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Archive for the ‘Video’

“A Vision In A Dream. A Fragment.”

January 20, 2011 By: admin Category: Boston Beats, Family, Filmmaking, Going Home, Happiness, House, iPhone, Living, Love, Meditation, Michael, Unemployment, Video

This will be a very “meta” post, as I originally wrote part of the below in an email to my aunt, and then added to it a preface that I then, along with the email, published onto Facebook. It now here, in it’s entirety, with yet a new preface. A Pre-preface?

Anyway, I think the message contained herein should be shared far and wide, and so I’m publishing on the interwebs in the two places where I know it’ll do the most good. :) Enjoy.

“Hey everyone. This is my first FB note. It’s actually an email I wrote to my aunt who is a dream worker. I am adding it here because my situation is universal, and I thought maybe some of you are feeling the same way. I thought sharing might help some of you to not feel so alone and scared–as I do sometimes–and might help me let go of some of the hope I have that I will be able to keep my sweet, safe life exactly the way it is right now: sweet & safe. I’ve been studying Buddhist meditation and philosophy for over a year and have been resisting the concept of impermanence since the beginning. :) I guess sharing this note is my way of finally accepting it.

Anyway, I hope you can get something out of this. This is a terrible, terrible time for so many of us, but something I’ve learned recently is that the love in the artist community here in Boston is a-s-t-o-u-n-d-i-n-g. You all have helped me so much I almost don’t know what to say except that I am grateful. You are all so beautiful it actually brings tears to my eyes as I write this, and makes it sooooo clear to me why I’m a filmmaker: I have a classic excuse to stare at all of you FOR HOURS, and have the skills necessary to help share your beauty with the world. :)

Enjoy, and thank you so much for your grace and vulnerability. We are giants. :)

With love,

Alexia

“I had an intense dream the other night that I haven’t been able to forget. Thats impressive for two reasons: 1-I haven’t been dreaming much in the last few weeks, and 2-I think I can count on one hand the dreams that have lingered in my mind days after having had them.

The dream is very simple in imagery: my iPhone broke. That’s it. Here are the details…. I was talking with someone about the iPhone being very rugged, and that I’d dropped it a lot and had only incurred minor scratches and cracks. As I was talking I accidentally (truly an accident) dropped my phone. It crashed to the floor and looked fine from my vantage point of just bending my head to look. But then I bent my whole body to pick it up, and when I grasped it I saw that it had been split in two, vertically. This is almost completely impossible for an iPhone. In order to achieve this kind of break, you’d have to put the phone between two vice grips and forcibly snap it. Even then, you’d never get the straight-up-and-down break that I got.

I picked up the phone and rose. The edges of the breaks were jagged, but I could still push the pieces together and have them fit. So I did just that, and what do you know, the phone still worked. I had to hold the pieces together very tightly, but my friend and I thought it was pretty amazing that it still worked even in that scenario. Still within the dream, as I looked down at the blinking, broken phone, I thought to myself, ‘Well, there it is, I have to get the new iPhone 4.’ 😉

That was the end of the dream.

There was an ominousness to that last thought, however funny, about needing to get the new phone. This thought has it’s origins in my very scary economic situation… For two years I haven’t been buying anything. At all. Food and gas and the occasional beer. That’s it. I haven’t gone out to eat, haven’t gone to the movies, haven’t bought a book, haven’t gone to see any of my friends’ bands play if there was a cover charge. The only times I’ve left the house, actually, have been when I was able to arrange for several meetings and events to occur on the same day so I wouldn’t waste gas. You get the idea… My current iPhone-a used one given as a gift to me from Michael (my brother)-has been testy and slow for over a year. I have needed a replacement for a long, long time, but haven’t dared spend $300 to get it for fear of not being able to make the following month’s mortgage payment. This is a fear that’s been with me for a while. It’s no longer a paralytic fear, but still there none-the-less.

