Tag Archives: Rey Scott

The Power of the Press: Part 1– May Day Lo

A blog in support of FINDING KUKAN’s 10K in 10weeks “Keep This Film Alive Campaign”.

In the Lily Wu detec­tive nov­els by Juani­ta Sheri­dan one of the col­or­ful side­kicks is a female reporter named Steve (Stephanie Dugan) who fun­nels infor­ma­tion to her two ama­teur detec­tive friends Lily and Jan­ice. Since many of her fic­tion­al char­ac­ters are based on real life peo­ple, I won­dered if Sheri­dan based Steve on some of the ball­sy female reporters who were break­ing into news­rooms in the 1930s. So my ears pricked when I heard that Li Ling-Ai had a jour­nal­ist friend in the 30s and 40s named May Day Lo. Yes, that is her real name, and no she was not even born in May.

May Day Lo at the University of Missouri (photo courtesy Susan Cummings)

May Day Lo at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mis­souri (pho­to cour­tesy Susan Cum­mings)

 

In the mid 1930s May Day Lo made his­to­ry by being one of the first Asian Amer­i­can women hired to report for a major dai­ly news­pa­per. The pro­gres­sive Hon­olu­lu Star-Bul­letin hired Lo and Ah Jook Ku after they grad­u­at­ed from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mis­souri Jour­nal­ism School. May Day Lo also broke ground at Jour­nal­ism School by being the first “exchange stu­dent” accept­ed there (remem­ber, Hawaii was still a ter­ri­to­ry and not offi­cial­ly part of the Unit­ed States).

May Day Lo Exchange Student at University of Missouri

How does a girl from Hilo get to Mis­souri in 1933?

 

Notably, in 2010 when the Asian Amer­i­can Jour­nal­ists Asso­ci­a­tion put togeth­er a list of pio­neer­ing Asian jour­nal­ists, a major­i­ty of them were from Hawaii. AAJA his­to­ri­an Chris Chow com­ment­ed, “Hawaii was more open to mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism. There was recog­ni­tion that this is an impor­tant mar­ket and you’d bet­ter well serve them (Asian-Amer­i­cans) if you want to make any mon­ey.”

Back in the 30’s, the Star Bul­letin seemed to cov­er sto­ries about local Asians more com­pre­hen­sive­ly than the rival Hon­olu­lu Adver­tis­er.  And May Day Lo’s byline was on sev­er­al ear­ly arti­cles writ­ten about Li Ling-Ai, includ­ing the one that prob­a­bly prompt­ed Adver­tis­er reporter Rey Scott to call Li Ling-Ai into his office for an inter­view on that fate­ful night in 1937 when plans for mak­ing KUKAN were first hatched.

 

Li Ling-Ai appears on the front page of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 1937

Reporter May Day Lo gives front page cov­er­age to fel­low Chi­nese Amer­i­can pio­neer — Li Ling-Ai (aka Gladys Li)

 

I love know­ing that a petite Chi­nese woman who was raised by a rev­erend in Hilo was the first exchange stu­dent at the pres­ti­gious Uni­ver­si­ty of Mis­souri School of Jour­nal­ism and that the pow­er of her pen brought atten­tion to anoth­er pio­neer­ing Chi­nese young woman in a way that changed her life for­ev­er. I want­ed to find out more about May Day Lo, espe­cial­ly when I found an intrigu­ing let­ter from her to Li Ling-Ai:

July 31, 1941,
Dear Li Ling Ai,
Now that I am home again, it all seems like a dream that I met you and all the oth­ers in New York and had such a won­der­ful time…. Please give my Alo­ha to Mrs. James Young, Rey Scott and Mr. Rip­ley when you see them.

May Day Lo had been in New York right around the time when KUKAN pre­miered at the World The­ater just off Broad­way! She had met both Rey Scott and Robert Rip­ley – two key play­ers in Li Ling-Ai’s life at the time. Could May Day hold clues to some of the unsolved mys­ter­ies sur­round­ing KUKAN?

