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“Everyone who’s sat in that chair has died of unnatural causes.”
—Sound bite from the Crooked City/Youngstown, Ohio podcast

The above quote from the Crooked City podcast shows just how connected ancient Athens, Greece is to contemporary Youngstown, Ohio. (At least, a fairly recent era of Youngstown folklore.) A story that dates back a couple hundred years B.C. is that of a fellow named Damocles who told the king, Dionysius, that the king had it made in the shade.

The king knew otherwise. Because despite his royal exterior of grandeur, there was an ever-present threat of danger. And to illustrate this point, Dionysius offered Damocles the opportunity to sit upon his throne for one day. Damocles jumped at the chance to sit in the seat of luxury.

But Dionysus had mounted a sword above his throne—hung by the single hair of a horse’s hair—to remind himself of the hazards of the job. He had deadly enemies. Damocles had a change of heart and decided that he didn’t want to live like a king after all. That’s where the phrase, “The sword of Damocles” comes from. He didn’t last a day on the job. Too much stress.

”Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”
—Shakespeare’s Henry IV

The same could be said for being a politician (or a Mafia leader) in Youngstown, Ohio. One of the central characters in Crooked City is Jim Traficant, a former U.S. House of Representative from Youngstown. A man who once took money from the mob, and also did prison time for bribery, racketeering, and tax evasion.

Producer Marc Smerling’s Crooked City paints Youngstown as steel mill boomtown turned ”Crime Town USA.” A 1963 Saturday Evening Post headline read, ”Youngstown has had 75 bombings, 11 killings, in a decade and no one seems to care.” Youngstown is situated between Cleveland, OH and Pittsburg, PA so there were turf wars just like you’ll find in any good Mafia movie.

Things didn’t improve as the steel mills that originally made Youngstown prosperous began closing in the mid-‘70s. In 1991, Youngstown had 59 murders, one for every 2,000 people. One of the highest per capita in the United States.

I realized listening to Crooked City that it actually embodies most of the ingredients I write about in my book Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles.
—Conflict
—Concept
—Catalyst
—Construction
—Climaxes and Conclusions
—Catharsis
—Controlling Idea
—Change
—Careers and Cows

I think all of my chapters are all well represented in Crooked City. (Except for the reference to cows. But Smerling makes up for it by starting and ending his podcast with an odd and deadly tractor accident on a 170 acre Youngstown-area farm.) And I’m not sure about the whole catharsis thing. I think Youngstown is still coming to terms with its past as it tries to move into the future.

It’s also a sound bite machine from a wide ranging cast of real life characters who make up Youngstown’s colorful past. Here are my two favorite sound bites (from my favorite podcast of 2022) that would fit right at home in a Hollywood screenplay.

“He had eyes as black as coal, and a heart twice as dark.”

”Joey was the type of guy—his clothes has to be perfect. Well-dressed, groomed. He would floss his teeth 50 times a day.”

Stephen King says you should be able to depict a setting or person with just two or three choice details. I think those two are great descriptions. The one gives you a good feel for Joey Naples. (Naples by the way was killed in an ambush.)

I’ve watched (well, technically listened to) podcasts evolve greatly over the last decade. And, truth be told, I think I’ve listened to more podcasts than watched movies since the start of the pandemic lockdowns in March of 2020. And the fact that Crooked City is so good is no accident. It turns out that Smerling has an M.A. from USC film school, is an Emmy-winning and Academy Award-nominated producer whose credits include All Good Things (2010) which starred Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst. Are podcast the new indie films?

”I wanted to continue to tell crime stories that delved much deeper and had something larger to say about who we are. Crime is nothing if not the purest distillation of the dark side of human experience.”
—Marc Smerling
Deadline

One more Crooked City sound bite:

“[Jim]Traficant was the most talented politician this area has ever seen. Traficant was also the most corrupt.”

P.S. I have a love affair with Youngstown, Ohio. Probably because my dad was from Youngstown. He briefly worked at Youngstown Sheet and Tube, and his father worked there for over 30 years. After I listened to Crooked City, I watched ESPN’s Youngstown Boys (2013) documentary that I actually had never seen. I’m starting to think Youngstown, Ohio (and former Ohio State football player Maurice Clarett)— are a microcosm of the United States. Representing what it means to have tasted both greatness and brutal loss—and striving for redemption.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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”As a quarterback, I’ve been the guy that people were yelling for; I’ve been the guy that’s been booed in my own stadium.”
—Scott Frost

The Hollywood ending for the University of Nebraska was supposed to go something like this: A once powerhouse football team hires its former star quarterback to restore their program to national prominence. Instead, head football coach Scott Frost was fired this week after he started the season with a record of one win and two loses. Nebraska not only failed to play in a bowl game with Frost as coach, but they actually lost more games than they won over the last five years.