Anyway, the fateful day has finally come: it’s January 20th and I don’t have enough money to pay for February’s mortgage so I have to open up one of my retirement accounts. I only have two and the one I’ll be opening was started for me in 2003 when I was at Harvard-Smithsonian. They contributed to the fund, I never did, so, in a sense, all the money in there is “free.” Taking any of it out, though, before I’m 65, will incur a tax penalty. So for something like $4000 I have to remove $5000 and lose $1000. Again, as this is essentially “free money” I’m not stressing too much. I AM stressing about what will happen if I don’t get a job before April 1st. Because if that happens, then it will mean that I have to go into my second retirement account, the only one I have left, the one I’ve been adding to and growing since I was 23, and the one that I hoped would be my nest egg. If I have to go into that one, then the small life I have come to know, the tiny life here that I have worked and saved so long to build around me, will slowly evaporate.

In the dream, when I looked down at my phone I thought: ‘If you hold it together very tightly, it’s definitely still a phone, but you can’t ignore that if you let go… it just won’t work any more…’ “

Summit

July 10, 2010 By: admin Category: Happiness, Living, PlumTV, Video

From the summit it’s all down hill.

Yesterday was the pinnacle of how good our show can be given current constraints. Every week I’m amazed that Hannah and I are able to design and then something given the obstacles, which are mostly time-related. Last night I described my typical week as being a macrocosm of a typical Monday at Plum Daily on the Vineyard… On Monday morning I’m refreshed and excited to work on the show for that week; by lunch I’m worn out, freaked out, and pretty much feeling as if we’ll never get it done without leaving bodies on the ground. When I leave that night, I want to quit. :)

This past week’s show doesn’t have the best content we’ve ever made, but it’s got some great stuff. The thing about this week’s show is that it’s just GOOD. Sure, there are warts all over the place, but as of yesterday I can tell that the production formula is working, and, to be honest… I’m addicted.

I always knew I’d come back to broadcast, and was fairly sure I’d end up at some point doing lifestyle TV. What I never knew was that I’d be producing an entire show, and, when you think about it, and entire SERIES. By the time I leave the island in September, I will have produced 16 30-minute episodes of “Plum Daily: Martha’s Vineyard.” Somebody do the math…  That’s 480 hours of television. Am I having show pride? OH FUCK YES, I AM.

Having said all that, though, I have to come back to the blog post title: Summit. When something gets this good you know it, and if you’re smart you acknowledge it in the moment, let yourself feel good, and then let it go, because the one thing I can’t do is expect for the show to please me this every week that’s coming. There will, inevitably, be episodes where I fuck up real bad. I’m hoping they’ll be few, but if I rest on my laurels too long, I’ll miss something–some tiny, tiny thing–that makes the show great and that week’s episode will tank.

Paranoid? No, centered. I may have finally figured something out. feels good. Time to head back down now…

This Is

March 29, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Filmmaking, Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Meditation, The Film, Unemployment, Valet Battleship Parking, Video

Whenever I feel afraid–and for me fear is always about the lack of control over my responsibilities, like not having a job so I can pay my bills–I gather my “totems” (usually books) and place them all around me, like a child playing with blocks on the floor. I set my mind to “accomplishing.” “Today I’ll read from each of these books and by the end of the day or middle of the day I’ll know what to do.” At least there’s a chance I might feel better…

In the last several months I have applied to hundreds of jobs and gotten responses from less than ten. My resume, if you haven’t seen it, is fairly extraordinary. I’ve done some amazing things and worked at a lot of impressive places and done well there, so it’s shocking to me that I have been passed over so many times. It is certainly wearing me down. Maybe that’s why I’ve thrown myself headlong into this film about coal–to keep my mind and body occupied so I won’t dissolve into despair. Truly, despair isn’t very “me,” but this economic crisis time is strange and powerful enough that I wouldn’t be shocked about a lot of shocking things happening all around me.

Last night I finished Isabel Allende’s beautiful, funny memoir “The Sum of Days.” Its a reflection of the lives of her family members in the thirteen or so years since her daughter, Paula, died. Isabel is looking at her “tribe” and trying to make sense of her own life and choices in the face of everything that happens within the group. Not surprisingly the book is gorgeously written and very candid. I like books like that most of all. I don’t see a need for hiding, especially the raw and ugly stuff. My greatest emotional liberations have come when I admitted I did something and then apologized for it.