Unfor­tu­nate­ly May Day had died in a trag­ic car acci­dent in 1986. May Lee Chung, edi­tor of the ACUW pub­li­ca­tion that doc­u­ments so many pio­neer­ing Chi­nese women’s lives (see oth­er posts about this “Orange Bible”), could remem­ber clear­ly the cir­cum­stances of May Day’s death. But she did not know what had become of May Day’s only child David, some­one who might be able to tell me more. The trail remained cold until the Pow­er of the Press struck again in 2011. Stay tuned…

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April 25, 2013 — Major Archival Discovery Starts with a Party

It was my hus­band Paul who con­vinced me that I should have a fundrais­ing par­ty.  So last Octo­ber I got many vol­un­teers togeth­er to throw one.  Ter­ry Lehman Oli­val helped by send­ing press releas­es to the local media and got the atten­tion of Star-Adver­tis­er reporter Mike Gor­don.

 

Mellanie Lee, Debra Zeleznick, Robin Lung and Terry Olival at "A Night in Old Shanghai" fundraiser

Mel­lanie Lee, Debra Zeleznick, Robin Lung and Ter­ry Oli­val at “A Night in Old Shang­hai” fundrais­er

That might be the coolest sto­ry I’ve heard in a long time,” Mike said, and promised to write an arti­cle on it.  The more Mike found out, the more he want­ed to know.  His arti­cle grew and grew.  My fundrais­ing par­ty came and went; my Kick­starter cam­paign came and went.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter Mike Gordon signs his support  fpr KUKAN with a "K"

Hon­olu­lu Star-Adver­tis­er reporter Mike Gor­don signs his sup­port fpr KUKAN with a “K”

Final­ly the opus turned up – a 3‑page spread on the film, com­plete with col­or pic­tures, showed up in the Sun­day news­pa­per and drew response from peo­ple as far away as Ken­tucky!

Mike Gordon's article "Reel Obsession" appears in the November 18, 2012 Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Mike Gor­don’s arti­cle “Reel Obses­sion” appears in the Novem­ber 18, 2012 Hon­olu­lu Star-Adver­tis­er

DeS­o­to Brown, cura­tor at the Bish­op Muse­um, also read Mike’s arti­cle and some­thing clicked.  He remem­bered a dona­tion of lantern slides made to the muse­um by Bet­ty Li, Li Ling-Ai’s old­er physi­cian sis­ter, back in the 80’s.  In fact the slides were marked as being relat­ed to KUKAN!  Ear­ly in my research I had read that KUKAN’s direc­tor Rey Scott lec­tured with a group of slides, but no one in his fam­i­ly remem­bered see­ing them or hear­ing any­thing about them.  I had giv­en up on find­ing them.

Lantern slides of 1937 Nanking taken by Rey Scott during pre-production for KUKAN

Lantern slides of 1937 Nanking tak­en by Rey Scott dur­ing pre-pro­duc­tion for KUKAN

So I was on pins and nee­dles last week when I final­ly con­nect­ed with DeS­o­to at the Bish­op Muse­um and had a chance to exam­ine the slides myself.  They didn’t dis­ap­point — 97 images of 1937 Nanking, includ­ing some with Rey and Bet­ty Li, brought Rey’s first trip to Chi­na to life for me in a thrilling way and helped answer some of the mys­ter­ies that had been plagu­ing me for years.

