Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Welcome Home

T.S. Elliot said something like: We shall not cease from exploraiton and the end will be to return to the begining and know that place for the first time. It's not a quote just from memory so google it for details.

I went up to my mom's house to shoot one of the final segments of the movie where I have tried slide in albums, topical albums, chronological and then finally will take a stab at a personal heritage album. I'm not talking about great grandparents, just immediate family. It was challenge enough. From age 12 I didn't live at home much at all and had found some mental health in not going back. My little brother agreed to come along and help scan photos we raided from boxes and old albums. I was out of the house by the time he was three and part of the whole family that I didn't log in much time with so as he's had interest in production he's been working with me and helping get stuff done.

I have to admit it was weird being together with both of them ad then to go through boxes of history which I have essentially forgotten for hours and hours... well I'm still processing it. Nate and I were dredding it on the way up but as my mom said, you tuck this stuff away thinking that some day it can be revisited with a different perspective. "I saved things thinking some day you guys would want to see it and well, it's some day right now. This is some day! How many times in your life do you set aside "someday" for something to happen, and now.. right here. This is someday!"

It went well, I got my pics to try and digest into a heritage book, I also got the stories, Nate scanned everything so I can print out 4-5 copies of images thanks to the magic of Walmart's 15 cent 4x6's online and everybody gets to reconstruct the secenes of the accidents in small bite size pieces.

We stopped by Lake Superior on the way home and Nate whipped out one of his old cameras. My mom's father was a photographer by trade and it was weird to go through those pictures with my mom talking about her family combined with the prescence of my own. It was a good thing and is giving me more to write about than I will ever be able to fit in a 10 minute segment of a movie.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

still crazy after all these years

I was up late last night whittling a guy I've been calling Magic Dave's 60 minute interview down to 10 minutes for a preliminary segment. Then I take all my 10 minute interviews and whack them down to 3-5 minutes when I see them all in context. Dave was a shy kid who found magic as a way to mix and mingle. He ended up specializing in escape tricks and used scrapbooks to organize his pics into an efficient way to cruise through them.

I was having a little time quiet time this morning to get centered and remembered a conversation I had maybe twenty years ago with a friend that asked what I want to do with my life. I said I wanted to be rich enough to have a studio in my basement where I could make music, video and digital print media ( there wasn't an internet or DVD's back then. ) This morning I woke up to Magic Dave's face while I was munching on my corn flakes and getting the big picture perspective. I joke about just being one guy working out of his basement but the flip side is that technology and an understanding wife has gotten me a new camera and video drive I can shoot an hour of HD with, a sweet dual processor G5 with a couple Terrabytes of storage and 4 1/2 gigs of ram, a few other computers to play with, a few mics ( including a Neuman that I wanted ) some drums and a guitar and bass hanging on the wall. Nothing too crazy compared to real companies that do this kind of stuff but enough where I can work and not be slowed down by by tools.

As I'm typing this out the UPS man has delivered another thousand DVD's of my last video that was really just a learning project but was able to get me to film festivals in Frankfurt, Milan and all over the US and got aired in New Zealand, throughout the UK and domestically. What a blast! Man, I've gotta count my thousands of blessings.

Don't we all.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Simple Pleasures

I've been a big pussy when it comes to getting specific with the business end of this project on the blog. I don't want to say the wrong thing or suggest something that doesn't pan out and then look like a big fat liar. :0)

Working like a motherscratcher but having a blast. I'm having to drop out on a trip to Denver with my wife to visit her family over Memorial Day weekend so I can stay home and work. Tragic. I hope to catch up on some shooting and editing. If I fall short on the schedule what's going to suffer is all the juicy graphical elements and artsy treatment in the finished product that the critical eyes look for in a movie, even if it's a cheap documentary. The way I make stuff is a goofy hybrid. Movies can get away with longer scenes where you can float along and have a person on screen setting up a mood. TV needs something flipping in front of your eyes every 6-8 seconds ( seriously, count them... ) and I end up doing a literal narrative where I'm throwing out chunks of segments like you'd get from something with commercial breaks but leaving lots of breathing room in those segments where you might see me or the person one screen for 3-4 minutes with cutaways to what they're talking about. I've done it differently before but I like sitting down and showing a conversation with the viewer.

