Archive for March, 2012

One of the great things about being a filmmaker is you get to work with people from all walks in life. Take GD Armstrong, for instance. GD is a luthier and, for the uninitiated, this means a maker of stringed instruments. Glenn and I are both musicians so we had more than a passing interest in documenting a day in the life of this man.

On a cold and rainy morning, typical of the Northwest, we planned our route to GD's home and workshop in Yamhill in Oregon, about an hour southwest of Portland. The route took us deep into the countryside and far away from all things urban. It had been raining for days and we were astonished at the amount of flooding all around us. Entire fields were underwater, making it look like some farms were built right on the banks of a lake.

As we got close to GD's house we turned up a road only to find that part of it was completely submerged. Glenn just fearlessly drove right through it like it was a little puddle! The next challenge was to traverse a tiny bridge with raging rapids underneath and then we got the 10th degree from a suspicious neighbor with a shotgun when we asked directions, but we finally found GD's house.

GD is a big rounded man like a cross between Santa Claus and Grizzly Adams and he greeted us in a very laid back manner. He seemed somewhat bemused when we pulled the cover off the truck and began unloading lights and camera gear. “Surely this can't all be for me”, he thought. We got everything set up as quickly as we could and GD began to talk about his love of instruments. It was at this moment that I felt like the journey was worth it. This man was fascinating and down to earth, the kind of person with whom you could become fast friends. The conversation was easy and he shared his love of the craft with us and told tales of his younger days. He then invited us to see his quite cluttered workshop. For him, there was order in this chaos. Every piece of wood, every guitar string, every nail, saw and hammer had its place and he could put his hand on whatever he wanted at any time.

Sometimes people transcend the task at hand. Our task was to capture moments and try to show this man at work but it became much more than that for us. It became about conveying the feeling behind his life’s work. In between setups, Glenn and I ogled at all of the exotic instruments that hung from the ceiling. There were instrument cases of every shape, vintage photographs of musicians and one shot, in particular, that showed GD, not more than a few years old, in his mother’s arms. Even then he had a look of wisdom in his eyes.

GD was the perfect subject. He graciously opened his home and himself up to us.. When Glenn and I left that day, we felt lucky to be doing what we do. Whether it's a music video, a commercial, a film or a documentary, each project brings new opportunities and sometimes they even turn out to be gems like today.

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