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Legendary filmmaker CARROLL BALLARD–an un-edited 21-minute interview

Published On October 9, 2016 | By Mike Carroll | Filmmakers

This is a rare and unique opportunity to see the entire interview with one of our most beloved filmmakers.

I saw The Black Stallion on the big screen when it was originally released and experienced one of the most beautifully made films I’d ever seen. The natural style of the performances–from a boy and a horse no less!–and the natural photography, the editing and the sound design.

I’ve looked forward to every Carroll Ballard film since and–in one of the great tragedies in cinema–there have been only a handful of Carroll Ballard films since.

In 2005 Warner Brothers produced a new film directed by Carroll Ballard–Duma. Then Warner Brothers decided not to release Duma theatrically but to put it out as Direct-to-DVD. Through a campaign by Chicago film critic Roger Ebert to get Warners to release the film, Warners agreed to test Duma out in three cities: San Antonio, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona, and Sacramento, California.

A few years ago I had the occasion to call and talk with Carroll Ballard about one of his passions, the French movie camera the Eclair CM3, which he owns several and used them to shoot all of his movies. (Yes, I have since bought my own 35mm Eclair CM3.)

I read a newspaper article that said Sacramento was one of the target cities–and I live and work in Sacramento at KCRA-3 TV News. I called Carroll Ballard at his home in Napa and said that I would like to do a TV news story to help promote his film and help him out. This was on a Monday and his film opened that Friday.

“Gee, that would be great,” Mr. Ballard said on the other end of the phone line. “But I don’t have time to come down to Sacramento–you’d have to come up here.”

“You tell me where and I’ll be there.”

The next thing I knew he was giving me directions to his home.

This is the story that I put together. It ran one-minute-and-forty-five-seconds. The interview I shot ran to 21-minutes. I’ve often thought about the things that Mr. Ballard told me–about making Duma, about his filmmaking methods, about the state of the film industry–and I decided that I wanted to put his interview–the entirety of what Mr. Ballard had to say–on Youtube for everyone to enjoy.

After shooting the interview I said to Mr. Ballard that I’d like to get a little bit of video with him and asked if he would mind showing me his Eclair CM3.

“Yeah, sure. Follow me.”

Mr. Ballard led me into a building and this is the raw footage of Carroll Ballard showing me one of the Eclair CM3 cameras that he shot all of these films on.

After shooting this footage I said that I’d always been fascinated by these cameras and if I could hold it? Mr. Ballard held his camera out for me, then he showed me how it works, how the film magazines are loaded.

Here also is some behind-the-scenes footage of Carroll Ballard at work, with his Eclair CM3, filming Fly Away Home.

When I am often asked what is the favorite story that I’ve ever done I always  answer:

“What I love about my job is that sometimes I’m able to get to do a story and get to meet one of my heroes.”

This was that story. I got to meet one of the greatest hyphenate filmmakers–writer-director-cameraman-editor–who directly influenced and inspired me in my professional career as a TV news photographer-reporter–shooting, interviewing, writing & editing my own stories–and then later my  independent films.

I share this interview and these stories to celebrate the work & working methods of one of cinema’s most beloved filmmakers.

What you see here is my favorite story and one of the most special special mornings that I’ve had in my career as a TV news cameraman.

Mr. Carroll Ballard — Thank you for an incredible day.

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About The Author

Mike Carroll joined the digital revolution in 1999 with a Sony TRV900 camcorder and Final Cut Pro, when it was only Final Cut Pro and not version 2, 4 or a Suite.

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