Category Archives: Mormons

Sally Hayfron Mugabe

I have spent the last two years of my life learning, thinking and writing about SALLY HAYFRON MUGABE. I have absolutely fallen in love with this woman. It all started when we were in Zambia in 2006 working on BAD TIMING. We went up to Victoria Falls and everyone was cautioning us not to cross over to the Zimbabwean side. They told us the economic and political situation was desperate; the people were dangerous. Staying at TAITA FALCON LODGE, the owner and his wife told us about how Robert Mugabe, the President of Zim, had changed after his wife died. “The death of Sally Hayfron was the death of Zimbabwe,” they said.

The romantic in me latched onto that story and wouldn’t let go. Imagine that. A love so powerful, an entire nation knew when it was gone. It took a couple of years before we could really start looking into the story. My writing partner and I were busy on the Zambia projects and then THE LAND OF REFUGE (about the Mormon Colonies in Mexico). We had to finish those before we could delve into the story about Sally. Being the dyed-in-the-wool romantic, I have always believed that “more is possible” when you find the “right person.” Would this story be an example of the real power of love?

After two years (and 120 pages), I can honestly say this story is even more amazing than I had imagined. Born in Ghana in 1931, SALLY HAYFRON was a teen when her homeland was gaining its freedom from the colonial British empire. A bright, inspiring, compassionate woman, Sally fell in love with Robert Mugabe, a visiting professor from what was then known as Southern Rhodesia. At that time, about 5 million blacks were governed by 270,000 whites. They were not allowed to vote. They were restricted in where they could live and work. They had virtually no schools. And, they were not allowed to own land designated for “whites only,” which comprised over 45% of the nation (about 90% of the best land).

Sally willingly went to live in this land, to help the citizens gain their freedom. Robert soon rose to prominence in Rhodesia’s National Democratic Party. As civil unrest grew, whites retaliated by electing Ian Smith as Prime Minister. Smith promptly declared independence from Britain and jailed all opposition leaders, including Robert Mugabe, who spent 11 years in prison. As Sally traveled the globe seeking support for his freedom, a bloody civil war consumed the country. Finally, in 1980, Southern Rhodesia was able to hold its first free election and Robert Mugabe won it in a landslide.

Sally was a tireless champion of the common people. Over the next decade, she encouraged the construction of schools and hospitals (many in places they’d never been before). The more I learned about Sally, the more amazed I was with all she had accomplished. Especially when I learned she had suffered from kidney problems most of her adult life and spent the last EIGHT YEARS of her life on dialysis. She traveled the world with a medical assistant in tow to manage her health care. Sally died on January 27, 1992 at the age of 60. Ironically, she was born in the first African country to gain independence from Britain and died in the last.

To this day, people in Zimbabwe write songs about AMAI SALLY (Mother Sally) and how they wish she were still alive and caring for her people. So do I.

(Photo above: Robert and Sally Mugabe depart from Andrews Air Force Base, 26 September 1983)

Jordan Wins an Emmy

jordanphotosnag

My blogging has been atrocious, of late, and I am quite disappointed in myself. I have a really good excuse this time (of course, I always think I have a really good excuse). This time it’s a really good one. I just got back from Los Angeles where I went to see Jordan Pack, a former animation student, win a student Emmy for an animated film he produced. The film was entitled KITES. The film is the story of a boy who comes to deal with his Grandfather’s death by doing something they always did together, flying kites.

Following his graduation from MCC, he was accepted in the Animation and Film program at Brigham Young University. He produced this film his senior year at BYU. He now works for Avalanche (Disney’s gaming arm) were he is a generalist (meaning he does all facets of the gaming production including design, texturing, modeling and such).

Jordan is a really terrific guy … talented, hard-working, creative, generous and kind. He even offered the director (Jed Henry, standing behind him) one-half of the prize money because of all his hard work. He’s just a really decent guy.

Anyway, the ceremony was on Saturday evening at Sony’s Culver City Studios. Fourteen awards were given out. The top three candidates in each category were in attendance. The winner was announced that evening (no one knew who would be the first prize winner). Jordan, James and Jed’s film KITES was the first place winner.

During his acceptance speech, Jordan thanked his wife, his crew and his teachers. He mentioned two professors from BYU (who were in attendance with me). He also thanked Mesa Community College professors Jim Garrison and Cyndi Greening. It was pretty cool to be called out in front of everyone.

