Thursday, January 31, 2008

They're dropping like flies.

So quick, while there is still hope a somewhat qualified person might just become president this time, check out these candidate mash-ups from

Some candidates are more, some less qualified. You choose (I can't -> not a citizen). One is unfortunately already gone. I hear there are more to come (drop-outs & videos).

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Favorite 3 in January

Maya Lin's Vietnam Memorial, Washington, DC

I finally watched Freida Lee Mock's 1995 documentary Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision - and highly recommend it. It's a very simple, old school portrait documentary of the Vietnam Memorial architect Maya Lin. What moved me so much was first of all Maya Lin's singular "strong clear vision" of creating work that inspires people to feel and think, and then secondly seeing exactly that effect on the people viewing the memorials designed by her. It's touching to see a life lived with such purpose and true achievement.

Emanuelle Seigner in The Diving Bell and The Butterfly

Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and The Butterfly (Le Scaphandre et le papillon) is simply beautiful. Yes, I had tears running down my face many times, but it's not a prime time soft filtered slow-motion made for TV tear-jerker. What makes a difference, if nothing else, is the strong sense of aesthetics: the entire film seems to be one weightless floating series of images, coming in and out of focus, over-layed and often just outside of grasp; beautiful landscapes of nature and of the faces of women leaning in close. All that in contrast with the ugliness of former Elle editor Jean-Dominque Bauby's situation: he is almost completely paralyzed except for the use of his left eye. Inspiring production design, refreshing music choices, excellent performances. The first act solely from Bauby's perspective is astonishing - but I'm glad that they smoothly moved out of that perspective and mixed in the outside perspective and flashbacks. It's a celebration of life and a contemplation of sin and punishment - without ever being preachy or going too deep. Weightless in its style, heavy on emotion.

a Baltimore newsroom (latest focus of The Wire: the media)

Last, but not least, I can't let January pass by without noting with excitement: The Wire is back!!! The last season of this fabulous TV series about the cops, drug dealers, politicians, educators, laborers and now also journalists of Baltimore has started. And it's not disappointing. Especially now that Omar Little is back...

While you're waiting for next Sunday, here's a classic moment from a previous season: The Omar Little - Brother Mouzone Confrontation:

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Exquisite Corpse Segment #2 Shoot

This weekend I was able to film for my documentary Exquisite Doc on the set of the second segment. Of course, I can't say too much about it, since all segments are supposed to remain shrouded in secrecy except for the last minute of each segment which will be seen also only by the successive segment's filmmaker.

But I think I'm not revealing too much with the following.

The second segment is being made by the all-female creative collective Indecent Exposure.

I have to thank everyone of them and their crew for being so open and inviting towards me filming them in the middle of their set. It was a real pleasure to watch this collaborative group so harmoniously work together with each other and outsiders. A true testament to how well people can work together creatively.
Of course, I don't know what went on when I wasn't there with my camera running... Actually they were so kind to record some of the things I would have missed otherwise, like their own conversations and interactions on and off set. They're even saving email conversations for me to integrate into the film. See, they're even team players on other people's projects. So thank you Ali Mao, Sara Wolkowitz, Mary Williams, Daonne Huff, and Heather Trobe.

Striking was that producer and editor Ali, began editing the material shot in the morning while shooting commenced in the afternoon in the same room. Not only does it show how tight the turn-around time is from one segment to the other (they have to hand over their last minute this week), but also how far we've come with just being able to plug in a P2 card into your Mac Book Pro and just start editing right then and there.

Did I just give away too much by admitting they shot on P2 cards? It's going to be quite a task for all of us to keep mum about what we see. Especially since it's all so fascinating.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

3-Doc Weekend

Granted, it was a long weekend with the celebration of the honorable Martin Luther King on Monday. But still - working on three different documentaries in one weekend is a personal record.

By now I've pretty much accepted that I'll be doing a voice over in All's Well and Fair and spent part of the weekend whipping the first act back into shape with the new VO (more about that and the struggle with it another time).

Part of Saturday and all day Sunday I was shooting for Exquisite Doc: interviews, a film set, a meeting of the 2nd segment filmmaker (group) and the big meeting of anyone available to vote on the actual rules of the experimental film project.
Filming the hand-over of the first segment's last minute to the second group of filmmakers (Thursday) and then knowing the first segment (keeping it a secret of course) and listening to the second group discussing their ideas for their segment, it really sank in what amazing potential this project has and how watching the final segments will take us on an unpredictable journey of imagination. I'm totally thrilled. The 2nd segment will be shot this coming weekend.

On Monday, Scott and I finally managed to sync up the All God's Children temporary sound mix, that sound designer/editor Tom Lino had given us the week before. There are still a few tweaks left to do... but the final version of this documentary seems finally within reach. I cannot wait.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Wallstrip's New Host

Wallstrip has a charming and fun new host: Julie Alexandria. Here is a funny confessional video featuring Julie and the crew. Who knew all of them had such comic abilities? My only complaint: NOT ENOUGH KATIE!*

*Since Katie happens to be one of the kindest, most giving friends, I have to admire her acting skills.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Exquisite Corpse Film Project & SXSW Panel

Believe it or not, but on a spur of the moment this Saturday I decided to start yet another documentary film. I began shooting already on Sunday.
This should be a short doc for a change. But I've thought that before...

The documentary is about a fascinating collaborative film project
called Tag, You're It! The project was conceived by Brooklyn filmmaker friends (one of which is in the MIH filmmakers' collective with me) and is based on the Surrealist exercise of Exquisite Corpse.

The initiators and executive producers (
Meghan Scibona, Jason Nunes, Don Downie, Stacie Scaduto) in their own words:
Tag, You're It! is a project that explores how the exquisite corpse experiment could be applied to film making. In 2008 a group of film makers will come together to create an exquisite corpse film, collaboratively creating a feature film. Each team will create a 4-5 minute segment on film or video. When they are finished they will pass the last minute of their film to the next team, along with a collection of headshots of the actors involved, and a prop or object featured in their segment. No other information will change hands. The next team must incorporate one of these elements into their piece and will have 2 weeks to write, cast, shoot, and edit their segment. [...]

The teams will span the spectrum of story creators. Traditional film makers-both narrative and documentary, conceptual video artists, playwrights, animators-all are fair game. [...]

Tag, You're It! will be kicked off at the 2008 South By Southwest Film/Music/Interactive festival. A March 11th panel will discuss the challenges presented by collaborative story creation. Issues of ownership, creative control, traditional story structure, and what happens to all of these when they are shattered by an arbitrary set of rules that mandate surrendering control.
Originally I was planning to be one of those collaborative filmmakers and direct a segment to be included, but then I decided to make an independent documentary about all the makers and the process instead. It was a bit of a tough decision because by documenting everything and having insight into all the different segments, of course I couldn't be one of the filmmakers myself (or I would know too much, defeating one of the purposes of the exercise). But I just couldn't let this opportunity slip by to explore and capture all aspects of such an exciting art project and therefore gave up the opportunity to be one of the actual filmmakers participating.

If you're interested in applying to be one of the filmmakers feel free to contact me at this point and I will pass on your information. And as soon as the website for Tag, You're It! is be up I'll post the link and the official email address here.

This past weekend the executive producers of Tag, You're It! shot the first/opening segment (the only one they will have creative control over). All four of them have been collaborating for a while as the company Small Media XL, creating among other videos the viewer-participation online show podOpera Brooklyn.

So the actual Exquisite Corpse Film Project has begun...!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Gainesville Band Commercial

Yesterday I caught this Converse commercial on TV featuring a Gainesville band (Mightaswell). In one image, one song clip and some writing they do a great job capturing the feel of that music scene, that town, that life.

I have mixed feelings about promoting a commercial for a major corporation using the DIY spirit of a college town music scene (and Gainesville in particular) and DIY filmmaking conventions, while I am at the same time working on a film (All's Well and Fair) about people from that very town and scene who make a point of living outside the commercial and mainstream world. Feels a bit hypocritical.

But then again I'm thrilled to see this Gainesville/DIY spirit captured and put out there for the world to see.

And I can't deny Converse and Chucks in particular being a part of that whole scene. Even though I myself have to wear the $14 Target version.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Still editing...

... All's Well and Fair...

Tina Bushnell in All's Well and Fair and on all monitors

... but now on two monitors.

The old Sony VAIO has almost been completely retired (as soon as All God's Children gets out of sound design next week and we have a final output of that documentary the PC and Avid will officially be gone). So I already hooked up the monitor from the PC to the Mac laptop and it's a whole new editing world.