Woods Hole,Massachusetts. February, 2011
This booklet comprises some of the graphic novel panels I was drawing as a way out of a stagnating period on a film I was working on. OIL IN THE FAMILY i is a film I began three years ago when I was researching the history of my family’s connection to the father of the American Documentary, Robert J. Flaherty and his film “Louisiana Story.”
My grandmother Lucy Lemann often referred to their friendship with great fondness. In searching for audio copies of an oral history she made about him at Columbia University I realized there was a critical part of my story that would have to be fabricated because unfortunately only written transcripts had survived from her interview.
I knew I wanted some animated elements in the film but wasn’t sure how I was going to integrate them into a story that already had many threads. So I started a sketchboook, a habit I have had since art student years.I have many, many of these books. But this one book soon became special and I knew it after only a few drawings. According to the transcripts my grandmother’s first meeting with Flaherty would cement their relationship and it’s circumstances were, in the typical hyperbole of her telling, extraordinary in the way that kismet happens between two people destined for each other.
In working through how I would depict this, it became clear that my drawings lent themselves to a graphic novel format, a medium I had always loved. It seemed natural. It is from these drawings that I am currently developing an animated part of OIL IN THE FAMILY which will give the film a different look. Some of the images are drawn from the 1948 film Louisiana Story itself, other elements are derived from historic images from the shooting of the film, others still from places in the film.
Of course this couldn’t happen without the help of Bill Lattanzi, Daniel Neiden, Irene Kaufmann, Wilma Subra (and many other interviewees), Kickstarter supporters ( about a hundred), Jim Uhls, Ruben Davis and perhaps most importantly the patience and support of Nicole Goldman, my wife and my daughter and son, Sasha and Isaac.
OIL IN THE FAMILY