Among the presenters were Chris O’Donnell who played Robin to George Clooney’s BATMAN, Masa Oki who plays Hiro from the television show HEROES, and Pauley Perrett who stars on NCIS. There were tons of other industry folks there. Jorge Gutierrez and Sandra Equihua (writer/producerrs of EL TIGRE: THE ADVENTURES OF MANNY RIVERA) were the presenters for the animated film category. During their speech, Jorge revealed that he had won the Student Emmy ten years earlier and it had completely changed his life.

Click on the image above to see the photos from the event.

BIG LOVE to show LDS Endowment Ceremony

Many Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are up in arms because the HBO series BIG LOVE plans to depict an Endowment Ceremony on an upcoming episode. Growing up Roman Catholic, I can attest that the religion was often the object of humor, perhaps ridicule, on television and in film. The Jewish faith was lambasted even more frequently. This reminds me of the episode of SEINFELD when Jerry was outraged because another comedian changed faiths so he could have the “right” to make fun of it. Everyone is so uptight about “their” chosen faith. The outrage of the Mormons only makes everyone want to poke at them more.

On the DESERET NEWS website, there was an article about the upcoming episode … one of the commenters said it far more succinctly and eloquently than I can …

Respect??? | 8:12 a.m. March 13, 2009
So it’s okay for the LDS to butt into the issue of gay marriage in CA, misrepresent the issues to maximize the scare factor, then claim that they were just acting out of love for gay people and nobody should take any offense because they were only exercising their constitutional rights.

And it’s also okay for LDS to continue baptizing Jewish Holocaust victims posthumously because it’s part of the church’s core doctrines, and once again, it’s only done out of love so nobody should take any offense.

Now, let HBO exercise its constitutional right to air the LDS temple endowment, and go to great length and expense to ensure it’s accurately portrayed, and showing as much respect as possible while still staying true to the story line, and now the LDS are all about respect for others and the right to be left alone to practice their most sacred beliefs in private.

Whether the producers of Big Love are acting as part of a personal vendetta or not, you can’t say you didn’t ask for just what you’re getting.

Our Documentary in the Media

The Land of Refuge Promo Clip

Media coverage is certainly one of the MOST important elements in the success (or failure) of a film. In late May, we made the push to finish the film. There was a reunion coming up in the current Colonies in Mexico (which was ultimately postponed) and Pam had been carrying the film around on her back for more than a decade. On top of that, it is a really good story. A really GREAT story. Alec came in from New York to help us finish the edit. He watched the rough cut and, like Mikey, he really liked it. He said he could feel how hard it was for all of those people to leave everything and go to Mexico. He understood how much they suffered and endured. Let’s be honest, a 21-year-old New Yorker was not our target market. So, if it is appealing to him, we know the story touches universal themes. It is very cool. We hope the national press will be as excited as the regional press have been thus far.

You can watch THE LAND OF REFUGE promo clip (because of copyright, we cannot post the actual broadcast interview). You can listen to a fun radio interview. Or, for you folks who just can’t get enough words, you can read the feature articles that have been written so far. At the bottom, you’ll find a link to an entry on Wikipedia about the colonies AND a link to the Mormon Colonies Wiki.

gmaz.jpeg

Mormon Colonies in Mexico

It seems like forever since I last blogged. I guess that’s because it HAS BEEN forever. We are in the final throes of finishing the documentary on the Mormon Colonies in Mexico. The documentary, THE LAND OF REFUGE has been generating a lot of enthusiasm and interest in the U.S. and Mexico. People have been purchasing the DVD at a special reduced-rate pre-release price. Lots of people. We’re going to be sending the documentary to the replicators next week. polygamistsutahprison.jpgTwo weeks later, it’s in the hands of all of those “early adopters.” I’ve been so grateful for those folks. Every time someone calls or writes to order a copy of the film (from three to eleven people per day), one feels this excitement and responsibility to deliver a really outstanding documentary.

Often times, in front of the classroom, I would talk about filmmaking and animation. I’d talk about how many people think they have a good idea but then they never actually do anything. Or, if they do begin, they never finish. I would always say, “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. People like the IDEA of filmmaking a lot more than the actual process.” When I first started in this arena, I was told to make sure that I loved whatever project I decided to do because I would spend the next three years working on it. It’s true, you know. Projects consume your life and suck up all of your available time.

