Saturday, December 20, 2008

Artistas: the Maiden, Mother and Crone

allowScriptAccess="always" allowNetworking="internal" data="">

Often, I talk about work on this blog, but can't show it because it is showing in film festivals or otherwise not available for online distribution. So I'm always happy when I can post work. Here is the trailer I edited for the film Artistas: the Maiden, Mother and Crone -- a documentary directed by Sue May.

Friday, December 19, 2008

First, Cut a Hole in the Box

Wired has an article about a "television studio in a box" that I found fairly amazing. I teach a television studio class, and we use a fairly expensive setup including a large switcher, audio mixing console, monitors, etc. to do switching (live editing) on three-camera setups. So it's impressive to see the equivalent in a small package at a sane price.

TV Studio in a Box Enables Long-Tail Television

"We had to take a process that normally has 5 to 30 people creating a show and make it easy enough for one person to run, [someone] who has never run a TV show before," explained Philips. Indeed, the TriCaster allows a single operator to mix multiple cameras (higher-end models support more cameras) interspersed with graphics, pre-recorded clips, real-time effects and more than 300 three-dimensional transitions. The box outputs to the web, television stations or big screens in churches and sporting arenas.

NewTek's entry-level TriCaster, with support for three cameras, costs $4,000. That may seem like a lot, but considering that it can be used in place of a mobile production vehicle, four grand is small potatoes, relatively speaking.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Trailing Off

Since my recent adventure in cutting a trailer for a documentary, I've been thinking this might be something I should do more of. It has several pluses: it's a relatively intense, fast, and direct process and allows me to focus on editing instead of all the myriad details that even basic doc production requires.

Which doesn't mean I don't love doc production. It's just nice, sometimes, to do something that is a direct challenge: take this stuff, cut it into a trailer. I kinda like that.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Big Sky Here We Come

I admit it -- I've been doing all my posting over at my other blog: New York Portraits.

But I want to share one bit of good news over here: our film Bend & Bow will be screening at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in February 2009.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Frugal Traveler: New York City

Here's a Frugal episode I forgot to post: Frugal Traveler: New York City.

I think it is my last episode with the series.

"The Frugal Traveler discovers that New York is really a city of small, manageable neighborhoods, and it's not expensive if you know where to go."

Monday, September 01, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

On Par: The Fitting

On Par: The Annoying Guy Part II

The latest episode of "On Par" is The Annoying Guy Part II.

I like the way the series is going. It has a touch of style, I think, and enough substance to make it interesting. As a freelancer, I'm not sure if I'll be cutting these next year or not, but I think it will be interesting to see it develop through another season. The humor, increasingly, comes out of the timing. Something happens, someone reacts, something is revealed. Usually, all in under 2 minutes 30 seconds....

Sunday, August 24, 2008

On Par: Slow Play

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

On Par: Hitting It Fat

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

On Par: Coming Up Short

Monday, August 18, 2008

On Par: Relief on the Range

On Par: Child's Play

Here's the newest episode of "On Par By Bill Pennington": Child's Play.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

On Par: Rules That Rule

Saturday, August 16, 2008

On Par: The Long and Short of It

Now that the "On Par" series is winding down I'm embedding all of the episodes I've been involved in. Enjoy.

Frugal Edinburgh

I usually give links for each new "Frugal Traveler" episode as they come out. I noticed, however, that the New York Times is posting these on YouTube as well. It turns out you can embed them.

You can see this episode at the usual New York Times site as well, of course.

The Edinburgh episode marks the 13th and final for the summer tour. There is a "reminiscence" episode that will post this upcoming Wednesday, also, looking back on the Grand Tour.

Frugal Traveler: Week 12, Dutch-Belgian Border

I forgot to post last week's episode. Embedded above via YouTube, and at the New York Times as always.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Dokufest Screening

Here's the program that includes our film "Bend & Bow":

International Documentary Challenge.

If you happen to be in Prizren, Kosovo, on Tuesday, please attend.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Don't Even Bring Up the Sound Crew

It's easy to forget that, when creating a video that's seen by a large audience, folks will tend to bring their own, unique perspective to it. They'll interpret it in their own way.

The Frugal Traveler has a great post about a viewer who's just certain that the series is actually shot by Matt’s Secret Cameraman.


On my other blog, I've posted about that upcoming film festival:

Santas To Antimatter

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Blind Item

My film "Notebook on Santas and Elves" is going to ... well, I'm not sure I'm allowed to say yet. Will announce the festival and screening dates very soon.

Video Catch-Up

A new "On Par by Bill Pennington" episode about Slow Play.

And also two "Frugal Traveler" episodes:

Week 10: Gdansk, Poland

Week 11: Germany.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bend & Bow Going to Dokufest

Just got the following email:

Hello Doc Challenge Finalists,

The Doc Challenge Finalists showcase has been accepted into Dokufest in Kosovo! Your film will be screening in Prizren, Kosovo sometime between August 4-10. (The exact time has not yet been confirmed.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

On Par Episodes

Recently I've been editing some episodes of "On Par by Bill Pennington," a series on golf. It's been a fun experience, with a style quite different from The Frugal Traveler episodes.

