Few abandoned places offer the level of beauty and history as does the Starlight Bowl. San Diego's Balboa Park is home to this magical, now empty music bowl, and it is one of the most intriguing abandoned places I've ever explored.
Built with its original Ford Bowl name in 1935 for the California Pacific International Exposition, the amphitheatre has over the years hosted symphonies, musical theatre and some of the biggest names in rock music.
I decided to create this film for several reasons. After first seeing the derelict music bowl during a March 2015 visit to Balboa Park, my initial research showed that the place had a long history, playing host to famous rock bands and over the years drawing perhaps millions of visitors to its many events. Add onto that my surprise when I noticed it was absent in the 2015 documentary 'Balboa Park: The Jewel of San Diego', even though I do understand that the bowl's history wasn't shown perhaps because of its current situation. Still, I felt this gave me more reason to create a film in dedication to the bowl, using specific storytelling methods to draw in a broad audience, as opposed to going with a traditional documentary approach.
Production for this film took place over the course of six months, though it only included a few weeks here and there. I enjoy taking time to create my short films, mainly since time gives good perspective on what will work well, but also because it gives perspective on some of my bad ideas that would likely end up causing me to cringe when I re-watch in a few years. I'm happy to say I tossed plenty of bad ideas into the trash.
I visited the park around 25 times, filming the main tour five times on five separate occasions until I achieved the look I wanted. It wasn't until the fifth time when I unexpectedly ran into the film's interview subject Pete Makarushka. The interview hadn't been prearranged, and I hadn't met him before that morning. Thanks to him for his time.
Late nights were spent researching the history of the bowl, listening to hundreds of possibilities for compelling music and reading lots of old books. The brief time-lapse shots at the end of the film each took around 4-8 hours for driving, shooting a test, shooting the master, image editing, image exporting and video rendering.
As I mention at the end of the film, this is a personal project created out of the thrill of exploration, abandoned history and video editing, and my love for Balboa Park. There is a list in the end credits that gives special thanks to a number of people and organizations who provided sources for research, inspiration and photos and videos. I thank all of them and hope they enjoy this free documentary for the public.