Just in the nick of time for a December 31 deadline, I've finished editing an 18-minute music travel doc for The Claudia Quintet, led by award-winning drummer John Hollenbeck. It was a lot of fun to weave together their amazing music, beautiful photographs, concert footage, and spontaneous cell phone videos into an online journey through Nepal.
I took my Intermediate Film students from RISD on a field trip to Cinelab today. We arrived to the old mill building in New Bedford, which looked exactly as I had imagined over the past twenty-five years of working with them (remotely) as a student and teacher. I thought it would be a great opportunity for my students to see how their film is developed and printed - in one of only about a dozen or two motion picture labs still operating in the United States.
Brad Chandler took us on a tour of the facilities. It was definitely cool to see all of the love that goes into film, and all of the highly engineered, vintage analog and mechanical equipment they have kept running for decades. But I couldn't help but feel a sense of the impending extinction of the medium... it feels like just a matter of time before all the companies give up the ghost. It will be a great loss. I have truly enjoyed immersing myself and students in the discipline and beauty of cinema.
I've put a lot of thought into the question of Why Film? lately... what are the types of projects that make sense to shoot in celluloid, in the age of infinite digital possibilities? Here's what I've come up with so far:
- You’re interested in the particular aesthetic - the grain, the color response, the beauty, thesoftness
- You like the physicality: chemical rather than digital process means something to you... holding the film in your hands
- You’re making a reference to photography
- You want to shoot black and white with full richness
- You're trying to evoke a historical period
- You’re referencing a film genre (such as Noir)
- You're incorporating archival material and generating your own to match
- You like the process or workflow, and want the discipline that the preciousness of film requires: you have to conceive of things ahead of time, it’s expensive so you have limited stock, you can’t see what you are getting.
- You’re interested in the chance factor (also double exposures) and happy accidents
- You’re going to work with the film itself (hand processing, optical printing, etc.)
- You’re going to do something conceptually with the medium (for ex., shooting the length of a film roll, double exposures, etc.)
I just got home from the premiere of Students at the Center: Extended Learning Opportunities at Pittsfield Middle High School - our second mini-documentary set at this rural New Hampshire School. PMHS is putting students at the center of their own learning. Students engage in a variety of Extended Learning Opportunities that enable them to find and explore their own passions outside of the classroom.
The screening was attended by parents, students, teachers, and local and state school officials. Pittsfield is a leader in New Hampshire - which is in turn a leader nationwide in competency-based assessment. ELOs are an important piece of this new concept, in which students' attainment of specific learning goals is the standard measuring progress, rather than the traditional model of time spent sitting in school seats.
You can see the video here:
My colleague Melissa Ludtke, a journalist with a lifelong passion for women's and girls' issues, just launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for our transmedia project Touching Home in China. The project uses an interactive iBook, Youtube channel, and social media to explore girlhood in rural China through the eyes of two American adoptees - Melissa's daughter Maya and her friend and former crib neighbor Jennie.
I've thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with Melissa on this groundbreaking project, including working with media in this new way. We have produced a pilot chapter for the iPad (available free on the iBooks store).
Melissa is hoping to raise $40,000 through the indiegogo campaign. If we raise $7,000 in the first three days (byWednesday night), a donor has offered to pitch in $3,000 to bring it up to $10,000 - which could earn us a coveted spot on the Indiegogo "Trending" list.
Check it out here, and please support us if you can! Donations are tax deductible.
We finally finished the last of ten video pieces for the Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, about the Betty Friedan Collection at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America.
Schlesinger has collections of letters, papers, and documents on important figures such as Helen Keller, Judy Chicago, Anna Chennault, Amelia Earhart, Dorothy West, and Julia Child. It was a privilege to be able to take a peek into these rich resources.
This summer I am teaching for the first time in MassArt's Low-Residency MFA program, which is structured pretty similarly to the program I attended at San Francisco Art Institute: 60 credits over three summers, culminating in a big show at the end.
Teaching Experimental Video is fun because I get to see how painters, sculptors, designers, and performers approach videomaking. And last night I was blown away by their thesis show, which is up in Bakalar Gallery all next week. Several of my students had very strong work, from Adam Mastoon's meticulous, heartfelt photographs, collages, and installations (including a light installation on walls related to my 60.30.1 piece) exploring identity and personal experience:
Brack Morrow's intriguing multimedia work involving a "rover" constructed of musical instrument parts that roams the landscapes of the American West gathering environmental readings:
and Robert Maloney's striking installation about memory and urban landscape (of which I especially loved the tiny video projection hidden as a gem within the larger construction):