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|| News Item: Posted 2006-07-03

Leading Off: Summer Movies and Being Professional Pays Off
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Garrison Keillor irons his shirt in his dressing room before taking the stage. Keillor brought his Prairie Home Companion radio show to the Hollywood Bowl in advance of the opening of the Robert Altman film based on the show.
I guess some people would think I'm a kind of boring guy. I've been on vacation for a week or so and instead of heading off to some paradise for sun and fun (or maybe Pismo Beach) I've been spending time at home, taking little "day trips" into LA seeing new movies, checking out the Marvel comics exhibit at the Science Museum and ... spending a day in line at the annual Anime Convention (don't ask).

One of the cool things of my job at USA TODAY is I often get to photograph the actors and director of movies that I will later see in the theater. I don't see a lot of movies, but sometimes when I photograph someone involved in a film, it spurs me to spend 30 bucks to see it (I always take my wife Deanna and daughter).

I had a chance to spend time backstage at Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" radio show when they played at the Hollywood Bowl. It was a story to sort of mirror the film, showing behind the scenes of the popular PBS show. Watching Keillor calmly working last minute on that night's script, ironing his shirt while kneeling on the floor of his dressing room floor and actresses Meryl Streep, Virginia Madsen and other cast members rehearse backstage were just a couple of slices of what I shot.

But my peek into the backstage workings of this weekly radio program was much like the Robert Altman film ... save the appearance of the "Angel of Death" (played by Madsen in the movie)... and I really wanted to see "A Prairie Home Companion" when it hit the movie theaters.

We really enjoyed the film and it was worth the price of admission just for the 5-minute "Bad Jokes" song by the Singing Cowboys Dusty (Woody Harrelson) and Lefty (John C. Reilly).

I'd heard all of the stories that Al Gore was stiff and boring in person. But after he walked into a room I had converted into a studio to make a portrait of him for the global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" I found him to be the exact opposite. Gore was relaxed, funny, self-effecting and very easy to work with.

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

After losing the 2000 Presidential race, Al Gore hit the road, slide projector in hand to lecture about global warming. Now Gore is the narrator of a much-buzzed about small film about the environment: An Inconvenient Truth.
A photo editor suggested using an old slide projector as a prop for the shoot because the film was based on Gore's crusade against global warming. It took a bit of searching in the garage to find my old Kodak projector an after dusting it off and checking to see if it even worked. A couple of house before leaving for the shoot, I remembered that I needed something for the projector to ... project. I dug out the first thing I could find in my file cabinet and loaded it into a tray, my old slide portfolio from 1989! What the heck I thought.

After chatting with the former Vice President for several minutes, I handed him the remote control to the slide projector and he commented, "Wow, this really takes me back." But before I could start to shoot, he began to actually flip through the tray, projecting photo after photo on the wall over my shoulder. "Hey, this is pretty good stuff," Gore said as he looked over photos of farm workers irrigating a field outside Visalia, cyclists competing in the '87 Pan American Games, a College of the Sequoias running back flipped in the air and photo of long-time Woodlake High school coach silhouette against the sun.

"You ever thought about going into this business for real?" he laughed. A portfolio review by the Vice President …

We went to "An Inconvenient Truth" at the Arclight Theater in Hollywood ... documentaries and films like "APHC" don't make it to the multiplexes up where I live because films like "Click" are shown on 8 screens. We found the film extremely well made, thought provoking and troubling as most do.

Gore totes an Apple PowerBook throughout the movie (he is on the board of Apple Computers) and I couldn't believe the complexity and depth of his slide show, which is the true "star".

Slideshows have come a long way from two Ektagraphic projectors and a taped deck!

More Movie Notes
While I did not photograph anyone connected with "Superman Returns" it contains a few interesting scenes to photographers.

In one, Jimmy Olsen shows a photo of Superman to Daily Planet editor Perry White. "Where's Superman?" White says. Olsen points to a blurry speck at the top of the grainy photo. Next White drops two photos of "The Man of Steel" lifting a car over his head taken by ... a boy with a cellphone camera!

The next funny scene is Olsen shooting with what must me a new Nikon digital camera. As Superman catches a huge globe as it hurtles to the ground from the top of the Daily Planet building during an earthquake, Olsen blasted off what seems like a hundred frame without a break ... that Nikon seems to have one heck of a buffer! Also, checkout Olsen as he CHIMPS at the end of the scene!

It seems that "Superman Returns" had a very good technical consultant...

I Think Therefore I Know
My opinion has always been that most underclassmen should stay in school rather than opt out for the NBA Draft unless you're LeBron James. For every Tim Duncan, Dwyane Wade and Kirk Hinrich there are a dozen guys like JaRon Rush and Kwame Brown ...

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

UCLA's Jordan Farmar puts up a shot past Theo Robertson during the Bruins' 71 - 52 win over Cal in the finals of the Pac-10 Tournament at Staples Center.
So when I read that UCLA guard Jordan Farmar decided to stay in the draft I felt like many of the "experts" quoted that said another year in school would improve his stills (shooting!) and solidify his status as a 1st round pick. I had cover Farmar for the past couple of years and all during UCLA's climb through the NCAA bracket to the Final Four in Indianapolis this past Spring. My thoughts were he was a nice little college guard, but he needed more time to get ready for the NBA …

But (gasp) I changed my mind after reading a story in the LA Times that told of Farmar's "dedicated decision to wear suits at the pre-draft camp and to individual team workouts".

"I'd see guys coming in T-shirts, shorts and sandals and I'd have a suit," Farmar said. "It would be hot and I'd be sweating, but it was important for me to show I was a professional, very concerned about the way I presented myself. This was a job interview." Farmar told Mike Bresnahan of the Times.



And Farmar parlayed his professionalism into being a 1st rounder by his hometown Los Angeles Lakers. It's not often a kid can play his high school and college ball in his hometown and then get drafted by his favorite team. Also in his hometown.

* * *

Sports Shooter v. 92 features an extensive article on a topic that seems to be on the minds of most of us in newspaper photography ... multimedia. The San Jose Mercury News' Nhat Meyer has graciously given us his time to write a piece on putting together audio slideshows for the web.

Chip Litherland of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune gives readers his top 10 ways to keep your portfolio from the discard pile. I asked two students, Alyssa Schukar and Carlos Delgado to write of their experiences covering the recent College World Series.

We get part 2 of the Barry Bonds home run watch from Brad Mangin and a look at race day at the Indy 500 from A.J. Mast. We all have seen "net cams" at ice hockey and soccer games, but lacross? Drew Hallowell writes on how he did it.

And ... Sports Shooter Academy III still has some openings and we have added college basketball and a couple of other very cool sessions. Thanks to Doug Murdoch from Think Tank Photo and Louis Feldman from Samy's Camera becoming sponsors of this cool workshop. Check out the details below!

So sit back, adjust the contract on your monitor, turn up the volume on that release of Chuck Berry's "Hail, Hail Rock & Roll" ... and enjoy Sports Shooter v.92.

As always, thanks to Special Advisors & Contributors: Deanna & Emma Hanashiro, Brad Mangin, Rick Rickman, Rod Mar, Vincent Laforet, Trent Nelson, Jason Burfield, Grover Sanschagrin, Joe Gosen, The Photodude, Reed Hoffmann, Anne Ryan, Darren Carroll and Bob Deutsch.

Thanks this month to: Nhat Meyer, Chip Litherland, Drew Hallowell, A.J. Mast, Carlos Delgado and Alyssa Schukar.

I welcome any comments, corrections, suggestions and contributions. Please e-mail me at

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