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.

The Surprises Guests at Paradise High School’s 2019 Prom

When things are just right, the world feels like a small town.

Filled with neighbors, friends and at farthest friends of friends, at these moments we  hold each other in our thoughts and exchange kindnesses large and small. Those moments are what make our small town lives, our journey through this chaotic world, bearable and even uplifting.

The world was a very small place last night at Paradise High School’s 2019 prom. A special collection of people put together a message for the students of PHS, with some of the biggest personas in sports, music and entertainment (yes, Steve Carrell apparently is that nice in real life) lending a hand.

No amount of description will suffice for letting you see it for yourself:

Paradise Prom 2019 – Celebrity Messages from schlicken on Vimeo.

Tell your Tales from the Paradise Ridge

Like many of my fellow Camp Fire survivors, I have been torn up since the morning of November 8, 2018.

The filmmaker in me… that part that’s worked to tell stories since Star Wars and Snow White and Ken Burns’ Civil War kindled my love of cinematic storytelling… wants to tell the whole story of what happened to our Paradise Ridge communities.

The citizen in me… that part of me who raised a family with my wife on Scottwood Road, took our boys to Paradise Elementary, watched little league games at Egleton Field and fled the town with neighbors and friends… wants to make sure the world remembers what befell us. I want our stories told whether or not it’s me telling them.

It’s that part, the town resident, that wants to help my fellow citizens tell their story to every worthwhile reporter, author, documentarian, director, etc. who cares to listen with respect. That’s why as we’ve been working on Three Days in Paradise, we’ve been looking to partner with other storytellers to ready to tell the story of the Camp Fire as we knew it.

Which brings me to Lizzie Johnson, the San Francisco Chronicle. She’s a reporter known for her coverage of wildfires. We’re happy to announce we’re partnering with her on a new initiative to capture your stories.

In a book she’s working on, Johnson is working to tell the story of the fire and what it’s meant to us all in facts and prose. In our documentary series, we’re looking to do the same thing in images, music and sound.

So we’ve created an easy to use document you can fill out to start telling your Camp Fire story. What happened to you. What you went through. What you saw and what we should all remember. We’ll be using those to get in touch and make sure your story is known.

So please take a moment to add your story. We want to hear it, and take it to the rest of the world.

And the Gracie Goes to…

As we cross the T’s and dot the I’s on some announcements coming up, we wanted to shine a special light on one of our team: Jenna Lane.

Lane reached out to us shortly after we announced this project to volunteer as part of our production team. With every project reaching to make something special, every ounce of hard work and talent needs to be assisted by lucky breaks and gifts of fate.

When Lane joined us, we knew fate was lending a hand.

See, she’s a reporter for KCBS 740 AM in the Bay Area. A great reporter, a hell of a researcher and the kind of team member you wish for on a project like this, she’s task oriented, optimistic and smart.

We’re saying that to say this: Congratulations Jenna Lane. In April she was recognized by the Alliance for Women in Media with a Gracie Award for her coverage of the Camp Fire. The Gracies recognize achievements in all forms of media across the country, so landing one is no mean feat.

We’re excited to get back to work with her and honored she’s here to help us tell the story of the Paradise Ridge and the Camp Fire the way it should be told. To get a taste of what she’s done to deserve it, take a listen here to some of the work she did in the wake of the Camp Fire.

 

MARCH UPDATE: Production powers and some interesting meetings…

Since we began pre-production in December 2018, just days after the last embers of the Camp Fire were extinguished, we have been working tirelessly to gather the stories, moments and images to best tell the comprehensive story of what happened to all of us in Butte County.

We have already conducted dozens of interviews, shot at many county, town and public events and are looking to conduct dozens and dozens more interviews in the months ahead. If you’ve contacted us and we have not yet scheduled your interview, fear not.

The feedback and interest in Three Days in Paradise has been nearly overwhelming. But we will be here for the long haul, and currently are managing with a small and professional crew, so please know we will get back with all of you. It just may take a bit.

On that note, we want to let you in on some early indications for some very big things coming. While we cannot yet share details, the Three Days team has had some very hopeful meetings with parties well placed to get this series funded and then shown to the world in the way we all hoped.

Our ambitions are high, but our calling to tell this story is higher. We hope to be able to tell you more soon.

We are also working on a very interesting project which would gather imagery shot by all of us during the Camp Fire to help planning agencies see that this kind of disaster never happens again. We hope to have something to announce soon on that too.

Our final announcement is we’re revamping the way you can share your videos, pictures and historical imagery with us. That should be in the menu bar of this website in the next day or so. To tell the story of Butte County before, during and after the Camp Fire, we’ll need you.