Today is rainy and so I can’t work out in the newly cleared garden. Nik was here over the weekend and helped me rake. By being gentle, she first motivated me to not be afraid of starting the garden project. She sees, even this early in our relationship, how much starting something new sometimes scares me. My mind works in an odd way with new projects–I have no trouble starting, I just sometimes have trouble feeling it’s okay to start. I worry that if I’m starting this new thing it means I’m taking time away from finishing something else, but, truly, I’ve never had a problem getting things done. When I was little Mom said that Michael would never start his projects and I would never finish mine. She was talking about homework, but it’s a good analogy. 😉 My first therapist–the great Joan in NYC–thought for a while that I might be ADD, but I shrugged that notion off. I’m not ADD, I’m just organized. 😉

Anyway, so I had a block about starting the garden project that I think was fear of being alone. I think I shy away from some tasks or projects because I’m afraid of doing them all alone, when that’s usually how things end up anyway. I always do my projects alone.I don’t want to all the time, but that’s what happens. People aren’t as motivated or passionate as I about getting something done and done well, so I end up working alone. TV I can handle in this way, more domestic-like projects I guess are tougher. This is something I’m trying very hard to work on in meditation: to be okay with the journey being largely or occasionally solitary. The motivating, mind-opening phrase is “the path is the goal.” Isn’t that marvelous?

Right out of college, after only one year, I gave up on acting as a career because I saw quickly that I wouldn’t be able to make a living from it, and that I’d have to do A LOT of bad work and work with bad people until I finally found something fun. But then that fun would only last three months at best. The thought that I’d have to look for work every three months was enough to make me understand that there was much more to life than that kind of suffering.  So I moved to television… 😉 A much more satisfactory metier…

My meditation practice, and Isabel’s way of writing, focuses on staying right where you are and looking at THAT, just that and nothing else. Don’t let your mind wander. Isabel has this wonderful paragraph toward the end of the book where she describes the abusive inner monologue that greets her every morning: “Don’t eat the bread, do you think the weight will fall off by itself? You’ve been writing for over twenty years and still you haven’t learned anything…” etc. I don’t do that to myself, I’m much kinder about my accomplishments, but I do tend to think of my world too small. I forget where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’ll be going soon and allow myself, instead, to get caught up with “what if?” Dreaming. Dreaming when we’re asleep is fine, but “What if” doesn’t exist and has no value when we’re awake. Only “this is” has value, only the knowledge of love has value, and so today I will try to stay in the present, learn something, and reflect on all the love in my life. That’s enough for one day.

Scents

February 25, 2010 By: admin Category: Coal, Faith, Filmmaking, Living, Unemployment, Valet Battleship Parking, Video

Since I bought my house there have been items and places on the property and on me that smell like skunk. It’s a semi-permanent thing. “Semi” because once I finally block up the accesses to the crawlspace under the barn where the little buggers live, the smell will fade over time (to be replaced by other more pleasant ones, I hope). But for the time being some piece of me or my life will smell like skunk.

hedden3full

Dr. of Animal Science and professor at Colorado State University and autistic, Temple Grandin said “Nature is cruel, but we don’t have to be.” This is the simplest I’ve ever heard The Golden Rule described. It’s not enough, apparently, to let people know that they have to be kind, you have to paint them a picture. Dr. Grandin’s phrase is as clear a picture as there is. Just watch any National Geographic special about animals in the wild and you’ll get the idea…

Nature is on my mind today as it has been almost every day since my unemployment-forced convalescence began. It’s because when I wake up I can see it and hear it all around through the many windows in my house, and because the business of nature has permeated my smell. Smell is identity. It can pinpoint time and place, and sometimes emotion. Sometimes a scent on me will be the inspiration for me to change my attitude. If I’m dirty I shower, sure, but that’s not it. Sometimes I’m perfectly clean and shower anyway because I need that fresh, organic shampoo smell to clear my mind.

