Thursday, May 5, 2016


I did it. I honestly did not imagine a world where I was done with this movie. I will definitely still have stress dreams about it. I'm gonna finish a keg. Thank you Car Seat Headrest for possibly giving me permission to use your music. My composer ghosted me. F the haters. Peace out.

Staying Relevant

Now that the semester is wrapping up, it is time to start thinking about where we want to go from here with our documentary. We already know that we are going to have a composer do some work for the film before we start to submit it places. We definitely want to submit it to festivals, but my dad also just met someone who does some work with documentary distribution and wants to see our film. At the beginning of the semester we had considered looking into getting in contact with a distributor so we could screen the film at different colleges around the country so students could be informed about issues relating to the refugee crisis before they vote in November, but we kind of forgot about that until now. However, I think that could be a really good idea.

As of yesterday, one thing became extremely obvious: our documentary is not going to lose its relevance anytime soon. Now that Kasich and Cruz are out of the election, it's going to be all Trump all the time. While this news is extremely unsettling, it also makes it more important than ever that our documentary is seen by as many people as possible.

One of the feedbacks that we got on our documentary was that we should have shown more people who aren't Trump supporters that are opposed to refugees. While I think that would have been beneficial,  I also think that for a long time, we all assumed that Trump supporters were just crazy people. However, it's become more and more obvious that all different types of people support Trump. More people are backing him than ever expected, which means his views are actually the views of a lot more people in this country than most people would have thought.

After spending time getting to know the refugee community in Buffalo, I refuse to imagine a country where he is in charge. His ideas, and the ideas of his supporters, are filled with such hate toward people who deserve nothing but love. Now that it's inevitable that we'll be seeing him around until November, I hope our documentary can persuade at least a few people that voting for him is not a good idea.

Me and "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl"

I don't know why it's taken me so long to watch this film. I think I kept confusing it with Lars and the Real Girl and therefore assumed I'd already caught part of it on TV once and felt bored. Or because no one has explicitly recommended it to me. Regardless, I regret the past 15 months I let this breath of fresh film air breeze right by me.

I'm not going to talk about the plot because it's going to sound off-puttingly like that of The Fault in Our Stars. Yes, it's about a girl dying of cancer, but the beauty lies in the visual storytelling. The film features claymation, 90 degree camera rotation, and a whole bunch of fake mini movies within the movie (e.g. Jurassic Skate Park, Rosemary Baby Carrots, A Sockwork Orange) to illuminate Greg's quirks. Here is one of those cheesy YouTube film analyses about the cinematography:

I found it funny and sad, beautiful both in visual and aural composition. It is rooted in classic filmmaking (i.e. fully aware of and in homage to "the greats") but marked by unconventional--or at least rarely utilized, especially in teen coming-of-age films--techniques. I recommend it to all, after this hell week of Thesis is done.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Green Room

As I mentioned in last week's post, I went to see Jeremy Saulnier's newest film, Green Room at Cinemapolis. I've been a fan of Saulnier since I saw his previous film Blue Ruin. Blue Ruin was a slow burn revenge flick that was both beautiful and brutal. You can check out the trailer right here.

Based off of Blue Ruin I knew that this film would be intense, but holy shit, was it brutal. The movie follows a punk band called the Ain't Rights who do a gig at a skinhead bar where they witness a horrific act and find themselves trapped in the bar, fighting for their lives.  Check out the trailer here.

Never before has a movie both enthralled me and made me very uncomfortable. The film is graphically violent, but the violence isn't your typical over-the-top action movie violence, it's not played for laughs as it might be for a Tarantino film. The violence is brutal and realistic. There is an arm breaking scene early on in the movie that head let out an audible yelp in the theatre. Hands are mangled, throats are slashed, throats are ripped out by dogs, As the film progresses we become more and more uncomfortable with what we're seeing on screen.
Where I give the film so much credit is that it manages to have authentic characters who stand out, something that doesn't tend to happen in films of this sort. Each member of the band has a distinct persona that we see develop through the situation they find themselves trapped in.
Those expecting a non-stop action film may be somewhat disappointed as the film takes its time, slowly building up to the horrific acts that will take place. Even after Green Room explodes into a violent chaotic cacophony, it still crawls along, slowly feeding us the violence, keeping us in a constant state of unease. We are trapped, just like our protagonists.

