A wonderful gift for anyone who came of age in the early seventies.  A perfect center piece for a “sixties” party.
Re-mastered to DVD from the original film.
Ten minutes; $10 postpaid.
DVD
$10.00
Postpaid


So I met Terry Sweeney.

He was living with half a dozen other people in a commune in South Lyndborough, New Hampshire.  A guy named Reed owned the place. It was a small farmhouse.  Someone had taken a chain saw to the inside of the place so now it was a big open space. Down in the woods from the house there was a huge inflatable bubble-thing with a lot of sleeping bags inside. Everything smelled of marijuana and Pachouli oil and Dr. Bonner’s Peppermint Soap. Turned out Terry Sweeney played guitar a band called, “Mother Flower’s Medicine Wagon”. I don’t have to describe the members of the band, you are gonna see them in the film. Hell, even if you don’t see the film, I don’t have to describe them.

The story would take place in a single day. It would start at sunrise and end at sunset. The filming itself, of course, would take weeks. The movie would be silent with voice-over and a music track. Mother Flower’s Medicine Wagon would provide the tunes and I would write the lyrics.

But first we had to find a suitable hill to fly from. This turned out to be on an estate in New Boston, New Hampshire. The property owner was not there but the caretaker called him. He said, “sure, so long as we sign off on any liability.”

I borrowed a wind-up 16-mm Bolex movie camera with a non-zoom, ten-millimeter lens. Later I also rented a super wide lens for a day. A U-Haul got the glider to the site. By now I had decided to use the whole band in the film including the female singer Mickey Consigli. Also Reed who was part of the entourage although not in the band, and the dog.

The first day the principals would not get out of the U-Haul. The U-Haul was the perfect place to smoke dope. Everyone also was eating peyote buttons. Like tobacco and marijuana, peyote has no chemicals in its production. It was natural. The Native Americans used it, for gosh sakes.

That first day I was manic … and they were mellow. I shot the movie over three days but those three days took a couple months. Trying to get a half dozen people (especially people who are mellow) to a location at the same time in the correct weather and time was a learning experience. No wonder producers are over paid.

Also there was a big continuity problem....Terry showed up in the wrong pants one day. So, you will notice that his pants change color back and forth. The dog ran away so the dog in only in the beginning of the film. Reed had a beard at the start of the film and no beard at the end.  His shaved face in the final scene may odd to you. I was hoping no one would notice.  Mickie Consigli couldn’t get there for the final day of filming.

I wanted to kill myself.

In the end all I could do was acknowledge the amateur quality of the result and treat it like the piece of folk art it turned into.

I wrote the film as if these were ten-year-old boys playing in the out of doors, having a good time.

What they look like is well, not ten year olds.

In the end the film turned out to be a hit. It has become an anthem movie at hang-gliding events all over the world.  For a number of years it was in distribution from the University of Indiana. It sold well in Japan. Go figure.

But what this film is mostly is a dead-center-perfect picture of a time. It was made right at the height of the hippie movement. If the kids ask you, what was it like? Show them this.


In the late nineteen-fifties Terry Sweeney was a kid growing up in Dunbarton, New Hampshire.

Terry was fascinated by a photograph he found in his grandfather’s Compton’s Picture Encyclopedia. The picture was of a 1917-vintage glider. It looked like a box kite. It was made of wood and canvas. You could make it yourself and it would fly.

In 1969 Terry recreated this glider. But instead of wood and canvas, Terry made his out of aluminum tubing and Polyethylene.  It cost him thirty-seven bucks.

Enter me (Fritz Wetherbee).

Back then I had become interested in movie making but had never made a film. A friend of mine told me about a government grant program called, “The Center for Creative Cinematography”.

I wrote them a proposal. I told them that I knew this guy with a glider. I told them film would be about this guy taking his homemade airplane to a hill and trying to fly it.

If it flew, we had a film. If it didn’t fly, we also had a film.

Fact was, I had never met Terry Sweeney. But mutual friends said he was the kind of guy who would love a film about his project.

Anyhow, the Government sent me a thousand bucks.