I’ve been wound-up pretty tight lately because of the unemployment. It seems that no matter how many resumes I send out there is no work for me. It used to be that I could figure out what I was doing wrong, what I was saying in a cover letter that I shouldn’t say, or what I should remove from my resume to make myself seem a little less experienced (read: “expensive”). It is just fact that I’ve been doing what I do as long as I’ve been doing it, but that’s not what employers in this economy want to hear. They want to hear that you’re “inexperienced” (read: “cheap”), but have been working at this thing long enough to… you know… know everything.When I first got into filmmaking you had to have experience as a producer. Then you had to have experience as a videographer. Then you needed to know how to edit, which made you a Preditor (Producer/Editor). Then you needed to know how to create basic graphics. These days, if you can’t do all of these things as well as know a fairly large amount of motion graphics, you’re considered unhirable.

When I was at AOL I was hired as a video producer/editor. When the economy started to tank, my budget was slashed. No more video. So with the help of my immediate boss, I learned to blog and kept my job for another year. When the economy sank even more our uber boss put up another set of hoops. I jumped through them all. Whatever was required I learned not only how to do it, but do it well. I worked my fuckin’ ass off and got good at a lot of things. When I lost my job I took the time to made two documentary films and today, still unemployed, I am hard at work on the third. I work my fuckin’ ass off.

If our societal systems can’t figure out how to use people like me in the day-to-day improving of the world, then i think it’s time to reboot or rebuild the systems. We’re doing something very wrong if people with such skills can be tossed aside. Truly, I’m no different than anyone who can do something well, or anyone at all, really, because I believe that everyone is good at something. If nothing else, everyone is passionate about something and that’s a start to being good at it.

Temple Grandin saw that cattle were unhappy in the rectangular pens they were being held in, so she designed pens that catered to what made them feel good. If there was another Noah-like flood, the day the water recedes and people are allowed back on land they’ll ask each other what they can do so society can be rebuilt. You’re a carpenter? Okay, you go over here. You’re a priest? Great, go over there. You can make a mean chicken catchitori? Perfect, please design us a kitchen. You’re a documentary filmmaker? Thank goodness, we’ll need someone to look around at what we’re doing and write it all down so we remember.

I have value, and so do you.

The Christmas Crazies

December 27, 2009 By: admin Category: Coal, Cooking, Filmmaking, Food, The Film, Video

Ever since arriving on the Vineyard for this year’s holiday I’ve been transcribing interviews for my coal film, The Dirty Truth About Coal. The only interruptions have been meals, walks, and occasional readings of “The Sum of Our Days” by Isabel Allende. It is Isabel, in fact, who will write this post. Or, well, who’s writing I will copy here for your enjoyment.

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The scene in the book takes places in Isabel’s house in northern California. A camera crew and two chefs arrive with 14 boxes of material in order to film the preparation of a meal described in one of Isabel’s books, “Aphrodite.” Isabel’s designer daughter-in-law, Lori, oversees the event, while Isabel and her husband Willie, wait impatiently to eat the fruits of the chefs labor.

“The dishes were produced with mind-numbing slowness; they (the chefs) placed each lettuce leaf as if it were the feather on a hat, precisely in the angle between the tomato and the asparagus. Willie got so nervous he had to leave, but Lori seemed to comprehend the importance of the damned lettuce. In the meantime the artistic director replaced the flowers in the garden, which Willie had planted with his own hands, with others more colorful. None of this appeared in the magazine, the photos they used were all close shots: half a clam and a lemon slice. I asked why they had brought the Japanese napkins, the tortoise-shell serving spoons, the Venetian lanterns, but Lori shot me a look that said I should keep quiet. This lasted the entire day, and since we couldn’t attack the meal before it was photographed, we put away five bottles of white wine, and three red, on empty stomachs. By the end, even the artistic director was stumbling. Lori, who had drunk nothing but green tea, had to carry the fourteen boxes back to the van.”

MERRY CHRISTMAS, everyone. 😉

What A Strange, Strange Trip It Is…

November 29, 2009 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Aperture, Coal, Faith, Family, Happiness, Health, House, India, Living, Love, Lumix Pix, Molly, Uncategorized, Video, Yoga

So much has happened since I last blogged that it’s a struggle to settle on a place to start…

Lambert's-Cove-beach-scuplture500

Chicago

Did I tell you about Chicago? I traveled there for two reasons: to participate in the wedding of my dear friend Robin to her glorious, gorgeous, amazing wife Lindsey; and to film several interviews for The Dirty Truth About Coal.

