Thoughts on Fenn’s Book Signing, June 23, 2018

Notes and Thoughts on the
Forrest Fenn Book Signing at Collected Works Book Store
in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Saturday, June 23, 2018

Thank you Forrest and Dorothy

We are very grateful to Forrest Fenn and Collected Works Book Store Owner Dorothy Massey, for encouraging us to live stream the event. Although, we all knew that, in comparison to events we had previously recorded/streamed, this one was planned as just a book signing – no Fenn Q&A.

Rigging Up

As a result, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to rig up for it. Especially since I was live streaming to our YouTube channel, rather than recording to digital media for later playback. I chose a light-weight and mobile (def: able to move or be moved freely or easily) rig. It consisted of an iPhone SE locked into an iOgrapher frame on which I mounted a Rode VideoMic mini-shotgun microphone. They were all mounted on a Zomei carbon fiber monopod. I also carried a compact 10,000mAh lithium battery in case the iPhone SE ran down. I did’t add a headset to the kit. I was confident the iPhone SE would handle the audio from the Rode VideoMic as well as it had in the past. 

At events like these, we bring along our own D-Link 5GB wireless router. I can plug it in to the client’s Ethernet interface and not have to worry about competing with other smart phone users for bandwidth at the event. (Although, unexpectedly, the client’s Ethernet service failed near the end, taking our wireless router and live stream with it. I finished my work using a hand-held iPhone SE and a Verizon cellular connection.)

Shot Plan

I decided I’d shoot the event as if I had been assigned a “B-Roll camera.” Mobility was a priority, and I chose shots that were ambient in sound and light in order to provide the live stream audience a “feel” for the event rather than the usual focusing on Fenn and his every word. It was very different an approach than I had taken at any past Fenn event I’ve recorded or streamed.

Sticky Wicket

As I punched in to our YouTube Channel to start the live stream, the iPhone SE was in landscape mode, but displaying a flipped-on-its-side portrait mode. I tried everything I could to correct it from portrait mode to landscape, but couldn’t get it to cooperate. I played the iPhone SE/YouTube Live Stream hand fate had dealt me. An ugly one, in my opinion. It will be corrected by our next outing, whenever and whatever it is.

Fenn’s Interaction with Searchers

It was different for me. Prior to this, I had recorded or streamed very controlled events – Fenn on stage, usually with others aside him, telling his stories and answering questions. Unless the question was one he did not care to answer. He was stable, as was I, and my camera. Neither of us had to move to get a good shot with reasonable audio.

This was a new thing. He was Oscar Mike, (On the Move), and so was I. And, he was interacting mano-a-mano with the searchers that were present.

I noticed many wanted to make certain that whatever time they had with Fenn was – for lack of a better way to describe it – sacred. They wanted him to focus exclusively on them for whatever time they had with him. And, more importantly, to the exclusion of everything else that was going on around them.

Some of them passed the few moments quietly, asking Fenn only to sign their books, sometimes using their names, and sometimes with a dedication. While he was at work, they told him stories about their travel to Santa Fe. Almost all mentioned their searches, or the adventures they had experienced. Some expressed the joy they found in reading his books and imagining what they would do with the treasure were they to find it.

Since I was not wearing headphones, I didn’t quite catch everything they were saying, but he and the searcher next to him seemed comfortable with the exchange. He spent a little more time with a searcher who had brought recent photographs of the area around his childhood home in Temple, Texas. She included some of the family plot, and flowers she had planted around the graves.

Searchers with Agendas

There was, though, another group. These searchers came to the event, and they brought an agenda with them. They too, wanted to share photos with Fenn, but they seemed to be photos of places or objects they believed confirmed their solution to finding the treasure. They tended to be a bit more intense, more glassy-eyed, more nervous, more hushed in their tones, and more insistent about getting some hint of validation from Fenn.

Each one set Fenn on edge, but he quickly sized them up, and deflected their efforts in an expectant, expert and well-practiced way. Eventually, there was a quick glance from Fenn to his grandson. Shiloh would then, politely but assertively, end the “situation.”

Honestly, it set me a bit on edge, too. Each of them felt somehow entitled to their behavior, as if Fenn owed them the answers they sought.

Yet, I saw nothing from any of them that would cause me to worry about the possibility of them recovering the treasure.

In the End

At the end of the event, Fenn left with his entourage of relatives. A pair of sisters followed them closely. One is a journalist and the other a photographer. both from Esquire Magazine. They planned to continue their interview of Fenn at his home.

I packed my equipment, and conferred with partners Shelley and Kevin Carney about our luncheon meeting. They went ahead, and left me with time to myself to think about what I had just seen.

Are the emails he receives every day representative of what I observed at this event? If, they are, I can see why he is reticent to engage. It could be why Fenn now treats the search the way he does – maintaining an arm’s length relationship.

It certainly was enough to reinforce our plan to maintain our anonymity if we’re wise enough to find the treasure.

A Gypsy’s Kiss on YouTube

For a different, informative and entertaining take on the treasure Forrest Fenn hid somewhere in the mountains north of Santa Fe, subscribe to our YouTube channel at

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