Archive for the ‘Off-topic’ Category

Inauguration Day

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Watching televised coverage of the inauguration, instead of being there, is probably like watching Dick Clark on New Year’s Eve instead of standing in Times Square. The difference, of course, is that today’s party is so historic that you might actually want to tune in.

With just a few hours until the main event, here’s Lifehacker’s Guide to Catching the Inauguration from Anywhere. After reading this, you’ll be able to tell your grandkids, “I remember the day President Obama was elected… I watched it on something called an iPhone.”

Election Day +4

Saturday, 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

Saturday, 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.



Rest in Peace, Paul Newman

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Paul Newman died today. He was 83.

He leaves behind an incredible body of work, as both an actor and humanitarian. He will be missed.

That Newman was one of the greatest — and best-loved — actors this country has ever produced is not a subject for debate. Here is a quintessential late-career Newman moment, a nearly four-minute long take from The Verdict. Astonishing 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.