The trip was a revelation. I have been out of work since March and “Soma Girls” was doing well. When I went to Chicago, therefore, I was 100% an independent filmmaker. I wasn’t making any money, but I was making great art and having the time of my life. For one week I had the great privilege of staying with my family–Lucy, Carlos & Xochi. Lucy’s sister is married to my brother, but all three families (Lucy’s, mine & Carlos’) all get along so well that I call them my inlaws. Conventions be damned! :)

Anyway, the filming was amazing. Lucy, an employee of the EPA, connected me with people, information and groups I would never have known about and so the interviews I got during my trip solidified that I have an amazing piece of work on my hands. Creatively, the trip was a thrill and layered with validation that, yes, indeed, I’m very good at this and should absolutely keep going.

Then there was the wedding… My friend Robin, even though she’s only one year older than I, has always acted as if she’s my mother or, at the very least, a very important older sister. Her grace with and care of me over the years has been one of the cornerstones in my life that has contributed to my success of self and profession. She has always been there for me and so to see her so in love and bringing to bear all her energies to this wonderful, beautiful match was a gift. Robin is a whole’lotta woman and she somehow found her perfect mate in kind, gentle, but also solid, loving and capable Lindsey.

“Soma Girls” World Premiere

On November 13, 2009 my latest documentary–a 27-minute short called “Soma Girls”–had it’s world premiere at the Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival in New York City. It was a full-circle feeling for me. I have toiled at this “video thing” for a while now and, although I’ve had (in my mind) many successes, to have one as big and public as this was all the way BITCHIN’. :)

Upon hearing of our selection into the festival, Nandini and I had scrambled to get the last of the technical sections of the film done. This meant color correction and sound mix. The drop-dead dates for both ended up being one day after I got back from Chicago, which meant that while I was in Chicago I had to export the film in the proper format for both vendors. The problem? I didn’t have the film with me. :) All thanks here, then, go to my friend Drew who lives up the street from me and has a key to my house. He’s also a techie so when I asked if he could go in, get the hard drive the film was on, pack it up VERY, VERY CAREFULLY, and then ship it to me overnight in Chicago, there was a profound feeling of confidence of my part. :) Once I got the drive I re-arranged one shoot for Coal so I could have a day to prepare Soma Girls. Juggling indy film projects and then having dinner with extended family–not a bad day’s existence.

Once I got back from Chicago I went straight into the sound mix in Boston on the same day Nandini was doing the color correction in New York. We’re so very “2.0,” aren’t we? 😉 Both processes went very well and I was able to send the sound files to the color-corrector/masterer with plenty of time.

Nandini then dropped the digibeta master off with the festival folks and that was that until festival time. The festival was great and is better described on the SomeGirls.org blog. Suffice it to say I had a great, great time. Having this experience for the first time with a film I made with one of my very favorite filmmakers, Nandini, was a thrill and a privilege. It was the perfect “first.” :)

Inspired Yoga

The week after the festival, in fact three days after I’d come home, I left again for another indy gig. I had been contacted several months ago by a yoga instructor in DC. She had her own studio and a large following of students, and was interested in making a DVD of her intermediate level practice. I was flabbergasted, flattered and very excited as I’ve wanted to make an instructional yoga DVD for a while. It’s really hard to do because, in addition to being instructional it needs to be interesting/beautiful. Thankfully, one of my favorite camera people in Boston, my new pal Nikki, was available to shoot. She has an eye I knew I’d need and so with her involvement I felt 100% confident that I could produce something of value for Kyra, the instructor.

Kyra’s style of teaching and, really BEING is about soooo much more than yoga. She embodies the need to make people feel better about themselves in every way, and so that’s what Nikki and I were able to find during the shoot. One of my strengths as a director, I think, is my ability to really understand a person’s vibe and make the work bring that out. However we did it, we did it, cuz at the end of the first day of shooting–three cameras!–a bunch of us reviewed the footage and were amazed by it’s beauty. Somehow Nikki and I had managed to not let the existence and job of the cameras get in the way of Kyra’s message, a message she delivered with a fluid and seamless one-hour sequence. Kyra was AMAZING.

