SYRACUSE The door ratchets open. The striking sounds of the city at midday drift in behind a distinguished gentleman. The subject slowly pulls a pair of dark glasses from his face, dropping his hand deftly to his side. Purposively, he strides toward the desk at the center of the room to address the business at hand.
This is not on the set of a private eye movie. It is the office of the Syracuse International Film Festival in the former Hotel Syracuse, and Owen Shapiro has just walked in.
As artistic director of the Syracuse International Film Festival and film professor at SU, Shapiro is a busy man. Among the many images over which Shapiro moves the brush of an artist, he is in the midst of developing a documentary with the working title, “Following the Wood.”
The film aims to portray the events of the United States Bowling Congress 2011 Women’s Championship tournament, and the ripple effects of holding the event in Syracuse.
With a scorecard showing approximately 30,000 bowlers and their friends and family in town for the event, which spanned a period of 88 days, estimates put the monetary influx in the $40 million range.
The documentary project has involved the collection of approximately 100 hours of footage from the USBC tournament. The stories found within the collected footage were painstakingly followed by a small platoon comprised of student, professional, and volunteer videographers, Shapiro said.
Himself once an avid bowler, Shapiro feels the film will highlight the diversity of the sport.
Often viewed as a middle-income, beer-swilling sport, the footage collected by Shapiro’s project may just help change that faulty generalization.
“Some of the stories told were pretty emotional and fascinating,” Shapiro said.
One elderly bowler, he said, had survived the Hiroshima bombings of World War II.
But the project won’t be ready for public viewing any time soon.
“It will take about a year to edit this material,” he said, reflecting on the wealth of the sound and imagery gathered by the crew.
Aside from time required to edit and produce the final product, Shapiro is still hoping to gain financial sponsorship to help present the true depth of an unduly maligned sport, and the impact the tournament had on Syracuse.
To find out more about the project or to get involved through sponsorship, check out the Syracuse International Film Festival website.
Jeremiah Howell is a contributing writer for The Eagle. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.