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San Clemente Journal


Mar 20, 2021 11:25AM ● By Anne Batty


by Anne Batty

Ghost light: a light left operating on a theater’s stage when unoccupied and otherwise completely dark; typically consisting of a single bulb mounted in a wire cage on a portable light stand. 

When San Clemente resident, and avid music enthusiast, David Talbot, was furloughed from his job as construction foreman of the Pageant of the Masters (POM) in March, 2020 due to the Covid pandemic, the image of ghost lights in empty theaters inspired him to document the loss of live entertainment venues in the OC and beyond. 

David Talbot, right with Ryan and Kai Kalama at Iva Lee’s.

 “My original idea was to document the loss of these venues from Los Angeles to San Diego in picture book form. But upon visiting various empty theatres I soon realized that the ghost light tradition had become something of the past,” Talbot shared. “Still reeling from the shock of the Pageant’s closing, it suddenly dawned on me that closures like this would not only affect live venues of all kinds, but they would have an even greater impact on musicians struggling to get their music heard. After discussing this dilemma with my brother-in-law, filmmaker Mike Bryant, it was determined that I should take a new direction, creating a documentary about venues devised by and for musicians in spite of the Covid closures ... a film that would document the impact the pandemic has had on the live music industry locally.”

Without any experience in filmmaking, David decided to change his course. Relying on the generosity of the time and talent of Bryant and his professional crew he plunged headlong into the project, learning about direction, production, sound editing and filmmaking along the way.
“It was Mike’s help that initiated the venture, not only bringing in professionals and equipment, but also securing Jan Michalik, an award-winning cinematographer, who shot four main videos for the documentary,” Talbot explained. “Without this help, and that of my childhood friend, attorney and co-producer, Diana Hunt - who not only obtained all the necessary production permits and is arranging all the live events, but keeps the vitality and fire of the project going - this undertaking would never have come to fruition.”

As a part of the live entertainment industry for 20 years and an employee at POM for 11 years, David felt compelled to record this time in the history of music. And although the project has required him to work 50-60 hours a week and contribute his personal funds, he knows that without the approval and support of his wife, Jennifer, who is working two jobs to support the family’s income, as well as the generosity of time, talent, equipment and assistance of the all those who have been involved, the documentary could not have moved forward.

The Film Unfolds
While the film has definitely taken on a life of its own, Talbot felt it was important to let it unfold organically. And as is true with manhyprojects there have been many closed doors, but also a lot of open ones throughout the process. 

With a focus on the local music scene and three Orange County bands - The Salty Suites, the Kalama Brothers, and Darden – the documentary spotlights how these bands have been affected and eventually transformed by the pandemic. Included in the film is how Darden rented a flatbed truck, driving it throughout Fullerton performing pop-up concerts sponsored by the city, and how during the summer the city of Laguna Beach exhibited Bands on the Bus, a conglomeration of various musicians bringing music to the community safely and at a distance

Along with highlighting musicians and their ingenuity, the documentary also includes interviews with venue owners and promoters; those helping music stay live with drive-in concerts and innovative events. Locally, one such owner/promoter, Damian Brawner - surfboard and SUP builder, talent buyer and band manager - has stepped up to help musicians in these challenging times. Expanding his shop in the Shorecliffs area of town to include the space next door, he has created Rhythm and Resin, a platform for live streaming to support unsigned musicians.
Bringing his education in theater arts and business, his work experience with POM and the Laguna Playhouse, and his latent desire to one day open a music venue to the fore, David Talbot has been working hard to create an uplifting film, one that will leave viewers with a sense of peace and hope, and a greater appreciation for what it takes to keep music venues alive and well in the midst of the unprecedented situation society finds itself experiencing today.  
At this time, the documentary is still in the editing process with a projected release in March 2021on PBSSoCal. Launching of the endeavor is planned as a live music event to be held at the Muckenthaler Cultural Arts Center, a 1920s house located in Fullerton. 

Check out another of Talbot’s projects to help musicians … videos on YouTube highlighting local musicians filmed in the historic Swanner House in San Juan Capistrano… This Old House-Acoustic Sessions. 

For more information contact Talbot at [email protected].