And that was only Day 1. Day 2 of shooting involved filming “pickups,” anything we felt needed more attention/a different angle, and recording the Voice Over.

Now, recording a voice over might sound straight forward at first, but remember this needed to be a ONE HOUR voice over. Because she’s incredible and a trooper, and committed to her work, incredible Kyra did the whole goddamned thing in one take. Perfectly. :) Nikki and I were amazed. “Is this not how this usually goes?” Kyra asked us after we’d reviewed the first take (oh yes, she did another entire take). “Noooooooooo,” we replied in unison, gleefully. :)

The perfection and efficiency of the voice over–something I didn’t expect at all–made it easy for me cobble together a solid rough cut that same night. Therefore, when Kyra got back from her evening classes at the end of Day 2, we were able to have her give the whole thing a listen to see if there was anything she wanted to record again. There was, we did it, and then went to sleep.

Day 3 was equally awesome. Nikki was in charge of the day’s shoot which will become the introduction to the DVD. Kyra had written a 2 minute intro that welcomes the viewer, talks a bit about her philosophy/her story, and describes what’s to come on the DVD. Nikki made ART out of the shoot at the DC Arboretum at magic hour. Magic hour is Nikki’s wheelhouse. A word of advice if you hire her to shoot for you: describe what you want, bring her to the location, and get the fuck out of the way. Because Nikki and Kyra were so in tune with each other, this footage is gorgeous and totally in sync with the vibe Kyra and I want for the DVD. :)

Thanksgiving & Today

That brings me to today. I came home from DC in time to have one day in Hudson before going to the Vineyard for a restful Thanksgiving. I celebrated mellowly with Dad, Sarah, and Sarah’s beautiful mother, Emily. Being on the Vineyard is always restful and restorative, and so I’m home now after having slept a lot and recouped some of the energy spent on the last couple of months.

Voila. I hope this makes everyone feel caught up. It certainly makes me feel that way. :) As always, I welcome your comments and thoughts. This life is nothing unless it’s shared. :)

Much love & thanks to you all,

Alexia

Up, Up, And Away!

October 30, 2009 By: admin Category: Filmmaking, Soma Girls, The Film, Video

Everyone, meet Shahana. Shahana, this is everyone:

Soma-Girls-5x7_postcard

The Image

October 19, 2009 By: admin Category: Lumix Pix, The Film, Video

Screen shot 2009-10-19 at 11.41.19 AM

My Director of Photography friend Nikki has me obsessing, recently, over The Image, so when I saw this, I flipped:

Danfung Dennis

My pal & neighbor, Drew, is an amateur photog and sent me this link this morning. It’s a bit early in the day to be crying, but that’s what happened when I saw this. THIS is why I became a filmmaker. We, filmmakers & photojournalists, can make a situation of horror look beautiful and therefore keep viewers’ attention long enough for them to get the message. Holy shit. I just became a HUGE fan of this camera. I also flipped over all the technical answers Danfung gives. Rarely do shooters “divulge [their] secrets” so I’m grateful to read about what he did. Also, his detail regarding setting up his rig to work in a war zone really resonated. This is the line that got me:

“I cut up a Glidecam Body Pod to make it fit with my body armor.”

Having the skills to capture an image and being able to recognize when something is “news,” and will benefit society, will cause you to do crazy things with your body. Sometimes it’s work to remember that you have to plan to protect yourself, and that there may be shots you just shouldn’t try. To be fair, I haven’t been in a war zone, but have done some pretty “crazy” things to get the shot. Probably the craziest isn’t the one that sounds crazy: I was the only videographer during a magazine photo shoot of the U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey Team as they prepared for the Olympics. I filmed them on the ice for over two hours… in a tee-shirt. When I came off the ice, dragged by the sensitive and kind captain of the team, I was blue. Maybe that doesn’t sound like risking your life, but the importance then was that the network I was working for at the time, Oxygen Media, was trying to put women’s sports on the map so women and girls could have role models other than men. I think that’s “an idea worth spreading.” 😉

