Thursday, Jun 20, 2019

Photographer captures America

Dacy Airport, 22207 Airport Road, served as the backdrop for a photo shoot with iconic photographer Dennis Manarchy. Manarchy is in the middle of his new project, “Butterflies & Buffalo,” which is slated to become a documentary – cinematically as well as in book form – filled with images of Americana that are beginning to disappear. Manarchy wants to capture these images before they are gone forever.

He plans to bring with him a camera that he built with his own hands and the help of more than 30 people. The camera measures 35 feet long, 12 feet tall and 8 feet wide. It is the largest film camera in the world, and Manarchy has film left for 80 images on which he plans to capture, in vivid detail, the poignant images of life across the United States.

Manarchy’s filming and photography crew drove the camera into Harvard on a bright summer day to capture a dying art form – wing walking.

Professional wing-walker Tony Kazian is, to his knowledge, the only wing walker in the nation and perhaps the world to walk the wings of a World War II vintage Super Stearman without a tether.

“With Tony, you can tell he loves what he does, and that is what this project is all about – to start with the person and to take a photo that embodies who he or she is. We start with the spirit of the person, and we go from there,” Manarchy said. On July 18, Manarchy, his camera and his crew set out to capture veteran pilot and aerobatic pilot Dave Dacy, the Super Stearman and Tony Kazian in portrait and in action.

“I want America to fall in love with America again,” said Manarchy, who is still looking for sponsors for the year-long project. “It costs an incredible amount of money and takes a huge amount of time to shoot with and develop this film.”

Kazian said he was thrilled to be a part of the book and the documentary because, “My father was such a great wing walker and, for me, being a wing walker, carrying on the family name and doing something like this – it makes me feel like I am keeping his name alive.”

Several years ago, Kazian, his world-renowned father, Johnny Kazian, and his son Nish Kazian, performed – all three generations in one show, on one plane. “It was the highlight of my career,” he said. “It was my father’s last performance and my son’s first. No one has ever done that before. It was spectacular. It was incredible. And I got to be a part of that.”

Kazian has been wing walking with veteran pilot Dave Dacy for the last 18 years.

“I flew with Johnny Kazian for 10 years as my wing walker. When it was time for him to retire, Tony was the natural go-to person for the position,” Dacy said.

“He doesn’t use a tether. I think he gets that from his father. His father always said that it was mostly about the thrill for the audience, and to use a tether was to cheat the audience. Tony adheres to that, too,” Dacy said of Kazian. Dacy also said that it is a great responsibility to fly with Kazian on his wings. Sometimes he wishes Kazian would use a tether, but he respects Kazian’s decisions.

Manarchy worked with Dacy once before, nearly two decades ago when he was filming a Honey Nut Cheerios commercial and filmed Dave Dacy flying the Super Stearman while leaving a trail of Os in the sky.

When Manarchy had his hopes set on filming and photographing a wing walker, Dacy pulled through with Kazian.

“Shooting in Harvard was great. And Tony and Dave are two of the finest men I’ve ever met. They are phenomenal, passionate and polite. They are wonderful human beings and have all the qualities that make you proud to be their friend, brother or father,” Manarchy said.

“In fact, I would take down the cow and put Tony and Dave in bronze in the center of town,” he said.

The “Butterflies & Buffalo” project is expected to envelop vanishing cultures – and cultures specific to the jobs that aren’t as prolific anymore because they are either too difficult, too dangerous or don’t pay enough. Phase one was building the immense film camera, phase two is traveling the country for a one-year period, and phase three will be the documentation.

“It was a unique experience,” Dacy said of the filming and photographing. “Dennis and his team were complete professionals, and it was an enjoyable time. There were at least 10 crew members here between the filming crew and the camera crew.”

“To me, it feels like everything I’ve done in the last 18 years has come together. I want people to remember my father, and, by doing this [being a part of the documentary and film project], I think I do that,” Kazian said.

Information about the project, the camera and portions of the filming can be found at