Former air force pilot Elan Frank left Israel for the wilds of Alaska and settled in Hollywood, where he has been making documentaries, among other topics, on powerful women – like Sarah Palin
For 11 years now Frank, 54, has been living and working in Los Angeles, where he directs and produces documentary films made in America and abroad. His production company is based in Hollywood and his films have been broadcast on the National Geographic channel, the Discovery Channel and elsewhere. One particularly successful movie, about Republican 2008 vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, was sold to the Fox News Channel. [..]
In 2006, Frank went back to the idea he had been considering for 20 years, since his time in Alaska, and decided to make a series about women around the world.
“I believe in the power of women and I wanted to develop a project that showed that. I made a film in Nepal about a nun – who is also a famous singer there – who established a school for nuns. In Israel I filmed a Bedouin woman who is helping to advance other Bedouin women, and then I went to Alaska to a place very near the North Pole and spent time at an aviation company of light planes, run by women. I joined them on flights to places where I, as an experienced pilot, wouldn’t dare land.”
A short time later his “love story” with the woman who was, among other things, a symbol of the State of Alaska began: then-governor Sarah Palin.
“After thorough research I got to Sarah Palin,” recalls Frank, “because at the time she was the first woman elected to the position after 60 or 70 years of male rule. Not only that, she had succeeded in getting elected after fighting and defeating corruption. I contacted her and suggested interviewing her for the film. At first she hesitated.”
At the time Palin was in Washington, meeting with the Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, who was considering options for the vice-presidential slot. Nonetheless, Palin met with Frank, at his office in Los Angeles, and they chatted for two hours.
What did you talk about ?
“We talked about Alaska and I told her about the film. She said: ‘Come to Alaska and we’ll talk.’ A month later I took my camera and went up. I spent three days with her one-on-one. I followed her schedule, everything she was doing. She never asked me to leave or to stop filming even when her aides wanted her to. She let me see how she ran her office. I also filmed her with her family, her husband, the children. Very intimate moments. She was open, friendly and genuine. She impressed me very much. She has ‘star quality.’ It doesn’t matter what you think about her, she has an attractive image.”
In the media she didn’t come across as a very intelligent woman.
“Look, the air force gave me tools to analyze and diagnose. My impression of her was that she is a very ‘cool,’ pleasant woman, who knows how to ask the right questions.”
Frank completed the shooting and began to edit the material, when Palin was selected as McCain’s running mate. “Through my agent we let it be known I had footage about her in hand – and then the rush began,” he recounts. “All the television networks in the United States, and I’m not exaggerating, wanted to see the material. In the end I decide to go with the Fox network.”
“Because Palin had been with me 100 percent – I didn’t want anyone to use my material against her, and I trusted the Fox network. From the footage I had, they made a film that got the highest viewer ratings in Fox’s history.”
So thanks to Palin you’ve become involved with Fox News?
“Yes, that’s how my romance with the Fox network began, especially as I had become the No. 1 expert in the United States on Sarah Palin. They signed me up as a consultant – and Palin too.”
Are you in touch with her?
“Not closely, but I am working to bring her to Israel.”