The film is playing at Cinemapolis and I highly recommend you see this brutal and brilliant film that will stick with you long after you leave the theatre.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Color Correction

A few weeks ago I took a course on color correction, and I don't think my eyes will ever be the same again.

I learned a lot during the course, but it didn't really effect me until I started doing the color correction for my documentary. Now I just can't see colors the same way I used to. I'm hyper aware of color changes in T.V shows now, and I completely don't trust my own eyes.

Our brain does a lot to try to make sense of the world around us, and color is no exception. Take this illusion for example:

The two gray squares with the yellow dots are actually the same color, but our brain tricks us into thinking otherwise. It's super trippy, and this type of realization can really make you question the way you see things. Now that I'm beginning to understand color more, I'm not sure I can ever return to seeing it the same way.

Will The Advancement of Technology Make Old Children's Movies Full of Swears?

Technology is moving at a crazy pace. According to Moore's Law it moves at an exponential rate.

I'm not sure what the left axis of this picture is so I don't know what it means but I think it shows how much technology is accelerating.

One thing that might happen when the technology gets really crazy is that they'll figure out what birds are saying when they chirp and one issue is that they might find out that birds were swearing all the time.

This could become a MAJOR issue with PG children's movies that had birds chirping in the background. Imagine being a kid in the future, wearing a bird chirp converter headset and watching a movie from the past with birds chirping in the background which we thought were harmless chirps but they turned out to be swears like the F word or the C word or even the N word.

For this reason, we should be careful about making sure the birds we film in movies aren't rude or angry.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Everybody Wants Some/Midnight Special

So in the last week I went to two movies. Jeff Nichols' sci fi Midnight Special and Richard Linklater's Everybody Wants Some.
Midnight Special follows Michael Shannon as a man trying to protect his son from the government and a cult of which they were former members. The son is being sought after as he appears to have unexplained powers. I found the film to not be your typical sci-fi film. Despite the fact the Midnight Special is made out to be a chase film of sort, as it is, the film has a rather slow burn feel to it, taking it's time. The films uses this slow burn to focus more on character relationships rather than the plot at hand. I was reminded of the film Monster, the Gareth Edwards film, which is a monster movie that does not focus on the monsters, instead focusing on the relationships of the characters. While this works for the first two acts, when we begin to get an explanation as to why the events are occurring, we begin to feel taken out and somewhat robbed of an ending that fits the rest of the movie. It was a weird case where I would have preferred the film give no real explanation as to why things happen. The cast is strong and the film is well shot. It's certainly a film that I think is worth seeing on the big screen where you can be fully immersed in the world and events.

   Richard Linklater director of "white people nostalgia" films such as Boyhood and Dazed and Confused returns with Everybody Wants Some, another white people nostalgia film. I went into this film knowing exactly what I was getting into and still left a little disappointed. The film made almost no impact on me at all. I know EWS is a slice-of-life film but it was a slice of life that wasn't particularly interesting. It felt like Linklater was trying to remake Dazed and Confused but got bored making it. There are a few fun moments and characters but they all just end up being muddled together into a generic athletic hetero white guy story that lacks the real fun The Dazed and Confused contained. Everybody Wants Some works best as a shoddily built vehicle for 80's nostalgia fueled by some popular songs of the era.  The film made two hours pass but for me, did little more than that.

This weekend however, I'm going to see Jeremy Saulnier's new film Green Room and I'm pumped. This one has been high on my list of films I'm most looking forward to see in 2016. I'll report back after I see it.

Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice is a film, that at some level, defines definition. The Wikipedia blurb calls it a "2014 American stoner crime comedy-drama film." An adaptation by Paul Thomas Anderson elusive picture comes from a similarly elusive author, Thomas Pynchon. It was rumored Pynchon had a cameo in this winding film starring a hippie named Doc, portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix. However it's unclear where the cameo comes in as nobody knows what Pynchon looks like in 2014.

