Remains not Ruins: The Significance of Place

A new documentary by Howling Coyote Films, LLC - In pre-production (April, 2019)


The thrill of discovery is compelling. This film explores why some cultures dig, preserve, and memorialize, while others respect the spirit of the past by letting the tangible remains rest and return to the cycle of life.


This project began when I met up with the curator of the San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe, and set on a path to develop several short educational and promotional films for the Chapel to use to inform their visitors.

As I talked to local historians, archeologists and curators about these important sites, I began to realize the rich opportunity for a more significant documentary on the issues and philosophies surrounding the unearthing and preservation of the Santa Fe region’s rich past. Strongly held opinions and different viewpoints were expressed not only about that past, but how we treat the artifacts and buildings associated with it. Advocates for preservation and archeology clashed with those who advocate for progress, modernism and city development.

Cultural differences between ethnic groups are also noticeable. Original peoples whose families have lived in the Rio Grande Basin think differently about the importance of their heritage than do more recent emigres to the area. The academic core of anthropologists and archaeologists strive for knowledge and interpretation of the past through the uncovering and examination of ancient buildings and artifacts, often relegating them to university basements for future research. Indigenous people see these materials as sacred remnants of their own ancestors and spirits. Tourists and the general public want to see these ruins—the historians want to cover them over to protect them for future investigation. State ordinances require preservation of historical buildings and archeological excavations must precede development and construction.

I was especially moved by a video recording I found of Rina Swentzell, a Santa Clara pueblo Indian. The first from her pueblo to attain a Ph.D., she became a recognized expert on pueblo architecture. In the video, she talks about the concept of po’h-wa’-ha’—the belief that all things material and living consist of water, earth, and breath, and as such are interconnected. Buildings are as alive as people, and they exhibit a birth, a life and a natural end-of-life. Energy is constantly flowing through these material items as they regenerate into different forms and structures.

Pete Warzel, Executive Director of the Historical Santa Fe Foundation, has told me that his organization is struggling with the competing philosophies and approaches surrounding responsible preservation of historic sites in Santa Fe. He fully supports this documentary project and has committed to assist with forging relationships, introductions and fundraising.

This film will examine how we resolve the process of discovery and learning with the culture, beliefs and practices of our indigenous neighbors, while affording access to historians and the public.

Videography Services

I am available for video shoots to meet a variety of needs.

My equipment includes:

  • Canon XF705 Pro Camcorder - 4K 10 bit 4.2.2
  • Canon EOS Cinema C100 mkII professional video camera - 2K 8 bit
  • Ninja V external recorder and monitor
  • Iphone7 4K camera
  • Canon zoom and prime lenses
  • Ananmorphic lenses for iPhone
  • Slider
  • Osmo Mobile iPhone gimbal
  • Beastgrip Adapter for Canon lens attachment to iPhone
  • Tripods and shoulder rig
  • External sound recorder, shotgun and lavalier mics
  • LED lighting kit
  • Green-screen, reflectors, etc.

I am particularly interested in documentary and narative short films.  Willing to create promotional videos for small businesses, creative professionals, realtors, and non-profits.

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