The whole point of taking our camera crew to the Ramona bowl in Hemet was to capture a moment that may never happen again—and that's what we got. Maria (Zornes Baker) and her husband Hal were down from the Sacramento area and Frank Zornes drove in with his wife, Marsha, from Arizona. While it wasn't a special reunion for them, (they see each other, but as you may guess from their respective residences, not very often) it was for us.
Working behind the camera is fun but it requires multi tasking and being responsive both technically and creatively. So, when that moment came in front of the camera it was quite exciting. We got a profile of the two, side by side, looking up at their father's masterpiece. You're thinking about composition, lighting, focus, etc. and simultaneously about the story—what's the next shot when this sequence gets edited? But it was also a Eureka moment: This is the iconic frame grab that says it all! It captures a feeling of two children admiring their daddy's career and a legacy they share with the world—his art. In that one moment, frozen in time, they are children even though they are sporting grey hair. It was wonderful to be there to observe it, to capture it.
The Fresco, like most large works was a collaborative effort. When it was painted, Milford Zornes was teaching at Otis Art Institute (now the Otis College of Art & Design) and among the students he enlisted for this project was a girl who would become his second wife, Pat, and here was he daughter looking up at her work, 70 years later. Maria pointed out that the flowing folds of Ramona's dress are exactly the style in which her mother painted. And Frank described how the high cliffs on the upper left were rendered in Milford's distinctive style— a style that evolved and differed over the years but still distinctive.
A documentary about a historical figure who has passed isn't expected to capture such moments as they happen because your main subject is gone. It's a story in past tense. One of our challenges is make Milford Zornes live on as a real person, not just to document his progress as an artist. We've been fortunate to be able to do that not only with the (now rare) filming we did with him personally but through occasions like this one, when we are a fly on the wall at a special occasion.