Monday, June 27, 2011

Music Monday: Bob Dylan (Expat Daughter POV)

Yesterday was a super special day for me: my dad and I went to see Bob Dylan together in the Hamburg Stadtpark (central park).

Bob Dylan and Band at Hamburg Stadtpark
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I should add that my dad is a huge Bob Dylan fan - but has never seen him before. Furthermore I should add that for the last 15 years I've lived in the USA, while my dad and the rest of my family continued to live in Germany. So for all those years we pretty much missed out on going to shows or other events together.

Spending more time with my family is the main reason why I'm currently back in Germany (and thus  experiencing some kind of odd ex-expat phenomenon).

Finally taking my dad to see Bob Dylan was a total dream come true. By the way, the last show we went to together was Lloyd Cole in New Orleans in 1998.

We got to the venue super early so we could stand pretty much up front, which was a bit taxing while we waited for 1 1/2 hours in the heat. After all we're not the youngest (well, my dad is still 2 years younger than Bob Dylan). But it was so worth it!

When Bob Dylan and his band came on stage we could see every expression and appreciate how much fun they had on stage. What struck me the most was probably how much Dylan was laughing and smiling.

Bob Dylan smiles in Hamburg
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Of course, I was in awe of experiencing such a legend perform live. It was a pleasure to realize how much more I like his older man's voice than I liked his younger voice. All together the interpretations of the songs were so different and fresh from the recordings I've heard over and over again through my life. I really loved the songs and (re)discovered some favorites.

For example, there's the ultimate expat song "Like A Rolling Stone".




Here a live version from 1966:

Timsah.com
İzleyin:

Oh, and of course my dad had a blast, too. I'm so grateful we could have this wonderful evening together. Thanks, Bob Dylan. 

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P.S.: My intention was to share a few other videos or recordings. But in Germany it's pretty much impossible to find Bob Dylan recordings online because of that whole GEMA and Sony thing. So maybe you can just put on your own old Dylan record and listen to "Don't think twice, it's alright" or "Ballad of a Thin Man"... 

P. P. S.: For once I took the rule "no cameras allowed" to heart and only took pictures with my phone. Yeah, not such great quality.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Prinzessinnengarten - In A Berlin Minute (Week 60)



Prinzessinnengarten (Princesses Garden) is an urban garden right at the Moritzplatz roundabout in Kreuzberg. It was started in 2009 by the non-profit Nomadisch Grün (Nomadic Green). The idea behind Nomadisch Grün is to create mobile gardens!

The 6000 square meters are rented from the city of Berlin and maintained by friends, neighbors and other interested people. Anyone can shop here (including "harvest your own"), anyone can hang out, anyone can help - through work or through "adopting a garden bed". There are vegetables and flowers and bees and events and an all-around pleasant and unique atmosphere.

Something that struck me especially about this garden was the fact that all the plants are grown in different containers instead of the ground: a method that could be adopted in any area where the soil may be hostile (like in our Brooklyn garden, which seems to hide all kinds of things I'd rather not know about). Of course, this also makes the garden mobile. Fascinating!

Young Vegetables Mural at Prinzessinnengarten
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Documentary filmmaker and opera set designer Susanna Boehm had suggested this garden as a subject for my In A Berlin Minute series last fall - but I actually never made it inside until visual and concept artist Sonya Schöberger suggested we'd meet there the same evening I filmed "Oranienstrasse" - In A Berlin Minute (Week 59). As a matter of fact, the extended version (Bus M 29) of that video even shows glimpses of Prinzessinnengarten.

I had no idea there was such a lovely cafe in the middle of this urban garden and I promptly returned with Scott and my dad, Günter Westphal, who was visiting that weekend and who is big into urban gardening and alternative urban development from below ("Stadtgestaltung von unten"). That's when I shot this video and that's why those two most important men in my life show up in the end of the video drinking my new favorite Lemonaid (from Hamburg).


