David McDonald each received funding in the amount of $2500 through the 2017 NYSCA/Community Arts Grants-Individual Artist tier re-grant program administered by Greene County Council on the Arts. The Individual Artist Review Panel was comprised of seven panel members from Columbia and Greene Counties who reviewed nine applicants for this award.
David McDonald of Columbia County for funding for his project involving getting the city of Hudson behind a day honoring one of America’s great civil rights heroes, Harry Belafonte. The panel mentioned that McDonald’s films are very well done, and felt that this project is “interesting and timely, considering Hudson’s race relations and the people involved in the history,” as well as “very brave in what we’re facing right now.”
For more information about GCCA’s Community Arts Grants program serving Greene, Columbia and Schoharie counties visit www.greenearts.org/grants. Contact Community Arts Grants Coordinator for Greene and Columbia counties, Margaret Uhalde at firstname.lastname@example.org and Schoharie Grants Coordinator Dennis Shaw at email@example.com.
Apparently, tons of people in the town of Hudson had served as extras in the movie or played a part in the production, and many of them served as a main demographic at the papers, so I got it into my head to do a short video about peoples’ memories of the event. To do so, I thought I should sit through the old movie, and when I did so, I was gobsmacked. That movie, all about the price of intolerance, was as relevant for today’s world as it had been in 1959. I was hooked.
So, I started filming people. People like Bonnie Huber. And their stories were, by and large hilarious, interesting, poignant, or powerful. I thought to myself, “Hmm…this would make a very pertinent documentary for 2017.”
Thus, the idea for my own film-about-a-film was formed.
A word about my art: I have realized through years of filmmaking that my work can have extreme power in galvanizing and promoting community consciousness – thus, consciousness as a whole. A video I did for The NY Times about Hudson five years ago was one of the contributors towards the hype that led to the town’s revitalization. Same goes for a video I did for Chronogram a few years ago on Kingston and the then-nascent O Positive Festival. My work is designed to inspire the public and increase our sense of human community. So I thought: “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could involve the public with this new project, just as Belafonte had done with the city of Hudson in 1959?”
So I broached the idea of having a Harry Belafonte Day in Hudson with our mayor, Tiffany Martin-Hamilton, and she totally went for it. Hudson had recently declared itself a sanctuary city, and what could be more inspiring than having Harry Belafonte, one of the greatest heroes of the civil rights movement, come and pay the town a very well publicized visit during these very dark times? It would be a particularly good for the kids of the area, to meet one of the great icons of American culture.
Tiffany and I drafted a letter for the Belafontes. I applied for the individual artist’s grant. And voila, a few months later, to my glee, I won! To be honest, I wasn’t all that surprised – every artist dreams of projects like this that can empower and benefit their own communities – I just had happened to come up with a doozy!
What I hadn’t planned for was the actual logistical complications of transporting a 90 year-old civil rights icon and his rather large family from one side of the country to another; creating events; finding hotels; arranging for transportation.
None of which is insurmountable, by any means. But there’s making movies, and there’s moving mountains. Let’s see, in 2018, if we can do both.
David McDonald is a long-time journalist who became a filmmaker about 15 years ago, after moving Upstate. He is the director of the films “Woodstock Can’t Get There From Here” and “Woodstock Revisited,” which chart the rise of the American counterculture through events that transpired over the course of the last century in Woodstock, New York.
His palette is the Hudson Valley. Over the past ten years, his short films have appeared in The NY Times, CNN, Good Morning America, and Time Magazine, among others.
Subjects have included Marc Chagall’s time spent as a refugee in High Falls in Upstate, NY, in the mid-1940s, Ella Fitzgerald’s incarceration at The New York Training School For Girls in Hudson as a 16 year-old in 1933, and a TV pilot about The Chanler Family of Rhinebeck.
In a professional capacity, McDonald is co-principal of David McDonald/Don Downey Films, which produces cinema-quality promotional videos for socially and environmentally responsible organizations and companies throughout the Hudson Valley. Recent projects have been for The Cary Institute in Millbrook, Milea Estate Vineyards in Staatsburg, and Glynwood in Cold Spring, among others. His contact email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the Artist’s Profile online. Please scroll to page 9.
Odds Against Tomorrow 2017 Trailer:
Chagall In Flight Trailer: