Red Alexander | Folkstreams

Red Alexander (1998)

About the Film

This video documents the passions of 80 year old "Red" Alexander: building ships (both model and real), wood working, and story telling. Red was encouraged by the sale of one of his first model ships to one of his school teachers. In 1934 he joined the Shipwrights, Joiners, and Boat Builders Union - local 1149, in the San Francisco Bay Area. After 46 years of building real ships Red retired in 1980 as dockmaster at the Pacific Drydock in Alameda, Ca. Today his kitchen is a studio where he makes detailed models of all types of ships and boats.

Plenty of music floats through this moving story of a true folk artist and born story teller. During his time on the waterfront, Red saw the Oakland estuary change from a shallow backwater to a modern harbor. With this evolution his work also changed: much of the traditional aspects of the craft were almost lost as the basic materials changed from wood to plastic and steel, but Red tutored well a number of younger shipwrights. Red is visited by film maker Chris Simon and folklorist and fellow union member, Archie Green.

Red Alexander is available in VHS format from Arhoolie Productions.

More About This Film


For licensing, film rights and permissions, contact Chris Simon, Archie Green, the distributor Arhoolie Productions, Inc., or Folkstreams.

Film Details

  • Film by: Chris Simon, Archie Green
  • Produced by: Dr. Archie Green, Chris Simon
  • Cinematographer: Lou Weinert, Jaime Kibben
  • Sound: Chris Simon, Megan Sheer
  • Editor: Chris Simon
  • Other Credits: Featuring Dan Huff, Stephan McGarry, Archie Green, Thomas Umble. Special thanks to Charlie Seemann, Ellie Matus, Ed Kahn, Chris Strachwitz, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Karana Hattersley-Drayton.
  • Funding: The Fund for Folk Culture\'s California Folk Arts Regranting Program in partnership with The James Irvine Foundation and Henry & Virginia Anderson, Associated Third Party Administrators, Bay Cities Metal Trades Council, Carpenters for Change, Carpenters Union Local 22, Carpenters Union Local 152, Carpenters Union Local 586, Carpenters Union Local 713, Carpenters Union Local 2236, Louanne Green, Labor Heritage Foundation, McMorgan & Company, National Council for the Traditional Arts, Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, Pacific Coast Metal Trades District Council, Pile Drivers Union Local 34, United Labor Bank. Sponsored by The John Edwards Memorial Forum, The Arhoolie Foundation.
  • Original Format: Betacam SP
  • © 1998, The Arhoolie Foundation
  • 25mins, Color
  • Categories:
    Arts & Crafts, TraditionalNarrative & Verbal ArtsAging