1937 Nanking bomb shelter.  Dr. Betty Li and Rey Scott (far right) with Betty's son Andrew Li

1937 Nanking bomb shel­ter. Dr. Bet­ty Li and Rey Scott (far right) with Bet­ty’s son Andrew Li

Bishop Museum curator DeSoto Brown becomes a fellow investigator on FINDING KUKAN

Bish­op Muse­um cura­tor DeS­o­to Brown becomes a fel­low inves­ti­ga­tor on FINDING KUKAN

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November 7, 2012 — A Presidential Trivia Quiz

With an his­toric Pres­i­den­tial re-elec­tion just com­plet­ed, we want­ed to treat you to a lit­tle Triv­ia Quiz (cre­at­ed by our Pro­duc­tion Intern Mag­gie Bar­rett and fea­tured as part of our recent “Night in Old Shang­hai” ben­e­fit in Hon­olu­lu)

 

Presidential Trivia Slide 1

Close your eyes and try to guess at least 3 before scrolling down.

 

Can you guess at least three things?  They were both from Hawaii is a give away.  Try to think of three oth­er things.  Here’s the sec­ond slide to help you.

Presidential Trivia Slide 2

 

Presidential Trivia Slide 3

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma grad­u­at­ed from Puna­hou School in 1979. Li Ling-Ai was a 1926 grad­u­ate of Puna­hou.

 

Regard­ing Answer B:  Ques­tion­ing Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s Amer­i­can cit­i­zen­ship may be polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed, but for Li Ling-Ai and many oth­er Chi­nese Amer­i­cans it was a part of dai­ly life dur­ing the days of the dis­crim­i­na­to­ry Chi­nese Exclu­sion Laws. Read more about it HERE.

Regard­ing Answer A:  Li Ling-Ai and Rey Scott showed a rough cut of KUKAN to Pres­deint Roo­sevelt at a pri­vate White House Screen­ing late at night on Jan­u­ary 1, 1941 — 5 days before FDR’s famous Four Free­doms Speech, 6 months before KUKAN would open in the­aters and almost a year before the Japan­ese attack on Pearl Har­bor.  To see proof of the White House vis­it, make a tax-deductible pledge to FINDING KUKAN on Kick­starter and view “Back­ers Only” exclu­sive videos and pho­tos from the doc­u­men­tary.

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October 8, 2012 — KUKAN Moves from the ER to the Operating Table

Many of you know by now that my doc­u­men­tary FINDING KUKAN revolves around my dis­cov­ery of the “lost” 1941 Oscar-win­ning col­or film of war-torn Chi­na called KUKAN. Many of you might also be won­der­ing, where in the H… is KUKAN? If it was found, then why can’t we see it? Well when I tracked down the only full copy of the film it had been sit­ting in a Fort Laud­erdale stu­dio for a few decades and then a Geor­gia base­ment for a cou­ple more. Heat and humid­i­ty had done its work.

AMPAS documentary curator Ed Carter opens up the can containing KUKAN for the first time.

AMPAS doc­u­men­tary cura­tor Ed Carter opens up the can con­tain­ing KUKAN for the first time.

 

When AMPAS’s Ed Carter and Joe Lind­ner opened the rusty met­al can that con­tained KUKAN they winced. “Vine­gar,” they both said, wrin­kling their noses. I learned lat­er that that is a sure sign of dete­ri­o­ra­tion. As Joe exam­ined the 2 reels of film that rep­re­sent­ed 90-min­utes of invalu­able col­or footage of Chi­na in 1939 and 1940, he detect­ed both shrink­age and brit­tle­ness (more bad signs of dete­ri­o­ra­tion). Joe said he’d seen films worse off…but not many. Things looked pret­ty grim. If we were in the Emer­gency Room, this would be time for triage.

For­tu­nate­ly a dete­ri­o­rat­ing film takes longer to die than a bleed­ing human. Two years lat­er, KUKAN has been sta­bi­lized but is still in pret­ty bad shape as you can see by the pho­tos I took of it last week at Col­or­lab in Mary­land where AMPAS sent it to have major restora­tion work done.

One of the film cannisters that holds the only known full copy of KUKAN

One of the film can­nis­ters that holds the only known full copy of KUKAN

 

Close up of the shrunken 16mm film that contains some of the first color footage of China.

