WATCH THIS: A story of resilience when we need it

This one is going to be personal.

In a way, I suspect my friends and neighbors from Butte County are having a slightly easier time coming to terms with the new realities of Covid-19. Over the last few years, between fires, floods and dam problems (of various kinds) we’ve had to absorb more than our shares of drama and disaster.

Maybe the only fringe benefit of all that is it takes more than the problems of the average bear to rattle us. Right now that means hunkering down until this all blows over. It also means you may already be crawling the walls with boredom looking for something to watch.

Enter Ev Duran and his documentary All Its Name Implies.

You probably don’t need me to tell you, but Ev grew up in Paradise, graduated from Paradise High School before going to LA for filmmaking (and deserved Emmy-winning). He spent 2019 making a film every CMF on the ridge needs to see. It’s available for rent and purchase here on Vimeo. 

I’ve bought my copy. It’s something all survivors and friends and family of those who did should see.

For me films on the Camp Fire are too close to personal for my usual critical eye, so I won’t even try. For me, All Its Name Implies plays like the kind of home movie I need to remember a place none of us want to forget. Like all personal things–pictures, films, videos, saved momentos–it will become more dear as time moves on.

So if you’re looking for something to watch, put this on the top of your list.

 

Telling Our Story by way of Sundance

Hi there friends and neighbors,

Today’s update comes as I find myself a knot of emotions.

First, the personal update

I’m sure it’s a place familiar to fellow Camp Fire survivors. You find yourself coming across some happy surprise or some hard earned reward and realize with a pang it would not be possible if November 8, 2018 had been just another day.

For a moment you want to give up everything if that day could be turned into just another forgettable yesterday.

But it cannot, so we all work, to rebuild to tell our story, to pull something worthwhile out of all of this. Which brings me to our update:

Tomorrow I am going to the Sundance Film Festival to find people who might want to help the production of Three Days in Paradise, and also see Ron Howard’s Rebuilding Paradise. I was lucky enough to serve as a field producer on his project, as that work so neatly paralleled the work we’re doing with Three Days.

For someone in my industry, this is the fulfillment of a dream. Having a meaningful credit on a Ron Howard film is exactly the kind of work I originally hoped to get into when I started my film career.

But I know there is no way any of this would be possible if an awful price had not been paid. The word “bittersweet” was invented for just this kind of occasion.

So that’s the personal update.

Now, the project update

Working on Three Days In Paradise has consumed most of the past year for me. It’s been the most exhilarating and excruciating creative experience of my life. And as I see more and more documentaries and specials come out about the Camp Fire and the experience of us on the Paradise Ridge, the more convinced I am the only way the whole story is getting told is for us to tell it.

We’ve all seen some very good documentaries, but even the best only tell a part of the story that impacted us all. And now that our story is being reflected across the globe —in the Amazon where glorious forests have burned—in Australia, were working class people and wild animals have fled waves of fire and animals of all kinds have perished—fires in Greece and Indonesia and… and… and… it’s apparent to me more than ever that something happened in Butte County that people the world over can recognize and relate to.

Like all meaningful stories, it’s small and personal and specific, but speaks to human experiences people of every land and language can understand.

So now I go to rattle the cup and plead for funds to finish. To give you an idea why and how (and to short circuit the inevitable carps on the internet about ‘getting rich’ from tragedy) here’s what a documentary of this scope requires, and this is what we have already done:

Our ambition is to tell story of the people of Paradise Ridge, the causes and effects of the Camp Fire and catastrophes like it in a thorough, emotional and definitive way. As I’ve told our crew, our aim is not to be the first, but to be the best. That kind of storytelling takes an immense amount of work.

What it takes to produce a documentary series

Ken Burns, an influence on the project and creator of multiple well-loved documentaries, released his latest documentary series, Country Music, this last fall. To produce it, Burns and his team…

  • Did 101 interviews spanning 175 hours.
  • They reviewed 100,000 photographs.
  • Of those, they put 30,000 into their editing database.
  • Of those, they chose 3,300 to go into the final film.
  • They also gathered/shot 1,000 hours of additional footage.
  • All of that produced 14 hours that is the definitive documentary on one genre of music.

