Second Skin online for free thru 8/13

August 10th, 2009

I saw Pure West’s Second Skin at SXSW 2008. It’s now being made available by Snag Films for free through August 13. Here’s what I thought when I first saw it:

Second Skin digs into the world of MMORPGs, and how these online games create new lives and identities — on both sides of the computer screen — for the people playing them. Not being a gamer, I wondered how much I would care about the film’s subject, especially in light of the fact that 90% of the audience I viewed it with seemed to be there to see a film about their lives. Happily, the film finds some dynamic people to follow and it does superb job of chronicling their lives, both on- and off-line. I suspect this will have a healthy life on DVD, and perhaps theatrically.

Watch Second Skin on Snag Films.


UFVA Panel – “Self-Reliant Filmmaking”

August 6th, 2009

I am in New Orleans at the University Film & Video Association conference. Today I moderated a panel on Self-Reliant Filmmaking. There was a good crowd and, as often happens with these things, the discussion just scraped the tip of the iceberg.

The panelists were:

Paul Harrill, Virginia Tech. Moderator.
Sasha Waters, University of Iowa.
Jennifer Proctor, Grand Valley State University.
Bob Hurst, University of Kansas.

As promised, I am posting links to many of the articles and resources discussed by the panelists and myself. If this is your first time visiting Self-Reliant Film, I encourage you to sift through the posts, especially the first post, which lays out some of the points made in my discussion today, and the resources page.

Paul Harrill: Panel Opening Remarks

Yes, The Sky is Really Falling” by Mark Gill
Welcome to the New World of Distribution by Peter Broderick

Workbook Project – website led by Lance Weiler that “bridges the gap between tech and entertainment”

CinemaTech – Scott Kirsner’s blog about “digital cinema, democratization, and other trends remaking the movies”

Self-Distribution Case Studies:
Power to the Pixel conference presentation: Brave New Films
Power to the Pixel conference presentation:Four Eyed Monsters

Panelist Sasha Waters:

Be Fake, Remake – group blog featuring work from Sasha Waters’ Remake Seminar

Panelist Jennifer Proctor:

Jennifer Proctor: home page (see “Teaching Materials“)

Center for Social Media – Best Practices for Fair Use in Online Video

Vimeo — a video hosting community

Student work shown:
Anna Gustafson, “Woman
Evan Rattenbury, “Land O’ Dreams
Josh Carlson, “Donkeys vs. Elephants


It started with a tattered box…the making for FOR MEMORIES’ SAKE

August 3rd, 2009

Today begins the first postings by Ashley Maynor on our film For Memories’ Sake. (She’s the director; I’m the producer.) Take it, Ashley….

It’s Christmas 2005 and I’ve begun the crazy whirlwind of travel that results from being part of a Southern, Catholic family and a child of divorce. My grandmother, Angela Singer, who always gives the most unique (if utterly bizarre) gifts, often salvaged from garage sales or Dollar Store specials, surprises me with a tattered cardboard box. Within the box is a ratty paper bag, and within the bag a treasure trove: 79 3-inch reels of 8mm and Super8 home movies.

I had begged Angela for months to see if she could find her home movie collection, which I knew must have been buried in her house in Cheatham County Tennessee. What once housed nine children and all their things (most memorably for me: potato guns, slingshots, and dirt bike helmets) is now a cluttered mess of papers, mementos, newspaper clippings, and photographs that document time gone by and its slow, continual creep.

Having deciphered Angela’s handwritten labels, organized the reels as best I could, and researched home movie transfer houses, I sent the films off in late 2006 for a low-cost telecine transfer. The films came back to me in digital form and I began to cut up and reconfigure these celluloid relics of time immemorial using a Macintosh Powerbook and Final Cut Pro.

After expressing such a fervent interest in the home movies, Angela keep digging and presented me, piecemeal over the next year, with more and more documents: over 130 VHS-C tapes of home video, dozens of photo albums from the 1990s, her latest photographs on CD-rom, baby books, photo collages, and so on. In sum, what began as a modest attempt to preserve a few precious films turned into an unexpected discovery of the immensity of Angela’s film and photo stockpile and an involved (if unintended) campaign to protect and preserve as much of her archive as possible.

My next post will discuss how I learned (taught myself, really) to preserve Angela’s “archive” and how I began shaping this raw material into something that I could use to create For Memories’ Sake.


Sita Sings the Blues is out on DVD. How, I’m still not sure.

July 29th, 2009

Sita Sings the Blues, the critically acclaimed animated feature film single-handedly made by Nina Paley, is being released on DVD today. For those that haven’t been following the story, the film’s use of uncleared, copyrighted musical compositions has restricted the film’s release.

Today, indieWire reports that “[t]hrough an intense study of copyright laws, Paley has realized the opportunity to allow other people to sell her work with her endorsement, and she can receive donations from these distributors.”

But the author of the article does not mention the legal conclusions that Paley (and her lawyers) arrived at, nor does the article make any mention of the source for this information.

One website that is acknowledged is QuestionCopyright, which has a lengthy interview with Paley. The comments section that follows the interview is worth a read, too, as there’s a lot of back-and-forth between commenters supporting Paley’s attempts to produce “new work” (as copyright law is supposed to encourage) and several other others that argue that blame Paley for the situation at hand.

Unfortunately, I still don’t have answers about how Paley and her lawyers have decided to release the film on DVD. Perhaps it’s because they’re also giving it away via torrent?

If you want to buy the DVD, it’s available here.

UPDATE: See the comments for answers….


New Final Cut Studio released: Yawning and Gnashing of Teeth Ensue

July 24th, 2009

Apple announced a major (i.e., “you have to pay for it”) Final Cut Studio upgrade yesterday. It doesn’t have a flashy name like “Final Cut Studio 3” or anything like that. They’re just calling it Final Cut Studio. Kinda like The Velvet Underground calling their third album… The Velvet Underground.

As most readers know, I’m a fan of Final Cut, so it’s a big deal to me when a major upgrade of the software is released. Read the rest of this entry »