Before becoming a friend and collaborator, I was a fan of Ann Magnuson. Bongwater (Ann's experimental folk-punk-talk band) was a huge influence on me. Her dream-infused writing and performances are always combined with a sharp wit and great images. (Check out the cover of her album The Power of Pussy!)
The song "I Met An Astronaut" was inspired by conversations Ann had with Dave Scott, commander of the Apollo 15 mission (who drove the first moon buggy!). Scott was a technical adviser on the HBO series From the Earth to the Moon, and Ann met him on set, as she was playing the part of Scott's favorite nurse. The song appears on Ann's 2006 album Pretty Songs and Ugly Stories, which will be re-released next month digitally/streaming for the first time.
Wistful and lyrical, the song is an elegiac recall of tweenage Ann's experience of living in 1969 and a beautiful setting of the words Scott used to describe his experience of being on the moon: "ENDLESSLY FULFILLING."
We planned for the majority of the film to be constructed from vintage NASA footage, but I was thrilled to come across reels and reels of unedited 16mm camera footage from various Apollo missions that some fantastic NASA employee uploaded to the Internet Archive. (Our taxes pay for the footage, so the images belong to all Americans.)
In approaching the edit, I was thinking of the great assemblage documentary The Atomic Cafe, which repurposed 1950's propaganda films to great effect. I found Vietnam footage in the National Archives, we used Ann's own family home movies from the 1960s and shots from the first major Sci-Fi effects film Georges Méliès's 1902 "A Trip to the Moon" and Segundo de Chomón's 1908 unauthorized remake "Excursion to the Moon."
I'm astonished by the images from the moon voyages, many of which I've never seen before. The zero gravity hops, the moon buggy racing, the LEM blastoff, and just the incredible close-ups of the moon surface in the changing light.
From Ann: “I wrote this song after meeting astronaut Dave Scott on the set of the HBO series “From the Earth to the Moon” produced by Tom Hanks. I played the astronaut’s favorite nurse, Dee O’Hara, in Episode 3 “We Have Cleared the Tower. Dave Scott from Apollo 15 was technical advisor on the series and was happy to answer all my questions about what it was like being on the moon. A most memorable experience that I shall cherish forever”
“I Met An Astronaut”
Written and performed by Ann Magnuson
From her album “Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories”
Produced and arranged by Kristian Hoffman ©2006 Ann Magnuson/Pink Fleece Music/BMI (administered by Pacific Electric) Musicians: Kristian Hoffman - keys, percussion; Joe Berardi - drums, percussion; Jonathan Lea - guitars; William Bongiovanni - acoustic stand up bass; DJ Bonebrake - vibes, skull tube; Ann Magnuson - acoustic guitar Basic tracks recorded at Earle Mankey’s Studio engineered by Earle Mankey. Mixed by Mark Wheaton at Catasonic Studio. Mastered by Brad Vance at Red Mastering. Music video directed by Adam Dugas and Ann Magnuson Edited and shot by Adam Dugas Footage courtesy of: NASA NASA Goddard National Archives and Records Administration ESA/Hubble Prelinger Archives Mitch Martinez