Close up of the shrunk­en 16mm film that con­tains some of the first col­or footage of Chi­na.

Parts of it are so curled that they will nev­er be able to be re-plas­ti­cized (a sort of Botox process for film that hydrates it enough to allow it to lay flat in the scan­ner with­out break­ing).

 

The part of KUKAN that can't be salvaged

The worst part of the 2 KUKAN reels was so curled it looked like the plas­tic straws you drink out of.

A par­tial copy of KUKAN that I locat­ed in the Nation­al Archives (NARA) will be used to fill in those parts that are unsal­vage­able. The NARA copy was kept in a tem­per­a­ture con­trolled envi­ron­ment all these years and is in fair­ly good shape. But even that has to go through a frame by frame scan­ning process to pull both image and sound­track from the 16mm strip.

DP Frank Ayala shoots the scanning of a partial copy of KUKAN

DP Frank Ayala shoots the scan­ning of a par­tial copy of KUKAN on the mon­ster machine at Col­or­lab

 

DP Frank Ayala, 2nd Cam­era Mia Fer­nan­dez and I arrived at Col­or­lab to film the ini­tial frame by frame scan­ning of the NARA print and learned a lot about the care and effort need­ed to bring a film back to life.

 

A.J. Rohner, project head on the KUKAN restoration, threads the NARA print through the scanner.

A.J. Rohn­er, project head on the KUKAN restora­tion, threads the NARA print through the scan­ner.

 

A.J. Rohn­er, head “sur­geon” on the KUKAN restora­tion process, assured me that “my patient” could be saved despite its hor­rif­ic appear­ance. He gave us a tour of the mon­ster machine that does the scan­ning – an inven­tion of Col­or­lab engi­neer Tom­my Aschen­bach.

Threading the NARA partial copy of KUKAN through the scanner

The scan­ner doing all the work is a fas­ci­nat­ing con­trap­tion that blinks and whirs and beeps — just like some­thing out of Startrek.

I was entranced by its gor­geous parts, blink­ing lights and robot­ic move­ments — so much more tan­gi­bly sat­is­fy­ing to see at work than watch­ing the lit­tle gray line creep across your com­put­er screen as your dig­i­tal footage down­loads.

 

Frame by frame scan begins on the opening scenes of KUKAN

Frame by frame scan begins on the open­ing scenes of KUKAN

 

Rey Scott in one of the opening scenes of KUKAN

Rey Scott in one of the open­ing scenes of KUKAN

 

I also learned how the sound from the film will be lift­ed from the scan, VISUALLY cor­rect­ed before turn­ing into sound waves and then cleaned and scrubbed to get all the ticks, and hiss­es out. I was sur­prised to learn that those lit­tle hor­i­zon­tal lines on the edge of the film are what make the sound come alive through the pro­jec­tor – a mag­i­cal phe­nom­e­non when you think about it.

Tommy Aschenbach demonstrates the magic involved in restoring sound on a film

Tom­my Aschen­bach demon­strates the mag­ic involved in restor­ing sound on a film

 

Examining color loss on 2 different versions of KUKAN

If you look care­ful­ly you can see the sound stripes on one edge of the film. The top strip is the bad­ly dete­ri­o­rat­ed copy of KUKAN I found. Notice the col­or loss.

From the pho­to below A.J. iden­ti­fied the cam­era Rey Scott was using in Chi­na as a 16mm Bolex.

Publicity photo of Li Ling-Ai and Rey Scott

Pub­lic­i­ty pho­to of Li Ling-Ai and Rey Scott tak­en in 1941

Col­or­lab tech­ni­cian Lau­ra Major just hap­pened to have one in the office that she still shoots with.