What we’ve done so far:

To give you an idea of where we are:

  • We have conducted 45 interviews of survivors, first responders, public officials, and fire experts. We hope to interview at least that many more, to say nothing of the more interviews we want to do in association with the oral history needs of the Gold Nugget Museum.
  • We have gathered somewhere between 7,000 to 10,000 photos. We estimate the need to review 40,000 to 50,000 more spanning from the 1840s until literally today.
  • We’ve gathered (thank you friends and neighbors) and hundreds of pieces of privately shot video and film.
  • We have shot more videos that we can currently estimate, and will need to look through hundreds of hours of archival news station and other local footage stretching back to the beginning of television.
  • What that will produce is a 5-to-8 hour portrait of the towns in communities we loved–Paradise, Magalia, Concow–a meaningful understanding of why this disaster happened and even more: what tragedies like this do to break and build people.
  • It’s already helped producer a spin-off informational project, A High And Awful Price: Lessons Learned from the Camp Fire (watch it here).

We’re not doing this so much to find out why, but to find the meaning in all this and pass on what we’ve experienced to others. We know it will help when they face catastrophes of their own.

And I’m telling you, after having reviewed what we’ve done so far, we have found that meaning. I can’t wait to show you all.

So I begin my journey at Sundance to (hopefully) find the checkbook that will make sure our story is told right.

Finally, in a case of great minds thinking alike, we’ll be doing what Ev Duran is doing with his project: Every penny above and beyond the costs of production will be going to fund the rebuilding of the lives of fellow Camp Fire survivors.

Thanks for reading.

A High and Awful Price: Lessons Learned from the Camp Fire (Full, Official Program)

Today I’ve got something from my friends and neighbors for my friends, neighbors and anyone else interested. Take it from us, you should be interested…

The journey to making Three Days in Paradise  is unlike any I’ve heard in all my experience as a filmmaker.

Usually, a documentary team finds an idea that interests them, gets funding, shoots interviews/scenes/gathers historical images and sounds and puts it all together. Sometime later, usually years after they begin, they release their documentary.

While sometimes there are behind the scenes extras on the BluRay or DVD disc, it’s normal for a vast majority of their footages/interviews/images and more to never see the light of day.

But for me, and all of us who lived through the Camp Fire, this experience has been far from normal.

That’s why we’re releasing a mini-documentary today, “A High and Awful Price: Lessons Learned from the Camp Fire.” It’s an hourlong program talking to Paradise citizens, first responders and some Butte County officials about the disaster preparedness they executed before the Camp Fire and what hard lessons they took from the experience of living through the disaster.

In the days of DVDs, it would be a big ‘extra,’ utilizing footage that’s useful and interesting but won’t make it into the bigger story. But we’re releasing it now because, frankly, there are people in California, across the United States and even areas around the world who could use these lessons now.

So if you have heard the story of the Camp Fire, and wonder what you can learn from it, here’s your chance. If you’re a first responder, or disaster preparer in the private sector or for a governmental body, there are things here for you. If you’re simply a citizen looking to know what you and your family need to do to prepare, this is for you.

Our mini-doc, A High and Awful Price: Lessons Learned from the Camp Fire–on KIXE Saturday

Hey friends, family and neighbors,

I’m here today with the news a documentary we’ve produced, A High and Awful Price: Lessons Learned from the Camp Fire, is running this Saturday on KIXE. Specifically, it’s running December 28 on KIXE-HD, channel 9.1 at 8 p.m.

While this is not the docu-series we’re better known for–that being Three Days In Paradise to which you’ve all so generously donated interviews, footage and information and more–we’re releasing this now for a special reason.

A High and Awful Price is meant to pass along the lessons we’ve learned to help people think about, prepare for and plan for disasters that may befall them. As the name suggests, we’ve all been through something wrenching and heartbreaking, so the knowledge we’ve gained… and that can help others… is dear. So getting it out now is something we wanted to do even while Three Days in Paradise‘s release is still down the road a bit.

Price was made in connection with Butte County and is meant as a clear, simple explanation of the causes, effects and responses to a disaster as complex, overwhelming and devastating as the Camp Fire–while also communicating the most important lesson: You are not helpless and there is something you can do in the face of danger.

It was made with the help of Sheriff Kory Honea of Butte County, CALFIRE Chiefs David Hawks and John Messina, Director of Butte County Department of Employment and Social Services Shelby Boston, the Butte County Chief Administrative Officer of Butte County Shari McCracken, Emergency Services Officer Cindi Dunsmoor, Retired Disaster Coordinator for the Paradise Unified School District (and PHS Principal after the fire) Jeff Marcus and Executive Director of California Vocations Bob Irvine.

For that, we are very appreciative. You can see a preview here:

All Its Name Implies Helps Those Who Need It

This story makes me smile.

One of the few pleasures coming out of the saga of the Camp Fire is coming across all the filmmakers dedicated to telling our stories. With 50,000 people fleeing for their lives in the course of a few hours, with over 150,000 people effected locally and thousands more around the state and the country, the number of stories is staggering.

