Here’s the first in a new series of videos I’ve produced for the Connecticut Forest & Park Association:
This first video focuses on CFPA’s most well-known activity, the Blue-Blazed Trail System, and an ambitious idea to link the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut with the New England Trail. I didn’t think it would be dangerous.
Of course, video production can put you in some precarious places. (One Forensic Files shoot on a highway bridge over the Delaware River, with traffic seemingly inches away, was particularly harrowing.) But I didn’t expect to be seconds away from disaster in the pleasant woodlands of Connecticut.
We were shooting volunteer Joe Hickey’s interview at CFPA’s Middlefield headquarters, in their outdoor amphitheater. Joe sat down, and I went to clip a mic on him when we both heard a VERY loud “CRACK!”
And suddenly the trees were moving. And so were we.
A quite large tree, half broken but hung up in the canopy, finally gave way and came crashing down. The tree top knocked over the camera and tripod, and landed right on my chair.
Joe immediately went over and tried to lift the tree aside. His first instinct was apparently “Yup, more trail to clear.” Typical trails guy. We pulled the chairs out.
Folks in the CFPA building, a good distance away, heard the boom and rushed outside. I picked up the camera, and turned it on just to check it. (You’ll hear Joe refer to me as “Jim”. We had just met. But we’re bonded for life now.)
After catching our breath, we moved the chairs and set up the camera again. Whaddya gonna do? I had an interview to shoot.
This wasn’t my first close call. Working out in the field always has its surprises.
Back in my news days, I was out with WTNH photographer Joe Fox late one winter night, following Wallingford police as they chased down a robbery suspect. (He had exchanged gunfire with an officer; both missed). We were all standing around, on Hartford Turnpike I believe, when we heard an engine roaring down a nearby hill. Tires screeched. A car careened around a corner. Cops scurried. Joe hopped over the guardrail, camera on his shoulder. I was in the middle of the road, and on first instinct I started running to get behind the news car. I realized, in a millisecond I guess, that plan was seriously flawed. I dove headfirst over the guardrail. I swear I was in mid-air when I heard a huge collision. I landed in the snow, scrambled up the short bank, and saw the back of the newswagon (I think it was a Chevy Celebrity) completely caved in and resting where I had originally been headed.
The other car had bounced off our vehicle and spun around into the middle of the road. About 10 cops were pulling the driver and passenger out of opposite sides of the car. They were both unharmed, and quite obviously completely drunk. As the police made the driver ‘walk the line’, Joe flipped on his camera light and started taping.
I imagined that guy’s thoughts: “I’m drunk. I crashed my car. I did it in front of a dozen cops. And now I’m on TV! Not good.”