It has been incredibly difficult to write about independent filmmaking, animation, and media while making a film. There just isn’t enough time in the day. I’ve got a pile of unanswered emails, can’t remember the last time I made a social telephone call, and I fall into bed every night feeling just a half-step short of half-dead. I have been beat, beat, beat. I’m feeling quite proud of the documentary. We’ve had a few people screen the documentary and, thus far, they have been deeply moved and quite enthusiastic.

We’re now making arrangements for the PREMIERE in Arizona. It looks like the public screening will be the weekend of November 21st, 2008. We’ll be at the Harkins Theatre in Mesa, Arizona. They have digital projectors so it’s going to be quite easy to accomplish. So, mark your calendars!!! The debut is almost here!

Serious Business

mexcrewserious.jpg

 

Sometimes, we get all caught up in the very “serious” business of making films. So much to do, so little time, even less money … but the creativity, the excitement, the satisfaction of making something we really care about. We do take the creative process and ourselves ever so seriously, sometimes. But there are those other times, those other times when we are just exhausted, silly and having fun. Filmmaking is like that. It’s so stressful sometimes that everyone ends up being crabby with one another. But, like any group that endures difficulty together, there is a certain sort of bonding that occurs. I wouldn’t say it’s like the relationship that forms between those who go to war but it’s certainly stronger than the average work environment.

So, at the end of the shoot or, often, at the end of the day, everyone lets their hair down and gets silly. We’ve seen the worst of each other and have still been able to find a way to work together and respect each other. These photos are of the Mormon Colonies in Mexico documentary crew. We got together after we got back to take photographs. Pamela Jo is so precise about what she wants that the photo shoot was almost as grueling as the film shoot in Mexico. At one point, we all started laughing and goofing around … I think it may have been because we were sitting on an ANT HILL. Justin and I had shorts on so we were quite miserable. Jeniece and Jared were amused at our discomfort since they were both wearing jeans. And then Pamela Jo asked us to hold still for “just one more.” We all lost it.

 

mexcrewsilly.jpg

Marvin’s Plane

We had sent word to Mexico that we wanted a photo of Marvin’s plane. Unbeknownst to us, Justin had snapped a photo with his cell phone so we had a picture here all along. marvinsplane.jpg We’ve imported and labeled all of the footage now. All of the photos are in and nearly all are labeled. The audio is cleaned up. Songs are in process. All is moving along with (as Mary Poppins would say) the precision of a British Bank. “Tradition, discipline, and rules without disorder or chaos.” Okay, maybe a little chaos.

Justin came by today with the audio for the feature BAD TIMING. It’s sounding really sweet. Lunch with Jared, Mike and Pamela Jo to catch up and bounce around ideas. Always fun. Oh well, better get back to work or I’ll be in trouble (again). Got to get my nose back to the grindstone.

How Small Was That Plane?

justinaerial_01.jpgI decided to pull a couple of frames from the aerial footage so everyone could appreciate our commitment to filmmaking. Marvin Longhurst graciously took our crew newbie, Justin, up in his small plane so we could get some fantastic footage of sunset in Dublan. At 6’6″, Justin truly had to fold himself into the back co-pilot seat. We were told that Marvin got the engine for the plane out of a snowmobile. I don’t know if that is true or not but I sure am glad we found out AFTER he went up because, otherwise, I think we probably wouldn’t have let him go. They’re resourceful folks down there. Everybody is some sort of MacGuyver. A little bit of wire, some duct tape, few sheets of tin and a snowmobile motor … voila … instant plane. justinaerial_02.jpg One of the sections of the film talks about all of the things the pioneers had to make for themselves because they just didn’t exist there. You couldn’t run to Home Depot and pick up tools and supplies. You had to make them from things that were in the area. So, here, you can see a shot of Justin’s left knee up against Marvin’s back with the scenery below AND a shot of this right knee with the view out the other side. He said it was easier to shoot out the right side. It’s a great addition to the film because you can see how vast the valley is and the agricultural beauty of it. Not bad for a bunch of duct tape and tin.

