Blizzards on the Prairie

December 12th, 2010

After experiencing a blizzard this weekend in Brookings, SD, I have a whole new respect for The Long Winter. I stepped out in the storm only briefly, but the wind blown snow and ice made a very strong impression. My uncovered face was burning after less than two minutes. While its true that I wasn’t fully protected, the cold cut through my coat and trousers as easily as it lashed my unprotected skin.

It only takes a few seconds to realize that prolonged exposure to this kind of weather would be terminal. People living in places like South Dakota know and respect the power of winter’s fury. When the storm was coming everybody just settled in and waited for it to pass. There was literally nothing else to be done. Its actually sort of relaxing know that you have no rational choice but to stay safe and warm inside. I thought about driving to Sioux Falls in hopes of catching a flight if the weather cleared, but I changed my mind when my host told me stories of vehicles blown over in harsh blizzard winds. Instead I made my way to Wal-Mart, bought some supplies, and waited.

Now and certainly back then people challenge these storms at their own risk. I thought about Pa getting lost in the storm and nearly freezing to death only feet from the house…of Almanzo and Cap Garland pushing their exhausted horses back to De Smet with the wheat before the blizzard could take them down, which it surely would have.

During the night the storm passed leaving crystal clear skies and ice everywhere. While the storm was gone the air was bitterly cold. It was -5 degrees this morning. Before heading for the airport I decided to drive west on Hwy 14 towards De Smet in order to take some pictures. It was just too cold to shoot for long. I returned to Brookings and and shot the Harvey Dunn gallery at the South Dakota Art Museum. The pictures are wonderfully evocative in LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE: THE LEGACY OF LAURA INGALLS WILDER, but they are truly extraordinary in person. I would recommend that anyone making their journey to Laura’s homes include the South Dakota Art Museum in their plans.

I’m sitting at the Minneapolis Airport as I write blog entry…oh the magic of wireless internet service.
Home to Los Angeles by late tonight. The week will begin tomorrow morning with a workout at 6:30 AM.


December 6th, 2010

This week I’m going to Brookings, SD to screen our newly recut version of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE: The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The event is Thursday night, Dec 9, at the South Dakota Art Museum. The screening is part of a reopening celebration for the Art Museum that includes the release of a wonderful new book entitled HARVEY DUNN: Illustrator and Painter Of the Pioneer West. Those of you who saw screenings of our program this summer were treated to many of Harvey Dunn’s most famous pioneer paintings, including The Prairie is My Garden and Something for Supper. In total there are more than a dozen of Mr. Dunn’s paintings in the program.

In mid-November I flew to New York to interview Walt Reed, the writer of the new Harvey Dunn book. Walt is 93 years old and he was wonderful on camera. The results of his interview will likely begin appearing on the web and at the South Dakota Art Museum during 2011.

In the meantime Laura is being reviewed by U.S. and international distributors and we expect to have more news about when and where the program will be released in the next few months.

Thank you all for your patience.

Happy Holidays!

LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE:The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder

May 27th, 2010

After more than six months we are nearly finished with our new documentary about the life and writing career of Laura Ingalls Wilder. What an adventure its been. We are excited for everyone to see it…hopefully soon.


LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE: The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder

April 10th, 2010

I haven’t posted since November. Here’s what I’ve been working on.

The program will be ready for general release this summer. We’re very excited about the program. I hope you all like our trailer.

LIW DOC – Amazing Weekend In De Smet

November 2nd, 2009

What an amazing weekend we’ve had in De Smet, SD. It started with rain and snow on Friday and transformed into beautiful sunshine and cloudless skies on Sunday and Monday.

Over a four-day period we did recreations from multiple periods in Laura’s life — from childhood right up to her marriage to Almanzo Wilder. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to my “Laura” friends Marian Cramer and Dr. Orval Van Deest, who oversaw the selection of thirty people from De Smet and its surrounding communities, who generously gave of themselves to be Laura, Mary, Carrie, Grace, Caroline and Charles Ingalls and of course Almanzo Wilder…they were the Boast’s and the Masters’, Mrs. Brewster, Cap Garland, Nellie Olsen/Stella Gilbert and Reverend Brown.  They gave of themselves through long hours as we shot moment after moment from Laura’s LittIe House books. As I watched them all in their costumes I was genuinely moved knowing that each of them, in their own way have embraced Laura’s books and her legacy, as have millions and millions of people all over the world. I am not a particularly religious person but I can’t help but feel blessed by all these people and their willingness trust me and be there to help tell Laura’s story.

