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Michael (Moore) and Me


One after another, two messages came in. I had an assignment to photograph filmmaker Michael Moore. Then, a message read that Michael Moore was difficult. I was curious and excited about Michael Moore. He is a terrific filmmaker and his work had a strong influence (Bowling for Columbine) on my now grown son who is a writer. Apparently, however, many stipulations came with his contract to speak at Bunker Hill Community College. Some were rather extreme. Some appeared to contradict his populist message. This did not bode well for the photo I had to take for their Magazine cover.

The shoot day arrived with two bits of good news. First, my son Miles was available to help out. Second, the project had been assigned to a terrific graphic designer, Karen Woo. Miles and I arrived the college two hours before the shoot time to prep. Karen’s plan was to shoot close, have Michael roll his eyes upward and also have him wear a Bunker Hill baseball cap. Good luck with that. Cut line on the cover, "looking for trouble" a riff on  the title of his most recent book Here Comes Trouble.

We werealloted 15 minutes to get the shot. We built the set…white seamless with highly diffused lighting to mimic natural daylight. One version would have Moore peeking from behind a curtain; the other would be against the plain white seamless. We hung the theatre curtain; then we practiced. Miles stood in for Moore. We were ready.

Then we waited. Moore was late. He was coming from New York and was not on a charter airplane as speculated. He was on a train stuck somewhere in eastern Connecticut. Time passed, the speech time got closer. After an hour off nervous waiting we looked out a window and saw a Black SUV pull up. Moore emerged from the truck wearing a sweatshirt and loose dark blue athletic shorts and sneakers. He was dressed for comfort. Soon he made it up to our location. I had no idea how it would go. New allotted shoot time was five minutes.

And what a surprise! He was unfazed. He was generous. I’ve imagined him as a bully, but he presented himself as kind and physically vulnerable. He wore the BHCC hat. He was serious. He smiled, Then when I asked, he rolled his eyes (five times) up and to the side. We had our shot.

After changing into blue jeans, he went on stage and gave a tremendous talk. He read from his anecdotal, funny biography. He took questions. After hearing an official urge attendees to contribute to a scholarship fund, Moore stepped up and offered to match donations that afternoon up to $10,000. He donated the full amount. Read about it at this link.  http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/its-long-way-bunker-hill


He may be trouble. He may be difficult to work with. But he is smart, insightful and has a very big heart.

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