     Shot by Robert Elswit, who collaborated with Anderson on Boogie Nights and Punch Drunk Love among others, creates a beautiful and elaborate  aesthetic that matches the flow of Pynchon's prose.

The plot is entirely convoluted and complex, but the story is pretty simple. Doc's ex girlfriend, Shasta Fey, is mixed up with some bad people. Doc, a private eye, tries to crack the case. All under the constant supervision of the straight-laced hippie hater Lt. "Bigfoot" Bjornsen breathing down his neck. All while Doc is really, really high. Which is a lot of fun.
 Vice could be a straight laced drama if it weren't for the lyrical prose of Pynchon. The difference between comedy and drama is surprise, which Anderson works with well. Whether it's Doc's reaction to the stillborn baby of heroin addicts or it's Owen Wilson coming out of the fog or the fact that Benicio Del Toro plays Doc's lawyer who is an expert in maritime law.
Paul Thomas Anderson leads us to the resolution of the case. But like the novel, the film is more about the journey than the destination. The case falls by the wayside as the story shows more of Doc's struggle with finding love. Shasta Fay is a catalyst for the mystery but also for Doc's regret. Anderson does a masterful job of portraying all this complex human emotion while surprising the audience.
Surprising and beautiful enough for this to be the best stoner crime comedy-drama of 2014. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Weird Sound People

Although I am interested in pursuing a career in music and media, one aspect of film I will never forget learning is sound. Especially when it comes to foley, I really feel like I can connect with creating sounds that aren't coming from the physical object itself, but ones to enhance the sound itself. This video is about a foley artist working for SkyWalker sound and his experience in working in a giant foley pit. From ET, to Interstellar this guy is truly a magician when it comes to sounds. Also another cool fun fact, did you know that there are more astronauts in the world than there are foley artists.....


Finders Keepers: The Perfect Example of a Character Driven Documentary

This week I watched Finders Keepers on Netflix. Although I gravitate towards issues documentaries for personal viewing, this documentary will shows the power that good characters can have in making a documentary engaging and entertaining. The real life story follows a media feud and legal battle between Shannon Whisnant and John Wood over a very interesting item--an amputated leg. Shannon purchased an abandoned storage unit that housed Wood's leg that was amputated after a plane crash. Odd events transpired that resulted in an all out legal battle that captured media attention. The two men in particular (however we do see this with the other family members as well) are eccentric and, quite frankly, this story seems to fantastical to be true. Check out the trailer below:

Friday, April 22, 2016

Participatory Documentary

Over the years, the Western world, particularly the world of Hollywood, adopted a mode of documentary that is highly observational and conflict-centered. The popularity of the Western Observational Documentary is evident in the Oscar winners of recent years. Amy, CitizenFour, 20 Feet From Stardom, Inside Job to name a few over the most recent years. However, Inside Job began a breaking of the fourth wall in the interview setting - partly out of necessity.

In this scene from Inside Job, filmmaker Charles H. Ferguson inserts himself into the documentary through his questioning. This participation, I believe, is out of necessity, since the man isn't answering the question, rather than the purpose of referencing the filmmaker. When a documentary film becomes participatory, the film becomes a narrative of interactions between the filmmaker and the subjects of the film, rather than a report on a topic. As VICE gains in popularity, this mode of filmmaking becomes more popular in an online forum.

In Screwed in Houston, the filmmaker is integrated into the story. His demographics become increasingly apparent as he interacts with the Houston hip-hop community. These moments of interaction are a part of the story, rather than something that is off-screen. In my opinion, this creates a more honest depiction of the community as well as builds the filmmaker as an author of this history in a particular moment, not an expert or objective observer.

