A movie star I am not… but for a moment or two I certainly felt like one. It was back in April that I received an email from a representative of Spiegel TV in Germany, asking if I could help them organize some photo shoots.
“Of course I will,” I exclaimed when I realized that they were from a German Television Show to be broadcast on ARTE (Association Relative à la Télévision Européenne) a public Franco-German TV network much like our Discovery Channel. Someone had seen one of Ian Coristine’s books and decided our archipelago would make a wonderful place for a series!
They wanted to capture life in our Thousand Islands, not only in the summer, but for the year, from early spring through the fall. They also wanted to focus on the people living on the islands and they wanted: little stories that make our lives so unique.
The Canadian organizer, James, sent an overview of the project with a written history of the Islands. I found some mistakes which were easy to correct and before I knew it, I was one of those people living on the islands…. Yes, we were one of the “protagonists” and they would like to meet me and my husband, Marceli Wein.
I did get excited as this would be an opportunity to interest Europeans to visit the region – and to learn that we were more than a Salad Dressing.
Our first meeting was set up by Heidi and Konrad Linckh, who own The Tower on Hill Island. It was a cold day in April – the kind we love - but not a day you want to show the rest of the world, as there was little sun, no greenery, no wild flowers and most of all, no neighbours enjoying Island life. We Invited the crew in for a coffee and cake, beside a roaring fire and before long we were all friends.
That came as no surprise as the film director Almut Faass, and her cameraman, Reiner Bauer, are professionals and in no time at all they made us feel that being in front of a camera was natural. They also seemed excited about the weather and the ice formations on the rocks – typical of a Canadian landscape.
My next encounter was mid-June. They asked me to book a whole day of filming and the topic could revolve around our “Thousand Islands Life Magazine.” The crew would include film director Almut, and cameraman Reiner and sound engineer, Martin Pflueger. I chose to interview two small and popular restaurants near the waterfront in Gananoque.
My first interview was with Kerry Coyle at the Purple House Café. Aaron, Kerry’s partner brewed some delicious coffee and we had time to admire the Café gardens. Soon I learned that starting a photo shoot was hard work. Just unloading the equipment took time and energy – then deciding which sound equipment, battery packs and lens to use, was important.
I was laughing at the end of the interview, as both Kerry and I realized that with only one camera, it was necessary to retake shots and conversations from at least three different angles. The last scene I started by thanking Kerry for allowing me to take up her time that morning and doing the interview… However, after repeating my thanks at least five times - Kerry and I agreed we never wanted to thank each other again… just kidding.
The second interview was across the street at the 1000 Island Indian Cuisine Take Out and Catering Shop with Chef Ben Murkerjee. The film crew loved meeting Ben, who has had an interesting career, including cooking at the White House in Washington, D.C. Ben was used to being on camera and even gave us a cooking demonstration!
Then to complete the day of filming we travelled out to the island in my small boat, had lunch and then they spent the rest of the afternoon with me at my computer, in my library – not a hardship on my part at all.
As this article goes to press, Almut has completed her director’s role and is flying back home to Germany. Another director is arriving and we will have the opportunity to meet him as he is coming to film our Sunday Half Moon Bay church service on Bostwick Island.
Over the past month they have met dozens of Islanders and mainlanders on both sides of the Thousand Islands international border – island owners, caretakers, craftsmen, conservationists and even municipal emergency firefighters.
Dennis and Kathi McCarthy set up a dive charter on the wreck of the “Iroquoise”, which is the oldest identifiable shipwreck in the Great Lakes and upper St. Lawrence River. Dennis dove to show Brockville’s scuba diver, Dave Sheridan, the wreck while Martin filmed underwater. To say Martin was impressed with the clarity of the River would be an understatement.
Their cameras also went above the islands using drones and filmed some of those I consider our finest ambassadors, including Ken Deedy (Grindstone Island), Kathi and Dennis McCarthy (Cape Vincent), David and Diane Sheridan (Brockville), Don and Marnie Ross (Frontenac Biosphere) and Ian Coristine and Lyne Roberge (Raleigh Island)
Almut agreed but was quick to add, “There are so many other names… I think the people you mentioned are a “pars pro toto” for all the Islanders, young and old River Rats, that helped us so much.” She went on to say, “We would like to thank everybody for the warm welcomes we had on each Island, the hospitality and inspiring talks, the big support and the interest in our work. It was an honour and a great pleasure to work with all of you. You allowed us to be a part of your life – that makes us proud and happy. Thanks so much - we’ll all come back some time in the near future. Ian showed me a quote: “The River chooses some”. And I think, we are already chosen.”
We are mid-way through the summer and there will be more filming to come. The end result will be five 40-minute shows, each will be shown in Germany and France! – But the best part is the time we have spent with Almut, Reiner and Martin – new friends who are working hard to share our island life with the world.
By Susan W. Smith, Susansmith@thousandislandslife.com
Editor, TI Life.