Laura Major demonstrates the workings of her 16mm vintage Bolex

Lau­ra Major demon­strates the work­ings of her 16mm vin­tage Bolex

Hold­ing that cam­era in my hands, look­ing through the tiny viewfind­er, and learn­ing that the cam­era could only shoot 100 ft of film at a time (rough­ly 2 min­utes) gave me a much greater appre­ci­a­tion for Rey Scott’s hero­ic accom­plish­ment in film­ing the epic scenes con­tained in KUKAN, espe­cial­ly the 15-minute sequence at the end of the movie that depicts the mas­sive bomb­ing of Chungk­ing and the fiery destruc­tion of the city.

Chinese boy looks into Rey Scott's Bolex on location for KUKAN

Chi­nese boy looks into Rey Scot­t’s Bolex on loca­tion for KUKAN

 

FINDING KUKAN Producer/Director Robin Lung looks through the viewfinder of a 16mm Bolex camera

You can’t believe how tiny every­thing looks through this viewfind­er — no won­der Rey had a hard time focus­ing in places.

I am more deter­mined than ever to reach our $16,000 Kick­starter goal so that we can keep fol­low­ing the mag­i­cal resus­ci­ta­tion of KUKAN and track the amaz­ing sto­ry behind its cre­ation. Please join me on this jour­ney, it’s going to be an incred­i­ble ride!

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October 3, 2012 — Michelle Scott Delivers a Knock Out with her KUKAN SERIES

When I first made con­tact with Rey Scot­t’s grand­daugh­ter Michelle Scott and filled her in a lit­tle about the sto­ry behind KUKAN, she felt a need to trans­fer that sto­ry into paint and shared with me a vision she had for cre­at­ing a whole room of paint­ings ded­i­cat­ed to her grand­fa­ther and KUKAN.  It seemed like a far-fetched dream back then.  So I was more than a lit­tle excit­ed to go to Atlanta to wit­ness the open­ing of Michelle’s solo show — THE KUKAN SERIES.  Michelle had­n’t shared any images of the new work with me, so I was­n’t pre­pared for the visu­al sweep and emo­tion­al pow­er of the work.  It lit­er­al­ly brought me to tears.  Here are a few choice pieces from the show.  WARNING — these pho­tos do not do the pieces jus­tice.  The real pieces have an almost three-dimen­sion­al qual­i­ty that allows the view­er to enter into the scene and expe­ri­ence a lit­tle of  Rey Scott and Li Ling-Ai’s world back in the late 30’s.

Michelle Scott with "Start of a Journey" from the KUKAN Series

Artist Michelle Scott with “Start of a Jour­ney” the exclu­sive pre­mi­um avail­able for a $5,000 Kick­starter pledge (par­tial­ly tax deductible).

 

The 36“X36” piece that Michelle cre­at­ed exclu­sive­ly for our Kick­starter fundrais­ing dri­ve is dis­played right in the front win­dow of 2Rules Fine Art in Mari­et­ta. Casu­al strollers walk­ing down the side­walk can’t help but be pulled in to find out with the imagery is all about.  For close up details of this paint­ing go to our Kick­starter home page.

 

"The Story of Kukan" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

The Sto­ry of Kukan” 48x84 is the sig­na­ture piece of the show

 

The KUKAN Series con­tains a few gor­geous trib­utes to Li Ling-Ai the Chi­nese Amer­i­can author who was the uncred­it­ed co-pro­duc­er of KUKAN with Rey Scott.

"On a Dream on a Dare - Part 2" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

On a Dream on a Dare — Part 2” 48x36 fea­tures Rey Scott and Li Ling-Ai

 

The work below con­tains images of Li Ling-Ai from three dif­fer­ent decades and three dif­fer­ent loca­tions (the old Hon­olu­lu Acad­e­my of Art, Bei­jing Chi­na, and New York City)

"Heroine (Miss Li Ling Ai)" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

Hero­ine (Miss Li Ling Ai)” 60x34 is a gor­geous trib­ute to a remark­able woman

 

There are also fab­u­lous pieces that pro­vide a visu­al mon­tage of the Chi­na wit­nessed through Rey Scot­t’s cam­era.  He took both stills and 16mm col­or movies.  Some of his old cam­eras are on dis­play too with the orig­i­nal stills.