NOWNESS making beautiful things

I discovered a trove of video treasures today. I've been on before but never had the time to sift through its content beyond browsing video titles and thumbnails. NOWNESS is the digital video platform of Dazed Media, which also publishes one of my favorite online creative/news outlets, Dazed and Confused Magazine. "Celebrating the extraordinary of the every day," NOWNESS hosts hundreds of videos under the categories Art & Design, Music, Culture, Food & Travel, and Fashion & Beauty. While covering vastly different subject matters, the videos are all aesthetically striking and similar in reverent tone. Just uploaded today:

Here, artist Tauba Auerbach exhibits her new "tome" aka glorified pop-up book. There is no dialogue but instead an almost-uncomfortable focus on the sounds of the package's tape being slit, the book sliding out of its shell, etc.

The following two frames are from a sense-assaulting "Scratch n Sniff" and awe-inspiring "The Man Who Sails with the Stars," respectively. I find both videos, as I do the rest of the website's collection, painfully beautiful. Its components are not only well-executed (i.e.well-filmed and edited), but NOWNESS is expertly curated. I will definitely be spending more time here in the future.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

This presidential race is a joke

The title says it all. Literally. I know I've only been politically conscious for two elections now but this is a complete joke. Its gotten to the point where people are quite literally confiding in Donald Trump because he is not a politician... sane to some, crazy to most. This ridiculousness has even permeated other industries. There are now EDM remixes dedicated to presidential candidates... Yup, you guessed it. Without further adieu, I give you, Donald Trump.......

Bird Movies in the IMDB Top 250

For this weeks blogpost I will scroll through the IMDB Top 250 best movies of all time and take note of any movies that deal with birds. Here we go!

16 - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

83 - To Kill a Mockingbird

108 - Batman Begins (Bats are kind of birds. I'll allow it)

175 - The Maltese Falcon

Well, that's it! Very short list. Three-and-a-half movies in the top 250 movies of all time are about birds. Since I was expecting this list to be longer, I will do a two-for-the-price-of-one list.

As a case study I will also look at the the IMDB Top 250 list for the opposite of birds.... fish. Hopefully this will show us if Hollywood has racism towards birds. Here we go!

125 - On the Waterfront (I've never seen it but it probably involves fish)

133 - The Bridge on the River Kwai (I've never seen it either but again, probably about fish)

138 - The Seventh Seal (Seals are kind of fish)

163 - Finding Nemo

SIDE NOTE - I probably would have thought Shutter Island (185) was about fish if I hadn't seen it.

221 - Jaws

Well, there you have it. Scientific evidence that Hollywood is racist against birds, there are one-and-a-half more great movies about the opposite of birds than there are great movies about birds.

A World Without Songbirds

"Prepare to be transfixed by the opening shot in The Messenger, a new documentary about songbird declines. A Black-throated Blue Warbler, closer than you’ve ever seen one, flies in slow motion against a black background. Slo-mo can make anything look graceful (even creatures as clumsy as Hollywood actors) so just imagine what it does for a warbler in full breeding glory. It’s the most beautiful footage of a bird in flight I’ve ever seen."

The Messenger
is a visually thrilling ode to the beauty and importance of the imperiled songbird, and what it means to all of us on both a global and human level if we lose them. I am not familiar with the documentary so I am unaware of what the consequences of losing songbirds are, but I did some research, and the documentary has done surprisingly well for a bird documentary. It got an 8.4 out of 10 on IMDB and a 100% out of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and is being screened all across the United States as well as Canada.

If that doesn't make you want to see the documentary, then maybe this will! Ithaca's very own, Andrew Farnsworth, makes multiple appearances throughout the doc!
Andrew Farnsworth

Definitely a documentary to check out if you have the time. Great flick for the family as well as for education!

Favorite Films

Jake did it last week, and since I've had a pretty eventless week in regards to my film, I'm doing it this week. Here are my top 5(ish) favorite films.

1. Pan's Labyrinth

Guillermo Del Toro's 2006 film of a young girl who uses a magical world to escape the horrors of war has held the top spot of my favorite film pretty much ever since I first saw it in theatres. In fact it's the film that I cite as being the film that made me fall in love with film. Everything about this moved me and I became obsessed with it ever since. The magic realism present in the world Del Toro created moved me in ways no movie had before. I knew after seeing Pan's Labyrinth, that making movies is what I wanted to do.

