Colin and I are at Home Depot picking up some art supplies for our upcoming shoot. We are in Galveston, TX for 10 days shooting reenactments and interviews for the documentary I’ve been working on. I am enjoying the break from the editing room and dabbling in the art department.
It’s obvious to the local cashier when we get to the front of the line that we aren’t from the area. She is very warm and friendly.
“What are you doing in Galveston?” she asks. We pause, unsure exactly how to answer. Many people in Galveston are not fond of recounting this dark memory.
“We are making a crime documentary,” I say vaguely.
The cashier reaches into the shopping cart and pulls out a bow saw. She stops for a moment.
“Creepy,” she says, “I remember this story.”
The story happened 10 years ago. A man was found dismembered, his body parts stuffed into black plastic garbage bags and thrown out to the bay. Part of our art tasks is to recreate body bags. I consult the crime scene photos with care.
Unfortunately, dear reader, I am not supposed to get into too many details about the project, but I’ve given you enough information to Google it.
It’s hot down here in Texas during the month of August and the air is hot and thick, especially when loading and unloading heavy gear all day. Coming home to an air conditioned house is just about the best feeling in the world. We all drink lots of water and quite a lot of Schiner Bock, a local Texan beer.
When riding around the town we listen to “Galveston” by Glen Campbell basically on repeat and it’s days and days before I can get it out of my head. The food here is mostly fried, so it’s difficult to eat healthily, but we do visit some amazing barbeque joints, and the fish is fresh.
We film a tour of the jail where the accused spent three years awaiting a trial. It’s completely abandoned and boarded up. One of the old jailers takes us through, the only thing lighting the way is a small LED light mounted to the top of the camera and his flashlight.
It’s a perfect place to film, and when we finally get to the cell we’ve wound down and around so many twists and turns that I am not sure I would be able to find my own way out. Thankfully, I don’t have to.
I’ve been cutting this documentary for over a year, so it is meaningful to be here, where it all went down. I stand in front of the house where the alleged murder happened. It’s late in the evening and I watch the sun set in the horizon. We are shooting with a large jib, filming sweeping shots of the house on Avenue K during magic hour.
Though I’ve seen the house before; in many news broadcasts, and photos, none of them can quite capture the feeling I get from actually standing here. Like many things you have seen in footage but never visited, the house is larger than I expected and the street is nicer.
There are mixed emotions so it is difficult to describe; I feel the horror of what happened here. But am also giddy with the kind of excitement you feel when you finally get to go to a place you’ve wanted to see for a long time.