Hawaii Show Nearly Ends His Career
By Hal McClure
There’s no question that we Travel Adventure Filmmakers certainly have exciting adventures while shooting films in foreign lands, and less often, of course, while plying the North American travel film circuit presenting these shows to our audiences.
Cut to Honolulu in early 1979 where I am showing my first-ever travel film, Gates of Jerusalem, to my second audience at a Jewish temple.
During the second reel I have a major puncture, as the Brits would say. Suddenly:
“Help me!” cried a soft female voice from the enraptured (I hoped) audience. There was no projector booth. The projector had been placed in the middle of the temple’s all-purpose room, with audience members seated on both sides.
Again, a few seconds later: “We have some trouble here. Please help.” A little louder.
I couldn’t figure what was wrong. The film was running OK. Images of the exterior of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre now filled the screen. Maybe the audience was objecting to all that Christian stuff. We continued.
“Somebody help, please,” cried the plaintive voice again. A real cry.
“Willis, can’t you help?” I shouted. My projectionist was Willis Moore, a fellow filmmaker and member of the Hawaiian Geographic Society, who had booked me for shows at the Society and the temple. Unfortunately, Willis was in the men’s room during this flap. The film continued rolling.
“Stop the film.” A man's yell.
Confused, I managed to blurt out, “Lights, please.” This brought Willis running from the men’s room to turn off the projector.
When the lights came on, I was horrified to see nearly 50 feet of my brand new film wrapped around the head and shoulders of the rabbi’s wife sitting next to the projector.
Because I couldn’t afford an expensive Hollywood print, I was using the original camera film, Ektachrome 7242, which had broken a splice.
“Sit perfectly still,” cautioned Willis to the film-crowned victim. Bless her. If she had moved any part of her body my new film could have been damaged—threatening my film career before it really started.
Willis and I rewound the film, made a temporary splice with Scotch tape and continued the show.
I finished the other Honolulu show without serious problems and flew back to California. The only payment I received for doing the shows was a roundtrip airline ticket from Los Angeles and hotel expenses. (This was popular with my new film colleagues because they could start their vacations in Hawaii after their shows and a paid flight to Honolulu.)
The experience had helped, besides, I was now a bonafide travelogue filmmaker. And it hadn’t been easy.
The above story is from my new book, Adventuring— available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Also in eBook format.