Monday, April 26, 2010

MusicMonday: "Leaving On A Jet Plane" for "Berlin"

Tomorrow I'm getting on a flight to Berlin, where Scott and I want to make a home for a while. The song that keeps coming to my mind is the same one that I kept humming 15 1/2 years ago when I was leaving Gainesville, Florida to return home to Germany for an undetermined amount of time: "Leaving On A Jet Plane" as performed by Peter, Paul and Mary.

Maybe it was more fitting then, because when I did come back to Florida a year later, I was wearing the ring on my finger and Scott and I were married 3 days later.

As uncertain as our future in Berlin is at this point - it's a wonderful feeling to know that this time Scott will join me there (in a few weeks) and that I still wear that same ring. I'm a lucky lady! But in the meantime I will miss him and the cats and New York and my awesome friends tremendously. Thanks to everyone who has been celebrating our friendship in the last few weeks. I'm excited to see you again - wherever our paths cross next... back here in Brooklyn or maybe in Germany...

Of course I'm super psyched about being in Berlin. There are many great songs about the city, but I'd consider "Berlin" by Ideal the ultimate one.

Live in 1981:

... and the album version:

A great English song from the same year: "Berlin" by Fisher Z

Here's something a bit more modern: "Dickes B" by Seeed

And because I still need to finish packing and I'm starting to get carried away with listening to Berlin songs, I better finish this blog post by saying: if you have extra time, check out these songs by Peter Fox, by Angelika Express and by Voxtrot...

... and this one goes out to Scott again: "First We Take Manhattan" by Leonard Cohen (live on German TV in 1988 with German subtitles!) I cannot wait for our adventure!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spring Flowers & Spring Cleaning... Of Your Mac

Incredibly fragrant lilac in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on Tuesday

It's that time: the sun is shining, fresh air is blowing through the open window, maybe you're getting on a flight to Germany on Tuesday (or sometime in the near future pending any further volcano outbreaks)... in any case: it's time to sort through your closet, clean out the old clutter from your apartment and sweep behind the sofa. 

 Tulips in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Why not do the same on your Mac? 

A while back I was puzzled why my laptop only had about a gig of storage space left. What was cluttering up my hard drive? At the time, my filmmaker and Mac wizard friend Bo Mehrad recommended Tjark Derlien's software Disk Inventory X, which you can download for free (although donations are welcome). 

Screen shot of colorful DiskInventory X

DiskInventory will scan your hard drive and, through a helpful graph, show you what kinds of stuff is taking up space on your hard drive. I was amazed to find out that I had dozens of gigs of storage space clogged up with sound files that were samples for the programs GarageBand and Soundtrack Pro - two programs I wasn't even using. It felt so cleansing to delete all those unnecessary files... 

Happy Spring Cleaning!

Magnolia in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Friday, April 23, 2010

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first romance novel I've ever read (not counting Sookie Stackhouse books*, which now seem to be a mere gateway drug). This is the first historical romance novel I've ever read. This particular kind of historical romance novel set in the early 1800s is like a steamy Jane Austen novel that doesn't stop at declarations of disdain and love but moves right into kisses and more - right after declarations of disdain or love. Sarah MacLean describes her work on her Twitter page as "I write books. There's smooching in them." Well, let me tell you there's a lot more than just smooching in them, a lot more... Who knew? Well all the lovers of romance novels must know.

But enough about the titillating "naughtiness". It's also a wonderfully inspiring story about the empowerment of a meek and insecure woman who breaks free from the suffocating niche society has pushed her into. When she decides to do what SHE wants, she embarks on a journey to really become who she is and in the process gets discovered and admired by those who have overlooked her before. I curtsy to you, Sarah MacLean, you created a fantastic literary treat with very memorable and nuanced characters, a driving plot line and delicious smooches. I cannot wait for the follow up "Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing A Lord". Thanks for getting me hooked ;-)

For full disclosure: I'm proud to call Sarah a friend. But I don't think this changes anything at all about this book being a fantastically entertaining read. It was just amazing to keep thinking: Sarah thought this up and put it in words. I honestly can't wait to read more of her books, more of other friends books, see more of my friends films, hear their new records... You are all such an inspiration!

* book 10 coming out next week...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pictures from Minerva Screening of "All God's Children"

 Stained glass window at Minerva United Methodist Church

On Sunday, April 18th, All God's Children screened at the United Methodist Church in Minerva, Ohio. Our heartfelt thanks go to Denise Freeland, for organizing the screening, to Reverend Kerry King, for hosting the event and to film participants Dianne Darr Couts and David Darr for conducting the Q&A. 

Dianne sent me a few great pictures from the event.

