Jules Renard once said that “everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it.”, so I did. I needed an image to illustrate a segment on my film about Alice Parker, a photograph that showed conductor Robert Shaw in front of an integrated ensemble. Although not directly related to the story I was telling on the documentary about Alice, the image will serve to establish that Robert Shaw, undoubtedly a most influential figure in her formative years, was also a progressive minded and remarkable individual who in the midst of the Civil Rights movement brought his integrated chorale for a tour to the segregated south.
“We were, very frankly, the first group that mixed blacks and whites on stages in the South. There were a lot of mayors that didn’t know we integrated their hotels, too. We’ve had, in the South, capital cities, we’ve had the front three rows, which are the expensive rows, get up and leave as our group walked on stage. But we never cancelled a concert. In some respects, we led that crusade in the Arts.” Robert Shaw.
So, I took action and reached out to Kiki Wilson, executive producer of “Robert Shaw The Film” aired on PBS American Masters. After screening one of the latest edited versions of “Alice” with a private link to Vimeo, Kiki’s responded with a number of amazing photographs. I needed only one, and she offered ten. Now we’re one step closer to concluding this portrayal on Alice Parker.
I know that soon I will have to export the final version into a master that we can share with the world in multiple languages and with film festivals everywhere, but I would rather keep on editing forever. I’ve got used to Alice’s company on the screen of my computer, to the phone calls, to her music. This film reminded me why I do what I do, why am I a filmmaker and a biographer. In a certain way Alice and I are very much alike, we both believe we have the best job in the world.