Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Max von Milland - Leg di her (Asterix Recommends)

It's been a long while since Asterix has recommended music to me. But when he does, I usually like it - as I like this fuzzy warm (more hopeful than melancholy) song "Leg di her" by Max von Milland. And I can never resist a cinematic video.

By the way due to his South Tyrol accent,  I don't fully understand what he sings either. But the main chorus includes the appreciated and internationally common sentiment: lay down and tell me everything will be alright.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

New York City In A Day (NYC must-see) - In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 108)

What if you only have one day (or even just an afternoon) to explore New York City? This is the tour I would recommend!

New York City In A Day (NYC must-see) - In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 108) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

When Margaret Briggs came up from Florida for the premiere of All's Well and Fair it was her first time in NYC. Because the film premiere celebration (yay!!!) went rather late, we got a slow start the next day and actually didn't get going until the later afternoon.

I made a mental must-see list and off we ran. This is what we managed to see and I would recommend for anyone who only has a day [not all would fit into the video]:

Brooklyn Promenade with Manhattan skyline + Statue of Liberty + Brooklyn Bridge + East River views
Street Food (Mango Flower!)
Walk across Brooklyn Bridge (w/ views of Empire State Building, Manhattan Bridge + Dumbo)
street acrobats
[City Hall]
[St. Paul's Chapel]
[9/11 Firemen Memorial]
National 9/11 Memorial and World Trade Center seen from World Financial Center
Freedom Tower
Winter Garden (World Financial Center)
Hudson River
Statue of Liberty
[Mexico Festival]
[Fort Clinton]
Battery Park with sunset views over New Jersey
Subway Ride
Little Italy (with Cannoli)
Times Square
[Empire State Building lobby]
East Village (St. Marks Street)
street musicians + awesome kid dancer (my dad rocks!) on Astor Place
[Tibetan dinner at Tsampa]
[beers at Lolita in Lower East Side where a woman wore the Honey Badger Don't Care shirt]
Yellow cab across the Manhattan Bridge back to Brooklyn

Phew. Yes our feet and legs were very sore the next day. We still made it to Prospect Park for some greenery and a glance at GoogaMooga before Margaret had to catch the plane home.

And if you have more a full day or 2, I'd definitely recommend going to the top of the Empire State Building, taking the Staten Island Ferry for a free ride past the Statue of Liberty and hopping on the subway out to Coney Island.

Of course, don't forget to eat: an Everything Bagel, a pizza slice and a piece of cheesecake from Junior's (Brooklyn) or Ferrara (Little Italy). Drinking cocktails at Angel Share, beer at Motor City or singing Karaoke at the Manhattan Inn are optional.

The soulful groovy song is called "Soulwalk" by The Mirrors (Jason Matherne's band).


Check out the extended Moving Postcard video HERE (working link coming soon).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

All's Well and Fair - A Transmedia Documentary

All's Well and Fair is a documentary juxtaposing the lives and ideals of 3 single punk rock moms during the 1990s with their realities and opinions ten years later - giving a unique perspective on alternative culture, growth and identity.

Last week I began releasing my documentary All's Well and Fair as a transmedia documentary.

In other words I'm releasing the entire 90-minute film in a slightly reedited version as a 18-part web series through its own website and various video and social media sites and phone apps and I encourage everyone to participate in sharing the clips and telling their own story and point-of-view through video responses and written comments.

Although this was originally conceived as a regular documentary about three unusual mothers in the 1990s, it keeps changing and evolving - just like we all did by the time I filmed the mothers again in the 2000s and into the future.

So next it became a film that juxtaposed the women in their 20s with each other and their own selves in their 30s. Now it's a transmedia documentary that through your participation becomes a living ever-changing story, much larger than the original traditional documentary.

More of my thoughts on transmedia: HERE. More background on making the film: HERE.

Releasing the film like this for free online is a risky move because I'm probably spoiling any chance to license this film to television, get any festival screenings or sell any DVDs (which you can purchase here).

But I'm very eager to share this rather unusually structured film in this very fitting and interactive way. Already the first few responses on YouTube, the website, Facebook and Twitter have been great rewards that prove to me that I'm moving in the right direction by creating (with you) something that is larger and more fascinating than just a film.

Releasing the film in this manner in a way that makes it free to the audience and rather affordable for my company was a conscious choice based on the idea (expressed in the film) of making media ourselves and making it accessible to everyone.

Of course, I do have expenses with this film, not just the work hours, but hard costs. Thanks to a grant from the Jerome Foundation I was able to finish the film.

Currently I'm hoping I'll be able to cover my expenses through revenue share on the online videos. But I will need to get a lot more views! So there may be more fund raising initiatives in the future.

This really is one amazing creative experiment. And I am most grateful to everyone who has helped so far - but first and foremost I want to thank the three women in the film: Margaret Briggs, Rachel Guinan Iannelli and Tina Bushnell and their families.

