Sunday, December 31, 2006

One Last Thing

Have you ever been in the middle of telling a story and realized you don't remember the punchline? I was telling someone about how lucky I'd been this last term about seeing great documentary filmmakers talk about their work, and I was detailing some of the highlights:

Frederick Wiseman analyzing his editing choices in a talk at the Walter Reade Theater; D.A. Pennebaker, at The New School, discussing shooting the performances in Monterey Pop; Peter Davis discussing the controversy over "The Selling of the Pentagon"; Richard Leacock at IFC Center showing some rarely-seen films and telling all the stories that went with them.... (At this last event, my impression was that half the documentary filmmakers in New York were in attendance: Michael Moore stood by the back door; Albert Maysles rushed in late and Pennebaker, as he walked to the stage, made a crack about his wind-blown hair.)

While I was telling these stories, I began to wonder what the point was. I don't really believe standing in the same room with some of the greats lets any magic rub off of them and onto you, so it wasn't about that. Was it about the fact that they were all still working, and at as high a level as ever? (I believe they all have films in progress or about to come out.)

After some consideration, I think the point was this: seeing the real people who made the films talk about them made me demystify the way these films were created. Films are made out of choices at the camera and at the editing station; and these choices come out of the experiences and ideas of the people who make them. No more, no less.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Notebook on Santas and Elves

Happy holidays. Working on a few new things....

Above: an image from Santacon 2006.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

1,178,284 or so

Well, the original Project Redeye video is now the "18th Most Viewed (All Time) in Arts & Animation" on YouTube.

So, here's Project Redeye 2: "Holiday Photo Challenge" edition.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New School Faculty Overrun Sundance

I am impressed:
Five faculty members from the Department of Media Studies and Film will have their work shown at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, to be held in January 2007. Another faculty member Lewis Erskine will serve on the Documentary Jury. The five films and their directors/media faculty include:

Everything's Cool, directed by Judith Helfand and Daniel B. Gold, examines a group of self-appointed global warming messengers who are on a high-stakes quest to find the iconic image, proper language, and points of leverage to help the public go from embracing the urgency of the problem to creating the political will necessary to move to an alternative energy economy. World Premiere.

Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, directed by Rory Kennedy and edited by Media Studies/Documentary Studies faculty member Sari Gilman, looks at the abuses that occurred at the infamous Iraqi prison in the fall of 2003 by using direct personal narratives of perpetrators, witnesses, and victims to probe the effects of the abuses on all involved. World Premiere.

Hot House/Israel, directed by Shimon Dotan, provides an unprecedented look at how Israeli prisons have become the breeding ground for the next generation of Palestinian leaders as well as the birthplace of future terrorist threats. North American Premiere.

Freeheld, directed by Cynthia Wade, tells the story of Lieutenant Laurel Hester, who while dying of cancer, fights to leave her pension to her domestic partner, provoking an enormous battle in New Jersey. World Premiere.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Mixed Messages, Mixed Drinks

Last night was the "Mixed Messages 2006" event.

12th and 3rd in Brooklyn showed on the big screen, and looked good. The audience laughed in the right places and applauded strongly. (If I were re-editing, I might reconsider the "false endings" or at least re-time them, but the point is that it played well with a large audience.) I thought the rest of the program was strong, too, and I was surprised that there were several documentaries screening. We did not have to resort to weeping. John Cameron Mitchell and the show's organizers gave out the awards.

We received "Special Recognition for Narrative Documentary" and an envelope containing various prizes.

Of course, I'm not a reliable reporter of the whole process: once they called our names, my brain sort of stopped working in its normal fashion (not because awards are a big deal, but because I have a tough time in front of any audience of any size) and I only have partial memories of going on stage, getting photographed, and the rest of the process. I have much clearer memories of going out after. The point, of course, is that Documentary is not about awards. It's clearly about Cucumber Martinis all around....

One Meeeeeeeeeeeelion and Two

The sequel to the "Project Redeye" video for youtube has been shot.

(Because the first one left so many unanswered questions. Like "Why did you post this, exactly?" and "Doesn't watch these things before putting them on the front page?" and many, many others.)

Higher production values. Slightly improved lighting. Coming to a youtube screen near you....