Prinzessinnengarten Flower Princess
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Monday, June 20, 2011

MusicMonday: Belle and Sebastian - "Come On Sister" + "I Didn't See It Coming"

Doesn't anyone make music videos anymore?

Frustrated that I couldn't find any videos for any of my favorite songs from the last few weeks (besides the ones I had posted already), I was just about to post one of those songs that doesn't have a video, when I came across a favorite from last year that suddenly does have a new video: "We Don't Want Your Body" by Canadian band Stars from the 2010 album The Five Ghosts.

So it does happen - new videos are made for "old" songs! Hopefully this will also one day happen to "Helplessness Blues", "Two Against One", "Some Boys" and "You Told The Drunks I Knew Karate".

Except then I realized I couldn't embed that one. Oh, c'mon!

With new hope I dug a little further and discovered new videos for two (2) songs from last year's Belle and Sebastian album Write About Love. These two songs are about to be released (again) as a single and b-side with new remixes:

"Come On Sister" directed by Paul Fegan



"I Didn't See It Coming" directed (and animation) by Leslie Barnes



Friday, June 17, 2011

M29 Bus: Neukölln / Krzkln / Kreuzberg - In A Berlin Minute (Bonus Video Week 59)



Take the M29 Bus with me from Neukölln via Kreuzkölln (or if you want to embrace the uber-hipness or mega gentrification even more: Krzkln) to East Kreuzberg (SO 36 or X-berg, if you will) and back.

From Hermannplatz to Moritzplatz and back to Spreewaldplatz - along Sonnenallee, Glogauer Strasse, Ohlauerstrasse, Wiener Strasse and Oranienstrasse - all at 3 times the usual speed.

By the way, personally I think the more interesting parts come in the second half of the video.

This is a bonus clip to Oranienstrasse (M29) - In A Berlin Minute (Week 59), which shows only the famous Oranienstrasse (from West to East).

The song is called "Pieces of Me" and was written and performed by Jason Matherne and band for Goonygoogoo Productions.

Bus Stop at Görlitzer Bahnhof

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oranienstrasse (M29 Bus) - In A Berlin Minute (Week 58)



The Oranienstrasse in Eastern Kreuzberg (aka SO 36) is probably the best known and most popular street in Kreuzberg - offering lots of stores, restaurants and bars (and several websites about it). Predominately the vibes are punk, alternative and Turkish - however especially in the summer it's full of tourists and language students from all over Europe and the Americas, something that not all locals are excited about.

Recently I've taken the M29 bus up and down that street a lot to get from one part of Kreuzberg to another. So I thought you might enjoy the first row perspective from the double-decker bus as much as I do.

The video is sped up about 300%. Remember you can pause at any time if you want to look at something longer. The video was recorded around 8:30pm on a Tuesday.

The main one-minute video shows just the part of Oranienstrasse from Oranienplatz to Görlitzer Bahnhof (heading East).

The extended bonus video shows the entire ride from Hermannplatz to Moritzplatz and then back again from Moritzplatz to Spreewaldplatz.

The music is called "Pieces of Me" and was written and performed by Jason Matherne, Sparky and Steve for GoonyGooGoo Productions.


Oranienstrasse seen from Oranienplatz

Experiment Failed?

There was this theory that if you offer your product (software, film, music, etc.) for free online - you would get the word out about your product to many more people (especially if your advertising budget otherwise is nil) and thus might even increase your sales.

Let's be honest, the theory actually was: Yes, you really would increase your sales and make more money. People would know about it and use/watch/hear it and recommend it to others - those others might not have a fast Internet connection or prefer getting films or music the old-fashioned way: in physical form.

Did I mention the amount of people you could reach online? I mean it's a global network. Imagine that.

And let's not forget that if your work isn't one of the chosen few that gets a distribution deal or has a powerful producers rep, taking it online might be your only way to circumvent the gatekeepers (programmers of all sorts and the "open palms" of the pay-to-play places) and get your work out in front of a larger audience.