Now, please watch the film (the first 4 episodes are below), share it with others and become part of the conversation by posting answers, comments and your own response videos. New episodes will be released on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Against Me! + Congratulations, Tom Gabel (MusicMonday)

Tom Gabel photographed by Cass Bird
I know this story broke already two weeks ago - but I've been so distracted with getting my Gainesville mom documentary All's Well and Fair out the door that I didn't hear about it until Margaret (who is in the film) came up from Gainesville this weekend for the premiere.

So it was revealed in the current Rolling Stone issue that Tom Gabel, the singer of Gainesville punk band Against Me! "who has dealt privately with gender dysphoria for years, will soon begin the process of transition, by taking hormones and undergoing electrolysis treatments."

My immediate reactions are:

1. I'm happy for Tom Gabel, who will soon be known as Laura Jane Grace, that in order to be happy and be herself, she has the courage to take this big step in her personal and public life and that we have come at least this far in our society that she can do this and speak publicly about it. Congratulations on courage and new freedom, Tom!

2. I'm happy for all the transgender people who will be inspired and encouraged by this announcement and action by a celebrity AND the education that will hopefully spread through society (e.g., being transgender doesn't mean you're gay).

3. I'm so excited that soon we'll have another kick-ass female punk singer (who is also a mom)!

4. Let's listen to some more Against Me! right now.

Probably the most well-known song is "I Was A Teenage Anarchist"

My favorites are:

"Sink, Florida, Sink!"

"Pints of Guiness Make You Strong"

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rainy Streets of Brooklyn - In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 107)

The beauty of a rainy New York City street at night! No wonder for most NYC film shoots they want to have wet streets to reflect all the lights and give the asphalt that sheen. Except it actually doesn't rain here that much - so most film crews have to wet down the streets themselves. There are actually vehicles for that!

That said, it actually rained a lot this May. And I have to admit I kind of love it. Although I'm not complaining that the sun has been out for a few days and will hopefully stick around for a while.

The hauntingly beautiful music is Four Dollar Wine with "Some Times". You can buy just this song or their entire album as a digital download. The album We Gave It A Go comes with a booklet that includes a few photos by me.

Rainy 5th Avenue - Brooklyn

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thanks, despite the bad hair day

Just a quick rushed hello while it's not raining - to say thanks to a few special YouTubers who posted 1-minute response videos to celebrate the 2-year anniversary of my web series "In A Brooklyn Minute" aka "In A Berlin Minute" aka "German New Yorker In Berlin" - and to let you know about my new series "All's Well and Fair" launching tomorrow.

It also turns out that I might be a masochist who likes to publish videos on bad hair days with I-work-too-much-I-don't-sleep-enough bags under my eyes and a definite 9 pounds to lose. 
But I'm posting this anyway (everywhere) because I want YOU to post response videos to All's Well and Fair's upcoming videos.

And I can't expect you to do something I'm not willing to do, right? Right.

Director's Statement about All's Well and Fair

We finally have a fully functioning interactive website for All's Well and Fair:

Well, it still needs a little bit of filling in here and there and maybe some tweaks. Please check it out and let me know what you're missing. In any case: it's officially here - just in time for the launch of All's Well and Fair as a web series tomorrow (Wednesday, May 16) and the New York City theatrical premiere on Friday, May 18th. 

I thought this would also be a good time to share a little bit about how and why I made All's Well and Fair and why I'm releasing it in this manner. Here's my "director's statement".