Another oddity that seems to throw some hard core film people I'm working with for a loop is the concept of having someone in tight shots just talking. If you don't watch the Discovery Channel ( or one of their other sister networks ) you don't see the info- doc style of looking close at someones face while they're talking. Some guys think movie and try to get constant camera movement or to show the set or dramatic lighting. I guess I'm boring in that I want even lighting to see someones face, not sharp artistic contrast. I want to get tight and see what they're thinking besides what they're saying. If I shoot an hours worth of interview and need to cut it down to 5 minutes I can't have a camera moving all the time or it turns into a music video when it's condensed.

The more I do this the more I realize there's several canned styles and movies, TV and now TV shows that look like 52 minute movies like CSI-whatever all have unique looks and feels that aren't what I've looking for in this thing. I'm looking at it as a visual information dump. Literally a conversation between myself and the viewer where I bring them along with me to talk with people and create something that might get them talking with other people as soon as I'm off the screen. Remember how surprising it was when Woody Allen or Ferris Bueller broke the forth wall and talked to the camera? Wow, that was so unconventional...

I think this video stuff I'm working on is really just milking the technology and climate of the times where any bozo like me with something to say can muster up some gear, self fund and get his work into the hands of the end user. Kind of like the doors that opened when the internet tipped over from ftp servers and manual IP address calls in command lines to frontpage giving every Tom, Dick and Harry a chance to show off his $15k lego collection for fellow zealots all over the world.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Business and Pleasure

Went out to NYC to meet with a company that has interest in helping me get the word out about the project. Great people, great ideas. Loved NYC ( Duh! ) but was reminded of the creeping feeling that this whole movie business is a personal challenge for me.

I like the business end of things, geeking out over equipment, shooting, editing, meeting people, hearing their stories and fitting things together to try and tell one of my own. I'm pretty much caught in the trap of most people that get wrapped up in: they embrace the talk, gear and external conditions of a topic but don't internalize it and make it their own. I have been learning about scrapbooking tools, skills, styles, and pretty much everything except actually pounding through making a few books myself. I've been stalling because I'm a big chicken. A friend of mine sent me a link today to another fantastic "professional" scrapbooker and I am faced with the fact that my comfort zone is video production and I suck at layout and design. I know EXACTLY how some of these ladies feel about not going to crops because they don't feel like they have enough skills, good enough pictures or stories, etc. I know you don't just roll out of bed in the morning and become good at expressing yourself or artistic stuff and I've heard a million times to just start doing it and who cares what it looks like but it really is a challenge when it's YOU with YOUR stuff.

The good news is I don't have the pressure of being a "good mother" that many of these women feel. I've heard many say they feel obigated to document their kids lives and the pressure of keeping with it as they grow. I've got nothing to prove really and people have the expectation I'm an idiot and screw off so anything actually collected on a page is progress. :0)

Well, that's the whole point of the story is to do it myself and see what it's really like... so here goes.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Red Eyes: The Indie World.

Caught a cheap redeye flight home @ 1:00am from LAX to MSP. Arrived at 6:00 am. Nate doesn't fly well and almost made it all the way home but couldn't get off the plane fast enough and puked while we were waiting to unload. Poor guy.

I dropped him off, dropped off the rental gear and started looking through dailies. Using new technology ( a month old on the market ) like P2 cards presented some problems that were as yet undisclosed by the manufacturer. It looked like I lost large chunks of my footage so I ended up staying awake and found out most of it could be easily recovered through a goofy process that was undocumented. I ended up not sleeping until Monday night which makes a new record in my work day. No sleep for 36 hours. Good times.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Judging Books and Covers

I blew the big whad of my travel budget on going out to LA to meet with and interview Rhonda Anderson this weekend. What a hoot. In my brain she typified the proper, tidy, clean cut, conservative scrapbooking woman that I was slightly prejudice against. She turned out to be a very relateable, warm and funny person. Her and her husband Mac had this magical way of retaining their sincerity and being completely transparent - what you see is what you get, but also making me feel like me being what you see: a chubby, sometimes abrasive, sarcastic, skeptical dirtbag in a T shirt, ear rings and messy hair, was somehow OK and completely fine.

