Saturday, October 8, 2011

On visiting Dell City, Texas and why I made this movie ....

The first thing people in Dell City usually ask me about the film is ... "Why??" -- I expect I'll get some of that tonight.  Dropping in on Dell City is like landing on an island surrounded by desert instead of water.  Like island-dwellers, the inhabitants must be resourceful in every way:  in the materials they use, in the things they don't take for granted, in their humor, in their appreciation of their surroundings, in their sense of inner peace.  Without those qualities in abundance you're not going to last long in Dell City.  Making a film about the 20th century generation that built that town is both my tribute to a dying breed and my personal reminder on how to live, anywhere.

Screening IN Dell City

Tales from Dell City, Texas will have a community screening on October 8 at 7pm at the Dell Telephone Coop in Dell City as part of the events of the yearly county fair, the Wild West Chili Fest.  I will be there to present the film and talk about it with the Dell Citizens.  The fair is great and I haven't been for a long time.  Can't wait!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Texas Six Man Football

The Dell City school student body has been shrinking for years, and a few weeks ago the unthinkable happened:  not enough players showed up for the football team and they canceled the season.  Everyone knows football is a big deal in Texas, and small towns like Dell City play a version that fields six players because they can't field an eleven man team. This year, even a six man team proved too difficult to field -- until today.  It was announced that enough players had joined the team and the season could be played.

It's a real community event -- the Friday night football game, and I am very glad they are having a season now.

The Premiere ...

... was terrific.  Folks were lined up and turned away because the screening sold out.  It was the best audience any filmmaker could hope for.  They laughed out loud at every joke.  They expressed their appreciation during and after.  I'll get some pictures up soon...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Plaza Classic Premiere Announcement

The film's premiere is announced on the festival website...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rural Population Decline

The 2010 U.S. Census figures show the rural population in the country is at its lowest ever -- 16%.  That compares to 72% one hundred years ago.

Tales from Dell City, Texas is about many things.  One of them is the trajectory of rural America.  The film lets us meet a group of people who are committed to living in their own tiny, isolated town despite the inexorable changes happening around them.  We get to know these people, understand them, and feel the poignancy of the shared knowledge that in the future their way of life will probably no longer exist.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

World Premiere!

It''s official:  Tales from Dell City, Texas will have its world premiere as part of the Plaza Classic Film Festival in El Paso, Texas.  The screening will take place in the Foundation Theater on Sunday, August 7, at 3:30pm.  I will be there, as will many of the people who appear in the film--as well as their friends and relatives.

Mark your calendar!  If you can come to El Paso, please do and join what will be an exceptional event.  For more information and to purchase tickets, go to the Plaza Classic web site.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Details to come ... but a date for the film's premiere is set!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dell City Google Earth

The pivot sprinklers that irrigate many of the crops in Dell City make green circles that are easily seen on the map.  The circles are clearly a manmade feature of the landscape when viewed from space.  I think Dell City looks pretty cool from this vantage point.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

El Paso Water Plans

As a portrait of Dell City, the documentary touches on many different subjects related to rural desert life.  One of these is water.  Dell City sits on top of a substantial aquifer (basically, an underground lake).  The discovery of all the water below ground in the 1940s led to the formation of the town.  Farmers moved in because they could grow just about any crop in the middle of the desert by pumping the water to their fields.

The link is to an article in the El Paso Times that makes reference to a complicated issue in Dell City: eventually, the city of El Paso is going to need the water from the aquifer to sustain its growth.  What that means to the future of the community is yet to be seen.  TD Pope, one of the main characters in the film, sums up the situation nicely:


Thursday, May 26, 2011


Time is present everywhere in Dell City.  It is measured by when to water the fields, or cut the hay.  It is measured when the strong winds come, or the baby lambs are born.  It is evident in the old buildings.  It can be felt in the petroglyphs and pictographs left behind by ancient cultures over a thousand years ago. 

Tales from Dell City, Texas is past, present and future.  At one point in the editing room, I used those three tenses as chapters to structure the film.  But after a while, I abandoned that approach.  Past, present, and future are evident at the same time in all the stories.  They are evident in the lines of a face, the cracks in a building, the water in a field.  The documentary was filmed over a period of several years, but does not present a chronological story.  It is a document of a particular time and place that shows where that place came from, and where it may go.

Friday, May 20, 2011


New York City, where I live, is a visually arresting place.  It is defined in many ways by the land on which it sits.  Dell City is also visually arresting and defined by the land.  Both also came into being because of their proximity to water.  New York City is surrounded by rivers.  Dell City sits above a huge underground lake, or aquifer. 

I’m guessing on the figures here, but I bet New York has 100,000 people per square mile, whereas the Dell Valley has about 2 people per square mile.  One of the reasons I made the film is to experience the incredible landscape of the Dell Valley and what it is like to live in such a sparsely populated place.

Everyone in Dell City at one point or other mentions the beauty of the area.  It is a beauty that you just don’t get in cities.  The remoteness requires sacrifices that us city dwellers don’t want to make.  And it works the other way around:  New York has its own beauty, and requires its own set of sacrifices.  I live in one extreme, and am captivated by the other.  There is a rich life to be had in either.  But they sure ain’t the same.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Blog Begins...

Here's the teaser for the film, on youtube.  In the coming months I'll post a longer trailer, and add some great scenes that didn't make the final cut.