Minerva United Methodist Church

The magnificent glass entrance at Minerva United Methodist Church 

Dianne Darr Couts and Denise Freeland

David Darr and Rev. Kerry King

David Darr answers questions after the screening

Monday, April 19, 2010

(A personal) MusicMonday: "There's XXXX (Within My Heart)" - You Say Party! We Say Die!

 Scott Miller on his wedding day

A few days ago one of my dearest friends, Debbie, lost her husband Scott, whom I unfortunately only met a few times (including their wedding) because they live in Atlanta. I liked him a lot instantly - because he's a great guy - but first and foremost because it was so apparent how genuine and strong their love for each other was. I had missed Debbie ever since she left New York (and I knew she missed NYC sometimes), but when I saw them together for the first time, it was so obvious that this is where she belonged.

Scott and Debbie

Scott had been struggling with severe health issues and had been on the list for a new kidney and pancreas for a while. The health issues caused a lot of hardship for them through the years and I always admired their strength and energy, in their work with the Scott Miller Fundraiser, figuring out the medical and insurance issues and dealing with life under pressure. At the end of all the struggle he was supposed to have a new kidney and they were supposed to have a great life together. It's just heart-breaking that it turned out otherwise.

Before sending Debbie a mix tape a few days ago, I decided to delete "There Is XXXX (Within My Heart)" (a song about sadness and love) because the band's name You Say Party! We Say Die! seemed to be in poor taste at this time. Then I read this morning that Devon Clifford, the 30-year-old drummer of that very band, had passed away yesterday as well (due to a brain hemorrhage while playing on stage). The song itself suddenly felt even more appropriate.

It's all so unpredictable and so much is uncontrollable.

On a trivial side note: I was supposed to move to Germany today, but due to the unpredictable volcano and cloud of ashes, my flight was canceled and I don't know when I'll be able to go. Yet, what is that in the face of death? Nothing. Debbie herself took time to comment on my flight dilemma with "Don't fight it, sweetie."

And all these words keep ringing in my head during these challenging days: Don't fight it. Because you can't control it. So enjoy what you have while you have it. And instead focus on the love within your heart.

Thinking of Debbie & Scott and the special love they had, of their families and friends and of Devon Clifford and his loved ones...

Now I have cried
My share of tears in the night
And felt the pain
An emptiness deep inside

Then a beautiful bird
Soared into my life
And with wings outstretched
It flew straight into my heart

There is love within my heart
There's love, love, love...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"All's Well and Fair" DVDs are here & now we need some help

DVD label art

This week we officially finished my new documentary All's Well and Fair. After Tom finalized the sound mix and I tried to even out color and contrast, the last steps were: creating a DVD menu and a DVD label and making a master DVD to drop off for duplication.

DVD menu

Just like with our All God's Children screener DVDs, we used RL Labs, who provided a very quick turnaround and delivered a great product (and who do some of their sales through their miniature trains store!). I now have 100 screener DVDs of All's Well and Fair!

And what will I do with 100 DVDs? Do you get one?
Not quite yet. 

These are just the promotional screener copies, that are mainly used to show the film to festival programmers, press, distributors, sales agents and anyone else who could help get the film out to a wider audience. So if you're any of those people, please let me know (info [at] and I'll send you one. Otherwise, I think it'll be much more exciting for us to watch the film together at a screening in the near future. And then you can get the DVD when there's an official for-sale broadcast/ DVD release.

Talking about DVD duplication, festival submissions, promotions, a premiere screening and making a final master for the broadcast/home DVD version... all those things cost money. While it would be nice to think that a distributor would one day pay for a final color correct, uprez and DVD replication, to get to that point everything else we'll have to pay out-of-pocket, out of an empty pocket. So I'm back to fundraising again (In 2007 I received a grant from the Jerome Foundation).

If you can, please support this film with a donation - any amount will help tremendously.

To give you an idea of some of the costs:
Sending DVD in the mail with delivery confirmation: $2.53
Submission fee per festival: $35 - $150
Duplication of 100 DVDs: $185
Final color correction: $3,000

As with All God's Children, everyone who donates gets listed in the credits of the final for-sale version. Everyone who donates $100 or more, will receive a DVD of that version (make sure you leave your address). For larger donations, you can donate via our fiscal sponsor, International Documentary Association [ida], so that you can claim the donation for a not-for-profit on your 2010 taxes.

To donate through paypal:

Big thanks to Sean Tice (Varsity Productions), Stephen Samaniego and Louisa Bonny for donating this week! You rock!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"All God's Children" screens in Ohio - again!

 David, Rich, Dianne and John Darr in Africa in the 1960s

This Sunday, April 18th, will mark the fifth public screening of All God's Children in Ohio.

