitan Seattle residents.
In response to rising interest, a small industry has emerged.
The Association of Personal Historians has grown from about 15 members in 1995 to more than 600 worldwide, including about 20 companies in Washington state.
In Portland, the group's four-day conference will include a free public forum on how to capture life stories, find genealogy data on the Internet and preserve heirlooms.
Anyone can call himself a personal historian; the title carries no special credentials or certification, and the prices and quality of work vary.
Maher charges about $13,500 for 10 simply bound memoirs based on three to four hours of interviews.
McHatton's most popular video package is $6,000 for a 45-minute documentary that includes interviews with friends and family, a musical slide show, a coffee-table book, a movie poster and the design of a personal Web site.
On the low end, he offers a basic autobiography interview of one person with opening and ending music and a title screen, but no editing, for $500.
"The main goal is really not monetary," McHatton said. "The thing I like the most is the wisdom and stories ... the lessons they've learned and their defining moments."
So far, the market for personal historians is primarily well-off and white.
"We have a group that's reaching out to people of color ... that's one of the things we've really focused on," said Julie McDonald Zander, a personal historian in Lewis County who's directing the Portland conference.
And in the vast majority of cases, "it is the men who do the life story," said Ralph Fascitelli, co-founder of a Seattle-based video-biography company LifeChapters. "I think this is a generational thing, as most older women were homemakers who felt their husbands led more interesting lives."
Folks who tackle the job themselves have boosted enrollment in local how-to classes and programs.
Legal secretary Lori Handschin enrolled in a nine-month course at the University of Washington to write a scholarly work about her father's World War II service as a combat medic. She can't imagine hiring out this work — "It would be like hiring someone else to write a love letter for me."
But many would-be historians want help.
On Mercer Island, Marion Chadwick wanted to inspire other older adults with a memoir about her late-life competitive swimming career. In retirement, the former elementaryschool teacher hired a coach and started winning medals in international competitions.
Over a few years, she'd accumulated an accordion file full of handwritten notes and research but no finished product. Her husband urged her to hire Maher, whom he'd heard speak at a gathering of retired bankers.
The resulting six-month project, "Tales of a Master Swimmer," will cost $13,500, not including printing 300 copies of the glossy paperback. She'll mail most of the copies as gifts to everybody she knows, hoping they'll pass their copy on to others.
"I'm at the place where I don't spend money on clothes ... ," said Chadwick, who, at 85, is still winning medals. "It's where you put your priorities."
As movie stars go, Dean Echelbarger could be called unassuming.
He professes no regrets, no terrible times and no grand turning points. The only lesson he wants to impart is the familiar "Do unto others ... "
His proudest moments? When each of his three sons was born. And he feels good about helping raise money for buildings and a day care on the Edmonds Community College campus, and helping low-income students get scholarships.
"As you get older, you find out that you are a historian ... I know things that I have never mentioned ... "
He grew up around the first settlers of what is now Lynnwood.
"I was old enough to know them ... my dad owned the freight line." Echelbarger came home from school to load the wood those homesteaders chopped every day onto his dad's truck. It was bound for the fireplaces of families in Seattle — "families with names that are now streets."
"The Santa Shoot" --Redmond Spokesman, Oct 2, 1996
Ever since he was a boy with an old 8-millimeter movie camera, perched on
moving cars to film chase scenes and westerns in the Fresno, Calif.,
neighborhood where he grew up, RJ McHatton knew he wanted to be a filmmaker.
The youngster born in the tiny Eastern Oregon town of Long Creek pursued his
dream into adulthood, attending UCLA and going to New York for an
apprenticeship at a Belgian film school in 1978-1979.
He wrote a few screenplays and once was close to a deal to produce one into
a made-for-television movie, but the deal fell through and his career
evolved in a different direction.
Instead of making films, he became the proprietor of "art house" movie
theaters, places that showed foreign and avant garde films and cinema
classics. But many repertory theaters didn't survive the video revolution of
McHatton says he planned to "go to Paris for a year and live like Hemingway"
in the mid-1980s, but changed his plans when he met his future wife in
Oregon. During the eight years McHatton has worked as sales manager at Eagle
Crest Resort while he and Victoria started raising a family, his dream of
making movies endured.