2. The Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy

Now I know what you're going to say, "Walker, you can't have three films as your second favorite movie!" and to that I say screw you, I can do what I want. Also It's not like they're three radically different films. If Guillermo Del Toro holds the honor of directing my favorite film, Edgar Wright holds the honor of being my favorite director. He has not made a film that I've disliked. In fact, he hasn't made a film that I haven't loved. But his trilogy dubbed Blood and Ice Cream consisting of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and the World's End are what gives him the top honor. Sorry Scott Pilgrim vs the World. What I think Wright excels at so well is the amount of thought, craft, and care he puts into every aspect of his films. Edgar Wright is a director who you can tell truly and unabashedly loves film. The man puts so much detail into every second of his film that you'll notice something new every time. Now I am not afraid to admit that I am a huge sucker for meta filmmaking and I think Edgar Wright nails it. He's able to put so many jokes and references in his films but still allow them to breath on their own. Each film in the B&IC trilogy serves not so much as a genre parody but a love letter to each genre as he lampoons, subverts, and follows every trope present in each. Having seen each film many times I have found it near impossible to choose one over the other two for this spot so I'm letting them share it. 

3. Fargo

If you couldn't tell by #2 on the list, I'm a sucker for black humor and violence. The Coen Brother's film Fargo heavily delivers on both. Chock full of midwestern charm and horrific acts of violence, Joel and Ethan Coen deliver a story that manages to find heart, laughs, and a person being shoved in a woodchipper. Corny "back of a DVD review" aside, I don't remember when I first saw this movie but I do know that even since I saw it I've been "you betcha" entirely too much. As with Edgar Wright's works, the film had a particular impact on my style of writing. 

4. Attack The Block

Before he was Finn in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, John Boyega starred in another movie called Attack the Block. Released in 2011, Attack the Block was director Joe Cornish's film debut, and only film to date. Attack the Block follows a group of south London teens who must fight off an alien invasion. The film explodes with energy from its fantastic cast of mostly unknown actors and its chaotic editing. the film manages to write characters with real depth and make them very likeable despite the first scene involving them mugging a woman. The film works as an interesting look at an alien invasion, going smaller rather than bigger. Smart humor, some original and legitimately scary aliens, and a cast that pops Attack the Block is everything a low budget sci fi film should be.

5. Frances Ha

I've always said that Noah Baumbach writes the best assholes. The Squid and the Whale, While We're Young, and Mistress America prove that. My favorite Baumbach film however, lacks a real asshole character he's known for. What we get in it's place is a slice of life story of a friendship and someone in their mid twenties who doesn't really know what they want to do or where they are going. I think as I enter the age of the main character, I find myself relating to her more and more. There is no major antagonist or darkest moment present in Frances Ha. What we get instead are a series of episodes of someone's life as they step out into the real world. When I first saw Frances Ha I didn't care for it that much but it stuck with me. After each watchthrough I've found myself liking it more and more. It's short, honest, and funny in all the right ways. Frances is clearly a flawed character, but we're drawn to her awkwardness and indecisiveness. 

Honorable Mentions (Stuff that's later down the list)

There Will Be Blood
Punch-Drunk Love
No Country For Old Men
Mad Max: Fury Road

Space Ghost Coast to Coast

     Space Ghost Coast to Coast works well as a snapshot in time. A comedy that started a genre, Space Ghost Coast to Coast relied on its editors and writers to craft an absurdist story in post. 

     After Ted Turner purchased the rights to the Hannah-Barbara collection he asked a young writer, Mike Lazzo, to make him a cartoon for adults. However, Lazzo could only use the materials provided to him, namely a collection of old cartoons. Lazzo took Space Ghost from the show Space Ghost and Dino Boy and repurposed almost all the animation to make Space Ghost host a talk show. 

