Election Day +4

November 8th, 2008

Just wanted to drop this as a follow-up to my last post, which concerned Video The Vote.

For me, the day began at 6am, when I walked to my polling place in Roanoke and stood in a 40 minute line to vote. The line was the result of an electronic voting machine that didn’t work and some poll workers who were getting on the job training about how to use the machines. Needless to say, it wasn’t reassuring. I had a Flip video camera and took some very rough footage from my spot in line of the problematic machine. Needless to say, this was an inauspicious start to the day.

Thankfully, things did improve. The lines to that polling place shrunk by 8am, and I remained “on call” for Video The Vote for most of the day. I did drive out to Cloverdale, Virginia to document a woman whose voter registration address change had been lost; she had to vote provisionally.

The real story of the day, though, was in Blacksburg, where students from Virginia Tech were having to wait for several hours at one polling place. I heard about this late in the day, and a few minutes after reading the story (oddly, on Huffington Post instead of via The Roanoke Times website or from friends), Video The Vote called me from NYC, asking me to document the situation. Ashley was already in Blacksburg, so she went to capture footage. She got some great stuff with her Flip camera (videos 1, 2, 3).

NOTE: My name, not Ashley’s, is on the footage because I was the one that registered for Video the Vote.

When Ashley returned home, we spent the evening uploading her footage. Video The Vote’s website was SLAMMED, so uploads took forever. The fact that we were hitting the “refresh” button on our browsers to see election results wasn’t helping.

Pennsylvania was called for Obama around the time that we were close to done uploading all of our videos from the day. We knew what was coming, so we headed over to an Election Day party.

And the rest, as they say, is history. Literally.


The Election: How Filmmakers Can Help

October 25th, 2008

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a filmmaker with access to a video camera. Video The Vote needs people like you and me on Election Day.

What’s Video the Vote? From their website:

Video the Vote is a national initiative to protect voting rights by monitoring the electoral process. We organize citizen journalists—ordinary folks like you and me—to document election problems as they occur. And then we distribute their footage to the mainstream media and online to make sure the full story of Election Day gets told. Watch our 2006 highlights and join us as we Video the Vote this November.

If, like me, you find yourself in a swing state this year, you might feel like it’s especially important to be a part of this.

It takes less than a minute to sign up, and you can volunteer for just part or all of Election Day. So get involved. And spread the word to your filmmaker friends.

Finally, if you’re not sure why such an organization even exists, check out this interview between Bill Moyers and NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller. Warning: Viewing this will keep you up at night.




iPhone Film Calculator application

October 14th, 2008

The folks at 2.1 Films have just released an iPhone Film Calculator. From the description:

Film Calculator has three basic functions:

Length & Time Converter: This function allows the user quickly convert length to time and vice versa for a variety of film stocks and speeds. Choose from Super-8mm, 16mm, 35mm or 70mm stocks and preset frames per second rates (12, 24, 25, 48) or enter your own. Then enter the time and you’ll get the length or enter the length and you’ll get the time.

Hard Drive Storage Calculator: Select a format and enter a time and this function will tell you how much hard drive storage space you need. Dozens of formats are included. Contact us to request more!

Script Supervisor’s Assistant: This function provides a stopwatch that counts both time and length. Select the stock and frame rate and then operate this like a regular stopwatch. Saves scripty’s from having to use a calculator at the end of each take. Always know exactly how much you’ve shot on a reel!

Read more about it here. Buy it (for $2.99) here.


True Story (for those suffering from writer’s block)

October 10th, 2008

From an email that I recently wrote to a student suffering from writer’s block:

Have I told you my story about William Stafford, the poet? He made it a habit to write a poem every day. (A great poet, he won the National Book Award, etc.) Anyway, I saw him read his poetry shortly before his death. A budding writer stood up after his reading, during the Q+A and asked, “You said you write a poem every day. What happens on the days when you’re not feeling inspired?”

Stafford replied, “I lower my standards.”

I think that about sums it up.


IndieMemphis: Quick Feet, Soft Hands, etc.

October 9th, 2008

Quick Feet, Soft Hands will be screening at IndieMemphis this weekend. If you’ve not seen it and you’re in the area, check it out on Sunday.

Sadly, I won’t be able to attend. Instead I’ve got to run to D.C. to do some final post-production work on the Quick Feet television version, which I need to deliver to ITVS by the end of the month.

In addition to missing all the great films that IM’s new festival director Erik Jambor has selected, I’m also bummed that I’m missing out on an all-to-infrequent opportunity to feast on authentic Memphis BBQ.

If this year’s IndieMemphis is any indication, Jambor is going to do great things for the festival as it chugs into its second decade. Hopefully I’ll be able to be there with the next one. To all that attend — enjoy!