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Tape Heads: souvenirs of a long, strange trip

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In 1998, Cyndi Moran and Eric Scholl traveled to Madeline Island in northern Wisconsin to film a dogsled race for a documentary video, one of several the couple was then working on. There, they found an 11-year-old girl who was competing--in the pro class--for the second time, an exchange student from Italy who'd seen snow only once in his life, and a 60-ish county commissioner who'd started mushing after having a brain tumor removed. "He had some kind of epiphany," says Moran, a video editor at Post Effects.

That same year she and Scholl, who is the assistant chair of Columbia College's film and video department, traveled to western Louisiana. There they met Mrs. Caillot, an 84-year-old woman whose son had been Dolly Parton's hairdresser and personal assistant.

"People in town call her Dolly's mother-in-law," says Moran, who grew up in New Orleans. "She's a busybody--she checks on everybody every day. She tells risque jokes and stories about being offered marijuana at her age, and about bringing prescription medicine over the border from Mexico. She says, 'My grandchildren, they go to Mexico like I go to Wal-Mart, and they bring back the Kahlua and the drugs.'"

A friend of a friend told them about a man whose basset hound sings along while he plays accordion, so they grabbed the camera and went to check it out. "If you're out shooting, people tend to gravitate toward you," says Moran. "I don't know--we just sniff them out."

Closer to home, in Rogers Park, they found 75-year-old Nicole Bergere, a Jaguar-driving former performance artist and costume designer who's currently the owner of Nicole's Bake Shop. They taped Bergere's birthday party, which included tango dancing and guests of all ages, for a project on older women. "She says she's 75 and still sexy," says Moran. "Boy, is she. I don't think I could ever have been as sexy as she is now."

Since 1998 Moran and Scholl have had two children, which hasn't allowed much time for editing. "In a way," says Moran, "kids force you to use your spare time wisely." They've nearly finished the piece about the dogsled races, but as for the others, she says, "I will edit a scene and he might revise it and vice versa. We're always going back and forth. It's kind of a way to make each other crazy."

This summer the pair pulled together excerpts from their various projects to create a presentation they've dubbed "90 Degrees West: Voices From Wisconsin, Louisiana, and In Between," and they realized the disparate projects had more in common than they originally thought. "It will feel like a road trip," Moran says, "where you get to meet people that we hope you'll find interesting."

Moran, Scholl, and Bergere will be at the free event, which takes place Thursday, August 16, from 6 to 7:30 at Byron Roche Gallery, 750 N. Franklin. Call 312-654-0144 for more information.

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