A Student Again

My family and I spent the summer in the San Francisco Bay Area as I began a low-residency MFA program at the San Francisco Art Institute. What fun to be a student again! After twelve years of teaching – pouring energy into bringing out my students’ vision as filmmakers – I now have advisors and teachers who help me develop as an artist.

Art school feels a lot different from my usual environment at a liberal arts college and among the documentary filmmaker/ public television crowd. As I sit among my classmates – painters, sculptors, photographers, and printmakers – I can’t help but look at video in a new way. I’m seeing the colors applied on the frame the way paint adheres to its surface. It’s freeing to try out new shooting and editing styles without worrying about narrative, context, exposition – or fundraising, rights clearances, and distribution.

My first project was a study of four tiny shops in a block of San Francisco’s multicultural Mission District. It started out as a little exercise and I got gradually drawn into the way surfaces are cleaned, colored, and transformed in these four locales. I think I will continue to explore some of these shooting and editing techniques in upcoming projects. I hope to find a way to bring a more formally interesting approach to work that has social content I care about.

Take a look at the video (7 minutes, MPEG) if you're interested: