My wife Carol and I were out garage-saling on a Saturday last April. We were up in Auburn, CA and about ready to head home when we saw one more sign that said “Estate Sale”, so we followed the sign to the sale. What we found among the usual furniture, kitchenware, bedding, etc. were some interesting rocks, maps, tools, etc. I picked up a couple of interesting rocks to buy (I am a geologist by training and worked for 30 years in the environmental remediation industry). Terri, the estate liquidator, asked what I knew about geology and rocks, so I told her my background. She said “I’ll be right back” and came out with more stuff including some geophysical instrumentation (a magnetometer and a ground motion recorder) and told me this stuff all belonged to a guy who had worked in Antarctica in the late 50’s. Although my background in geophysics was minimal, I was very interested in this old equipment. Then, she told me the guy (Tom Turcotte) was still alive and living in Southern California. Now I was getting excited. I had been searching for an interesting documentary project and here it was staring me in the face. I produced my first documentary film Mongolia in Winter in 2017. I love extreme cold weather for exploring and photographing and film making. There is something about those conditions that make for really beautiful and dramatic imagery and I enjoy the challenge of working and surviving in deep sub-zero conditions. When we were in Mongolia, temps approached minus 35 to 40 degrees C. We agreed on the price for the collection with the caveat I would have permission from Mr. Turcotte and his family to turn the collection into a documentary film. Carol and I headed home and Terri went about contacting the Turcotte family.
After a few days of waiting, we had a response from the family that said absolutely yes, they would be thrilled to see a film made about Tom Turcotte and his Antarctic adventures. Included with all of the other things in the collection was a shoe box full of letters that Tom had written home to his dear wife Mabel during his travels. What I didn’t realize at the time that the real story was contained in the shoe box and all of the other stuff was background material.