Archive for the ‘Documentary’ Category

Fat Tuesday: The Order of Myths

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

I’ve been meaning to catch up with The Order of Myths since for about a year now, and tonight is my chance: it premieres on Independent Lens (check local listings). In case you aren’t familiar with its subject, here’s a summary:

Mobile, Alabama threw its first Mardi Gras more than 300 years ago; since then the party has been trying to stay true to tradition. But tradition gets tricky when it comes to race and class.

Separate but unequal royal courts preside—one queen, from a family of outlaw slave traders, the other, a descendent of runaway slaves. Beneath the surface of pageantry lies a complex story about race relations and the ever-present racial divide that persists in America today.

Read more about the TV premiere here. Film website is here.

[hat tip: Agnes Varnum]

Scott Kirsner’s ITVS Case Studies

Monday, January 26th, 2009

A few weeks ago Scott Kirsner blogged about a series of case studies he recently authored regarding independent filmmakers connecting with their audiences. Commissioned by ITVS, the case studies focus on, as Scott puts it,

indie filmmakers who are pioneering new ways to:

– Open up the production process to more audience participation

– Find and connect with new audiences for their work

– Distribute their finished film in new ways.

While all of the case studies focus on documentaries, there are a lot of insights here that are not limited to any one genre. In fact, I’ve made these case studies required reading in the Movie Business class that I teach at Virginia Tech. If you read this blog, chances are they should be required reading for you, too.

Read Scott’s introductory blog post. Or go straight to the case studies.

Louis Massiah/Scribe Video Center

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Louis Massiah, acclaimed documentarian and community video pioneer, visited Virginia Tech a few days ago. What an inspiration.

Among the works Massiah screened was a segment from Power!, one episode from the Eyes on the Prize II series. In the segment, we are told the story of Carl B. Stokes, the first black mayor of a major American city. To say this video — produced in the 80s, about a man that broke ground in the 60s — was timely would be an understatement. If you want insight into this year’s presidential election, including the racial (and racist) strategies being employed by opponents of Barack Obama, it’s a must-see. (Search for it in a local library here.)

Still, even more impressive, was hearing Massiah discuss and screen work produced by Scribe Video Center. Massiah founded Scribe in 1982, and occupies a central place in Philadelphia media-making. If you don’t know about it and you’re interested in community storytelling (and empowerment) through video, dig into their website. Scribe has been around for 26 years, which is a phenomenal achievement, particularly considering the fate of so many other media arts organizations (from the Film Arts Foundation to AIVF). More importantly, they’ve changed lives through storytelling. Great stuff.

Festival Advice for Filmmakers

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Just a link to a great article by AJ Schnack on some festival advice for filmmakers. Since I was in Europe, I missed linking this when it went up in early June. Still, it’s good advice to keep in mind, particularly as some major festival deadlines are on the horizon.

©opy®ight: A Few Helpful Links

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Some helpful links:

U.S. Copyright Office
Copyright is a kind of intellectual property monopoly. And if it was intellectual property Monopoly, this site would be “Go.” Translation: Start here.

How to Register a Work
This site takes you to eCO, where you can file a copyright registration for your work through the Copyright Office online system.

Public Domain(?):

Stanford Copyright Renewal Database
Lets you search for whether a work is still under copyright or not.

Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States
A chart to help you understand the labyrinthine laws regarding when a work will fall into the public domain. The chart is available as a PDF.

Fair Use:

Documentary Filmmakers’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use
If you are a documentary maker you should know this up and down.

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video
Like the Documentary Best Practices, this is something to know and learn.

Center for Social Media: Fair Use FAQ
A must.

Creative Commons:

Creative Commons. Where to go if you want to give it away, legally speaking.

Resource pages and other links:

Stanford University Libraries: Copyright & Fair Use: Charts and Tools: A great page of links.

Cornell University Copyright Information Center: More great links.

EDIT (7/9/08): This post was accidentally deleted. I think I’ve restored it pretty completely, and added some more links in the process.

EDIT (9/29/16): Fixed some broken links.