Lazzo wanted a show "people would pause on" and Space Ghost was the absurd, sometimes anti-comedy, that he wanted. The interviews with real 90's celebrities were recorded and then taken completely out of context. The writers would craft the show completely in post, changing the questions and moving around answers until the interview barely made sense or made the celebrity look bad. All this surround edby a B plot of Space Ghost's employee's; former villains Brak, Zorack, and Moltar all actively despise Space Ghost. 
The show's influence is widespread. It's popularity was at the height of late night talk shows, with the Tonight show being past to either Letterman or Leno and Conan doing more alternative comedy on the Late show. Coast to Coast didn't really fit into traditional programming and thus paved the way for Cartoon Network's late night half Adult Swim. From there shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Harvey Birdman were born. Space Ghost is also a huge influence on The Eric Andre Show another surrealist late night show now on Adult Swim with live actors and comedians.

Lazzo himself has said he's done with Space Ghost Coast to Coast and is now an Executive VP at Adult Swim. But the show has lived on in the alternative comedy community for being such a creative idea that changed so much. Space Ghost was ahead of it's time in terms of content manipulation, especially for animation. While the show is not always clear and direct, it is always entertaining watching a giant generic superhero talk to celebrities who don't really know what's going on.

Another Lesson Learned

In my last blog I talked about some major lessons I learned filming my senior thesis music video. Now I want to elaborate on some more important lessons about music video and film in general. We always hear the expression "a picture is worth a thousand words," that is especially true in framing. Sometimes we loose focus on how powerful we can make every shot just by aligning everything in the foreground and the background RIGHT. Take my music video for example, sometimes we had to rush the shot that the framing was not exactly what it should have been. Especially in the beginning of the video. In the script its supposed to be such a shitty day so that it would contrast his time in Miami. Most of the time, the framing looks really nice. Things are put together in the scene, but it wasnt supposed to be that way. Its amazing how a story can be told from just one shot. Check out this dope video talking about pictures that immediately tell a detailed story.

It's Always Sunny...

What is comedy? What makes people laugh? Comedy, especially in television, is an extremely hard concept to master. Everybody has a different sense of humor so finding an audience can be very difficult. The show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a special sort of comedy. Being one of the top rated shows on the cable network FX, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (or “It’s always Sunny” for short) branches out to all different types of audiences with it’s offensive, narcissistic sense of humor. By taking on controversial subjects like abortion and gay marriage throughout the series along with just straight-up twisted plot lines, the show finds its unique and bizarre style and takes it to new lengths that satisfy all audience members.

The show is about five characters: Mac, Dennis, Charlie, Sweet Dee, and Frank who all own a subpar bar in Philadelphia. The show consists of these characters trying to one-up each other, take advantage of each other, and screw each other over in any way they find suitable to benefit themselves. Watching these delusional characters work off of each other in the cruelest of ways adds to the laughs - but it’s only half of the fun. Then they bring in serious topics to focus on. For example, the episode shown in class demonstrations how these characters pretend to be handicapped to get girls (or in Sweet Dee’s case, to get guys). This is where the other half of the laughs comes from. All of the characters are so over-the-top offensive that nobody can believe that they exist, which is why they can get away with bringing up edgy topics like disabled people. But the dialogue is so natural and conventional (due to the half-improvisation/half-scripted style of the show) that the viewers can believe that these characters actually do exist. This contradiction explains why the show is so popular today.  People are able to relate to the real life emotions that these characters portray but when people watch these characters act upon these emotions in the most illogical and offensive ways possible, it creates the rambunctious fun that the show is known for.

The story telling and characters are great in the show, but not many people notice the brilliantly simple camera shots and stage lighting that the show offers. As you watch It’s Always Sunny, you can clearly see how there are no use of special camera angles and no use of special lighting. The directors and producers do this purposely. They want the viewers to feel as if they are hanging out with the gang at the bar and going on an absurd adventure with them. This personal aesthetic adds to the comedy to the show and here’s why: Let’s say I told you a story that I thought was hilarious. But after you’ve heard my story, you don’t share the same enthusiasm that I do. My response would probably be, “Oh, you just had to be there to think it was funny.” The producers use this technique in It’s Always Sunny with the personal and natural camera shots and lighting, where it seems as if you’re in the show experiencing everything that these characters are experiencing.