This footage reminds me that telling vital stories is why I do this work. There just came a time–at 2:00am in that hotel room in San Francisco in Sept. 2007–when I couldn’t sit on the sidelines any more. If i want to be able to face people every day I have to be profoundly proud of something I’m doing, and this is it: telling stories few others will or will be able to tell, and risking what I have to to get it right. That feeling of “risking” has been growing since my mother died. It’s not a death wish, just a “I don’t have anyone worrying like crazy so I can try a few more things” attitude. So, recently, I’ve been attracted to the idea of going into a conflict area, or at least a “you really don’t want to do that” area–maybe where there’s disease. I don’t know… I get these “goals” ideas every few years. I’ll think of something that I’ll feel I should do before I die and then work hard to get myself there. This “conflict area” thing might be one of them, and may be because Nikki’s got me thinking about The Image and because my favorite photographers are both journalists:

Sebastaio Salgado

James Nachtway

There’s also:

Mary Ellen Mark

So, since the obsession with The Image began my partial great sadness is that so much of my coal film is already shot. If I was just starting it I’d do things differently. For example, I’d take… ahem… a lot more time to actually set up a shot. :( Okay, so I’m a little late to the “pretty image” game but at least now I’m on the field… :)

Holy cow… *buzzing*

Monday’s Girls

October 18, 2009 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Faith, Happiness, Health, India, Love, Meditation, Mom, Valet Battleship Parking, Video

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You’re all familiar with this photo, I’m sure. It’s the one I use whenever I need an “avatar” or ID pic. It’s one of two that were taken by one of my best friends from college: Andy. She was into photography while we were studying acting and movement at Tisch (NYU), and this one was taken on the NYC subway one morning, too early. Hence, the large cup of coffee. This, I think, is the best candid shot of me ever taken. It’s hard to get me looking natural in shots. I inherited my awkwardness in front of the camera from my mother. It’s okay, though, as there are other gifts I’m grateful for… :)

The other shot from Andy was taken on a trip we made to Boston with another girl we didn’t actually like. See, there was a large group of us from ETW, the Experimental Theatre Wing–a specific school within Tisch that embraced the avant garde and modern dance. We were all very tight, like family, and young and gorgeous and energetic and talented, so I can imagine there was a fair amount of envy from folk who weren’t in the group.

Anyway, so this other woman who came with Andy and me to Boston wasn’t part of crowd and it was strange, but we still managed to have a good time. Andy and I cared for each other a great deal and always just wanted to have fun. The additional strangeness of that trip, though, was that I remember feeling that college was winding down for me. Andy still had two more years, but my ride was ending, and it had been one hell of a ride. I can’t imagine anyone having had a better, more exciting, more fulfilling time in college than I did. Sophomore year I learned about ETW and switched acting studios to join them in Paris for one year. From a year’s sabbatical with my family when I was ten, I knew Paris already like the back of my hand. It was, and is, home. Then, coming back to NYC for my final year, thinner, smarter, older, wiser in a way… was amazing. New York has always “delivered” for me and I will always be grateful.

These memories are coming up today because I found the cassette tapes Andy and others made for me during that time–the title of this post is the title of one of the tapes. A group of my girlfriends from ETW spontaneously got into a habit of going out to dinner every Monday for a few weeks. We’d go to the same place in the Village just off Washington Square Park. An Italian restaurant that had incredible food at student prices, and that catered mostly to older, single gay men. We were so out of place when we went in there that we sort of naturally fit. And, anyway, as there was always an army of us–6 or more every week–it wasn’t like we were going to allow ourselves to be intimidated out.

Looking back at all my experiences brings today’s into relief. Molly recently had a show she called “Metamorphoses” to reflect on all the changes that have gone on her in life recently. I wasn’t at the show, but have noticed that almost everyone around me has been going through massive changes. First and foremost, everyone is breaking up. Between us, Molly and I know about 6 to 7 couples that split in the last 6 months. Add my friend Nikki’s count and the number gets oddly large. So what the hell is happening? I haven’t figured it out yet, but it does make me feel like looking back is okay, now that things in my life have settled down a bit after recent storms.

