Director Notes on Kira Films

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Not ever expecting Kira to ever smile, we were blown away when her little smirks started showing up. It took about three months worth of video to make this one short film of her smiling. Anytime she would start smiling I would run for my camcorder and start recording. In the beginning most of her smiles were the result of intense stimulation, loud funny noises, tickling, etc. And even then they were far and few inbetween. Her first year of life was very difficult and we were trying our best to figure out what was wrong with her all the time. There were alot of non-smiling days, making this film even more of a joy to watch. In the film, some of her best smiles are while she is sitting on Mema's lap thowing a ball in the air which our dog would noisely catch. The song Smilin', sung by Louis Armstrong, seemed perfect once I heard it.

Kira had a difficult time sleeping when she was very young. She would often be up for 20+ hours, take a 30 minute power nap and be up for another 20+ hours. And the need to be constantly held and comforted, took its toll on all of us. She was just so darn cute when she was sleeping, and sleeping was such a precious moment, a film was born. Most of the photos were taken during her first 9-10 months.

Our local amusement park, Silverwood, each year has a special day that is only open for special needs people. Kira probably one of the youngest there and the most challenged. Skeptical how should would do, and the weather somewhat chilly, we really didn't know what would happen. Well Kira loved it! Her favorite was the log ride as she beamed her smile the whole time. Two camcorders captured a couple of different angles. Most of the still just did not turn out as there were so many people walking around. Bluegrass music is played constantly at the park so that seemed like a good soundtrack. Although the film is short, it captures Kira's exciting day at the park.

Kira the Kid
This film started out to highlight her horse therapy and to show others her riding a horse. After too many long winter days and an active imagination, it turned into Kira the Kid. The boots, hat, and pistols were all handcrafted just for the film. Of course I could not resist using some of my favorite western movie soundtracks. The early part is from "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly". Her actually riding is from "The Magnificent Seven". If you listen carefully as the Kira the Kid appears, you will hear the famous yeeeehaw scene from "Red River" (copied many years later in City Slickers). To get the photos we draped a dark sheet over a chair, Mema dressed all in black, Kira sat on her lap, and I took a bunch of photos and video. We had to work fast as Kira quickly drew tired of all the clothes, hat, pistols, boots, etc. Adding the pistol shots to her "quick draw" is always a crowd favorite.

Most of the actual horse riding was done on the same day. You can see how many people it takes for Kira to ride a horse. We have seen quite an improvement in her head and trunk control with the horse therapy. Since Kira loves to be moved around, the horse riding is right up her ally.

I Got Da Dance
Kira certainly loves the motion of dancing listening to up beat music. The crazier the better. The video was taken over about a years time with the latest early 2007. The heavier she gets, swinging her around like in the video is getting taxing on my body. I had quite a few dance songs to choose from. Almost went disco. Then Elvis. But the "Land of a 1000 Dances" sung by Wilson Pickett was a lock when I saw the raw video with music. While hiding behind her, she danced to the whole song a couple of times. I used that video to sync with the soundtrack and stuck other video clips here and there. That is why sometimes she is with the beat and sometimes not. During filming, she was in a great mood and wouldn't stop smiling. While dancing on Mema lap, she was listening to Blue Suede Shoes by Elvis.

1st Birthday
Her first birthday video was a very emotional experience. Coming home from the hospital we really did not think Kira would make it through the winter. Therefore I worked on this video thoughout the year thinking it will probably end up at her funeral leaving not much time to throw it together. As she kept chugging along, the video kept getting bigger and bigger. There were numorus times I had to break from editing with a severe eye moisture attack and couldn't see the monitor. My goal for the video was to show all the people that have held Kira and the number of lives she has changed. Even when I see this film now I get all choked up. Because this was a very emotional time, the music slower paced and pretty emotional also.

2nd Birthday
Between her first and second birthday Kira spent a lot of time in the hot tub. She almost always loved it and was great therapy for her joints and circulation. I must of been watching the movie Jaws when I got the idea to do the intro piece to the Jaws theme. Setting up the camera and filming her going up and down took quite a few takes. And that was me diving out of the tub and the end. The things I will do for a funny video!!

