Archive for the ‘Films & Filmmakers’ Category

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.

IndieMemphis: Quick Feet, Soft Hands, etc.

Thursday, 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!

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.

UFVA 2008: Those Who Teach, Make

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

As you probably guessed, I’ve taken a little break from SRF. I wish I could say that it was a planned vacation, but a combination of travel, work on my own projects, the beginning of the school year and some crazy good life stuff meant the blogging got pushed aside.

One thing I did mean to write about was my experience at the University Film and Video Association Conference in August. For those of you that don’t know, UFVA is the professional association for professors of filmmaking, screenwriting, and film studies. This was my first time attending the conference, and it was a lot of fun. I had the chance to meet up with some old film school friends who, like me, are now teachers, and I met lots of new folks who encounter the same sorts of challenges to filmmaking that I do (among them, living in so-called flyover territory).

The conference features a mix of screenings and panels. Among my favorite panel presentations: Jennifer Proctor (Grand Valley State) who talked about teaching creativity; John O’Leary (Villanova), who discussed the practicalities of running a university-supported film lecture series; JJ Murphy, who discussed non-traditional screenwriting approaches (drawing on films like Ronnie Bronstein’s Frownland); and Seth Mulliken, who gave an awesome talk on film sound.

Of the screenings, probably my favorite film was Irinia Patkanian‘s Second Egyptian, a story of two immigrants in New York that has an amazing sense of poetic realism. For my part, I screened Quick Feet, Soft Hands, which was honored with the Jury Prize in Narrative Film. Needless to say, getting this award from my peers was a great honor.

Note: The title to this blog post is cribbed from a Scribe Video Center screening. I’ll discuss Scribe in a future post.

Making a Fullscreen Video Loop for an Installation (or Kiosk) Using Automator

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

UPDATE: Spring 2013.  SRF reader Jessica Barr corresponded with me in 2012 about how users of more recent versions of the Mac OS (10.6 and higher) might have issues with the Automator script below because QuickTime 7 is no longer the default movie Mac OS movie player. Jessica kindly revised the automator script and offered it to me so I could share it with you.

Download it here: Revised Automator QT Movie Loop script

(By the way, from my limited testing, it appears you still need QT Pro 7 — which is still sold as of May 2013 — to run this script. Quicktime X, or whatever it’s called, can loop, but you can’t save a movie as one that loops. And Automator’s loop instruction in its “play movie” actions don’t work reliably. )

Read on for the full instructions…..

Original Post from 2008:

Apologies for the long post title. This is to help anyone searching for such a thing on the internet.

This post will explain how to create a video that plays full-screen and loops repeatedly on a Mac. Looping full screen video is useful for, among other things, kiosks and video installations. If you want to cut to the chase and learn how to do this, skip down. Otherwise, I’ll offer a few words explaining the reasoning behind what I did.

Ashley Maynor and I recently put up a small video installation near the offices of the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge. The installation was done as a gratis piece of temporary public art, so we needed to keep the budget as small as possible.

In our case, this was a three channel installation — that is, we had three different videos playing simultaneously on three different screens. The screens were going to sit next to each other, so we wanted some uniformity in presentation. Video projection wasn’t an option — the space was too tiny for projection. (It’s basically an empty downtown shopwindow.) So we needed televisions or computer screens.

We didn’t have three identical televisions, but I did have three identical old semi-working iMacs sitting in a “junk” closet at Virginia Tech. So I borrowed those.

Regardless of whether you use a television with a DVD player, or a computer and its video monitor, for this sort of thing you might burn a DVD that loops. That’s a perfectly fine solution, but the DVD player on one of the iMacs was broken. Also, there might be solutions out there for having a DVD player and television power up and down automatically, but I know it can be done (and know how to do it) with a computer.

So how to do it?

I decided to create a simple Automator application that could be used to automatically screen a QuickTime movie in full screen mode when the computer was booted. I also automated the startup and shutdown of the computers so that the installation runs during prime hours downtown, saving power in the wee small hours of the morning. Details on how to do this after the jump.

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