A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a producer from a local television show (Bay Area Backroads). They were planning a segment on letterboxing, and were wondering if I would be willing to help them out.
There has been a lot of discussion in the letterboxing community regarding the effect that media exposure has on our hobby, so it took some serious thought before I agreed to participate. Ultimately, my decision came down to two factors. First, I had taken an instant liking to the show's producer. And secondly, I realized that since this show was going to happen whether letterboxers liked it or not, I might as well tag along and try to be as good an ambassador for letterboxing as possible.
Bay Area Backroads is a locally produced show that features the great favorites and undiscovered treasures of this vibrant, fun part of the country. I think that the show's producers have got one of the Coolest Jobs in the World, seeking out the best, oddest, and most exciting things that Northern California has to offer. Michael, the producer who contacted me, is a really terrific person. He's a treasure seeker, and incredibly knowledgeable about the natural world (we immediately bonded over Bird Nerd stuff). His first date with his wife was a bird-watching trip to a local sewage treatment pond (talk about knowing that you've found your perfect partner). How could I not like this man?
So, how does one film letterboxing?
First, one gathers together a group of like-minded participants, in this case, seasoned letterboxers (Wassamatta_U and Kathy of Team Tysonosaurus) and a complete novice (my wonderful co-worker Sheri). Then, the team goes out to hunt one another's boxes with a camera crew.
While high definition digital cameras have become quite small, the ambient microphone is still gigantic. I think the crew referred to it as "The Rabbit." Trying to be a nonchalant, stealthy letterboxer, while trailed by the camera crew was a deliciously surreal experience. Take note of Mark (Wassamatta_U) between the shoulders of the camera man and the producer. He's about to stick his head up a chimney, while the rest of the team tries to act natural.
Filming can go slowly, so there is the opportunity for the participants to hang out, enjoy each other's company, and the beautiful day. The Blue Eyed Grass is blooming. And the birds were out in force. (Doesn't this Northern Flicker look more like a Siamese Fighting Fish than a bird?)
I believe that this show will be a good piece on letterboxing. The producer was very careful to only showcase letterboxes by those participating in the program. He emphasized letterboxing etiquette. And he spent a lot of time, getting (hopefully) good interviews with all the participants.
Look for this show some time this summer. Those not local to the Bay Area will be able to watch the show online.