Meditation class has, I think, had the biggest impact because it gave me the tools to help make my reflection productive. I’ve noticed things in me that are different from when I was in college, but more importantly I’ve noticed the things that are the same. That’s what we’ll be spending the next few weeks staring at people. Ya ready…??? 😉

In the meantime, I’m going to let the joy of a few new events wash over me. I am immensely grateful for the success of “Soma Girls,” and for a few wonderful new people I’ve met who have opened my eyes. :) Here’s to a fabulous Fall, y’all. Thanks for listening. :)

Fine Cut

July 27, 2009 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, India, Mom, Video

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This is the “Discovering: Shuktara” team in NYC for a super-swanky awareness-raising party and screening. From left to right: me, Davin–Associate Producer, Alison, David Earp–shuktara founder, David (DJ) Justice and Christy Smith–directors. Alison was the one who hooked us all up. She and David live in Kolkata and she found DJ & Christy as they were doing their round-the-world trip in 2008 for their organization, Discovering Deaf Worlds. Alison met me in 2007 when I went to Kolkata to film a fundraising video for The Shadhika Foundation. When DJ and Christy were talking about going back to Rochester and wanting to make a film, Alison suggested they contact me. The rest is history… :)

During editing on “Discovering: Shuktara” in Nov/Dec. 2008, DJ dubbed my studio “The Birdhouse.” The man who built my house and additional out-building in 1897, J.O. Girardin, had his own business. He was a roofer and his company was called “Bird Roofing.” Something about that name stuck with me. My mother has always loved bird images, and used to make Peruvian-looking bird sculptures out of the extra wood left over from the building of the addition to the Vineyard house. Anyway, when DJ & Christy arrived to edit that first time, I told them that story and David declared my aerie studio-above-the-garage “The Birdhouse.” :)

The film is doing very well. If you go to the DDW site you’ll see that it’s in four fests already and that’s probably only because the guys didn’t have enough time to add notations about more fests. :) I’m very proud of the film and of having worked with DJ & Christy. They are your dream directors: passionate, have a strong vision, and committed to the work and not their egos. It was a wonderful experience that I would repeat any day.

This last trip to NYC was a doozy. Lots of running around and not enough sleep, but I did meet some terrific people, had a chance to reconnect, if briefly, with the pals above, and did some GREAT work on “Soma Girls,” which I can’t wait to see fly out into the world. The good news about that film is that Nandini and I had gotten some amazing and valuable feedback a while ago and did a great job this past week of incorporating it into our existing timeline. Stepping back after finishing, we were floored and thrilled that the changes made a HUGE, HUGE difference. The film is BETTER. We’re committed to treating the sex workers, who are the mothers of the girls of Soma Home, with the utmost respect, and we feel we’ve managed to do just that in such a mellow, organic way that it flows very naturally within the rest of the story. As a result, the film is really about women more than it is about the girls, their difficult childhoods, their mothers’ circumstances, or even India. It feels like a universal piece.

Also, something changed in me just before I went to NYC, and it carried over to while I was there and to today. There’s an awareness and greater sense of self and self-love that I hope will last. I have tools now to counter many of the demons that usually approach, and don’t feel even half as myopic as I have recently. The chains may finally be off and I may be able to love again, or, really, possibly for the very first time. There’s A LOT more that needs to be practiced, made solid, but I can see clearly now, the haze has gone. 😉 I know the next few months are going to be incredible for “Soma Girls,” and I look forward to the great ride. It’s all been a very long time in coming. Lastly, if I can finish production and post on “The Dirty Truth About Coal” before the end of the year, I will have made three massive films in one year. :) And on top of that, if I can squeeze in the concert video of “Vishwa Mohan Bhatt,” and short-short of Megumi Hiromitsu talking about her song “Reflections On Sangeet” then this will have been one of the most amazing and life-changing years I’ve ever had.

Hallelujah.

More pix from NYC:

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Davin and me acting the fools

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Christy & DJ chatting with Lee.