The free event will take place at Minerva United Methodist Church in Minerva. 

Through the eyes of three families, All God’s Children tells the personal story of the first boarding school for children of Protestant missionaries to be investigated for abuse at the hands of the parents’ missionary colleagues. The clergy abuse survivors and parents share their journey of seeking justice, redemption and healing.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with film participants Dianne Darr Couts and David Darr.

Light refreshments will be served after the screening. A nursery will be available for children.

A brief article about the screening appeared in this week's Minerva Leader - quoting David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP): "There's much we can learn from this film -- about predators and about 'good people' whose silence enables predators. At the same time, we can learn about how courage and unified action can shed a light on horrific crimes and help deeply wounded victims recover."

P.S.: This is the 100th post about All God's Children on this blog. I figured that's something to commemorate.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"All's Well and Fair" is online

These days any self-respecting film is expected to have an online presence - and not just a website, oh no, you gotta be social networking, right? And why should you wait to set those up until the film is finished and available to the public? No reason.

The Twitter page for All's Well and Fair I already set up during the sound & color work two weeks ago. Today the other staples followed: Facebook, MySpace and the official All's Well and Fair website.

There isn't too much content yet - but I'll be building everything up over the next few weeks. Maybe some of the All's Well and Fair stars will even chime in a bit...

So please check out the links, befriend us and be the first to know when the trailer is uploaded! Or at this stage: be the first to leave a comment somewhere... 

Monday, April 12, 2010

MusicMonday: Jemina Pearl, Clincial Trials & Standard Fare

Because of all that's been going on with finishing All's Well and Fair, I haven't had much time to blog or do a lot of things. So here, for a quick musical moment, are songs that I already had on my list for favorite songs of the 1st 1/4 of 2010 but which are timely because I think they channel the spirit and musical tone of my new documentary. As a matter of fact, the singer from Clinical Trials, Somer Bingham, is even from Florida. Wonder if she's been through Gainesville...

Despite the fear of trivializing something real and sad and big, I'd like to dedicate the first song to Debbie and Scott, who are in my thoughts and heart today more than ever before. They don't hate people - but then I don't think that that's what this song is really about. It's about love and finding the one that fits just perfectly with you - like Debbie and Scott Miller. 

<a href="">Polly Got Away by Clinical Trials</a>

<a href="">Love Doesn't Just Stop by Standard Fare</a>

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Color Correction is Done!

The Work Station
(And yes this photo could actually use some color correction since that mouse and the calendar should be white.)

After some complications and setbacks, I'd like to officially announce that the color correction or color grading, if you will, of All's Well and Fair is done! Although I anticipate that the documentary may go through another round of color work before it will be available for sale or broadcast or whatever may be in its future down the line. But for all intents and purposes in the near future (festivals, screenings & other promotions) the picture and sound are set!

There had also been a lot of back and forth about the 4:3 ratio the 1996 VHS footage was shot in (and the 2006 DV footage - although it was framed for a 16x9 crop) and the 16:9 ratio that is common today. Part of that discussion was an upres (increase the resolution/overall images size) to HD (high definition). Big decisions videomakers have to consider in today's HD 16:9 world if they've shot their projects over the last few years when SD (standard definition) 4:3 was still more common or more accessible for us in the DIY crowd. In my case many tests and several discussions with peers have led to All's Well and Fair staying in SD 4:3. But again: for now. 

 The screen on the right shows the clip after the brightness & colors have been adjusted. The screen on the left shows a split between before (right half) and after (left half).

For those of you who want to know more: Color correction/grading is the process in which you make sure all colors in the image look the way they should or the way you want them to look. You go through every clip of your video and make sure the brightness and darkness are set correctly (there are broadcast rules of how dark or bright you can go - rules which unfortunately are even different in various countries). You make adjustments to assure that your blacks are black, your whites are white and that human skin looks like human skin and not like Marge Simpson's skin. This gets complicated a bit if footage is filmed under colored lights (where your white would actually be more in that colored shade) or in a dark area (where what you think should be white, should really be gray), etc. Add to that your own vision of what you'd like your film to look like (you want a warm look or a cool one or a very saturated one, etc.) and the consideration that a great latitude in color spectrum may have effects on your project looking more like video or more like film. Now imagine mixing 14 year old VHS footage with more modern DV footage... 

Yikes, I know, it can get complicated and sometimes late at night you wake up and think: hm, maybe I should've just left all the colors and brightness levels the way they were shot because that one guy in the gray suit ended up looking a little more pink in the face than he should have. This is often quickly followed by the thought: maybe my next video should be done entirely in black and white...

What's next? DVD menu, DVD cover, DVD duplication, moving to Germany...