International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Ski Memories Germany
Cameramans Fish Eye Was More Than Just A Lens
were a three person Hollywood group plus a technical crew from Munich,
coming down from the Austrian Alps, having filmed at the Kitzbuhel,
Austria Olympic ski site. Our completed goal was to capture skiing
footage, including the night ski torch parade down the mountain;
footage we would later edit into a beer commercial, that same torch
scene once used in a James Bond movie.
I also had fulfilled
a promise to Orchestra Maestro Skitch Henderson to deliver greetings
to an amazing one-armed Zither player working the lounge of the Kitzbuhel
With tasks completed, we covered the 60 miles fairly quickly arriving
in Munich, where we would stay overnight, before flying to the states
the next evening.
While our local production people took care of the hotel check in, I
had us dropped at the Augustiner Keller, a brewery with a giant hall
and an outdoor garden that could seat more than 5000 peoples. I know,
we once filled all those seats making a commercial recreating Oktoberfest.
This time our arrival coincided with Holy Thursday and late enough to
be The Last Supper. The hall was filled with people celebrating the
end of lent, with glasses and voices raised to accompany an Accordionist
and Dirndl dressed singers on stage.
Getting there an hour before Church Mass, there remained a limited menu,
but all the bier one could drink, right from the brewery taps, fresh
as that day. We contributed as best we could. And who should bring eight
liter mugs to our table, but one of the bier fraus who had appeared
in our commercial shot there four years earlier. She remembered me and
I remembered her. When her mugs where deposited on the table, she hugged
me and dragged me to the office of the manager, Herr Bachmeyr. Though
he wasnt there, on the wall above his desk where photos we had
sent to him taken during the filming. And there she was front and center
carrying filled to over-flowing bier mugs in hand.
Since the hall was fast emptying and her day was over, I invited her
to join us for dinner, which she blushingly agreed to, but only after
she finished carrying all our plates and two more handfuls of liters
to the table. For the sake of a name, lets call her Hanna. Hanna
was in her late 50s or early 60s, a quite Zaftig Frau, strong
enough to carry those eight filled liter mugs from lunch time through
When she joined us, I seated her across from our 65-year old Hollywood
cameraman, Hal, who had experience filming all over the world and always
delivering, which is why Hal was with us.
One look and Hannas and Hals eyes clicked, which their mugs
did frequently throughout the meal. Since the meat dishes were gone
by the time we ready to eat, we settled for what was left, a plate with
skinned, boiled potatoes, a heap of sauerkraut and a fish about 8 inches
long with both head and tail intact. Hal, with his English-fied German
and Hanna with German-fied English, seemed to have no trouble blushingly
When their plates emptied, on a spoon, Hanna scooped an eye from her
Fish and handed it to Hal, a German love token. Not only did Hal take
it, but chewed it with great relish, showing he had swallowed it. Then,
to reciprocate, Hal duplicated the love token to Hanna, who also gnashed
it with gusto. Not long later, Hanna invited Hal to join her and go
to Church. We reminded Hal that because of our long day, tomorrow would
be a late brunch at 11. He nodded as they left together. It was sobering,
yet smilingly satisfying for us who knew the quiet competent Hal, see
him react with such emotion. Remember, were talking a he of 65
and a she somewhere in her 60s. I took it as a sign there was
hope for all of us.
At 11 next morning, Hal was right on time, coming into for brunch with
with a sprightly step and a twinkle in his eye, as if he had found Religion.
After brunch, our time was free till a bus would pick us up in front
of the hotel at 5. Hal said he had to arrange to get our equipment through
customs and a few other tasks and would meet us at 5.
At 5, Hal was there, again with a spring in his stride and a sparkle
in his eye, as if he had found Religion a second time.
On the long flight from Munich to LA, Hal seemed to have fallen into
a coma, sleeping most of the way home. It was obvious for that cameraman
the fish-eye had been obviously a lot more than just a lens.
© David Russell April 2009
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