So pretty much as soon as we finished our documentary All God's Children, we knew we would at some point take our film online (maybe for bit-torrent download, probably for streaming). 


A quick recap of the film's story:
We did a tiny two-step on the festival circuit and quickly decided that it would be more efficient and beneficial to save the festival entry fees and to organize free public screenings directly where we could meet our target audience in person and discuss the film's subject. Generous donations from audience members, on-site DVD sales and the efforts of the local organizing partners made this amazing tour with All God's Children possible. And yes, it was a heck of a lot of work - but it was so worth it! 

After what we considered to be our best effort to try to get the film a distribution deal, TV airing (parts of it did air on Dutch TV last year) and selling DVDs (and downloads) through FilmBaby and amazon, the time had come this spring to finally release the documentary as a free online stream.

We were fully aware that this would be the end to any chances of getting it on television, but let's just be honest... In any case, by now DVD sales were declining, no one was organizing screenings anymore, we had moved to Berlin, I had finished a new film and frankly: it was time to get some closure. 

There are all kinds of websites that offer to host films, like Netflix or Snag Films. But because we're kind of web-savvy and have a relationship to blip.tv already and because this year I seriously embraced the ability of sharing work and communicating with audiences on YouTube, we decided to do this last step on our own as well.

Last but not least, I thought this would be a great test for the future release of All's Well and Fair, which I'm thinking of taking straight online. So building a community on YouTube seemed a good first step.

One last celebratory screening (and European premiere) on May 18th and on May 19th I pressed the "make public" button and our entire film, separated in 10 parts, appeared online - for anyone with an Internet connection to watch for free anytime, anywhere.

Some people and publications, like Backstage, Bob Felton and SIM Missionary Kid Survivors wrote about it. Others I thought would, unfortunately did not.

And then there were all the social networks and the awesome people who re-posted the film's link on Facebook, Twitter etc. Thank you everyone who did! I know who you are and I'm so grateful!

We had other great support, like Eric from blip.tv who put the first episode on their front page and Dark who suggested the film to Top Documentary Films who did embed the film, which is how it apparently reached thousands of people via their inbox, which is where Trixie and Sherry Austin saw it and decided to "make it go viral"...

Within two weeks over 5,000 people had watched the first part of the film - and over 1,500 had watched the entire film. And honestly, it's not an uplifting film to watch. By now the numbers are over 7,000 and over 2,000 respectively. 


If after this long post you still remember the theory posed at the beginning, you may be wondering how many more DVDs we sold since launching the film online. The answer is 2 (two).

Kind of seems like a no brainer to most. Well, you're giving it away for free, so why would people buy it?

Well, there was this theory...

But maybe things have changed enough since this theory began circling. Maybe by now enough people have fast Internet connections and they don't mind watching a commercial every 10 minutes and they don't care anymore about having the physical DVD on their shelf to watch anytime or lend a friend - they can just share the link via Facebook...

In writing about this experiment I shouldn't leave out the fact that we did make some theoretical money via revenue share from ads placed before the blip and before or next to the YouTube clips. How much? Um, see, people don't want you to talk about it, but let's just say we haven't reached the three-figures yet. I can tell you however that YouTube pays a lot less than blip does.

The other aspect: building an audience for the next film via YouTube subscriptions? Yeah... no. People watched, but they didn't subscribe. (Most people don't know about subscribing to YouTube channels, nor did they actually watch ON YouTube, but via embeds of the YouTube videos.)

So, experiment failed?

You know what? No, it didn't fail. Because thousands of people sat down and watched the story of the children of Mamou. They probably would not have known about it otherwise.

And it's not even the numbers - but it's about some of the reactions we have received. I think the one that I was most grateful to receive was from a woman who said her mother had attended such a school and the daughter finally understood what had been going on with her mother. That's who we made the film for - for that woman and her mother, so they could talk, so they could understand. How else would they have known about this film? How else would she have known to get this information back to me? How else would I have known that we reached this essential goal?

