A Top 10 life moment
Met Friend's Sister in the park at a jazz gig tonight, when in Rome. We explained all our worries - could Al handle the potential fame? What if he loses his job? His sanity? Is he too fragile for the film?
She said that the film could be just what Al needs - people with PTSD need to talk, to process what happened, to acknowledge it's importance etc etc. So having a couple of gals from England hanging on his every word and going over things could be ideal therapy. She also thinks that the fact he seems so keen - hasn't stopped calling and emailing and sending journals and ideas etc - only further convinces her. She said she'd watch the interview so she can say more.
I feel a lot better.
Also, the emotion is ratcheting up generally. Everyone we meet has another heart-rending story (met someone who's grandmother had been rescued from an old folk's home, floated out on mattresses through the city, temporarily left on a higher bank till a rescue car could come - and then watched as her best friend next to her was eaten by a crocodile).
Each time you hear these stories, you empathise so much it starts eating into you. Am beginning to understand compassion fatigue (the real stuff experienced by doctors/journos in war zones, not the post-Live Aid tabloid myth) and why doctors etc are trained not to empathise so they can carry on working. Also, no doubt, the reason why Al went slightly cold on the people he rescued.
The next job was to drive round all Al's recommended jazz clubs, in Reuters Journo's enormous SUV
(gently chided him till he pointed out it's so he can carry on reporting even if New Orleans floods again. Fair enough. Sometimes only an SUV will do), choosing the best venue for a scene with Al listening to his favourite singer and drinking his bourbon. Stormed in, took photos, had appropriate drink, listened to some tunes, maybe danced to a couple of songs, bowled some bowls (at Rock'n'Bowl) and went to the next one. Call this a proper job?
Met a local cameraman who was filming for the BBC at one of the clubs and got loads of great tips on getting free helicopter rides (ask coast guard), which clubs allow filming, what lights work best (dedos with coloured gels) and what-have-you. Turned out he was the guy who filmed the recent Discovery doc about the rebuilding of the oil rigs too, so got the contact for them. He shot it on HDV too, so will cut seamlessly with our stuff.
As we drove from club to club, we listened to Al's recommended local artists - Lizzie went CD shopping this morning - trying to decide who to get to star in The Jazz Club Scene. Lots of good stuff, and then Betty Shirley started up.
Cut to the Pulitzer prize-winning photos of Al's rescue (a pro photographer happened to bump into Al and spent the day helping rescue and taking pix. Is this fate or what?). Al telling the story in interview, on his Harley driving round the devastated areas, having a fag at his flattened old house, going into the jazz club and there she is, singing her songs of hope and the unfailing human spirit.
I appreciate that I'm a self-confessed exaggerator, but hearing the song for the first time, having found Al, after a night of jazz, windows down, hot breeze, lying on the back seat of the car (too far gone to interact with Lizzie and Reuters Journo), well, it was a Top 10 life moment.