Thursday, December 20, 2012

No Regrets / Heartworn Highways re-release



The hours that were yours echo like empty rooms.
Thoughts we used to share I now keep alone.
I woke last night and spoke to you,
Not thinking you were gone.
It felt so strange to lie awake alone.
Tom Rush
No Regrets


I sometimes forget to browse the internet for the things that once inspired me that were so hard to come by in years past. I’m fond of Texas songwriter Eric Taylor. This performance at the Bluebird Cafe almost captures the vibe of that place, where back in 1999, I had my first taste of what I imagined I could do with music.

Only months before, I had gone out to the Kerrville Folk Festival and met a man named Harold who shipped me Eric’s then-rare first LP called Shameless Love when I got back to California.

It was at the Bluebird cafe I first saw the display of Jim McGuire’s Hasselblad 500c photographs and realized he had provided the cover photo for so many of my favorite records. You can actually see the portraits on the walls in the Eric Taylor video. The first one was certainly Doc Watson’s Memories LP which I used to spin when visiting my Grandpa in the early 1990’s. I was trying to learn Steel Guitar Rag properly, though in the end, this record was a gateway for much of the music that wove itself into my life since. The disc is now fittingly (or criminally) out of print amazon. You can see that wonderful portrait here. I will embed McGuire’s image to make a visual point.
Doc Watson, Jim McGuire©1975 [Hasselblad 500c]
Any Hasselblad shooter and/or music lover would appreciate turning through his book, Nashville Portraits.

I really wanted to post some news about the film Heartworn Highways. You will be able to find it in digital download form tomorrow, 12/25, at places like iTunes. It may be because I have a web page dedicated to the film that I get emails like this:

I wanted to let you know that a digitally remastered (by me) version of the film is going to be released on iTunes, Amazon Instant, Vudu, Cinema Now and a few others whose names I forget on Dec. 25th. I believe these platforms are called in the business transactional VODs. A few months later it will move on to subscription VODs.

In this new version I was able to clean up probably 88% of the dirt specks and even a few jumps that had been the result of negative splices. I wanted to make one more pass at it to make it 100%, but the deadline overtook me. Still, it is a substantial improvement.

So, if you know folks who haven’t seen the movie yet, pass the word that it will once again be available (and we are hoping for a Blu-ray release some time in the future).

By the way, a film called Heartworn Highways Revisited is in the works. It has the same producer, Graham Leader and I will be the senior consulting editor once they start getting to a place where they have a rough cut. It’s premise is meant to follow the model of the original, i.e. mostly new, dedicated singer/songwriters of today who the producer and director feel are in parallel positions of talent and fledgling success as those in the original, and who are doing their own material. It’s not limited to country music but to American music. I believe shooting will be completed some time this summer.

Meanwhile, good luck and happy holidays.
Phillip Schopper

There was this other interesting message from earlier this summer:

This is the editor of the film, Heartworn Highways (I was also the film’s Assistant Director). I stumbled on your site this morning and discovered your (highly accurate) timings for the songs and sequences of our film.

I just wanted to kind of clarify one thing…
When you talk about the extras being in better shape than the master film and maybe stored better, I can tell you that you are in part correct, and in part incorrect.

Jim shot the film in 16mm after spending weeks auditioning lenses from rental houses and selecting what we we believed were the sharpest from among them knowing it was our intention to blow it up to 35mm. Then we carefully selected the optical house for the blow up and I devised a formula for them to use which actually resulted in a tighter grain pattern than normally achieved and as a result was the best blow-up to 35mm ever done during that time period. Of course, that 35mm negative was used to strike many prints, perhaps 25 or more which is quite a few for an original negative; scratches occur and dirt embeds. Then, decades later, when we were able to master the DVD (something which, very sadly, Jim was unable to see for he had died before that was even in the offing) the negative had faded badly and we were able to save it in the mastering, but just barely.

Now, most of the "extras" were the leftover 16mm negative outs which had been stored in cans in Jim’s home and subsequently in a storage locker in Nashville. I had to assemble the extras from out of all the old workprint rolls from the original edit room cans from back in 1976. (Interestingly, one of the hardest part of this whole process was finding 16mm editing equipment to rent to do this — everything has long since become computerized and the old editing equipment has largely been tossed.) In a few of the cases, we had to actually use the workprint for the DVD, but for the rest I was able to master from the original 16mm camera negative. Camera negative has a longer shelf life than the internegative material that was used to make the 35mm negative so, comparatively, the result, of course, was better because that negative had never been used and it is made of sturdier stuff.

So, the result is not because of storage, it’s because of age, materials, and use. Meanwhile, as it happens, at this very moment I am hard at work cleaning up a new digital negative of the film so all subsequent issues will be largely free of dirt and scratches. I’m glad you like the film. We believe it is truly something special. It will become available again through iTunes, Amazon, et. al. starting in December, I believe. And we hope a re-issue on DVD will eventually take place.


I really meant to do more with this info on the Guy Clark web page of mine, but this will have to do for now. This Tom Rush song came into my world back in those days. It was Nanci Griffith (who was once married to Eric Taylor) covering Frank Christian (Three Flights Up) covering it that got me there, back in the days when excavating into songwriter music was most of what I cared about.


The hours that were yours echo like empty rooms.
Thoughts we used to share I now keep alone.
I woke last night and spoke to you,
Not thinking you were gone.
It felt so strange to lie awake alone.

Tom Rush
No Regrets

Nanci’s tribute to songwriters album.
Frank’s album with the cover version.

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