"Chungking Burning" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

Chungk­ing Burn­ing” 48x25

 

"Rise" Mixed Media from Michelle Scott's KUKAN Series

Rise” 60x34

 

"What about the Children?" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

What about the chil­dren?” 40x40

Rey Scott trav­eled all the way to Tibet and filmed some of the first col­or footage of prayer rit­u­als there.

Michelle’s take on the orig­i­nal KUKAN lob­by cards for the Unit­ed Artists ver­sion of the film.

 

"Rules of Engagement" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

Rules of Engage­ment” 24x36

 

"Guerillas" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

Gueril­las” 24x36

 

"The Miaos Tribe" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

The Miaos Tribe” 24x36

 

"Burma" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott for the KUKAN Series

Bur­ma” 36x36”

Rey Scott also filmed the famous Bur­ma Road as it was being built.

 

"Shui" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott for the KUKAN Series

Shui”

A reminder of the British influ­ence in Hong Kong which fell to the Japan­ese in 1941.

"Lone Ranger" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott for the KUKAN Series

Lone Ranger” 32x50

 

 

"The Panda Man" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

The Pan­da Man” 34x60

A whole movie could be made just about the baby giant pan­da bear that Rey Scott brought from Cheng­tu to the Chica­go Zoo. Orig­i­nal­ly chris­tened “Li Ling-Ai” by the for­e­ing jour­nal­ists in Chungk­ing, it was lat­er named Mei Lan when it was iden­ti­fied as a boy pan­da bear.

 

"Portrait of a Lady" and "For Him" Mixed Media by Michelle Scott

Por­trait of a Lady” and “For Him” are the first two pieces that Michelle Scott made in the KUKAN Series

 

There are many more gems in this show. But the emo­tion­al high­light for me was being able to see the first two por­traits of Rey Scott and Li Ling-Ai that Michelle did. I first saw them on her web­site before we even knew each oth­er and before she even knew who Ling-Ai was. This was the first time I was able to see them both in per­son. Since the pieces had been sold to dif­fer­ent col­lec­tors sev­er­al years ago, this was also the first time they were reunit­ed in the same room for quite some time — a sym­bol of hope for me as I con­tin­ue to seek fund­ing to fin­ish FINDING KUKAN.

If you are in the Atlanta area make an effort to see this his­toric show — up only until Octo­ber 26, 2012

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August 10, 2012 — Li Ling-Ai 75 Years Ago

When I was invit­ed recent­ly to par­tic­i­pate in a con­fer­ence to com­mem­o­rate the 75th anniver­sary of the Nanking Mas­sacre this com­ing Decem­ber, I real­ized that the film KUKAN also cel­e­brates a whole string of 75th year anniver­saries.  Today hap­pens to be the day that Li Ling-Ai (aka Gladys Li) appeared on the front page of the Hon­olu­lu Star Bul­letin news­pa­per, laud­ed for her desire to fly a plane to sup­port Chi­na’s resis­tance to Japan­ese inva­sion.

Li Ling-Ai (aka Gladys Li) on the front page of the Star Bulletin.  August 10, 1937

Li Ling-Ai (aka Gladys Li) appeared on the front page of the Star Bul­letin. August 10, 1937

A month before this Amelia Earhart’s plane dis­ap­peared.  It’s a reminder that in 1937 air­plane flight was still rel­a­tive­ly new and few women were under­tak­ing the risky hob­by.

News­reel still announc­ing Earhart’s plight.

Fly­ing a plane is just one of the pio­neer­ing feats of Li Ling-Ai and what brought her to the atten­tion of the Adver­tis­er reporter Rey Scott who would even­tu­aly become her film­mak­ing part­ner on Kukan.