All’s Well and Fair began as a very personal project in 1996 after I had moved to the US in my early 20s. I was amazed by how quickly the Gainesville, Florida, punk community and especially the young single mothers among them embraced me; a total stranger from Germany.
I was immediately intrigued by how outspoken, funny, compassionate, nurturing and intelligent these “welfare mothers” were – despite some of the hardships they faced. But I was also wondering what impact their situation and choices would have on their children.
When Rachel, Margaret and Tina won a local “Fuck the Government” song contest, it seemed like a great catalyst to explore, capture and share their lives and perspectives in a film.
I shot the documentary over just a few weeks with my big VHS camera and edited it within three weeks on two VCRs. We played it at the local punk rock bar. And that was that.
Ten years later I was in the midst of post-production of All God’s Children, a documentary about child abuse within the missionary community, which was quite heart-wrenching, very consuming and carried a lot of expectation, when I began fantasizing about what life and filmmaking had been like in my 20s – before film school, before moving to New York, before knowing about film festivals and distribution deals… when it was just me, a camera and an interesting subject.
I suddenly knew: I must go back with just a camera and revisit the carefree filmmaking of earlier days and capture how much Rachel, Margaret and Tina had changed, what had surprisingly literally become true and how their children had turned out.
The inspiration to keep filming came in part from Michael Apted documentary series Seven Up – but All’s Well and Fair differs in that it not only looks at several people of the same age (group) over time but also shows two generations and the effects on each other.
The journey back with them in time, geography and filmmaking style was incredibly rewarding. Again we only took about two weeks to film – in their backyards, their kitchens and while driving around to pick up the kids. Their conversations to the camera, to me and thus to the audience are just as casual, familiar and personal.
When the film was rewarded with the prestigious Jerome Foundation NYC Film and Video Grant it was a wonderful opportunity to focus on finishing the film in an organic way.
This is not a traditional documentary in the American theatrical documentary sense. It doesn’t have a 3-act story line where a hero we meet in the first act struggles against obstacles in the second act and hopefully wins it all in the third act. This isn’t even a straight-up portrait film. This is a conversation; a conversation between women, a conversation between their younger and older selves and between a film and you. The story is there, because every conversation tells a story.
Since the film is rather unconventional and has a DIY/indie spirit at its heart, I was looking for an alternative, DIY, grassroots and direct way to reach the audience. I wanted to honor the sentiment that Rachel expressed in the film: “Our culture is being sold to us at this point instead of us creating it for ourselves. […] We should be in our cities, in the woods and on our fields […] making the culture ourselves. But now we just watch these boxes and have it dictated to us. And it’s very sad. I don’t want that for my kids.”
Time and progress were on my side when technology and culture had developed to the state we’re in now and I am able to utilize the video streaming and sharing site YouTube, social media networks and mobile apps like Facebook and Twitter, RSS feed websites like WordPress and interactive platforms like Disqus and Google Hangout to release All’s Well and Fair not just like a documentary film, but as an interactive transmedia experience, where everyone can become part of the conversation via comments, discussions and their own response videos. I am so excited to bring this film to you in this perfectly fitting way!
I hope that when you watch All’s Well and Fair, either in its theatrical version or in episodes online, that you feel like you’re part of one of those personal conversations with a dear friend, late at night over beers or in the afternoon over a cup of coffee, when you discuss personal details of your life and grand philosophies about the world.
Next, I hope you’ll remember bits of what you heard in the film days later, trying for a moment to remember which of your own friends shared with you this perspective before you recall it was in a film. I hope you’ll keep thinking about your response.
And then, if you hadn’t done it immediately after watching, we invite you to let your own voice be heard and share your experience or opinion via written word or in your own response video to a specific episode or someone else’s response.
That all of this distributing, viewing and interacting can take place for free gives me great hope for a culture that we do make ourselves!
And for the future? Yes, I have a vision of 2016 when Rachel, Margaret, Tina and their children will hopefully allow me and my camera into their homes again to see what all of their lives are like now that the kids are in their 20s!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fehlfarben - "Platz Da" (MusicMonday)

This makes me so happy. Thank you, Fehlfarben for continuing to rock and share your sarcastic, socio-political messages in great beats. And I love seeing a video with "real-looking" people - in the band and on the streets. Vielen Dank!

Even if you don't speak German, I hope you enjoy the video for "Platz da" (engl: "get out of the way" or "make room") from the new album Xenophonie filmed by Kim Frank (from the band Echt, I suppose) in Hamburg (meiner Schatzstadt).

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day from the daughters in "All's Well and Fair"

The interactive web series will come to YOUR screen beginning on May 16, 2012.

To make sure you get all the excerpts and see the finished film, please subscribe to

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Subway to Coney Island - In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 106)

I love going to Coney Island, the beach and amusement park on the Atlantic Ocean in the south of Brooklyn. Literally I actually enjoy the subway ride out to the beach as much as being there. Once the subway goes above ground there is so much to see (and you can pick from several different trains) and there's something about taking a train to the last stop of the line and looking out across the vast ocean.

Whenever friends or family come visiting I always try to take them. This week it's my friend and film editor Julia Wiedwald who took the ride with me.

We did enjoy french fries at Nathan's and some shopping at Lola Star - unfortunately Ruby's is being renovated so there was no beer on this trip - nor any rides or funnel cake. But we were insulted by a drunk homeless-looking man. So even Coney Island isn't anymore the run-down atmospheric nostalgic place of a few years ago - there's still plenty of the spirit left.

The song is "Rickety Racket" by Jason Matherne, which I had just received from him and immediately put to good use.

For the music nerds among you, I purposefully showed the Beverly Road station in homage to the song "Geese of Beverly Road" by The National. I did however not show the Kings Highway station, where we had our first Brooklyn apartment, which was not our happiest place (I'll never live in a basement apartment again!!!).

Approaching Coney Island on the subway

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

All's Well and Fair - World Premiere

A flyer on the same spot that is actually in the film featuring other flyers (meta moment)
As I'm working overtime on the DVD release, NYC premiere and the transmedia release of All's Well and Fair (all happening next week!!!), I've almost overlooked sharing some notes and pictures here on this blog (vs the All's Well and Fair Facebook page) about the actual world premiere of my documentary in Gainesville where the film was shot. 