But, man, the setup was great. 

Frost was a Parade All-American quarterback while playing for a rural high school in Nebraska. As a QB at the University of Nebraska, he led the Cornhuskers to a shared National Championship in 1997. As a coach, he was the offensive coordinator at Oregon where he helped Marcus Mariota win the Heisman Trophy. He became the head coach at the University of Central Florida and the turnaround he brought to that program was so significant that I even mentioned it in my book Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles in the chapter on change. 

In 2015, the University of Central Florida (UCF) football team finished the season 0-12. This was the worst season in school history, and the team finished last in the American Athletic Conference. The head coach resigned before the season ended. Two years later, the team finished with a Peach Bowl win against Auburn and a 13-0 record. They not only won their conference, and finished in the top ten for the first time in major polls, but in The Colley Matrix they were listed as the 2017 National Champions.

Although such extreme reversals are uncommon in sports and otherwise, they happen often in the movies. This is probably a big part of why we watch movies. As Blake Snyder says, “All stories are about transformation.”

After two seasons at UCF, Frost signed a 7-year deal worth $35 million to be the head coach at his alma mater. Who better to bring back the glory than a home grown hero? Of course, the problem with being on top of the mountain is the only place to go is down. Sports, like movies, reflect well the ”thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.” Frost has experienced a roller coaster of highs and lows in just one six year period.

“A reversal changes the direction of the story 180 degrees. . . . Reversals can work physically or emotionally. They can reverse the action or reverse a character’s emotions.”
-Linda Seger
Making A Good Script Great

But this isn’t exactly uncharted territory for Frost. In high school he experienced what it was like to lose a state championship game. In the NFL he experienced a short-lived career as a player. As an assistant at Oregon he experienced losing a National Championship game. I imagine he’d say that all those set-backs made his other successes all that sweeter. 

And he’ll come back. Because he’s a winner. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was hired as a QB coach in the NFL or a college offensive coordinator by the end of the year. Or he could wait for ideal head coaching job which is better setup for sucess than he had at Nebraska. And to take the sting away, Frost gets a $15 million buyout of his contract. Beats getting fired and wondering how you’re going to afford keeping your Midwest home heated this winter. 

P.S. Here are a few quirky connections to Scott Frost. When I started this blog in 2008 I lived in Cedar Falls, Iowa. In 2008, Scott Frost was also living in Cedar Falls, Iowa where he was an assistant football coach at the University of Northern Iowa. My high school football coach, Sam Weir, was also once the head coach at the University of Central Florida. And when Frost coached at UCF, I lived less than 4 miles from him.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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These mills, they built the tanks and bombs
That won this country’s wars

—Bruce Springteen, Youngstown

My grandfather worked for Youngstown Sheet and Tube for at least 30 years (because after 30 years of service he received a Zippo Lighter with his initials on it). I always wondered what his job was like. And thanks to YouTube, this past Labor Day weekend I stumbled across a documentary produced in 1944 by the U.S. government. I imagine it was shot to boost morale during World War II.

With talk these days about people “quietly quitting” jobs I thought it would give a perspective on what work looked like for some in a previous generation.

My grandfather would have been working at the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Struthers plant in 1944, and his son (my father) spent a year working there in after high school. That makes me a son of a son of steelworker. My father decided he wanted a different life and went to Ohio State before joining the Air Force where he was pilot. A stop at McCoy Air Force base in a pre-Disney Orlando, Florida convinced my father to bet his future on Central Florida. Those were good moves for him and his family. In 1971, Disney World opened just outside Orlando. Economic growth 101. In Youngstown on September 19, 1977, 5,000 steel workers found themselves abruptly out of work. Economic decline 101.

At its peak (1950) Youngstown Sheet and Tube had 27,000 employees. Eventually all the mills shut down in the area resulting in 50,000 jobs lost. The effects of the mills closing over 40 years ago can be felt there today. According to Wikipedia, Youngstown’s population today is 60% down from its 1959 numbers.