Coming Up Short

Relief on the Range

Rules That Rule

The Long and Short of It

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Grand Tour Week 4

This week's edit: the Frugal Traveler goes to the French Riviera.

The Webby Awards

Well, the Webby Awards were fun. No dramatic results, since you know ahead of time who won what. Nonetheless, the reception was good, the event itself was fun, and the 5-word acceptance speech limit keeps the duration reasonable.

The speech for the Frugal Traveler got a mention in: Webby Film And Video Awards: Best (and Worst) Acceptance Speeches.

I have a photo from the elegant afterparty posted on my other blog....

And, in case you were wondering: yes, the Chocolate Rain guy sang the national anthem.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

And Newer Still

Here's the newest edit, completed about 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Frugal Traveler: The Grand Tour. Week 3: Southwestern France.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Edits

I know, I know, I haven't had time to post. Been editing, and trying to keep up with everything else. Here are two new videos. Again, as always, I learned a lot in the process, but until I catch up I won't have time to post any notes or discussion.... Maybe soon.

Frugal Traveler: The Grand Tour. Week 2: Paris, France.

On Par by Bill Pennington: Rules That Rule

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Frugal Traveler: The Grand Tour

I'll post some notes on the editing process for this when I catch my breath (maybe on the weekend) but, until then, here's the first week of "The Grand Tour."

Frugal Traveler: The Grand Tour. Week 1: Dover to Calais

Monday, May 19, 2008

Two New Edits

Two new videos edited. Lots to learn from both, but no time to discuss just now....

Frugal Traveler: Toronto

The Long and Short of It (On Par by Bill Pennington)

Update: link corrected.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Frugal Traveler Wins a Webby

Frugal Traveler: American Road Trip -- the video series I edited 12 episodes of last summer -- won the Webby Award in the "Travel" category of the "Online Film & Video" division today. Congratulations to Matt Gross and the entire Frugal team.

A new series of Frugal Traveler episodes is coming in just a few weeks, by the way....

Monday, May 05, 2008

Oh, Canada

Even the Canadian taggers are polite.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Aftermath: The Susan Lucci of the IDC

At the screening, our film played very well. The audience laughed in the right places, applauded strongly, and seemed to like it.

The level of quality this year, however, was very, very high, and all 14 of the films were strong. So, the judges didn't see it our way, not even on Best Use of Time Stamp.

That's okay: there was a vodka bar within walking distance, and after two Rosemary Martinis, it started to seem like a good idea to enter again next year....

Chief Instigator

The highlight of our visit to the Duke of York? That would be meeting Tony. Follow the link to read his notes from this years' event.

The Duke of York

The two years we've gone to the IDC finals we've made it to the scheduled filmmaker get-together at The Duke of York. Meet the other teams, have a beer, wait for any nervousness about the screening to pass. Great fun.

One note: do not try to say "The Duke of York" when you've been drinking, as it may come out "The Dork of Yuke."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

2 A.M. or So

After another screening (I'll write about that one soon) we went to a fabulous dinner with Mary Margaret (a.k.a. Haikugirl) and then went on to a get together with some of the other International Documentary Challenge finalists. (Great group of folks -- and it really seems like this will be an excellent screening, so I'm looking forward to it. In a Zen-like way.)

Later, we continued on with our old New School pal Erin (a.k.a. Rackle), now living in Toronto.

More Screenings

On Friday, I saw "Mr. Edison's Ear" and "The Man Who Crossed the Sahara."

Mr. Edison's Ear was fascinating, like a talented teenager: it showed promise in many directions, but could not decide what it wanted to do. Starting with the notion that Edison's loss of hearing at the age of 12 profoundly changed the development of audio recording, the film makes the strange choice to end with a long recording of Rachmaninoff played over footage of the electrocution of an elephant. To me, a documentary that makes a claim to have historical insight needs more mastery of its subject.

I found The Man Who Crossed the Sahara remarkable, and recommend it highly, but I was left with many questions that detract from the main themes of the movie. I love films that leave room for interpretation, but the beginning and ending of the movie -- seemingly tacked on around a great central story -- left me confused.

Peameal Optional

On Friday morning, we followed tradition and went to the Golden Griddle for breakfast. Same section of the restaurant, same waitress as last year.

Haikugirl met us to give us some local tips and to set up a great dinner in town later that evening.

The Next Day

Friday morning I discovered the view from my hotel window. I wondered if this would channel the sound from the courtyard into my room.

Disco Documentarians, 2008 Edition

After the screenings we went to the Industry Party, grabbed a free Steam Whistle, and met a few people, including a few other International Documentary Challenge finalists.

Thursday Screenings

The first screening we attended this year included the short "$4 Haircut" -- which is exactly what it sounds like -- and the feature "S&M: Short and Male."

$4 Haircut, set to a soundtrack of tuba music, is a fun profile of a man who frequents a bargain barbershop. It's funny, but it's only the third-best barbershop documentary I've seen this year. It didn't entirely live up to the raging ovation heard from the director's friends , but it's an unpretentious, fun film and I did laugh out loud more than once.

