geo geller

July 1, 2016

George Stoney Back Story

Filed under: — GeoGeller @ 10:05 am

Portrait of George Stoney
work in progress

Insights, Delights and Empathy

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George Stoney
audio by geo geller

George Stoney Back Story

George Cashel Stoney (July 1, 1916 – July 12, 2012) aka George C Stoney, insights & delights are excerpted from a conversation on 6/28/08 a few days before his 92nd birthday – in this segment he shares his relationship to his documentaries and the people in them – but for me George shares insights into aspects that many of us, including, sadly, myself as a moving/still/audio doc imagemakers take for granted – when i first recorded our conversation i said to myself, only George at his age could say what he just articulated, so in listening to this “insights” segment, i came to a deeper understanding why i loved him – his insights into what the relationship, love, respect and responsibility i/we have as documentary film makers to not only the film, the audience but to the people who opened their hearts and lives to us – there is more to this then meets the eye and more on

i filmed and recorded George Stoney many times over the 20 years but for some reason this “insights” recording and the last time i saw George when he confided in me at his 96 birthday party that it was also his going away party too, kept haunting me whenever i thought of him – to my surprise i just discovered the 2008 “insights” recording by accident after 6 years of hiding from me so i am delighted to share it with anybody who is interested


it says in wikipedia that George Stoney was a documentary filmmaker, an educator, and the “father of public-access television” but to me, as you can hear in this and other conversation and photos he was a man who had a deep sense of his fellow humanity and empathy

fyi – i have a deep respect and love of George even though our approach to filming and documentary was very different in every way imaginable –

Jazz singer and pianist Patty Bown first introduced me to George and Betty Puleston (“the love of his life”) at new years eve celebration at the Jazz Church on upper east side

fyi –i introduced George to Cynthia Close former-director of Documentary Educational Resources and together they created a home for George’s children (his films) – will be the home of my archives of films and fotos i shot over the years of George & his friends and family, mostly taken at his birthdays, gatherings and events honoring George’s life workfunny i always felt a closeness and distance with George at the same time – George would call me up sometimes to film something for him over the years too –

fyi  i was never a student of George Stoney and as a doc filmmaker i would sometimes ask him about his process or his relationship to something, questions that i felt he didn’t like to answer – so we shared quietness more often too but he was incredibly generous – sometimes when it was time for me to leave patchogue b-day party and head to the city he would not only offer to drive me against my protest, but insist!, in his way to take me to the train station and leave his guests for the twenty min ride each way – he did that quite a few times which always made me feel… wow! who is this man? – somewhere inside our invisible intuitive selves we knew that we shared something we both couldn’t describe – i always had the feeling it was something Patti Bown said to him, even before we met – coincidentally i asked his sister about this close and distance aspect of George and she said, that it is just the way he is and always been since a child – i thought maybe it was something to do with being Irish for some reason

anyway, or maybe its meanwhile – well whatever it is, while i am at it! – the last time i saw George he was tired and wobbling, heading to the house so instinctively, without knowing it i got up and headed them off to the house and put my hand under George’s arm pit and propped him up as he walked with one of the guys and when we got him to his ground floor bedroom, he sat on the bed and let me take his shoes off – to me that was one of the most humble and loving things i could do for somebody who was dear too me and so with special care i took his shoes off and asked him if he “needed to use the bathroom before resting” and he said “yes” – i helped him get up and walked to the bathroom with the other guy and i knew in that moment that was the perfect loving way to say goodbye without saying it – so i asked if the guy who i never saw before if he could handle it, and he said, yes and i smiled to him and said thank you without saying it and left the house and exhaled as if i had just experienced one of those moment when time stands still and you are standing on the edge and knowing that you survived and feeling light and knowing that i just had experienced something humbling that no words could describe, to me it was the ultimate tribute and respect to somebody who was special to me – taking George’s shoes off was more then the act but an act of one man’s respect and love to another that i have never done that before to an adult, except for my mother who left her body behind sixteen months before – i should mention twelve days later i saw the NY Times Obit on George Stoney and smiled, even though i believe he would not be happy with the obit, word to the wise write your own obit – anyway i still smile when every i think of him – i also didn’t need to go to the memorial or tribute services – i had my own private moment with him

there is more, including the few times i filmed George talking about the time he fired Martin Scorsese when he was Georges teaching assistant – but that is another story for another time

be well

geo geller

Art = Caring for the Imagination

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