Over the years I’ve found time to occasionally stop in Youngstown and monitor the slow changes that leaders have made over the years as the town seeks to reinvent itself. That’s one of the things that America and Americans do best.

Unfortunately, there are growing pangs along the way. Toss in a storied history of Mafia presence and funky politics and there is enough material rooted in Youngstown for someone to do a On the Waterfront/The Godfather/Hamilton-style story. Paving the way is the Bruce Springsteen song Youngstown, and this year’s podcast Crooked City.

P.S. “Youngstown was the home for Amil Dinsio, who I think legitimately is the LeBron James of bank burglars.”

—Screenwriter Keith Shannon (Finding Steve McQueen, a story drawn from the famous 1972 Laguna Niguel bank heist led by Dinsio.)

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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“[David McCullough] has had a profound influence on all that I’ve done because he’s taught me so much on how you tell a story.”
—Filmmaker Ken Burns

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner writer David McCullough was known for making history human. When he died this week, America lost a national treasure. Thankfully he left behind books that will continue to have an impact, and his distinct voice used in films and television programs will resonate into the future—when today is considered ancient history.

I first remember hearing McCullough’s voice back in 1990 on the PBS series The Civil War, A Film by Ken Burns. In the pre-internet streaming days, his voice-over helped make that documentary a cultural phenomenon.

McCullough’s first book, The Great Bridge, was on the designing and building of the Brooklyn Bridge. When Burns’ made his first documentary, the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge, McCullough was one of the scholars he interviewed.

“I remember having the experience in the winter of 1977 of reading a paperback version of The Great Bridge [by David McCullough], the epic story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, and turning to my partners who looked at me with astonishment and mind pending madness when I said, ‘I want to make a film about this. This history of the Brooklyn Bridge.’”
—Filmmaker Ken Burns

The only movie poster I own is from Seabiscuit (2013) in which once again McCullough’s voice works its wonder from a script written by Gary Ross (and based on Laura Hillenbrand’s book).

After I first saw the fantastic musical Hamilton I knew I needed to fill in some gaps in my understanding of American history and got the audio version of McCullough’s book 1776. His book The Wright Brothers laid out how the industrious and incredible patent producing Dayton, Ohio at the turn of the 20th century was an ideal place for the Wright Flyer to be built and tested.

McCullough’s book John Adams was the foundation of the HBO mini series starring Paul Giamatti.

I look forward to eveuntally going through all of his writings—all written on a typewriter. In the 60 Minutes piece below they show his 8X12 building behind his house his world headquarters where he focused on writing while living in Martha’s Vineyard.

America lost a giant of a writer in McCullough, but like all the founding fathers of this country he leaves a lasting legacy. One in which we can look back on flawed characters throughout history who had a vision for a more perfect union.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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“Cancer got me over unimportant fears, like getting old.”
—Olivia Newton-John

When I heard that Olivia Newton-John died today, I thought of someone who had that rare decade of off-the-chart entertainment success, followed by three decades of dealing off and on with cancer which she publicly handled with much grace.

When I was 10 years old, I’m not sure I knew who Bob Dylan was—but I knew who Olivia Newton-John was. Or at least I knew the cute young lady whose first hit song was the Dylan written song, If Not for You.

By 1974, I was 13 and definitely knew who Newton-John was with the release of her album If you love me, let me know. That voice, those eyes, and that Australian accent captivated this teenager. And a few others as well. The title song became an international hit and her first song to hit #1 on the charts in the US and Canada.

In 1978, Newton-John co-starred in the hit movie Grease with John Travolta. It was not only a commercial and critical success, but is still one of the top box office grossing live-action musicals of all time.

Her 1981 song Physical (written by Terry Shaddick and Steve Kipner) was picked by Billboard as the top song of the ’80s. Over her five decade career it’s estimated that she sold over 100 million albums. And beyond her #1 hits, her four Grammys, and being a key part in an iconic Hollywood movie, the thing that really sets her apart from most entertainers throughout history is she became an active philanthropist. After being treated for breast cancer in 1992, I don’t think you could measure how much money and awareness she raised globally to fight cancer. Her legacy will continue in Australia at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre.