Inspired by the success of "El Mariachi," a low-budget independent film
launched to success from the Sundance film festival a few years ago,
McHatton revived his filmmaking ambition.
Sitting in the living room of his Redmond home surrounded by spooky
Halloween decorations, the aspiring writer/director talks about the Santa
Claus theme of his first movie, "The Red Suit."
"It's kind of a universal story," says McHatton, who has thinning,
reddish-blonde hair and a girth worthy of Santa. "It's about family."
Bend actress Misty Urbach plays the wayward granddaughter of the main
character, actor Phil Nesmith of Phoenix, and they become reconciled on a
quest to recover his stolen Santa suit. "It has a chase scene, action,
romance, comedy,and it's kind of a road picture," McHatton says.
"It's sort of a movie that's got a little bit of everything." He filmed "The
Red Suit" over the last few months at locations all over Central Oregon.
His dream is a premier showing at the prestigious Sundance festival, created
by Robert Redford as a showcase for independent films. "There's a lot of
people all over the country making their own little films with the same
dream," says McHatton. He's reserved a condo in Utah for the January
festival, but first he must finish editing his film to submit a copy to
Sundance by Oct 11.
Even if his film is not one of the 115 selected for showing from thousands
of Sundance entries, McHatton says he will fulfilled his goal of completing
a feature- length movie. "You've got to set your goals and go for it
sometimes," he says.
Despite more opportunities for exposure and the success of films like "The
Spitfire Grill," a $100,000 production bought for $10 million by a major
distributor after its Sundance debut last year, independent filmmakers still
face long odds in trying to get their movies into theaters. But making "The
Red Suit" has been a lot of fun for McHatton and his cast, which includes
dozens of area youngsters as extras, including the director's children,
Jason and Crissy.
"People have been really supportive," says McHatton, who filmed scenes at
various locations Redmond viewers will recognize if they ever getto see the
His "Red Suit" screenplay--one of seven he's written--was an award winner in
a contest sponsored by Kodak, which sent him 20,000 feet of film for his
project. His modest goal for the movie is "to get enough financing to make
my next film," which McHatton says will be a modern-day western.
Former classmates he saw last weekend at his20-year high school reunion in
Fresno probably weren't surprised to learn McHatton is still behind a
camera. In high school, he made short films instead of writing term papers.
"Meridian Movie Man gets inspired by Idaho"-Scott Crosby, The Valley News,
July 28, 1998
Batman, Santa Claus, and RJ McHatton of Meridian have a lot in common. All
are associated in one way or another with making films, and Batman isn't the
only one who retreats to a secret hideaway to get his behind-the-scenes work
Of course, that cave could just as well be Santa's workshop at the North
Pole-minus the elves, of course. "It's all done in the 'Bat Cave,'" McHatton
says with a big, bright smile of his "one-man army," low budget filmmaking
process for his White Knuckles Productions, which is based in his home
"I'm my own cameraman, light and sound tech, script writer, editor,
director, producer..." At least, Batman had Robin, and Santa Claus has Mrs.
Claus for help. Well, OK, McHatton does almost everything.
Wife Victoria coordinates soundtrack selections and composers, and son
Jason, 8, and daughter Crissy, 7, even played parts in his debut film, "The
Red Suit." The madcap comedy is about Santa Claus, played by veteran actor
Phillip Nesmith of Phoenix, Ariz., and a prostitute who's the jolly ol'
elf's granddaughter, played by Misty Urbach, of Bend, Oregon.
"We had 150 kids show up to chase Santa Claus," McHatton says, noting he
used students from a Bend elementary school and other local talents,
including radio disc jockeys. "It was fun seeing them chase and tackle
him...and using local talent like that is the kind of stuff we will do here
"I've always liked John Wayne movies and I incorporate car chases, barroom
brawls, funny music, and lots of action with a moral to the story," McHatton
says of "The Red Suit" and how it fits into and sets the tone for his styles
and philosophies of filmmaking. "Movie-making is the powerful storytelling
there is, but you have to entertain people because there's a short attention
span when watching movies.