Living History, Part II

It was midday on the second day of shooting when she walked in. She was there to be the voice for one of the colonists. She was “getting on in years,” so we were worried she might not be able to read or have the stamina for the shoot. This pioneer woman, Rita Skousen Johnson, let us know what she was made of and it was some pretty hardy stock. ritajohnson.jpg Not only did she read fluently, flawlessly and with great emotion, she went on to let us know that she knew the people she was reading about. She grew up in their presence and remembered times spent with them. She told us stories about several of the early settlers. Turned out her father was a polygamist and she was a child of his second wife. When asked about how it was growing up as a child of polygamy, she said, “It was wonderful. There were so many of us and we had such a good time together.” She told us about her father’s experience with the grist mill. More importantly, she explained what a grist mill was (and a burr mill) and how it was used to grind wheat into flour. She told us how her mother would bake a loaf of bread to make sure the wheat was properly ground (the pioneer version of “quality control”). She talked about her years teaching at Academia Juarez. Our time together flew and I found myself wishing I had several days to just talk with her. In many ways, she reminded me of my Grandma Greening, who was also a school teacher, rural wife and mother. Like my grandmother, Mrs. Johnson was an amazing woman and I’m so glad I got to spend some time hearing her story.

RITA SKOUSEN JOHNSON, COLONIA JUAREZ, MEXICO
©2008, Jared Moschcau. All rights reserved.

Living History

headstone.jpgEvery place we go, we are reminded of the history of this region. All of the books I’ve been reading for the last several months are springing to life as we make our way around the town. Neither Dublan nor Juarez are very large in terms of population. The main street in each town is only a few blocks long; the town only a few blocks wide. There are colonial homes in nearly every block; the sturdy red brick adorned with white “Gingerbread” exterior moldings, cornices, lattices and bargeboards. Some have been restored and converted into hotels or commercial shops. Some, like “Uncle John and Aunt Joyce’s” and Sister Johnson’s remain in the family. Jared and Jeniece made a visit to the town cemetery and captured evidence of dozens of pioneer families including the Lakes, the Hursts, and the Pierces. wagonwheel.jpgThere are old tools, fragments of wagons, crumbling adobe buildings and suspension bridges that capture our imagination. The visual artists capture objects to convey the weight of history that we feel everywhere.

Above: HURST HEADSTONE, DUBLAN, MEXICO ©2008, Jared Moschcau.
All rights reserved. High-dynamic range photograph.

Below: TIME ROLLS ON, DUBLAN, MEXICO ©2008, Jared Moschcau.
All rights reserved. High-dynamic range photograph.

Well-Oiled Machine

mexicocrew.jpg

After a challenging travel day, we were all worried about how the film shoot would go in Mexico. The day started with everyone feeling apprehensive and anxious. You see, EVERY film shoot is a learning experience because every film is different, ever story is distinct, every location is unique. The saving grace in filmmaking is the crew — or, more precisely — being fortunate enough to work with people you know you can count on. Pamela Jo and I have been working on film projects for over two years so we know that we can depend on the other in these stressful situations. We were fortunate enough to also have two of the crew members from the FILM ZAMBIA crew with us — Jeniece Toranzo and Jared Moschcau. We knew these two knew how to work under pressure and they didn’t disappoint us. We were hoping Michael Montesa would be able to join us but we didn’t give him enough notice.

New to the crew was Justin Moschcau (yes, he is the twin to Jared). We brought him (and a new piece of portable recording equipment) along for sound. It is a bit nerve-wracking to bring new equipment along because you never know if it’s going to perform as expected. Ditto on bringing a new crew member. Justin proved to be a valuable and reliable member of the crew.

At the end of the day, Marvin — a descendant of the Allreds and the McClellans — came by and offered to take someone up in his small, two-seater plane to get some aerial shots of Colonia Dublan. When the cinematographers hadn’t yet returned from 2nd Unit shooting, Justin agreed to take the camera, fold himself into the tiny seat (he is 6’6″), had Marvin attach the gyro … and away he went. They got some great footage of the colony, the orchards, the Paquime ruins, the ranches and the sunset. He was definitely a welcome addition to the crew and I’d gladly work with him again. All in all, it was a very productive day for all of us!

Moviemaking in Mexico

Well, we headed off to Mexico today — to film in Colonia Dublan and Colonia Juarez — in Chihuahua, Mexico. We hadn’t even left the Phoenix metro area and we had to turn around and go back … the over-heating light on my car kept coming on, so we just didn’t feel safe taking it on the eight-hour trip. We had to turn around and get a different vehicle. That delay put us two hours behind and had us crossing the border at dusk. Then, a delay at the border had us crossing the winding road over the mountains between Sonora and Chihuahua in the dark. We ended up arriving after midnight. It was, to be certain, an inauspicious beginning for the trip. The Mexican countryside was beautiful … and remote.

dublan-field.jpg

While we were driving I was thinking about how long it had taken the colonists to make the journey from Snowflake, Arizona, to La Ascension. Our twelve hours were nothing compared to the month it took them in their horse-drawn wagons. Some of the journal entries we read were about losing a family member along the journey and having to bury them in these vast, vacant prairies. What an unbearable horror that would have been.

