Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Noteworthy: Guest Blogger Bob Miano Emmy Winning Director on How to Build a Time Machine

Stephanie

How to Build a Time Machine 

I’m a director. At miano.tv we are visual storytellers creating corporate videos, customer testimonials, television commercials, historical documentaries and more. I’ve been fortunate enough to do what I love – directing – for my entire professional career. My work has been seen across the United States and around the world.

A crowd of 4000+ lines-up to attend the world premiere of The World’s Greatest Fair, co-directed by Bob Miano.
A crowd of 4000+ lines-up to attend the world premiere of The World’s Greatest Fair, co-directed by Bob Miano.

Preserving history through documentaries is perhaps what brings me the most joy as a director. Frankly, I was never really into history. “History” was a class in school where you had to read a “history book” and then you were quizzed on what you learned. It wasn’t until I directed my first documentary that I realized how fascinating and outright fun history can be! History is not simply what some scholar writes in a book or an agreed upon account of the past – to be memorized, quizzed on and forgotten. History is our story and it is as fascinating and diverse as each of us.

A sampling of the original source material used to create the 1904 documentary.
A sampling of the original source material used to create the 1904 documentary.

By now you are asking: “What does any of this have to do with Rhodia paper?” Well, nothing… And everything.

Early on in the process of researching our documentary The Worlds Greatest Fair – about the 1904 World’s Fair – I was shown the diary of a young woman who visited the fair and who wrote about it in great detail. Her name was Laura Merritt.

Laura Merritt’s diary from the 1904 World’s Fair
Laura Merritt’s diary from the 1904 World’s Fair

Laura was likely a teenager when she visited the St. Louis World’s Fair with her family in 1904. She was born on the family farm near Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Like so many people, visiting the World’s Fair was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the world. Laura wrote about that experience in her diary. Her accounts ultimately became part of the introduction and conclusion of our documentary. (Note: Unfortunately, since Rhodia didn’t exist in 1904, Laura didn’t use a Rhodia journal.)

A handwritten page from Laura Merritt’s 1904 World’s Fair diary
A handwritten page from Laura Merritt’s 1904 World’s Fair diary

Laura Merritt’s diary represents a physical connection to something that happened 110 years ago. The words written on each page were put there by a person who actually experienced that momentous event. Those same words typed on a computer and read in an email or a book would lose something very important and yet difficult to quantify. Laura’s words are not terribly substantive or poetic; her penmanship doesn’t exhibit a particularly artistic flair. There have certainly been more thorough accounts of the 1904 World’s Fair and thousands of photos exist that reveal more detail. But Laura’s handwritten diary is more than an account of an event. It is a time machine. Seeing those carefully handwritten words, feeling the paper as you turn the pages – the same pages that Laura turned over a century ago – transports the reader back in time.

Bob-Miano-Rhodia-Blog_Nakaya
A Rhodia journal and one of the author’s favorite fountain pens – a Nakaya “Decapod” handmade in Japan.

I use fountain pens to write in my Rhodia A5 webnotebooks nearly every day. What I write is unlikely to ever be fodder for a documentary. In fact, I often write purely for the tactile experience; the words are sometimes unimportant. There is just something so enjoyable about writing on high quality paper… The pen seems to float across the page.

You may think that the act of physically writing is old fashioned and insignificant… If so, you’ve missed the point. You are depriving yourself of one of life’s simple pleasures and a uniquely human experience.

Close your laptop; turn off your computer. Grab a marvelous pen and some Rhodia paper and write! Tell your story – large or small – and you will create something far greater than text on a screen. You will create a time machine.

Director Bob Miano with one of his eight regional Emmy Awards
Director Bob Miano with one of his eight regional Emmy Awards

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