I preview audiences for impact-that's what most big films do now, too-and I
get input from the audience." McHatton caught the attention-and much valued
input-of critic Roger Ebert at a recent Sundance Film Festival. Ebert spoke
with the Idaho filmmaker on a broadcast segment of the CBS-TV program "48
Hours," which aired Thursday, July 17. "Actually, I was getting a book
signed by him (Ebert)," McHatton said. "I sent the film to the festival to
try to compete. I was just there as an audience member. I didn't know he was
doing a documentary about low-budget filmmakers and, since then, I've gotten
calls from all over the country about it."
Inspired by the low-budget movie "El Mariachi" which won acclaim at the
Sundance festival a few years ago and motivated by his own "mid-life
crisis," McHatton was stricken with the overwhelming desire to get back into
film work. "I just turned 40...and I did Super 8 films when I was young and
growing up in Fresno, Calif., then got into repertory art theatre years
ago...and eventually wound up working in my Dad's tire business for a
while," says McHatton, who also is general manager of Eagle Crest
Communities of Boise as his "day job" that currently includes building new
condominiums in McCall. "But I've always wanted to make my own movies."
Equipped with a 1960s vintage Arriflex 16mm camera to gather footage and
modern technology on the other end of the process with digital video and
computer equipment, McHatton breathed new life into the mighty lungs of his
filmmaking dreams. McHatton started the mammoth undertaking of the "The Red
Suit" in Oregon. He put the script on a storyboard, organized "shots" at
about 100 different locations, directed as he gathered the raw footage, and
submerged himself in the editing process until he had the final product.
The filmmaker moved from Redmond, Oregon to Meridian about a year ago and is
excited about the prospects of doing his next film in the Boise area with
its "great landscapes, mild weather and sunshine, which shines most of the
time even when it's cold in the winter."
All that natural illumination is brightening McHatton's effervescent smile
even brighter, especially with his goal of completing 100 films during his
life-preferably, he says, by age 50. At that pace, he would roll out 10
films per year, or almost one per month. Either way he cuts and edits it,
that's a lot of movies. "I've written 20 movies," McHatton says, while
toying with a compact, electric digital video camera the size of a small
handweight and holding it up next to older but nontheless still extremely
"I have another 50 storylines, and about 10 screenplays-all ready to shoot.
I'm going to try to shoot them all in Idaho." McHatton is already in the
midst of his next film production for "Granny, the Bank Robber." He's
commencing casting calls in August and will start shooting in September.
The filmmaker says he learned many things to do-and not to do-in making his
first film that will help expedite us upcoming productions. "First, we won't
shoot in 100 location again-that's way too many," McHatton says, "and we'll
revise 150 minutes to 90. "But I've been lucky enough to get locations for
free and give credit to them. Also, I go by what my favorite filmmaker,
Alfred Hitchcock, did and that's pre-plan everything. I try to emulate his
style, and that's one way." Hitchcock and other filmmakers such as Frank
Capra ("It's a Wonderful Life," starring Jimmy Stewart), whom he met, have
been major inspirations for McHatton.
So, too, will he be for other small, independent filmmakers in the years to
come-especially, he says, with the expansion and proliferation of visual
programming through the media. "With cable TV and 500 satellite channels,
there's high demand for low-budget productions," McHatton says, brimming
with excitement and enthusiasm in every word, "and all these networks and
channels are searching for these products.
There are more than 500 film festivals worldwide and Internet web pages-I'll
be digitizing a trailer and putting it on the Internet-and pretty soon
you'll see a lot of people around the world making their own films-right in
their backyards. Some will be from Idaho. "Go for your dreams-life's too
short. Time goes by pretty fast in your life-and it's the stuff you didn't
do that you'll regret. So, if you sit down and write out your goals, you can
achieve anything-even a movie."