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”Have you ever tried to row crew?”
—Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) in The Social Network

The lake I’ve been kayaking on regularly since COVID hit in 2020 also happened to be the lake that Winter Park H.S./Winter Park crew trains on. And for the past 10 months I’ve had a front row seat to watching their boats glide on the water. This years women’s V8 team not only won state and nationals this year, but over the weekend made it to the finals at the Henley Royal Regatta in England. (That legendary regatta is the one featured in The Social Network.)

The day that the Winter Park Crew flew to UK, they were on Lake Howell training here in the states (that’s one long day). Coach Mike Vertullo photographer/drone operator Steven Sobel and me go out on his boat and capture some images of he and his champion team. Here’s a couple shots I took with my phone. Congrats on their success this year. I’m sure it’s one they’ll never forget.

Winter Park Crew lost a close race to St. Catherine’s Crew from Melbourne Australia.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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Tony Siragusa (1967-2022)

“Life is short
Even in its longest days”

—John Mellencamp/Longest Days

Ten year ago I was hired to field produce and shoot a spot with Super Bowl winner and on-air personality Tony Siragusa. When we were setting up in his New Jersey home, he came into the kitchen and joked, “What are all these people doing in my house?” Big personality, very enjoyable to work with, and instantly likable. Last night when I heard that he died at age 55, I thought that though he had a relatively short life, he seemed to have a zeal for life you don’t often see. Along with his Super Bowl XXXV ring with the Baltimore Ravens, he also had on his resume: NFL on Fox reporter, host of the TV show Man Cave (2007-2016), and parts in Spike Lee’s 25th Hour and David Chase’s The Sopranos. 

Enjoy each moment you can.

P.S. On that shoot with me was the talented Sara Kinney (standing to Tony’s left), who is now an LA based cinematographer. She has an MFA from AFI and her credits include The World According to Jeff Goldblum.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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”All creative work is mystical.”
—Screenwriter John Milius (Apocalypse Now)

”Our vanity, our self-love, promotes the cult of genius. For if we think of genius as something magical, we are not obliged to compare ourselves lacking.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche
(As quoted in the chapter ”Effort Counts Twice” in the book Grit by Angela Duckworth)

Last night I watched the four part series They Call Me Magic about one of greatest basketball players in NBA history. This was the Magic Johnson quote that jumped out at me about his dedication for the game as a youth and teenager growing up playing pickup games in Lansing, Michigan:

“I played [basketball] in the rain. I played in the snow, it didn’t matter. Sun up to sun down. And then I started playing against older boys, then I started playing against men. . . Nobody outworked me in the neighborhood. I was on the court more than any kid. It wasn’t even close. I wanted it more.”
—Magic Johnson

The reason that quote jumped out as at me is because I’ve been listening to the audio book Grit by Angela Duckworth. Just a few days ago in the chapter titled ”Effort Counts Twice,” Duckworth addressed greatness in Olympic athletes whose talent seem otherworldly. (Think of swimmers Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps.)

She points to an study of competitive swimmers titled “The Mundanity of Excellence,” by sociologist Dan Chambliss who observed;

“Superlative performance is really a confluence of dozens of small skills or activities, each one learned or stumbled upon, which have been carefully drilled into habit and them are fitted together in a synthesized whole. There is nothing extraordinary or superhuman in any one of those actions; one the fact that they are done consistently and correctly, and all together, produces excellence.”

How old do you think Magic Johnson was when he threw his first no-look pass? I’m gusessing pretty young. And before that become one of his trademark plays, I’m sure that small skill was well honed by thousands of passes before he put on a professional uniform.

I was a better than average football and baseball player as a youth, but when I joined my first basketball team when I was 12 I was instantly out of my league with kids who grew up around the game. Magic Johnson was the youngest of nine brothers and sisters, and I wouldn’t be surprised if when he was 12 years old he didn’t already have a decade of experience around the game.

Back to Duckworth’s book:

“With everything perfect,” Nietzsche wrote, “we do not ask how it came to be.” Instead, “we rejoice in the present fact as though it came out of the ground by magic.”

