The documentary on how mariachis and folklorico dancers changed the culture, politics, economy and educational practices of Tucson, Arizona is in production, slated for release in spring, 2015. A book of the same title will accompany the release of the film.
While the project focuses on Tucson, that city serves mainly as an example of what is going on all over the United States in cities and towns with significant Mexican American communities.
On Sept. 18, Daniel Buckley was in San Jose, California showing snippets from the upcoming film at VivaFest!
An audience comprised of students, parents, anthropologists, board members and the superintendent of schools for the San Francisco district (Richard Carranza) was on hand to watch the clips, hear the story and tell a bit about their own lives. It was a great gathering all around.
The film is the sixth in producer/director Daniel Buckley’s Cine Plaza at the Fox documentary series, and his 8th overall.
In the next few months Buckley will be shopping the film around for a broadcast home and wrapping up interviews with community elders. In the spring the focus will be on mariachi and folklorico educational programs in the schools, followed by a trek east in search of the roots of the Tucson International Mariachi Conference.
It focuses on a 65-year-old landmark in Tucson, Arizona that has been the true community center for Tucson’s Latino population, and a place where folks of every ethnic background have been welcomed since it opened in 1947. Edited entirely from the perspective of the many people who fell in love, celebrated, saw shows and marked cultural milestones there, the film also takes it its near closing after the roof blew off in the 1990s, and the way the community rallied around it to put El Casino back in action. For more on the film and its production see Daniel Buckley’s blog.
Daniel Buckley at work on El Casino Ballroom documentary
After 13 months and roughly 80 videos, Daniel Buckley Productions has wrapped up its video production contract for the state centennial website, www.arizonaexperience.org.
The work took Buckley on a journey of Arizona’s history, resources and potential for the future as he met and talked with captains of industry, artists, scientists, educators and historians to augment the larger picture of Arizona in its centennial year, overseen by the Arizona Geological Survey.
“It was my pleasure to add a small corner to this significant undertaking by the Arizona Experience staff,” Buckley says. “They carved a clear and methodical path toward capturing the measure of the state in this historic year and have generated a significant resource about Arizona that will last for generations. Being able to put a human face on some of the monthly topics that created this composite body of work was an honor and a journey of discovery.”
A 40-plus year Arizona resident, Buckley’s wide-ranging background in the earth and space sciences, newspaper work and the arts, as well as his contacts around the state, made him a natural partner in the project following his creation of a fundraising video for the effort in December of 2011. Buckley pitched the idea of becoming an independent content producer for the Arizona Experience shortly after and work began a month before the start of the Arizona Centennial Year on February 14, 2012.
The journey began with videos on Arizona’s lead up to statehood, and the first artist portrait – on Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai – and ended with the unveiling of a statue on the man on Arizona’ great seal – miner George Warren. Along the way there were interviews with Intel CEO Craig Barrett about Arizona’s potential and education needs, visits with scientists such as astronomer/solar power researcher Roger Angel, Ecological Restoration Institute director Wally Covington, human genome biologist Jeffrey Trent, Phoenix Mars Lander principal investigator Peter Smith, along with the man who is working out how to build algae farms in Arizona to produce oil, Randy Ryan.
Buckley met with innovative educators as well, including Ask a Biologist’s Charles Kazilek, Kerry Schwartz of Arizona Project Wet, and Biotech Project director Nadja Anderson.
Featured as well were visits with Arizona Governor’s Office on Energy Policy director Leisa Brug, Dr. Jerry Howard of the Arizona Museum of Natural History as he and his team dug up ancient Hohokam irrigation canals in Mesa, and with Native American art expert Mark Bahti as he introduced viewers to the range of indigenous art in Arizona.
Artists such as Calexico’s Joey Burns, Grand Canyon photographer Bruce Aiken, western sculptor Bill Nebeker and mineral photographer Jeff Scovill were feautured in the project, as were such important places as the site of the first ecological research station in the world – Tucson’s Tumamoc Hill – and the exquisite Sedona Red Rock State Park.
Buckley and the Arizona Experience crew took web visitors to the Yuma Air Show, a celebration of Dia de los Muertos in Phoneix, on a tour of the Sonoran desert’s food stuffs with former Native Seed SEARCH director Angelo Joaquin, Jr. and wandered through the sprawling Musical Instruments Museum. And they brought viewers in as a group of powwow singers from Canada laid down tracks at the studios of the world’s oldest Native American music label, Canyon Records.
The year flew by like the blink of an eye, but in the end, important snapshots of the state were shared online with everyone in the world.
“It was one of the most important and eye-opening experiences of my career,” Buckley says. “A true Arizona Experience. I am deeply honored to have been chosen to put my skills to work in service of this historic undertaking.”
After nearly six months, a documentary on the history of Yuma, Arizona has been completed and delivered to the Arizona Historical Society.
During the production time Daniel Buckley made frequent visits to the southwestern Arizona town to shoot interviews with local historians and film the landscapes and sites where Yuma history unfolded.
A snippet from the 37-minute documentary “Yuma: Gateway to the West”
It is a fascinating and often unexpected story beginning with the Quechan tribe settling along the shores of the Colorado River in Yuma, carrying on through the arrival of the Spanish and the various waves of settlers and assorted characters that passed through or remained at what was called the Yuma Crossing.
Yuma was blessed geographically by being a place where a bend just past the confluence of the Gila and Colorado rivers resulted in a calmer section of water that could support relatively easy crossing.
Moreover the warm climate of the area made it an ideal 365-day-a-year point of passage in the journey from the east to west coasts of the United States.
From the mid-19th century to the early 20th, steamboats journeyed up the river from the Gulf of Mexico through Yuma, providing a major supply route. The arrival of the railroad in the late 1870s made Yuma an important link in the transcontinental rail system.
The arrival of dams in the early 20th century ensured the valley’s farming industry, which today is a multi billion dollar business, with Yuma providing 95 percent of the winter vegetable demands of the U.S.
Since the arrival of Fort Yuma in the mid 19th century, it has been an important military center, and remains so to this day through the U.S. Marine Air Station and the Yuma Proving Ground.
Tourists too find its warm winter climate and inviting population, along with its historic sites and easy access to California and the rest of Arizona, to be reason to stick around.
Then and now, Yuma remains the Gateway to the west.
The documentary premieres Saturday, February 9 at the Arizona Historical Society’s Yuma branch in the Sanguinetti House on Madison Avenue in downtown Yuma, debuting for the city’s Redondo Days, which celebrates Arizona farmer and territorial legislator Jose Maria Redondo. It will remain on view at the Sanguinetti House throughout the year.
Daniel Buckley Productions has been chosen by the Arizona Historical Society to create a variety of new video offerings for AHS’ Rio Colorado Division in Yuma, located in the historic Sanguinetti House.
Buckley will make several trips to Yuma over the next few months to meet with staff and board members, regional history experts and interested parties to build a series of video vignettes that will take viewers to the places around Yuma where historic moments have occurred, and encapsulate those stories in compact, visually appealing short videos. The resulting series of videos will also incorporate materials from the Yuma museum collection, generating a crosstalk between artifacts and history.
The video vignettes will become part of the Sanguinetti House experience, greeting people as they enter and amplifying the impact of current and future exhibits.
In addition, the videos will be used on the operation’s web site to attract more visitors and share information on some of Yuma’s key historical moments.
Buckley will draw on recent experience with the Arizona centennial website (www.arizonaexperience.org) as well as his long-standing work with the Arizona Historical Society and his work in landscape photography to create a compelling sense of place and time in these historical vignettes.