That’s why every time I see a new filmmaker putting down the tasks of their lives to pick up a camera and tell the world what happened on the Paradise Ridge, I feel a little better.

I just got home from the premiere of one of these filmmakers, and this one is special. This one is made by one of us.

Tonight was the premiere of Ev Duran’s All Its Name Implies, a filmmaker from Paradise, who went to PHS and has been working this last year to produce a film, a love letter to Paradise, through the lens of his family, friends and those he knew.

I’m not going to pretend to be objective or dispassionate in my judgements. It meant a lot to see this, to visit again the Paradise we knew, and to know Ev put his life in Los Angeles on hold for the last year while he worked on this. And to know he’s working so hard to use this film to raise funds for Camp Fire survivors still in need.

Some are coming to Butte County to use us as props to burnish their own reputations. Others are doing the right thing, taking their talents and work and passions to lend a hand and they should be rewarded.

Ev is one of those trying to help. He’s one of us. So help him out. The box office for tonight’s premiere is being donated to those in need, as are the funds from the upcoming January showing.

So head over to these links and find out how to help, where you can see All Its Name Implies and what you can do to help a local boy make good.

The Official Website

Facebook.com/AllItsNameImplies

The world premiere of Ev Duran's All Its Name Implies: Fire, Ash, & the Resilience of Paradise

The audience watching Ev Duran’s Camp Fire documentary All Its Name Implies: Fire, Ash, & the Resilience of Paradise. Taken at the El Rey Theater in Chico, CA.

We’re still here and we’re still listening

If you’re like me, the first anniversary of the Camp Fire was a cyclone of emotions.

There was shock that so much time had already passed and the shock that a whole year could feel like just a few days. The pain and bewilderment of the fire’s aftermath was made vivid again as the anniversary arrived, now mixed with an honest hope for the future and a bittersweet regret at all those who have been forced by economic and emotional circumstance to leave Butte County in the last 365 days.

And if you’re like me, only now are you really ready to talk openly. That’s why I’m writing today.

Since the one-year commemoration, I’ve noticed more survivors sharing their stories for the first time. I’ve also had more than a few say they will talk only to our Three Days in Paradise team, because we lived through it too.

I’m here to say we’re still here, we’re still listening, and we’re interested in hearing your stories as long as you’re content to share them.

While many documentaries have finished shooting and departed the county, Laura and I, along with our Three Days team, are still here. We’re living in Chico while our hearts remain on the ridge.

I know you or someone you know may have been too nervous or in too much pain to share your story of the Camp Fire over these last 12 months. Memories of the Ridge as it was may have been too much to talk about without tears.

Something about the first anniversary has prompted some people to finally share their experiences, and that’s why we’re still here.

We want to hear everyone’s stories. We want to know what happened to everyone, what is still happening, and where we go from here. And when our documentary series is done, when our interviews are donated to the Gold Nugget Museum, we want the world to hear our story and understand it as we do.

So if you or someone you know is only now wanting to talk, we’re here. If you find yourself chatting with loved ones over Thanksgiving dinner, at some Christmas party or some other holiday celebration, please keep us in mind. 

We’re here to listen.

You can contact us here:

Email:

Info@ThreeDaysInParadise.tv

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/ThreeDaysInParadise

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/3daysinparadise

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/threedaysinparadise

Find out everything at:

https://threedaysinparadise.tv

Or call 530-680-7125

Helping the Gold Nugget Museum and Three Days in Paradise

Hey friends, neighbors and readers,

We come today with the happy announcement long in the making: Our Three Days in Paradise production team has entered into an agreement with the Gold Nugget Museum to donate all materials contributed by the public to our production to the Museum poste haste.

That means anything you give to us to use in our series, to tell the local and larger stories of the Paradise Ridge and the Camp Fire, will find a home in the Gold Nugget. We’re proud and touched to be allowed to help in this small way to rebuild an institution that means so much to our Ridge.

We’re looking to do two things: 1). Help rebuild the historical images of the Ridge from the 1840s to November 7, 2018 and 2). Create the most complete, fully sourced archive of Camp Fire related images, video, audio and more.

That means we’re looking for everything: Phone videos, home videos, historical pictures, Polaroids, modern phone pics, Beta Tapes, VHS tapes, slides, news station footage & 8 mm films… Everything.

We will scan or digitize you originals and get them back to you. We will then pass on museum quality digital copies to the Museum for their archives.

We came to this decision when we realized the needs to make our series… historical images and what we all saw and heard on November 8 and in the aftermath, matched neatly with what the Museum would be needing for the future.

There are a few ways to get us footage.