But Magic wasn’t really created from magic. Or fully formed. How did he come to be Magic Johnson? He told us in that first quote. He was created from the mundane task of showing up to play pickup games in the the rain, and snow, sun up to sun down. Determined to win, because winners got to stay on the court. And win he did. Here’s what he accomplished before he turned 21 years old:

Everett High School, State champs & Parade First Team All American (1977)
Michigan State, NCAA champs & All American (1979)
Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Champs & NBA Finals MVP (1980)

Astonishing. And not only that, but Magic changed the game. He lead the team that made the NBA popular. The NBA Finals in 1980 weren’t even broadcast live, but aired on tape delay because CBS didn’t want to spoil the ratings of Duke of Hazards. (In 1980, Dukes of Hazard was the #2 Tv show in the United States with an estimated audience of over 21 million. About twice as many viewers of even the 2021 NBA Finals.)

But Magic and his Lakers teammates “Showtime”style of play throughout the 1980s (along with the Boston Celtics rivialry) made basketball mainstream in the United States in a way it had never been. And paved the way for Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls to take it to even a greater level of global popularity. And if you just saw Jordan in his prime—flying in the air—you’d swear it was a mystical experience. But when you read his story, you know he may have been the most determined person to ever play basketball.

Michael Jordan = Grit. (Of course, in basketball, it also helps if you’re 6’6″ like Jordan, or 6’9″ like Johnson.)

On page 211 of my book Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles, I touched on what I called the mystical aspects of creativity. The unexplained aspects. I even quoted Jimmy Buffett who said that even though he wasn’t the greatest singer or guitar player he was able to “capture the magic” in his songs and concerts. But now I’m thinking Buffett was full of grit. Still performing and touring as he approaches 75, he cut his chops playing on the streets of New Orleans and working his way up to clubs, then colleges, then larger concert venues, on his way to playing stadiums.

As I update my book, I’m going to revisit that section. I’m thinking that grit is a cousin of The 10,000 Rule.

P.S. My first paid job when I was in film school in the early ’80s was with Broadcast Equipment Rental Company (BERC) in Hollywood. My primary job was to drive Ikegami cameras to various production companies and TV studios throughout Southern California. I never got to make a delivery to the Forum where the Lakers played, but I know they did sometimes supply cameras to ESPN who covered games. But I did get a glimpse (thanks to a security guard) of the empty stage of The Tonight Show at NBC in Burbank back when Johnny Carson was the host. Here’s a clip of when Magic Johnson was on the show after he won his third NAB championship in 1985.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles


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Until last night, I hadn’t been to Universal Studios Orlando for over a decade. (Dispelling the myth that people who live in the Orlando area spend half their time at the many theme parks.) But I not only went last night, but I got to ride on a Mardi Gras float with a team from Valencia College. I’ve wanted to ride a float since I attended Mardi Gras in New Orleans when I was in college. It was a blast to toss beads out on the eager people below. People now, as they were decades ago, sure like to get those cheap beads thrown their way.

I will say the Orlando version is a much cleaner, safer, less chaotic version of what I saw in New Orleans. (I didn’t see anyone getting arrested at Universal Studios Orlando.)

It was a perfect early evening in Orlando and it was just as much fun as it looks.

I’ll try to track down a photograph from my first trip to New Orleans. But it was a classic college road trip. We left Miami Friday after classes and drove straight through until we arrive at a KOA campground in Slidell, Louisiana I think around 2 AM. We spent the majority of the weekend in New Orleans, before heading back to Miami late Sunday night. I made back in time to make an editing class that night with Ralph Clemente. Ralph couldn’t believe I drove to Mardi Gras in The Big Easy and back over the weekend AND make his class on time. He said he was going to give me an A just for showing up.

Ralph later came up to Orlando to teach some workshops connected to the new studios opening at Universal Studios in what was part of what was marketed as Hollywood East. Ralph helped spin that workshop into the film program at Valencia College where a couple of his students went on to be a part of the Blair Witch Project team. Part of that editing class I had was doing a project with found footage kicking around the film program. Ralph also loved those Bermuda triangle stories popular back in the day—is it true or not? Mix found footage and Bermuda triangle conspiracy theories and it’s not hard to see some of the roots of The Blair Witch Project.

But Ralph’s star student at the University of Miami was David Nutter who’s had an incredible run in Tv directing. Nutter won two Emmys for his work on Game of Thrones. I wrote the post The Perfect Ending after Ralph’s memorial service and Nutter gave him a shoutout when he won his first Emmy on the same night.