Rich Darr in All God's Children
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But I don't want to come across as pretentious, insincere, completely selfless or rich (although that last part would be nice). I want to be honest: making a film is a lot of work and organizing screenings and releasing a film online and promoting it and translating it and posting subtitles and all that, I'd also consider work. And it would be nice to get paid. Actually it's necessary to make money with this work to keep going and do more such work. For example I still need to make time to add the German subtitles.

Imagine 2,000 people would each have given 1 Dollar... 7,000 people each would have given a Quarter...

So I can see from this experiment that a different way of streaming films and music (the one where people pay for a subscription or for an online rental) would financially make more sense. And I'll put that into consideration when releasing All's Well and Fair.

But I will not regret that we released All God's Children this way!


If you've actually read this far, then maybe you care to support this film (and the next) and wonder how you could do that. Here are a few ideas. Thank you for considering. 

- Buy a DVD on FilmBaby or on amazon.com

- Do watch the film online. But preferably on blip.tv

- If you watch on YouTube, clicking on an ad makes a surprisingly big difference.
 
- Tell others about it. Send them this link:

- Write about the film on your blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Embed the blip.tv or YouTube videos.  Click on "share", then on "embed", copy + paste.

- Connect to the film on Facebook and Twitter - keep building the network.

- Subscribe to our GHWP YouTube channel (you have to have a YouTube account).

- Commenting on the videos on blip or YouTube might get other people to watch. Commenting on amazon might even encourage other people to purchase the DVD. 

- If you are a librarian, professor or work for a university or corporation, please be so kind and purchase the legally-authorized version for commercial public, educational or corporate use. By the way, we know which universities and libraries have purchased the home-use DVD. I'm just saying...

- Hold a public screening of the film (I know it's a long shot, but you know we have all these great discussion materials available for free and the film really is best watched when followed by a discussion).

- If for any reason you can and want to financially support the film you can make a tax-deductible donation (over $100) via the International Documentary Association. For All God's Children and for All's Well and Fair.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Clixoom Interview


Clixoom is a German interview show published on YouTube and hosted by Christoph Krachten. It is currently the 25th most viewed Partner channel (Germany) and the 3rd most viewed Reporter channel (Germany) and the German Reporter channel with the most subscribers (followed by one of my other favorites FilmKritikTV).

The interviews are purposefully casual (tiny crew, no make-up or fancy studio), which gives them a very personal feel. The episodes in theory are unusually long for a web show, but they get broken up into pieces and then listed as playlists.

The guests come mostly from German pop culture: musicians, actors and other popular YouTubers. If they're musicians, there are often even performances. Another aspect that makes the show so popular must be the segments where the guest answers questions from the viewers that have been submitted as videos previously.

Altogether the show stands out by utilizing many of YouTube's tools (video response, playlist, annotations, etc.).
 

Recently Clixoom launched another channel called ClixoomSpezial with the goal to introduce YouTube channels that have less than 10,000 subscribers.

Initially Bjorkfan77 suggested my channel GNYBerlin (where I post my In A Berlin Minute videos) - after I shared the news with some of my viewers a bunch of them were so kind to vote for me. Y'ALL ROCK!!!

My channel was chosen and in April I met Christoph at a YouTube event in Berlin - and we did an interview.  

Christoph Krachten and Luci Westphal
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Yesterday I realized that the interview has been online for about 10 days. Of course, I also had to realize right away that people (read: teenage boys) don't write very nice things about older ladies who try to make videos that aren't about video games. They even proudly boast when they give someone's video a thumbs down.

So even though I was very nervous during the interview, yet sound like I'm full of myself, I hate being in front of the camera, can't stand watching myself and feel very awkward about touting an interview about me, I DO love making videos and sharing them with others. Therefore showing this may get more people to watch my minutes. And because I'm pathetically thin-skinned, I do appreciate encouragement.