Also note­wor­thy is that the author of the Star Bul­letin arti­cle, May Day Lo, was one of the first Asian Amer­i­can female reporters on a major city news­pa­per.

Have any oth­er 75th anniver­saries to share?  Feel free to com­ment.

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February 19, 2012 — What do HUGO and FINDING KUKAN have in common?

Film Poster for HUGO

Mar­tin Scorce’s HUGO is a trib­ute to film pio­neer Georges Melies

 

Like many peo­ple who were charmed by Scorcese’s recent film HUGO, I had lit­tle knowl­edge of ear­ly film his­to­ry or Georges Melies before see­ing the movie, so I head­ed to the inter­net after­wards to find out a lit­tle more about him.

 

Photo of Ben Kingsley & Martin Scorcese on the set of HUGO

Ben Kings­ley (cen­ter right, as Georges Melies) con­fers with director/producer Mar­tin Scors­ese (far right) on the set of HUGO, from Para­mount Pic­tures and GK Films. Pho­to: Jaap Bui­tendijk.

 

Although Melies is rec­og­nized today as an ear­ly film inno­va­tor with a fab­u­lous imag­i­na­tion, he fell out of favor dur­ing his life­time and many of his films were melt­ed down or destroyed.

Still from Melies's THE MAN WITH THE RUBBER HEAD

Still from Melies’s THE MAN WITH THE RUBBER HEAD

 

While read­ing about Melies, I ran across Wikipedia’s list of Redis­cov­ered Films. Hap­pi­ly a cou­ple of Melies’s films from the 1890s have been redis­cov­ered in this cen­tu­ry.

 

Excerpt from Wikipedia's List of Rediscovered Films - 1890s

Excerpt from Wikipedi­a’s List of Redis­cov­ered Films — 1890s

 

Scrolling down the list, look what film shows up in the 1940’s … Rey Scott’s KUKAN!

 

Excerpt from Wikipedia's List of Rediscovered Films - 1940s

Excerpt from Wikipedi­a’s List of Redis­cov­ered Films — 1940s

 

And that’s the answer to a film triv­ia ques­tion that might some­day be asked on a game show in the far future – HUGO and FINDING KUKAN are both about redis­cov­er­ing lost films and for­got­ten film­mak­ers.

 

Georges Melies postage stamp

In 1961 the French gov­ern­ment issued a postage stamp in hon­or of Georges Melies’s cin­e­mat­ic con­tri­bu­tions.

 

Maybe some­day KUKAN, Rey Scott, and Li Ling-Ai will have a postage stamp ded­i­cat­ed to them too.

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December 1 to 31, 2011 — Producer/Director Robin Lung Featured on Career Changers TV

Although I’m more com­fort­able being behind the cam­era than in front of it, I agreed to be pro­filed on OC 16’s Career Chang­ers TV show in order to get the word out about FINDING KUKAN.  Pro­duc­er Rich Figel and Cameraman/Editor Stan Chang man­aged to boil my life of job-hop­ping down to a suc­cinct 4 min­utes or so.  Even bet­ter, the lead in and out of the piece made peo­ple real­ly want to see the work-in-progress trail­er and learn more about KUKAN.  The show airs through Decem­ber on dig­i­tal chan­nel 16 or 1016 in Hawaii.  The show is rebroad­cast Fri 2:30pm, Sat 6:30pm, Sun 12:30am, Mon 9:00am, and Wed 2pm and Thur 8:30pm through Decem­ber.  If you can’t catch it, here is a low res­o­lu­tion ver­sion.

 

You can see the nice lead up to the trail­er here.  And a fab­u­lous arti­cle Rich wrote about “The Mys­tery of Li Ling-Ai” here.