P.S. Orlando had a good production run in the ’90s, and “Hollywood East” actually became a realty—in Atlanta.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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Back in 1985, I was a year out of film school and had worked my way up from a freelance photographer to being the Director of Photography for Yary Photo. It was a still photography gig mostly centered around taking team photos of sports teams throughout Southern California. My last post was on taking the 1985 Los Angeles Rams team photo, but there was another pro team we shot that year—the L.A. Raiders. I didn’t take the photo below, but was part of the Yary photo team that helped setup the shot.

There were many challenges to shooting this kind of photo. You don’t get to pick the ideal time to shoot the photo. You have limited options to work with lighting and backgrounds—because you are on their practice field in El Segundo. You’re working with both white and black jerseys and shirts, and light and dark skin tones of players and coaches which are exposure and dynamic range challenges. And you have a limited time to setup and shoot the photo, because this was taken right before practice. And Photoshop wouldn’t be developed for another two years.

So all in all I think this photo holds up pretty well over the years. Perhaps the thing that bothers me most is he heavy fill flash shadows falling in some of the coaches. But this was shot in the days before digital cameras (with an Mamyia RZ 67) and Norman strobes. I guess taking Polaroids could have heaped tweak things, but there wasn’t time to take Polaroids and make little tweaks. (I once watched an advertising photographer spend over four hours lighting a marine depth finder for a brochure cover. This was not that kind of shoot.)

But forget the nitpicking that photographers love to do. This was a great life experience. I was 24-year-old and hanging out with some legendary pro football players. Many of these players were on the Raiders team that won Super Bowl XVIII in January 1984. Some of these players were even on the Oakland Raiders that won Super Bowls in 1977 and 1981. Players I remembered watching play on TV when I was in high school. Some of legendary players in that photo are Marcus Allen (32), Lyle Alzado (77), Jim Plunkett (16), Howie Long (75), Mike Haynes (22), Cliff Branch (21), Lester Hayes (37), and Ray Guy (8).

There are interesting stories buried in that photo. One of them is the head coach of the ’85 Raiders was Tom Flores (in the center in the third row from the bottom). He was not only the first person to win Super Bowls as a player and as a head coach, but he was the first Latino head coach to win a Super Bowl. When the 84-year-old Flores was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year, the son of migrant workers in Central California referenced that he said to assistant coach Sam Boghosian after his first Super Bowl win, “Sam, not bad at all for a couple of grape pickers.”

Art Shell (who is also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame) was an assistant coach on the ’85 Raiders after his playing days were on and before be would become a head coach.

One of the non-player/non-coach related stories is one of the Yary photographers on that shoot was Robert Galbraith. (Pictured below l in shorts talking to QB Rusty Hilger #12 in an old photo I found during the COVID pandemic.) Galbraith had been a photojournalist in West Virginia and I was blown away by his portfolio. And I learned a lot from him. He had headed west to see where his skills would take him in Los Angeles. The next year he did some freelance work with AP before becoming an AP staff photographer. He later became a staff photographer with Reuters in San Francisco. Over his career he covered Barry Bonds and Tiger Woods in their prime, the America’s Cup, and several Super Bowls. Back in 2016, Insider named one of his photos taken on assignment after Hurricane Katrina on their list of “62 of the most powerful Reuters photographs ever taken.”

Galbraith spent a over a month in Florida this past December and January working on a book project of photographs in the style of the classic Robert Frank book The Americans. I was able to meet him for a couple of hours in Mt. Dora, Florida and hear about some of his adventures in the last 30 years. He’s been posting his travel photos on Facebook and Instagram (@rindeaux) and it really is remarkable work. He’s still in the game—and performing at a high level. Here are a handful of my recent favorites he’s allowed me to publish here. (All taken with his Leica camera and a 50mm lens.)

At the end of meeting Galbraith last month, I pulled out my Nikon and tried to capture a photo of a man whose eyes have seen a few things, and packed in a few miles, since leaving Wheeling, West Virginia many images ago.

Photographer Robert Galbraith in Mt. Dora, Florida

P.S. Sometime around when I was in film school, I made the the trek from Burbank to Hollywood via Barham Rd. one day and saw what is still my all time favorite billboard. A graphic image of L.A. Raider Lester Hayes in his crouched position as defensive back. Just one striking image. I had no clue what the billboard was even advertising when I first drove by it. Later, I saw the Nike swoosh in the corner. It was boldness and subtlety at the same time.

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‘Straight Outta Compton’ (Wearing Silver & Black)

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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