You couldn’t do this without the places to shoot. The Sullivan family (Tim, Joan, and their daughter Anne) at The Ingall’s Homestead and Cheryl Palmlund at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society provided all the locations, the costumes, and props, horses, wagons, and carriages that made it all work.

All these people put themselves in front of our camera and our director of photography, Derrick Robinson. As he did for me in Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura, Derrick got the shots. We didn’t plan to record a lot of dialog, but when we did Jeremy Chambers was right there to do it…he was also our grip and good humor man. Still photographer Derek Cecil came in from Madison, SD on Saturday and Sunday. He took great pictures of action going on in front of and behind the camera…he also lent a hand with equipment as the hours went on. Derrick, Jeremy and Derek are can-do guys…

We’ll finish here in De Smet today, but our LIW journey continues…in Walnut Grove and then for the next several months back in the editing room. I’ll keep you informed.



October 26th, 2009

At some point anyone who is digging deeply into the world of LIW has to make the trip to the Hoover Library in West Branch, IA. I’m going today and looking forward to it.  Pictures and writings await. I’ll have more on this visit later.



October 22nd, 2009

I arrived in Pepin, WI this afternoon after flying from Los Angeles to Minneapolis this morning. I had to check six cases of video equipment onto the airplane. The good news is that it all seems to have arrived in good shape.

The drive into Pepin is a narrow country highway. The leaves are still beautiful so I should get some great shots tomorrow. Before going to the Pepin Motel for the night I made the 7 mile drive from Pepin to the Wayside Little House. Its simple but very pretty setting. Tomorrow I’m hoping to get inside the replica log cabin. In addition we will be shooting stands of native trees to simulate The Big Woods and Lake Pepin before departing for Spring Valley, MS in the early afternoon.

I love being out here… Laura’s story awaits.



October 18th, 2009

I have been somewhat illusive about the content of our upcoming LHOP project…but now I can talk about it. Beginning on October 23 we are shooting a new Laura Ingalls Wilder documentary…the first of its kind ever undertaken because it will include not only footage from the places where Laura lived, but also recreations of scenes and written words from her classic Little House books.  In addition we will be including the expert comments of historians and Laura Ingalls Wilder scholars, who will add their insights about Laura’s life on the prairie. This is a project I have been trying to do for more than ten years and its finally going to happen.

I will be adding many more details in the weeks ahead.



October 5th, 2009

Legacy Documentaries is preparing a brand new Little House related documentary that we think Laura Ingalls Wilder fans will absolutely love.  I’ll keep you posted here.

All best,



August 6th, 2009

Last weekend I had a great experience at the Heritage Hill State Historical Park in Green Bay, WI. Heritage Hill invited me to come in order to help them celebrate Laura Ingalls Wilder Day. Other special guests included William Anderson, the very talented writer and Beth Ingalls-Leisses who is a living relative of Charles Ingalls. Over 3,000 people gathered at Heritage Hill last saturday and broke the museum’s attendance record, which was set last year on the previous Laura Ingalls Wilder Day. The fact of the record breaking day is nice, but what made it even better was that  the record was broken competing head to head with the first 2009 training camp practice of the Green Bay Packers, only miles away. In a city like Green Bay, which is more than a little obsessed with the Packers, that was pretty cool.  It truly amazes and touches me that so many people continue to love our series and the books on which they were based.

My involvement with Laura’s world began 30 years ago and it has been an honor to be joined with so many others who preserve and celebrate her stories focused around the challenges and romance of a family struggling to survive America’s great western movement. The more I learn about Laura and her life I am increasingly impressed by her desire to turn a life filled with hardship and tragedy into one that has inspired and enriched people of all ages for more than seven decades.

While I was on-site at Heritage Hill I had the opportunity to join Bill and Beth in four different gatherings of visitors in order to speak, sign autographs and answer questions. In advance of the event I prepared a brief Legacy Documentaries DVD that included the romance segment from Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura, brief clips from LHOP bonus content, as well as a tease for Legacy’s next Little House documentary project, The Life Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The reaction was wonderful. Look for it 2nd quarter of 2010. I’ll be talking much more about this project in the months ahead.

After the event was over we started talking about what we could do next at Heritage Hil…a lot of good ideas came out, including one for the entire family that will connect holiday music and spoken word. I’ll share more when its all locked in place.

Hope everyone is having a great summer.