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December 2, 2011 — Gifts From the Blogosphere

There’s noth­ing like hav­ing a cold over the hol­i­days to make you feel sor­ry for your­self. It’s that old deject­ed feel­ing that creeps in as the box of kleenex gets emp­tied. Now that I’ve recov­ered, I’m hav­ing some belat­ed Thanks­giv­ing thoughts, tal­ly­ing up the wind­falls that have come my way over the past year — many by way of the inter­net and blo­gos­phere. Recent­ly I made an inter­net con­nec­tion with blog­ger Duri­an Dave, who turned out to be a very gen­er­ous like-mind­ed soul with an incred­i­ble visu­al archive and wealth of knowl­edge about old Chi­nese films and film actress­es.  See his blog and Tum­blr for hours of enter­tain­ing and eye-open­ing arti­cles and pho­tos.  David advanced my KUKAN research tremen­dous­ly by send­ing a bunch of choice KUKAN relat­ed items to me, includ­ing this vin­tage lob­by card.

Lobby card for the 1941 Oscar-winning documentary KUKAN

Lob­by card for the 1941 Oscar-win­ning doc­u­men­tary KUKAN

Besides dis­play­ing gor­geous col­or and imagery, the card had an intrigu­ing embossed stamp on the bot­tom of it:  “STATENS FILMCENSUR 1947–48.” David sus­pects that the stamp refers to Swe­den’s cen­sor­ship board. If he’s right, that means KUKAN screened all the way in Swe­den! So if any of you Swedish film col­lec­tors come across 16mm Kodachrome col­or footage of Chi­na that appears to be from 1939 or 1940, let me know! We’re still look­ing for good par­tial prints to help with the KUKAN restora­tion.

My next post will fea­ture the fab­u­lous pho­to of a jet-set­ting Li Ling-Ai that Duri­an Dave dug up as well as info about a cou­ple of oth­er ground­break­ing Chi­nese Amer­i­can females work­ing behind the cam­era. Why not now you might ask. Hey, I’m still recov­er­ing!

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July 11–16 Road Trip to Kennesaw & Tallahassee

Director Robin Lung behind the camera

Direc­tor Robin Lung films in Geor­gia

I was a more than a lit­tle ner­vous as I pre­pared for a trip to Geor­gia and Flori­da to meet descen­dants of KUKAN cam­era­man Rey Scott for the first time.  I was plan­ning to spend a week with Rey Scot­t’s grand­daugh­ter artist Michelle Scott and take a long road trip with her from her home in Ken­ne­saw, Geor­gia to her uncle’s house in Tal­la­has­see.  Michelle was on a mis­sion to find more of her grand­fa­ther’s pho­tographs and learn as much as she could about what he was like as a per­son.  I want­ed to tag along to doc­u­ment her search and poke around myself for addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion about Li Ling-Ai.
Michelle Scott in her studio.

Michelle Scott with a few paint­ings from her KUKAN series

As I packed my suit­case I wor­ried that since Michelle and I did­n’t real­ly know each oth­er the trip could be a total fias­co.  For­tu­nate­ly Michelle and the rest of the Scott fam­i­ly were so open­heart­ed and sup­port­ive that I felt instant­ly com­fort­able after meet­ing them and the trip was more suc­cess­ful than I could have imag­ined.   Wit­ness­ing Michelle’s pas­sion for her art and her com­mit­ment to pre­serv­ing her grand­fa­ther’s lega­cy infused me with new ener­gy to face all of the tedious things that go along with doc­u­men­tary film­mak­ing (like log­ging and tran­scrib­ing footage and writ­ing grant pro­pos­als).

Ray Scott

Ray Scott relax­es before inter­view.

I real­ize that gain­ing access to peo­ple and places out­side of my every­day com­fort zone is one of the immea­sur­able rewards of this process.  I’m look­ing for­ward to what the next road trip will bring me.

Mark Scott and Michelle Scott examine Rey Scott's cameras

Mark Scott and Michelle Scott exam­ine Rey Scot­t’s cam­eras as cam­era­man Kevin Deyo films the scene.

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