Here We Come

After the India shoot, I remained in India for a couple of weeks, traveling to Punjab in north India to Valarie‘s ancestral homeland for the first time. But we also did some film production while we were there.

While I was in the midst of a complex short film in the slums of Bangalore, Valarie was in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. A year earlier, we were both there filming the aftermath of the shooting of six Sikh worshipers at the gurdwara there. In the year since, we’ve been back periodically to conduct follow-up interviews in what will likely become a larger documentary project about the shooting and its aftermath.

And because I was in India on the Story of a Girl shoot, Valarie had to produce a complicated production of her own on the one-year memorial. Fortunately, she had the help of two our of Visual Law Project cohorts and a newly introduced DP who also went to AFI but before I did.

When she was there, she discovered that one of our interviewees would be in India at the same time and place as we would be – Amritsar. During the August 5, 2012 shooting, the gunman seriously injured Baba Punjab Singh, an older man, who was left mostly paralyzed and in the hospital. Two sons and his wife came from India and have been by their father’s side since then, virtually living at the hospital for an entire year.

One grown son, Raghvinder, has become one of our main interviewees – a deeply kind and generous embodiment of the Sikh spirit of “chardi kala” (relentless optimism). He was returning to his home in Amritsar for the first time in a year to see his family right when we’d be visiting Amritsar.

We joined him at the Golden Temple, the holiest place for Sikhs and perhaps the single most beautiful and authentically spiritual place I’ve been to in India. We interviewed Raghvinder and his family and followed him around the temple, filming with our Sony A99. It was really moving and unexpected day of production on our tour of Punjab.

After India, we stopped in Denver for a wedding, then to LA where we went apartment hunting for our triumphant return to California. It took all of two days – we found an amazing place in Venice that we’re happy to call home, in mostly the same neighborhood we lived in three years ago.

Since returning, I’ve been reuniting with old forces, meeting new ones, and searching for a new manager/producing partner. We even had a couple of screenings of our VLP film The Worst of the Worst – one at Stanford Law School and another at the United Nations Association Film Festival in Palo Alto. It was great to see the film in front of an audience for the first time since we premiered at Yale last year.

Simultaneously, our short Oak Creek: In Memoriam was showing at the festival in Toronto where Valarie and I had met 10 years ago. (We couldn’t make it because of our Stanford work.)

Anyway, it’s been good to be back in California, even if we’ve been on the road for a majority of the month since we moved in.

In fact, I’m in Burma (Myanmar) right now updating this – note the irony of titling this post in reference to a song about heading to California, all while I update this from Southeast Asia. Not here on a film assignment, technically, but we’ve been showing our Oak Creek: In Memoriam here as part of Valarie’s US State Department sponsored speaking trip. She’s meeting with and speaking to people who are trying to combat inter-religious violence between Buddhist and Muslim groups.

Okay, I think that actually catches me up to now. More to come back actually in California in a week or so.


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