What I remember most about watching Mister Rogers was when he would go to his wall television and play a video that was filmed in the the outside world. The ones I liked were the process videos. For some reason, making maple syrup and making crayons stick in my mind. I tried to dig these up so I can re-watch them. The maple episode was number 1361 and aired on April 8, 1974. The crayon episode is actually available online. I don’t think I have seen this since I was a child but can still remember the melted crayons and the holes they go in. The crayon separator is an amazing piece of equipment.
Apparently there is also a doll factory episode and a balloon factory episode.
Crayons are still made in Pennsylvania – the CBS morning show went to the same factory and showed a bit of what it is like. You can easily recognize the same machines and the same process but it is nowhere near as interesting as Mister Rogers makes it. They strip out all the magic with their cheesy news anchor, quick cuts and sped up footage.
Mister Roger’s voice over is what makes crayons so interesting. And actually showing the process from start to finish. The memory of the crayon episode is what initially inspired me in planning the Mill shoot. I wanted to show everything from start to finish. The crazy thing with the mill though was there were so many paths the flour could take. It wasn’t a simple, grain goes in, comes out flour. Depending on what the miller was making that day the wheat could follow a different path. And different parts of the wheat go different ways. And often crisscross each other and go to different parts of the mill. It was so much more mind-boggling that I ever thought possible.
I think the idea of the process documentary informs everything I do and what I am interested in. I want to know the behind the scenes and I want to know how things work. Hopefully this week I will be filming a bit of a behind the scenes for my next project. Re-watching the crayon episode (especially compared with the CBS episode) helps me think through how I want to shoot this week. More to come.