1). If you’ve got physical images or material… video or audio tapes, home movies, old pictures, anything, give us a call (530-680-7125) or email and we’ll set up an appointment (Info@ThreeDaysInParadise.tv).

2). Get on our computer and go to this link and send us material via DropBox. When asked, enter your name and email (this will tag each video you upload with your name so we know who contributed it). Only we will see the video you send. Here’s the link:
https://www.dropbox.com/request/XoKYqh7YQe5IHhPx1qPF

3). If you’re on an iPhone, select the photos and send us an iCloud link. You can send the link here: Info@ThreeDaysInParadise.tv

4). If you’ve got an Android, select the photos and send us Google Photos link here: Info@ThreeDaysInParadise.tv
Or…

Our first teaser for Three Days in Paradise

 

Hello friends, neighbors and readers,

Chris here with a bittersweet celebration. Today we reveal the first images from what we’ve been working on since November of last year. It was a week after the fire that I shot the first images for what I hope will be the definitive story of our experience in the Camp Fire.

We are more than fire victims, and this story is more than of just one wildfire.

As I’ve been telling anyone who would listen, Three Days in Paradise is a documentary series not on the fire, but on us–the people who lived on the ridge, the experience we had with the fire, and what we’re doing to rebuild after.

So thank you all for your encouragement and the footage you’ve all contributed. We’ll be announcing more exciting things soon, but enough talk and waiting.

We welcome you to watch the teaser.

Help Ron Howard Tell Our Story

Hey all,

Apologies for the delay/working diligently/update coming soon.

Today I’m here for a quick favor.

Since the Camp Fire, we’ve all encountered film and video producers of all types. Some have come to use us to tell their story. Others are truly here to help us tell ours.

I’ve come to know and trust the crew from Imagine, headed by producer Xan Parker and co-producer Lizz Morhaim for director Ron Howard. They are good people. But if you’ve been lucky enough to meet them, as hundreds of us on the Ridge have, you don’t need me to tell you that.

So here’s the deal. To tell our story in documentary form, they need images. So many of you have helped my project, so let’s help them. Without pictures, video, film and sound, telling our story will be tough. So please join me in helping them.

They need our help to find video (cell phone or other) and photos. If you have anything on the list below, please reach out to me, or upload your material to Dropbox: http://bit.ly/ParadiseDocSubmission
Home movies shot in Paradise – 2000s or before
Gold Nugget Days – 2018 or before
November 8 (Evacuation and down in Chico that night)
November 9 (wherever you were)
November 11 meeting with PG&E
November 28 community meeting
Your first time going back to Paradise after the fire
November 17 visit by President Trump in Paradise
February 14 visit by Governor Newsom in Paradise
These are good people. Helping them helps us.

June Update & Announcement: A Rough Stretch of Weeks

Our June update comes at a time where, and it could just be us, the summer is starting with some harsh blows.

Maybe this month is not much different from those since the fire, and the hardships could just be a coincidence. But some rough run of luck seems on a tear for many of the Camp Fire survivors (us included, see below). Regardless, we’ll all push on together.

As we’ve all heard, Phil John, chair of the Paradise Fire Safe Council (and husband to Paradise Unified School District’s Superintendent Michelle John) passed away June 11.

As with many of our emotions these days, to pinpoint just why this event hit us harder than others is difficult to say. Maybe it’s that it’s the kind of normal heartbreak we all feel, but absorbing it under the shadow still cast by November 8 places just a few more straws on the camel’s back.

Or for us working on Three Days in Paradise, it’s echoed by more ‘normal’ heartbreaks on the home front. Producer Laura Smith (my peerless wife) has seen her father pass away May 26–two weeks before her mother moved into assisted living with Parkinson’s.

Then there was the development I’ve announced to the crew and now I’m letting you all know. I’ve been diagnosed with Bells Palsy, a temporary condition brought on by a variety of factors. While it’s stroke-like effect on the muscles of a person’s face can be unnerving, my doctors have expressed their hope for a full recovery (though it could take up to six months).

So what does this mean?

In the long run, nothing. We continue to work. We continue to write and edit. We continue to plan for more interviews (on top of the dozens we’ve already done).

We are still convinced Three Days in Paradise will be a documentary on Butte County and the Camp Fire unlike any other.

But in the short run, it’s taken some rescheduling while we consult with doctors about the best way forward in terms of recovery and work. The sizzle reel we’d hoped to release in June will now be out sometime in July. The push for funding (including showcasing some editing passages of various episodes of the series) will now be a few weeks later than originally hoped.

So we work while we mourn. We work while we heal. We push on because as we know, that’s what we all have to do now.