“The Redwoods” Contest Follow-Up

December 27th, 2010 by David Leland Hyde Leave a reply »

The Redwoods Contest Follow-Up And Special Guest Blog Post Preview Announcement

The Original Cover Promo For The Academy Award Winning Short Documentary, “The Redwoods” written by Mark Jonathan Harris and produced for the Sierra Club to help in the campaign for Redwood National Park.

“The Redwoods” Contest And Complications

On November 6, I wrote a blog post called, “November 2010 Digital Print Contest.” Please see the post for details of the unusual contest it launched, but in short if someone could help me find out the name and background of the Academy Award winning documentary film that used Dad’s photograph for its cover promotional image, the first person to do so would win an 11X14 Philip Hyde authorized archival fine art digital print of choice.

Originally I announced the contest at the Colorado Environmental Film Festival and gave the rules in the blog post. I made the blog post at 2:50 pm and we had an unverified winner by 5:13 pm of the same day. Bill Sawalich, photographer and writer, from St. Louis, Missouri correctly identified the name and year of the film. Thank you also to other participants, notably one Vicki Gundrum, who also discovered the correct film just a few hours later, and who provided much good information also to be seen in the comments on the post. Bill Sawalich found and provided contact information for film director and writer, Mark Jonathan Harris, who wrote “The Redwoods.” It was easy to verify that Mark Jonathan Harris’ film, “The Redwoods” was indeed the 1968 Oscar winning documentary made for the Sierra Club to help establish a Redwood National Park.

There was only one hitch: Mark Jonathan Harris’ film, “The Redwoods” did not have my father’s photograph on the cover, at least not currently, 42 years later. I needed to find out if there was another film that used Dad’s photograph, in that case Bill Sawalich would not yet have won the contest, or whether for some reason Dad or I had been mistaken or mixed up and his photograph was not used on a Redwood film at all, in which case I would honor Bill Sawalich as the winner anyway because he found the name and information about the right documentary.

Academy Award Winning Film “The Redwoods” And The Mystery Solved

I contacted Mark Jonathan Harris, still a filmmaker and professor at the USC Film School. Mr. Harris was cordial, helpful and seemed happy to hear from me about the film. Among other things he wrote:

We were of course aware of your father’s photographs of the redwoods when we made our film, but the photograph we used to publicize the film is not the same one you sent me. This photograph, too, could be one of your father’s. Perhaps you will recognize it. It’s 42 years since we made the film and King Screen Productions has been defunct for many years. I’m not even sure who is distributing the film now–it may be Pyramid films–and I don’t know what art work they are using. We did not use any of your father’s photographs in the film. We shot all the footage ourselves on 16mm, but the Sierra Club coffee table books, of which your father’s was one [The Last Redwoods], certainly set the bar for the quality of images we tried to capture.

Mark Jonathan Harris sent me the jpeg of the original film cover. It turns out it is Dad’s photograph. The artwork the current distributor is using has changed from the original. As soon as I opened the jpeg, I saw right away it was the image I remembered as a kid. Apparently I am the one who mixed up the two photographs recently. They have very similar names. The one depicted on the film cover and seen partially in the cover above was, “Fog, Redwood Forest, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park” and the one that I put in the blog post was “Alder, Redwoods, Fog, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.”

Coming Attractions…

Because I asked about the making of the film, Mark Jonathan Harris also sent me his article, “Notes on The Redwoods” that he wrote in 2006 for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences when they were showing a retrospective of Oscar winning documentaries. After getting his “Notes on The Redwoods” and seeing how interesting and evocative of the times his writing was, I asked Mr. Harris if he would honor me by allowing his article to be used as a guest blog post on Landscape Photography Blogger. He agreed. Stay tuned for Mark Jonathan Harris’ “Notes on The Redwoods” coming very soon.

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