Wanting to have something more upbeat than her 1st birthday film, I choose some faster songs sped up most of the timing.

The song in the middle was choosen for Ken and Michelle, Kira's foster parents. The photos of Kira in the hospital was when she had her feeding tube installed. I thought the lyrics were appropriate for their relationship with Kira.

3rd Birthday
This was the year that Kira started to surprise us with all sorts of stuff. This years film highlighted some of her therapists and activities she was doing. As Kira loves to be upside down, I thought of putting her upside down for the chorus of the song "upside down" would be a cute addition. Kira didn't disappoint and smiled every time I flipped her.

My children heard this song by Jack Johnson on the radio and thought it would be perfect for her next video. Once I heard it I had to agree.

After filming the upside down video clips (where I flip her back and she is upside down), I put the camcorder and tripod in her backpack and went out for our usual walk. While waiting for one of Kira's vistors at the local drug store (we make a lot of stops around town and say hi to friends), I turned on the camera to video Kira just having a quick visit. Then at the last minute I decided to leave the camcorder on and started walking out of the store with it on. I thought it would make a good fade out for that visit. It turned out to be about 45 minutes of video. Still wanting to keep the video short, I sped up the video to get more of it in, which added to the video more than I thought. The position of the camera was just about perfect for never even aiming it. You might recognize the song from Napoliatn Dynamite. Because it is a short song, I had to play it twice. The transition between each song occured while the music almost stops, I stop her wheelchair and kiss her on the sidewalk. Getting the correct timing was a real pain. But that transition usually get everyone howling again. Towards the end of the walk we stop inside Kira's favorite bridge tunnel where I always stop and make loud funny noises. The sound echos in the tunnel which always gets a big grin from her.

4th Birthday
I usually try to have Kira birthday videos capture the 12 month between birthdays in somewhat chronological order. This year, the song I really planned on using, Always There In You by the Valli Girls, was too short for all the photos. The second song I liked was Here Comes The Sun by the Beatles. So I ended up putting all the outside beach, swimming, walking, pictures with Here Comes The Sun. As you can tell Kira really lights up when the sun hits her face. At the beginning of the second song, the pictures of Kira are actually from her 3rd birthday party. So between the two songs, and getting correct timing between the photos and the songs, the pictures are not in any order. The picture at the end of the video is of Kira and her Great Grandpa Bill Kimball taken Christmas morning 2006, later that day Bill tragically died in an auto accident. We will always have that great photo to remind us of the special moment they had together. During her 4th birthday party, I combined Kira The Kid and I Got Da Dance and this one to make one long video.

5th Birthday
Kira's normal bday video is normally shown during her bday party in April. This spring and summer, Kira being in and out of hospitals, and our busy schedules keep that from happening. So finally in September we had an opportunity during her "I'm Finally Adopted" party to have a video shown. The first song is basically her new life with Ken and Michelle, her new parents. Some early photos show her before them and the rest with them. The second song was inspired by seeing Smokey Robinson sing this song at an outdoor concent in Sandpoint. Once I heard the song I thought of Kira and knew I had to use it. I went through 5 years of photos and picked my favorited face photos. The last photo of the "I Love Your Face" song is how I will always remember Kira, looking up at me during a walk, asking with her eyes, "That was fun, where are we going next!". It was a real tough video to do as I was crying most of the time. The third song is Kira since her 4th Birthday party. As a matter of fact the first photo is of Danielle (Kiras birth Mom) holding Kira during her 4th Birthday party. The ending was much more emotional than I intended. I thought it would be neat to show me and my wife saying goodbye to Kira as we leave our house. The song happened to have a nice ending and we took a couple of takes walking out the door and I slapped it together. After we saw it with the music we both lost it. I really did not think anyone else would react that way until we showed the video to 40 plus people during the party. It was quite the unintended tear jerker.