DUBLAN FIELDS, MEXICO ©2008, Jared Moschcau.
All rights reserved. High-dynamic range photograph.

Polygamy & Polyandry

I’m still trying to understand this plural marriage as a divine principle idea. The arguments include (1) there just are not enough “just” men so the good ones must marry more women, (2) there were so many more widows and women who than men, (3) Joseph Smith had a personal revelation from Jesus Christ that revealed plural marriage as a divine principle (in direct contradiction to Bible). I’m not a Mormon so it’s just hard for me to understand how anyone makes sense of this.

Further research into the wives of Joseph Smith revealed that NINE of the first thirteen plural marriages were with women who were married to OTHER men. It just about destroys all of the arguments for plural marriage and divine principles. Puzzling. So, puzzling.

Wife Date Age Husband*
Emma Hale
Fanny Alger
Lucinda Morgan Harris
Louisa Beaman
Zina Huntington Jacobs
Presendia Huntington Buell
Agnes Coolbrith
Sylvia Sessions Lyon
Mary Rollins Lightner
Patty Bartlett Sessions
Marinda Johnson Hyde
Elizabeth Davis Durfee
Sarah Kingsley Cleveland
Delcena Johnson
Eliza R. Snow
Sarah Ann Whitney
Martha McBride Knight
Ruth Vose Sayers
Flora Ann Woodworth
Emily Dow Partridge
Eliza Maria Partridge
Almera Johnson
Lucy Walker
Sarah Lawrence
Maria Lawrence
Helen Mar Kimball
Hanna Ells
Elvira Cowles Holmes
Rhoda Richards
Desdemona Fullmer
Olive Frost
Melissa Lott
Nancy Winchester
Fanny Young
Jan 1827
1833
1838
Apr 1841
Oct 1841
Dec 1841
Jan 1842
Feb 1842
Feb 1842
Mar 1842
Apr 1842
Jun 1842
Jun 1842
Jul 1842
Jun 1842
Jul 1842
Aug 1842
Feb 1843
Spring 1843
Mar 1843
Mar 1843
Apr 1843
May 1843
May 1843
May 1843
May 1843
Mid 1843
Jun 1843
Jun 1843
Jul 1843
Mid 1843
Sep 1843
1843
Nov 1843
22
16
37
26
20
31
33
23
23
47
27
50
53
37
38
17
37
33
16
19
22
30
17
17
19
14
29
29
58
32
27
19
14
56
NONE
NONE
George W. Harris
NONE
Henry Jacobs
Norman Buell
NONE
Windsor Lyon
Adam Lightner
David Sessions
Orson Hyde
Jabez Durfee
John Cleveland
NONE
NONE
NONE
NONE
Edward Sayers
NONE
NONE
NONE
NONE
NONE
NONE
NONE
NONE
NONE
Jonathan Holmes
NONE
NONE
NONE
NONE
NONE
NONE
* Living Husband at the time Marriage to Joseph Smith     References

Frustrated in Phoenix

I’m stuck in the sweat zone and I am grumpy. Really grumpy. I was supposed to be in Utah this week, researching the polygamy documentary but plans changed at the last minute. So, I’m getting reports about how things are going, about the images and journals that are being discovered, about the video being shot. My documentary is drifting into new realms without me. Where oh where did my project go? So, I’ve got a big grump on.

My birth mother died two weeks ago. It’s been a few weeks of endings. Disconnection. Loss. Disappointment. There have been a whole lot chaotic feelings lately. Sometimes, I feel like I’m walking on Jell-O … take one step and watch the ground shake. Difficult to see a clear path. What’s that thing that people always say, “If God closes a door, he opens a window.” So, I’ve been looking for the open windows and checking out the potential new views.

grumpy.jpgIndependence Day is almost here. I keep reflecting on that in light of everything that has been happening. Humans are such odd creatures. Why is it so hard for us to be free? We encumber ourselves with so many things. We make it impossible to be happy, to live joyfully, to express fully who we are and what we have to offer the world. We go through life like the little pigs, huddled inside our structures, trying to ignore the wolves at the door. What do we do to distract ourselves? We go to Disneyland! At least, that’s what I’m doing. I got an invite to spend the weekend at Disneyland with a friend while she celebrates her 50th birthday. At least I know which t-shirt to buy.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
« Older Entries