The film premiered on April 18th in Gainesville, Florida, the college town where the film was shot in 1996 and 2006. The location where the actual event took place is a really cool and still rather raw space next door to the super popular alternative bar/restaurant The Top and therefore aptly named: The Top Secret Space. Housed in a former Woolworth with old lamps and exposed beams it created just the right atmosphere for our unconventional and time-traveling documentary.

Rachel puts her fancy writing onto the chalkboard

Of course, every trip back to Gainesville is a homecoming to me. It is still a place that I consider part of my roots and home of some life-changing times, including the making of this film. So it was wonderful to come home this time with the finished film in my pocket. 

Two of the women featured in the film, Rachel Iannelli (nee Guinan) and Margaret Briggs, were actively involved in setting up the screening and hanging flyers and making sure we had enough chairs and cold beer at the screening. 

Getting a few extra chairs in Nick's VW van - Gainesville-style
When the big night came I was quite nervous, I'll admit it. The finished film had only been seen by a select few and never in a room full of people. 

But quickly the night turned into a bit of a joyous reunion as old faces started showing up... We had a full house - although there were still quite a few people I missed that night, including Tina Bushnell, the third mother in the film, her son Jefferson and Rachel's daughter, Tessa.

The Top Secret Space all set up for the All's Well and Fair screening

We dimmed the lights, the film began with the first statement from Margaret... and... they laughed. And it was a part that was supposed to be funny. Every filmmaker must know that feeling when they show their film for the first time and it gets to the first funny line and the build up and then: they laugh!

I experienced again that the first and best thing you can say to quickly describe a good screening is: they laughed at all the right parts. I was actually surprised how much they did in this particular film, because I don't think of it as a comedy. But those women are just so witty and awesome that there are quite a lot of those moments. 

I did see some tears as well and based on the conversations after, the film also provoked some thoughts and discussion. And you can probably imagine how wonderful the sound of applause felt after years of editing and anticipating that moment.

After the film finished, Margaret, her daughter Tempra, Rachel and participated in a Q&A and then we spent a good while celebrating a successful premiere with some of our friends. A perfect evening.

Celebrating with Margaret, Hollie, Jason, Brian, Rachel, Claude and Nick + a piece of birthday cake!

For those of you who follow my series In A Brooklyn Minute aka In A Berlin Minute: the guy in the black T-Shirt is Jason Matherne of Goonygoogoo Productions, who provides most of the music for that series. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys (MusicMonday)

Adam Yauch

With the passing of Adam Yauch aka MCA, there was no choice what musician I would feature today, only which song.

The Beastie Boys have been part of my audio landscape since the late 1980s. Seeing them on the "Check Your Head" tour (despite my goth-girlish appearance) was one of the best shows I ever saw. Most nights I still sleep in an over-sized "Check Your Head" T-Shirt with a picture of the three. After September 11th attending the New Yorkers Against Violence put together by his non-profit was a meaningful way to express as a group of New Yorkers that we were against anymore bloodshed. 

And if I'm really honest I probably live in Brooklyn because of just how awesome that name sounded belted out by the Beastie Boys (and by the thought that it's the one place in the world I could actually get some sleep.)

For a great collection of Beastie Boys videos check out this post on Pitchfork

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cosplay at Sakura Matsuri - In A Brooklyn Minute (Week 105)

One of the intriguing features of the Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival) at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden are all the people participating in cosplay, which is a combination of wearing a costume and role-playing based on certain characters (from an anime series, for example) or an idea.

Even though the cherry trees bloomed very early this year and most of the blooms were already gone, I was still going to show you some of the other beautiful spring blooms, like azaleas, tulips and the Japanese peony. But when I tried to squeeze it all into one minute it became obvious that there was no room for the plant life.

I'll make another video about the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in the future.

This is the video that marks 2 years of consecutive episodes of 1-minute videos from Berlin, Brooklyn and wherever the week took me; published as "German New Yorker in Berlin", "In A Berlin Minute" and currently "In A Brooklyn Minute". 

I'm really excited that for this video I could use a song from my friend Christia's band Girls On Film.

Just to make sure no one thinks I was calling them "not beautiful" (quite on the contrary) here are the lyrics from "Toxic Society" featured in the video.

Powers that be tell us what to see
And they’ve got nothing to do with reality
And the message is clear
All you have to fear is the best you can do is not good enough

What can we do? We are just a few
An idea by itself is a freakish thing
We bought what they sold, follow what we’re told
Rock the boat, sink yourself for an oddity

You’ll never hear that you’re beautiful
You’ll never hear that you’re beautiful just the way you are

Toxic society