There are many elements to this show that make it a successful comedy. But the reason why I like this show so much is the fact that the actors just have fun with it. The actors on the show, who also write and produce the show, are all friends behind the scenes and share a similar sense of humor. When they are on screen, the viewers can obviously tell that the actors are having fun and not taking their characters too seriously.  This authentic atmosphere that the actors create on the show is unlike any other television show and if they continue to bring forth this energy, they will continue to be successful.

Oh The Places You Will Go...

I've always been pretty restless. I don't like staying in one place and doing one thing for too long. I hated high school because it seemed like the same thing every day, every year. College, though, has been quite different. Looking back, this year has been especially crazy.

Last semester, I produced a documentary in New Orleans. I found myself in the car for a total of 80 hours with people who were once strangers. I was stranded in Tuscaloosa for 24 hours. I filmed at jazz clubs, and hung out with amazing musicians. I even ended up sitting in a bar that I was too young to be at, in the middle of a confrontation with a former NFL player because he didn't like our doc.

This semester, I've been to Buffalo and back countless times, often just for the day. I went to Canada for a couple of hours just because. I filmed a family being reunited after 15 years. I decided to not be a vegetarian for a day, and ate goat from an African market. I tagged along while an Ethiopian couple went grocery shopping in the U.S for the first time. I stayed at a hotel that was allegedly haunted by a child ghost. And I even went to a Trump rally...

That's right. A Donald Trump rally.

Of all the things I have been through this year, the Trump rally was easily the strangest. People were selling shirts on the street that said "Hillary sucks, but not like Monica. Trump that bitch." There were protesters corralled into a small section, and people protesting the protestors. A seemingly average lady told us that refugees take perfume as a sign that it is okay to rape a woman. And Donald Trump accidentally said 7/11 instead of 9/11.

One of the strangely surprising parts of the rally was the fact that we were able to get media credentials. I woke up that morning assuming we would just film outside the rally, and ended the night on the media riser, sandwiched between Time Warner, CNN and Fox. One of the reporters there was extremely helpful: he found us a spot next to him on the riser, got us hooked into the mic box, and gave us a run down on what we should expect. At first, I was shocked that he was helping us without us even asking, but then I realized that Evin and I definitely stood out. We were the youngest people in the press by at least 15 years, and I was the only female cameraperson.

The rally ended by Trump walking off the stage to the Space Jam song, while his supports all chanted. The entire thing was bazaar, disturbing, and the perfect way to wrap shooting for the year.

Being a doc major has been pretty crazy, and I'm excited for the adventures that still lie ahead.

The Role of Combat Cameraman

Combat Camera is defined as the acquisition and use of still and motion imagery to support operational and planning requirements across the range of military operations and during joint exercises. The imagery produced provides operational information for internal and external use. The deployment of joint COMCAM teams offer a capability to enhance operational and PA missions. COMCAM teams often have access to events and areas unavailable to public affairs, other visual information personnel or media representatives.

Combat Camera units provide the President, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, combatant commands, and joint task forces with a directed imagery capability in support of operational and planning requirements during wartime operations, worldwide crises, contingencies and joint exercises. COMCAM visual documentation enhances the commander’s situational awareness and establishes a historical operations record.

COMCAM forces perform a unique and highly specialized mission. Their capabilities range from aerial photography and airborne qualification to special forces reconnaissance and underwater photography. COMCAM forces are assigned to J-3 Operations under the direct control of the J-39 Global Operations staff officer. While their efforts and products routinely support the intelligence and public affairs missions, COMCAM exists as a separate and distinct operational entity with a clearly defined documentation mission.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Diary Animations

"I had sex today. Holy shit."

