“My Name is Haji Haji”

Last week, the St. Louis Fimmakers Showcase played the documentary short “My Name is Haji Haji,” which I worked on with Brian Spath. I had another short on the same bill, but in picking up Tyler DePerro, the DP/editor of “The South Side of Luck: Frank’s First Alarm,” he and I showed up late enough to miss both works. At some point in time, that’ll become an amusing anecdote, brought on by just a classic run of bad luck and weird circumstance. So goes life. For now, I’ll just remain miffed.

If things had broken a bit different, young Haji would’ve been in St. Louis to see his mini-doc on the screen of the Tivoli, too, but he wound up visiting Saint Louis during the wrong month this summer, missing the the showing by a couple weeks. Luckily, there’s the web, and the short “My Name is Haji Haji” can live there for a good, long while.

At the time of the shooting of the video, the fall of 2009, Haji was already living in North City. But he was a South Sider for about four years prior to that, part of a large, growing population of Somalis that’ve taken root in our city. He’s a real corker, with a curious, hyper-talkative way of expressing himself and watching him in new situations immediately got me to thinking of ways to feature the kid in his own video series, which we envisioned as “I Am Haji Haji.” But as soon as Brian and I started the project, his family first moved North, to an immigrant-centric housing complex on the City/Wellston border, followed by a more dramatic move to Lewiston, Maine.

We initially envisioned a variety of fun scenarios for Haji to get into, from cooking goat (a Somali specialty) to visiting new places and working/visiting with the crew, like at the City Museum or at Zoo. Who knows what it could’ve turned into? This summer, I tried to get back to the concept, but things didn’t click again. A new camera proved trickier than I thought, Haji got his job back at the flea market, then poof! he was gone again.

He’s a wacky kid, though, with an interesting, curious way of looking at the world. I’m happy that Brian dusted off the old tape and put together this short, shot over four sessions with him, most of them after his move to Maine was announced. Enjoy.

(Cross-posted with thesouthsideofluck.com. And thanks to DJ Wilson should’ve been in the credits, but we’ll add them here.)

STL Filmmakers Showcase: This Wednesday, Double Docs

Two things here.

A list of the films playing the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase “Documentary Shorts” program of Wednesday, August 17, at the Tivoli Theatre.

Then, on of the two shorts in which I took part, featuring the late Stephanie Skaggs.

5 p.m.
Shorts Program 7: Documentary Shorts
81 min.

Gray Matters
Randy Shinn, 18 min.
A look at senior programs and the impact they have on the lives of the elderly.

Maturity and Its Muse
Franklin Oros, 40 min.
Senior artists talk about their lives and art.

My Name Is Haji Haji
Thomas Crone & Brian Spath, 9 min.
Haji Haji is a Somali immigrant with personality and charisma.

South Side of Luck: Frank’s First Alarm
Thomas Crone & Tyler DePerro, 3 min.
A visit with the denizens of a South Side tavern.

The Yodel Within
Matthew Rice, 11 min.
A young man is inspired to yodel after he watches a YouTube video of “The World’s Greatest Yodeler.”

Two Blogs, Other

What a lightly updated blog this has become! Here are the most-recent self-promotional items of note. With more to come.

Blog one: thesouthsideofluck.com

Intermittent updates about the best kind of life: South Side life. It looks like two more independent study students from Webster U. are coming on-board for fall, one adding audio features, the other some video. It’s fun to put personal interests out there, especially when you can find young, talented collaborators to help execute those ideas. This one’s going to push beyond the initial summer run, it appears.

Blog two: silvertrayonline.com

Here’s the idea: three songs posted daily, in the form of good, old-fashioned music videos. Sometimes, a rock documentary trailer will sneak in. Maybe there’ll be an opportunity for an interview, or two, as well. Possibilities abound. Today was day one of this experiment, (which holds the same non-money-making potential of all my best ideas!) Part of this is simply shilling the Silver Tray radio show (back on the air today, actually), but it’s also a way to force me to keep at least mildly current on new music. So we’ll have old cuts for young people, and recent cuts for the geriatrics, who still enjoy finding new stuff. That’s the idea, anyway. Got a request?