How Camp Fire survivors can finally see Ron Howard’s REBUILDING PARADISE

This post is how Camp Fire survivors can see REBUILDING PARADISE, the documentary directed by Ron Howard and produced by the duo who have become friends to so many of us, Xan Parker and Lizz Morhaim.

If you want to see it this weekend as part of an online film festival, follow this link and sign up by Friday at 6 PM: https://rsvp.theworldsbest.events/lzmgn

That said, I did want to add a few words about this film. If you’re like me, a resident of Butte County and onetime resident of Paradise, one of the awful worries that arose in the days after the fire is how outside TV producers and filmmakers would portray our story. Would they produce lurid, cheap, surface level treatments, where our homes, lives and friends are just props in a drama.

Or would they come and get to know us? Would they not only tell the story of the fire, but of US.

Well, now we know a lot. There were TV crews and filmmakers who made us their props. There were filmmakers who came to push their agendas. There were well meaning but amateur filmmakers who told earnest stories but were not talented enough to truly communicate what the Paradise Ridge was to us and what we lost.

And then there was the Imagine crew. Director Howard came to listen and talk. Producers Xan Parker and Lizz Morhaim came to get to know us. And they shot and gathered hundreds of hours of our story.

While working on THREE DAYS IN PARADISE, I’ve encountered a broad spectrum of filmmakers from newspapers, TV stations and world wide nes agencies, independent film producers and major Hollywood powers. None of them, not one came close to knowing us as Xan and Lizz did.

I was lucky enough to see REBUILDING PARADISE at the Sundance Film Festival in January. I was lucky enough contribute some small bit of producing for this film in what I think of as the end of my pre-COVID career.

What they did was worthy. This was made with a care and thought and sympathetic eye as though it was made by one of us. You will recognize the Paradise we knew and miss. You will recognize our struggle and strength.

I’m here to say they did it right, and if you have the hope to watch, you should see it. It’s something we can show our friends and family who were not here, did not live through it, to give them some idea what it was really like on that day and the year that followed.

And they wanted to show our Paradise Ridge community first. I talked to National Geographic and Imagine personnel at Sundance in January.

They were planning to show the film in Paradise April 27. There were even discussions of setting up a giant screen at Paradise High School’s Wraith Field and fill the field with survivors and first responders, bringing out community together to see it with the film’s crew. They also talked about showing it over two days at the Paradise Performing Arts Center.

This plan was literally days away from being announced in March. But Covid-19 overwhelmed this along with so much else. This was just another thing we lost, and another blow we had to absorb. I know it broke the heart of the producers and they wanted to share it with us, and do it first before the film rolled out to the rest of the world. But fate, as we know too well, had different plans.

National Geographic is also providing links to a spectrum of organizations still helping Butte County and Camp Fire survivors. You can find that HERE

Emmy nomination for LESSONS LEARNED

We here on the THREE DAYS IN PARADISE production team were heartened to learn Wednesday of a bittersweet honor: The spin-off documentary we produced last year,  A HIGH AND AWFUL PRICE: LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE CAMP FIRE (which you can watch for free here) was nominated for an Emmy Award.

The honor (yes it IS always an honor just to be nominated) came in the editing category in the 49th Annual National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, San Francisco/Northern California Division Emmy Awards. They are going to be handed out virtually (damn you COVID-19!) June 6.

Near to our heart, we produced the program in association with Butte County, (specifically Shelby Boston, the Director of the Department of Employment and Social Services), with an eye towards passing on the lessons learned by first responders, county workers, emergency planners and regular civilians. Our hope was to give these dearly earned bits of information to disaster planners and citizens all over the world, to help them prepare for whatever catastrophe they may face.

We were also heartened to have Action News Now do a story on the nomination and our director, Christopher Allan Smith. That can be seen HERE.  Smith was nominated for another unrelated program as well.

What’s even better is our fellow Paradise filmmaker, Ev Duran of ALL ITS NAME IMPLIES fame, was also nominated for two Emmys for his short BOBCATS: FOOTBALL RETURNS TO PARADISE.

Here’s a hint: More on Ev, ALL ITS NAME IMPLIES and THREE DAYS IN PARADISE coming soon. Hint, hint.

 

 

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.