with Tarzan: A Documentary Odyssey, continued...
SPRING LOS ANGELES
Back home, having dubbed and logged what we've got
so far, we see we have no movie. We think the documentary should take
a chronological shape, but with the fiasco of the broken camera, we really
have no ending. There are gaps in our performance coverage and characters
to flesh out. Do we quit now, or do we shoot more? Money, we don't have.
Lots of footage, and a great beginning, we do have. We decide to go for
the whole enchilada.
24, SCARBOROUGH, ONTARIO
After getting our gear through Canadian customs, we
find the town, a Toronto suburb, and the mall parking lot where the circus
is setting up. Patty Zerbini gives us a surprisingly warm greeting, and
we know we will get what we need now.
Much has changed. The circus is running like a well-oiled
machine. Energetic new drivers and tent crew have come on board, as they
do every summer in Canada. The weather is glorious, and the guys are all
showing off their tanned, tightened selves. Everyone is happy to see us.
Good ol' Texas boy Billy Rogers, who rides a motorcycle
around inside a 12-foot diameter metal globe, is hanging out with Russian
aerialist Olga Karima. Billy's partner, Mark, has something going with
a red-haired concessions girl. Othmar's tiger groom, Mike, has been joined
on the tour by his best friend from back home, Sue Bird. Sue has been
hired to provide schooling for some of the children traveling with the
circus, and after class she sits on her bunkhouse stoop and breathlessly
fills us in: She's always wanted to travel, she's quit her nursing job,
she and Mike are not really together "like that," and by the
way, they're pregnant. "Oh boy," we say, mimicking Othmar's
habitual response. We hope we can find a way to include this news that
Sometimes we hang out with our new friends at the end
of the day, and by now, we are so fond of our subjects that the line between
friendship and filmmaking is blurring. It's the documentary maker's dilemma
-- to sort out what helps tell the story, and what is needlessly invasive.
They will become "characters," versions of themselves useful
for telling our story -- and theirs -- the story of a season
on the road with the circus. But of course each of their stories is much
more complicated than their "characters," deeper than we can