So if you'd like, please check out the video and give it a thumbs up to balance out all the thumbs down from people who think I look like Chancellor Merkel or talk like her or make videos like her???



Of course, the biggest thank you goes to Christoph Krachten for conducting this interview for his channel and for truly being that easy going as he comes across on screen, which made the whole interview a much nicer experience.

Monday, June 13, 2011

MusicMonday: Best Coast - "Gone Again"


American TV series (or really collection of various comic series) Adult Swim together with car maker KIA is publishing a series of free mp3 downloads over the next few weeks.


This week's mp3 will be released tomorrow: "Gone Again" by California trio Best Coast. The song and the video (directed by Daniel Garcia) fit my current mood quite perfectly for various reasons.

Hope you're having a better day ;-)



Friday, June 10, 2011

Road Trip - In A Berlin Minute (Week 58)


Road Trip - In A Berlin Minute (Week 58) [HD] from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

Four days of relaxation, socializing and music: Judith and I went on a road trip to Haseldorfer Marsch, St. Peter Ording at the North Sea, back to Haselau and on to Hamburg for the street fair at Münzplatz in Hamburg (followed by a night on the Reeperbahn and fish breakfast at the Hamburger Fischmarkt).

Altogether we drove for 999.9 kilometers, but I only recorded the 888.8 mark...

Heading to the beach
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Wish we could do it all over again this weekend!

The chilled song is called "Always Makin' Me Blue" and was written and performed by Jason Matherne of Goonygoogoo Productions.

Heading back from the beach

Monday, June 6, 2011

MusicMonday: Road Trip to the Sea (Clara Luzia, Philip Poisel, Cara Beth, Fanta 4, Okkervil River, Fettes Brot)

Last night I returned from a wonderful 4-day road trip with my friend Judith. In Germany it was a long weekend due to the holiday Himmelfahrt.

Judith and I in a "Strandkorb"
[photo by Judith via self timer]

It was a bit of "Fahrt ins Blaue" (trip into the blue), which means we didn't have our destination all planned). We ended up visiting my family in the beautiful Haseldorfer Marsch, spent a day on the beach of the North Sea in St. Peter-Ording, attended the Münzviertel Street Fair, organized by my dad, Günter Westphal, and concluded three days of relaxation with a night of running around the Hamburg harbor and St. Pauli district with friends, which led to the classic sunrise Fischbrötchen (roll with fish) at the Hamburger Fischmarkt just after sunrise.

A special thank you to my mom, Erik and Tina for all their wonderful hospitality! 

Needless to say it was a wonderful experience, which also included a lot of driving and music-listening.

Here are a few fitting songs from the coast...

"Es gibt im Leben viele Zeiten, das hier sind die guten"
[literally: there are a lot of times in life, these are the good]






"Tag am Meer" [day at the sea] (unplugged) by Die Fantastischen Vier



"Tag am Meer" (official trippy video and album version) by Die Fantastischen Vier

"Boatwatcher" by Cara Beth Satalino (whom Judith and I saw recently playing with her band Witches together with forgetters at Schokoladen






"Lost Coastlines" in an acoustic version by AC Newman and Will Sheff



"Nordisch by Nature" [Northern by Nature] by Fettes Brot



Friday, June 3, 2011

Outdoor Sports - In A Berlin Minute (Week 57)



It's the season for outdoor sports! And here in Berlin there are so many to choose from... they certainly didn't all fit into this one minute video. Which one is your favorite?

Kite land boarding, land windsurfing, Jugger, skateboarding, bicycling or the Berlin favorite: table tennis?

Thank you to Andreas Janke (of Fumanchu) and Ferhad Istebai for the table tennis, Michel Funke for the skateboarding and Mr. Blue Eyes for the swinging.

This video features another great song by Jason Matherne of Goonygoogoo Productions: "Dixie Charlie".

And did you notice this video came with a colorful and spanking-new title card? A big thanks to Scott Solary for the design!

Michel Funke in Friedrichshain