Breaking Down Stereotypes One Film At A Time

PAYSON PEOPLE

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When 6-foot-6-inch Clinton Chatfield was shooting hoops as a center for Payson High School's varsity basketball team during the 1996-97 season he did not have an inkling a career in film was part of his future.

Nine years and two inches of height later, Chatfield is 27 and has traveled as part of the film crews for two documentaries: "14 Days in America," filmed in 2004, and "14 Days in Great Britain" filmed this past year.

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Clinton Chatfield

The films are the creation of photographer David Gibbons of Yorkshire, England. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Gibbons said he wanted to devise a project that would promote understanding and tolerance around the world.

"Our first film day was in New York City," Chatfield said.

Chatfield joined the crew of the first film as part of an internship for his Interdisciplinary Studies major at Arizona State University.

As he stood next to Gibbons, boom in hand, the tragedy of Sept. 11 became more real and personal.

"We interviewed one kid who worked just a few blocks away (from the Towers)," Chatfield said. "His dad was actually in the Tower when it went down. He ran home from work, 13 blocks, said it took him like 10 minutes to get there then sat and waited for a call that never came.

"After the interview was over, he took his shirt off and he had a huge mural of his dad tattooed on his back."

Chatfield was one of three interns and part of a crew of 20 who traveled across America in a rented Winnebago to document the lives of Americans after Sept. 11 for the first film.

"I've always been really adamant about going places that I've never been before," Chatfield said.

He met children in Boston who were not certain they wanted to have their bicycles on camera.

In Nashville, Tenn., he watched as a young blond woman describe the city she loves as a not too big town where country is not the only music played.

There was an 87-year-old saddle maker interviewed in Alamogordo, N.M.

Las Vegas introduced the crew to "Selma Lou" the VW bus of a Grateful Dead fan.

This first documentary is in the process of being re-edited.

The second documentary to be filmed was "14 Days in Great Britain."

Chatfield became the lead camera operator, traveling with a crew of about 30 across Great Britain.

My education is in video photography so it is all camera work, " Chatfield said.

"I'd never actually picked up a still camera before Great Britain and it was funny because they just handed me a $3,000 (camera) and kind of said ‘play with this.' I had the strap wrapped around my wrist so there was no chance of dropping it."

He said his training came from the best in the field.

Gibbons is a photographer with his own company, The Lighthouse Group. Bradley Golden, director of photography, has worked in Hollywood in film and television.

"When people like that are giving you pointers, how can you not learn something," Chatfield said.

The films have tried to concentrate, not on the hot buttons of politics and religion, but on questions like, "What is family?", "What is freedom?", "What do you want to tell the next generation?"

Of course, hot button issues do enter into the film as people in both countries are interested in religion, politics and the environment.

"We've interviewed over 500 people in both of these movies," Chatfield said. "It is amazing how similar the issues they care about are."

Processing all that has been said takes place during post-production of the film.

"We are so busy telling the stories of the people we meet across the countries that sometimes we don't take the time to think about what we would say," Chatfield said.

Freedom to Chatfield is traveling and meeting other people.

"I think a knowledge of other people and cultures is one of the most important things in the world because it really erases any kind of ignorance that you can have," he said.

"It is easy to stereotype different people by color or religion or whatever it is, but when you get to know somebody, it changes."

As Chatfield continues his career in film, he will continue breaking down stereotypes. The two documentaries already made are part of a 10 location project.

Next year, Chatfield and a film crew will travel to Russia. This time, he won't be an intern. He will be a junior partner in the production company, Mad Brit Films, and director of photography for the Russia project.

The film, "14 Days in Russia," will a crew of around 40 people - many of them university students from Russia. This film will have a much larger budget than the first two documentaries. Obtaining sponsors and raising funds are part of Chatfield's new and, he said, "exciting" responsibilities.

After the Russia project ends, Chatfield will return to his hometown, Payson.

"I have been to all these places around the world, but this is the place I always come back to," Chatfield said. "My mom, my aunt and my little niece are here. (Payson) is something I am always going to carry with me."

--- To reach Carol La Valley call 474-5251 ext. 122 or e-mail clavalley@payson.com.

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