I loved Diary of a Teenage Girl the first time I saw it, and I appreciated it even more upon second-watching over the course of 3 nights this week. My favorite aspect of it, I think (there are so many), is its inclusion of animation throughout. By animating the protagonist's thoughts, the audience is able to relate more quickly and emotionally to her experiences, which are typically far from average (e.g. losing her virginity and subsequently falling in love with her mom's boyfriend; embarking on a drug-fueled lesbian relationship, etc.)

This is Monroe. Seeing this helps us feel what Minnie feels when she looks at him early on: butterflies, blossoming love, etc.

Curious about the point of production at which it was decided to include animations, I consulted the script online. Turns out these animations were written in from the beginning. "Animated Minnie," it describes, as she towers through the cartoon-y streets of San Francisco after first discovering the power of her sexuality, "meets different boys along her journey. She keeps walking, morphing. Sometimes she has big thighs, sometimes her head is very small. Sometimes her breasts bulge from her shirt. She keeps walking." The animations were clearly planned to serve a creative purpose.

Erica and I are toying with the idea of including animations in the ultimate iteration of our documentary. There are scenes described by our interviewees which would lend themselves very well to being animated (because we can't feasibly reenact them, nor do we feel live-action reenactments would fit the tone of our piece). As I explore animators' works online, I'm careful to remain critical of the tone conveyed by each's work and whether such would make sense in our piece. Not all animations are created equal, and I believe it crucial for an animation to carry on the mood of the live-action scene it extends from.

Diary of a Teenage Girl's animations successfully enhanced the whimsical humor of the rest of its script. By giving us a glimpse into Minnie's head, we are able to experience with and relate to her young life. Simply put, it makes the film unique, memorable, and good.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Election 2016. What's Going On?

As I'm sitting here watching Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders duke it out in the CNN Democratic debate, I'm struggling with what to write my blogpost on. Here's what we do know about this election so far: Hillary Clinton is still up in the polls but Bernie has recently been surging. As I'm watching Bernie dominate the debate, I wonder why Hillary could still have the lead. Then I realize something that was painfully obvious. Hillary Clinton looks like a bird.

Curious if anybody else has done research on this topic, I search Google. Lo-and-behold after one search I unearth photographic evidence of people's artistic take on Hillary's ornithological resemblance:

It made me very happy to see that other people have contributed to this part of science. But there was one thing that bothered me. If Hillary looks so much like a bird, then why is Bernie getting so popular? It doesn't add up.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Perhaps one of the most candid and memorable moments of this entire presidential election cycle happened to Bernie just a couple of weeks ago and made social media explode over him. I'll let the picture speak for itself:

Georgia's New Booming Industry

Since 2007, it seems that the film industry in Georgia has increased significantly. If you thought that it seemed like a lot of Hollywood stars have left the west coast and relocated in Atlanta, then you'd be right.
As of 2007, the film and entertainment industry has increased a whopping 1000%. A lot of people are wondering what caused this huge boom and there has been much speculation about it but no real answer has been concluded. Here are a few theories as to why:

1. The Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act
The most recent version of the bill, passed in 2008, offers a 20 percent income tax credit to qualified film, TV and commercial productions shooting in Georgia with an additional 10 percent tax credit given to productions that embed a Georgia promotional logo in the tiles or credits or as product placement within the content of the production. There was also the added incentive of an 8 percent sales tax credit for qualifying production purchases in Georgia, which will return to the state’s coffers on Jan. 1, 2013.

2. Bird Migratory Patterns:
Migratory patterns
Birds migrate to move from areas of low or decreasing resources to areas of high or increasing resources. The two primary resources being sought are food and nesting locations. As winter approaches and the availability of insects and other food drops, the birds move south in search of warmer weather and for a larger abundance of food. During the winter, or "dead" months, production companies pour millions of dollars into trying to give the allusion that birds are still prevalent within their respective areas. People eventually realized that the gains from relocating more south outweighed the former option tremendously.

If you don't believe that Atlanta has become the new hot spot for filming, just take a look of some of the celebrities that have decided to roost there.

 Tyler Perry

Bobbi Kristina

Chip Wade

Mark Richt