“Chasing Neon”

Chasing Neon

Four months, three vehicles, my sister, her dog Buster and I, that was the Chasing Neon project. Together, with the support of 179 Kickstarter backers, we zigzagged across the United States for nearly 28,000 miles in search of vintage neon signs. The goal was simple: document more signs than I could count in various stages of restoration or disrepair, in hopes of promoting awareness, appreciation and preservation.

We started in a Winnebago I’d affectionately named Mini Winnie. By the time we’d traversed Nevada and driven into Utah, it became clear Winnie wasn’t fast enough to trek the mountainous terrain of the Pacific Northwest. We rented a car, and proceeded to put more than 5,000 miles on it over the next ten days. Let’s just say Wyoming is big, Montana is even bigger, and then there was Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

After returning the car rental… and spending more than an hour and $30 in quarters furiously vacuuming blonde dog hair from its black fabric interior… we drove Winnie home to California for her television debut with Good Day Sacramento. . When Cody walked out sporting a bow tie, I knew we were in good hands. After our TV spot the three of us set out again, this time in my sister’s car. Traveling in Winnie was a wonderfully romantic idea, but we needed speed, so we adapted. Our travels took us south, to Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. More signs to love and ogle, and skies that photographers dream about.

Texas was our first experience with adverse weather, and we were tied up in Dallas longer than expected waiting for the rain to pass. Thank heavens for gracious friends who don’t mind you staying a few days more. To avoid an incoming hurricane we went north to Maryland, and traveled the Northeast before heading south, and  through parts of the Midwest. We spent a day in a hotel in North Bend, Indiana waiting again for rains and flash flooding to pass, before heading back south. The American Sign Museum in Cincinnati was a must, and after we arrived my sister joked she had to clean my drool off the floor. Charming, isn’t it. Somewhere in there was Florida and Georgia and Alabama, then Tennessee and Kentucky.. We finished with Route 66, a road I’ve dreamt about traveling in its entirety for years.

Four months wasn’t enough time to cover the country, but we certainly tried; my external hard drives bear the 15,000 photographs as proof. Months later, I’m still working my way through the images and finishing a book for my Kickstarter backers. Every photo I find is a memory, to share. People often ask me what is my favorite sign, or what was my favorite place to visit. It’s an impossible question, you can’t see 28,000 miles of our countryside and choose just one place.

From Idea to Screening: Following “The Dunes” Film Project

“The Dunes” is a short, 10-minute film produced by graduate students from the London College of Communication. It will be screened at The British Film Institute in June 2014 and sent to film festivals around the world.

Set in a forgotten and decadent care home by the sea, “The Dunes” is a story about finding beauty, realising strength and discovering hope. It explores the last period of human life when we are faced with thoughts of losing ourselves and our memories.

Shot in a simple and lyrical way, infused with deep metaphors, the film follows the complicated but charming relationship of two care home patients, Eric and Thomas, who have opposite attitudes towards life.

Eric, an 80-year-old retired painter who yearns for his past, finds he is still mentally and physically able to wander the care home. He feels no relation towards his fellow residents and fears them on some level – their degenerative state offers him his future. Eric knows in his heart that he will end up stuck if he stays too long, so he constantly seeks freedom, either through death or escape. With the unexpected arrival of his roommate, a man unable to walk, Eric learns the true value of living and how to find the positive in each situation. There are always small pieces of happiness to be found, and he will need to find the strength to spread that message.

I came up with the original concept and put the crew together, which consisted of fellow students. I then gave creative control to director Irene Calvo Romero, who worked with editor Sadaf Sheik Ahmed, who moulded the script to become their own. With her clear vision, Irene worked with all creative departments to bring the story to life. This was a very ambitious project and what started off as a small student production, very quickly turned into a huge scale multiple thousand pound film.

(Full article available in print)