This sounds like a no brainer but let me explain. We come from very different worlds. Like 180 different and the basis of her talk I taped was about faithbooking which could have the potential to spook me a little, I pretty much said what I thought about stuff, was talking about something she's dedicated her life to for over a decade and well, she's a business woman that travels in circles that are foreign territory to me and she had no really good reason to grant me an interview. I'm an indy film maker that could potentially be mocking scrapbooking and wasting her time and image.

Deep at the core after talking with her, the people who were hosting the event ( a crop for national scrapbooking day ) and her husband Mac it turns out we have a much more similar perspective on life than I had thought and I was just being a big wussy for feeling intimidated. ;0)

We actually had a blast and she invited me ( and my "crew" my little brother Nate ) over for dinner and a place to stay that night... apparently she picked up on our budget status...

What's happening with her is what I'm seeing throughout the scrapbooking world. 1) I completely misjudge most of these people and make them a one dimensional caricature of who they are by having their identity be "a scrapbooker" whatever that means. It's going to be a big part of the movie. 2) People that take their lives and lay them out in scrapbooks are used to being vulnerable, open and exposed. I'm seeing that many / most of them are forced to be more tolerant than I thought they would be because, well to use a metaphor, they have learned to not throw so many stones because they're all living in glass houses. I hope that makes sense. 3) As much as I try to avoid it I guess I really do care what people think of me.

Well, it was an eye opener to me that people are people no matter where you go. I now call her "My friend Rhonda." I'll post pictures when I get a chance.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Guest Speaker?!

I was a speaker today at a seminary here in the twin cities. I spoke for the chapel service at The Masters Institute and had a blast. I was a little intimidated but pretty much just talked thorugh my notes and chatted with people afterwards who were very gracious and engaged in some Q&A. You can check out their website here.

I'm not really qualified for this sort of thing but figured if they were crazy enough to invite me, I was crazy enough to give them my two cents worth. I pretty much talked through an article I was asked to write for the Lutheran Ambassador. You can view a pdf version of it here.

I'm coming from a place where I am uncomfortable with a lot of the crazy things that go on in the name of religion and am just getting back to simple basics of faith.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Finish Line

We've got a date set for a premier for Scrapped! Whoo hooo. I am fortunate enough to have Lorna Klefsaas and her crack team of social event commandos on board to plan it. It seems like a million years ago since I first went up and visited Lorna and her husband Kerm in Motley, MN and talked with them about being interviewed for the project. Here's a picture of our first get together.

Since then she organized setting up a Delta Phi Scrappa event for the movie and is spearheading the premier which has turned out to be a Godsend on a few levels. I've written the check to secure the Woman's club of Minneapolis for the evening of Saturday August 5th and am just waiting on a proposed budget for food and beverages to get a price together so we can start selling tickets. Should be a hoot. We're hoping to have wine and horsdurves ( and sparkling juice for the more prudent among us. ) The irony is that it will be an excuse for people to dress up a little and have a fun night out, hang out with other scrapbook fiends down by Loring Park and look out over the Minneapolis skyline at night but basically there to watch me run around like a bozo in jeans and T shirt chasing after this passion driven phsychosis called scrapbooking.

The other joke will be on me as well because I whipped up a new promo and posted it on the homepage today which, as with the other promos is a blatant romp of sensationalism. It's a blast for me to make stuff like that but I hope people throw me a bone when it comes time to watching the program and they find out it's actually serious... Well, I guess I can't approach the whole thing without sneaking in some sarcasm. I just hope I'm not sending out to much of the wrong message with these things but let's face it, who's going to watch a 60 second promo of warm fuzzy feelings and then forward the link to their friends at work?

Lot's of fun stuff coming up! More details to come.