Until then, thank you for your attention.

How it Burned: The Camp Fire from start to finish

Since posting the animation of the Camp Fire’s November 8, 2018 progress (from SimTable’s illuminating data visualization system) many people have asked if there was a way to see the entire fire.

I’ve now done some more digging on SimTable’s site and found two animations: one shows November 8 from the start of the fire until midnight. The second one shows the progress form about 5:30 p.m. on November 8 until the end of the fire.

I haven’t been able to find or tweak these links to show the whole fire in one animation at one constant speed.

With that said, here they are:

Day 1 from 6:44 a.m. to midnight.

Here’s the direct link:

https://www.simtable.com/apps/fireProgression/CampDayOne/CampDayOne.html?playback=240

And here’s the animation:

Day 1 (November 8) from 5:37 p.m. to Day 18 (November 25) 6:22 p.m.

Here’s the direct link:

https://www.simtable.com/apps/fireProgression/output2018/CABTU_016737_CAMP.html

And here’s the animation:

Watching the Camp Fire in Real Time (Day 1, 06:44 am-12:00 am)

There’s a panoply of flowery quotes about why humans love storytelling as they do. All of them boil down to our need to answer these tangled questions:

Why do people do what they do, and why do things happen as they happen?

The Camp Fire is the most impactful thing ever to happen to my family and our community. As a storyteller, doing my part to tell this story is impossible to resist. Why we all acted as we did on November 8, cowards or heroes, valiant or vain… these I’ll answer in time.

But as our team works, conducting interviews and research, gathering everything a person could know, sometimes we come across something we feel the need to share now. This is one.

It comes from a company called Simtable a company which makes animations and simulations of complex physical events based on real data. This one shows the progress of the Camp Fire. The embedded version below is eye opening, but the link below might be easier to see.

To see the progression at a slower rate,  click the link below.

https://www.simtable.com/apps/fireProgression/CampDayOne/CampDayOne.html?playback=240

For me, the best view was found clicking on the Map Base Layer button and choosing the Bing Hybrid option. It allows you to see road and landmarks laid over satellite photos of the actual landscape.

Something about seeing minute by minute (the timestamp can be seen in the lower left, going minute by minute) is both comforting and goulish. I can’t explain it, awful as it is, some part of me wants to see what actually happened when our lives were all hurled off course.

Now I know my home was destroyed around 12:30 or 1:00 p.m.

Nothing to add to a sentence like that.

January Update 2 – A bit about Three Days in Paradise

Amid the tumult unleashed starting November 8, the geiser of information we are tasked to absorb is something beyond what any of us have experienced.

Keeping so many things straight… insurance claims, FEMA information, cleaning up our communities and most importantly remembering the over 80 people we lost, it is more than understandable a project like Three Days in Paradise has escaped your notice.

So for those far and wide, here’s a little bit about who we are, what we’re doing, and how (hopefully) you can get involved.

Three Days in Paradise is a documentary series not only about the Camp Fire but also the communities we all knew before the fire and what we’re working to rebuild. It’s being written and directed by an Emmy Award-winning local filmmaker, Christopher Allan Smith who lived in Paradise until November 8. Like almost everyone in town, he fled from his home with his family and when he returned only ash remained.

Since the week of the fire Chris and a small, dedicated crew has been shooting footage, interviews, doing research and gathering historical files to put the thousands of disparate threads in this story together in a meaningful, understandable way.

This project is eyeing two audiences. Those of us who live and lived in Butte County and experienced this disaster and those around the world who need to hear our story. So yes, we’re trying to make something to move everyone. Not only will we be touching on the topics we’ve all witnessed in recent years (worsening wildfires, longer fire seasons, the struggle to make Paradise, Magalia and Concow safe to evacuate and more) but when people see this, we want everyone to see our communities as we did. That way, they can  love the communities we knew before November 8, they can cheer and help our rebuilding afterward, and we can claw back from the fading past just a bit of what we lost.

We’re confident with Chris’ experience and the filmmaking talent available, both local and out of the area, we can create something to stand shoulder to shoulder with any production going on this subject. There are people working on Camp Fire documentaries with better resumes, but none with better experience to tell this story.

If you’d like to help, or make sure we include a story you think is vital, check out the links below:

There are two ways to get us footage.
1). Get on our computer and go to this link:
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.
Or…
2). Contact Chris below and he’ll get in touch about getting your footage.
Twitter: @3DaysInParadise
Chris’ personal page: facebook.com/RocketSpots
Or call 530-680-7125