S&M: Short and Male is a well-put-together film that's too all-over-the-place to succeed completely.

I love the premise -- that males below average height are discriminated against both overtly and unconsciously -- and enjoyed the process of meeting an initial batch of characters with exactly that problem. From there, though, the film attempts to look at world-wide issues, including a teen who struggles through painful surgery to gain height, and the legal fight over job height requirements in China. While each part is fascinating, it feels less like we've expanded the story than that we've tried to cover every possible aspect of the issue. By the time we return to resolve the story of our initial group of height-challenged guys, the movie feels 15 minutes too long.

And I have one other gripe: the main story that gets resolved is only a story because the director has withheld information from us. While that's interesting, it doesn't feel as if we've followed along with someone to the end of the story, and that we've just seen an essay rather than a journey.

On College

Later, we headed to the Royal for our first screening. Anthony arrived in town and met us in line. I love this section of the city -- restaurants and bars line the street block after block, and most of them look very good.


The Festival's gift bags are a better design this year. No t-shirts left except in Extra Small.

The Other Yorkville

I had forgotten: Toronto also has a Yorkville.

Sunny Toronto

Passion turned out to be a good choice -- good food, a pleasant outdoor courtyard, and drinks to match everyone's wardrobe.

On Yonge

Once we got into town, we decided to follow normal Profluence protocol and stopped for drinks. We started at a restaurant called Passion. Here Laura is seen wondering if the drinks go with her outfit.

Hot Docs

On Thursday, Dana, Laura and I took a cab to the airport and then flew to Toronto. I'm normally stressed when I travel, but I've decided to take a Zen approach to the trip and the International Doc Challenge and the whole festival. Win, lose, whatever. At least I'll get to see the city again.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Shooting materials for a podcast-style video this week. I think sometimes it's easy to consider some types of work "serious" and some "for pay" -- but I find I learn from every project I do. Tomorrow, weather permitting, there will be some shooting out in the sun on a nice spring day. Should be fun.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Details of the IDC Screening

The films are listed for the International Documentary Challenge Screening at Hot Docs.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Next Twist

I had forgotten that last year's trip to Hot Docs, as great as it was, included the kind of tension that happens when awards are on the line. While I realize awards for art are, in a way, really silly, it was still a very interesting experience to stand in front of the full-house audience when team names were called, and to find out what the judges thought of our film.

Well, there will be added tension this year. This email came in yesterday, from the International Doc Challenge organizer:

Hello Doc Challenge Filmmakers,

The American Documentary | P.O.V Award for the International Documentary Challenge has been determined and is going to one of the 14 finalists. We will announce this winner with all of the other winners at Hot Docs on April 26!


Friday, April 04, 2008

P.O.V. Prize for a Doc Challenge Film

According to Doug Whyte, the Doc Challenge Producer:

The International Documentary Challenge is partnering with P.O.V., PBS' premiere showcase for independent, non-fiction film. P.O.V. will be awarding the "P.O.V. Prize" to a Doc Challenge film. This film will be prominently showcased on their website and receive a $1,000 award.

Currently P.O.V is looking at the top 25 rated films from the 1st round of judging to determine the winner. The winning film will screen at Hot Docs, where the prize will be awarded. If the P.O.V. Prize goes to a non-finalist, we will announce it next Monday so the filmmakers can attend the festival if they want to. If it goes to a finalist, we will just announce the winner at Hot Docs.
Well, that's very cool.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bend & Bow at HotDocs

Our film "Bend & Bow" will have its world premiere at HotDocs Canadian International Film Festival on Saturday, April 26th at 9:30 p.m. It will screen with 13 other International Documentary Challenge finalists, and the winning films will be announced.

It looks like all six members of Profluence will be attending, so come say hello. Get your tickets early, though -- last year's event was sold out.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Doc Challenge Finalists

Here are the finalists for the International Documentary Challenge. (We are team number 5 on the list.) I'm really looking forward to the screening -- last year's event was sold-out.

1. All The Eights, 88
Team: Sholi
City/Country: Sydney, Australia
Genre: Biography/Character Study

2. Ars Magna
Team Juicebox
City/Country: Seattle, WA, USA
Genre: Biography/Character Study

3. The Art of Balance
Team: Surge Media
City/Country: New York, NY, USA
Genre: Sports

4. Beholder
Team: Boss and Coder 34
City/Country: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Genre: First Person

5. Bend & Bow
Team: Profluence Productions
City/Country: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Genre: Experimental

6. Click Whoosh
Team: Reel Grrrls
City/Country: Seattle, WA, USA
Genre: Historical

7. Ghost Bike
Team: Go!
City/Country: Toronto, ON, Canada
Genre: Art

8. I=me2
Team: Year of the Rooster
City/Country: Sherman Oaks, CA, USA
Genre: Experimental

9. Ice Fishing
Team: Rotating Planet
City/Country: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Genre: Sports

10. Jetty
Team: Fly On The Wall
City/Country: Portland, OR, USA
Genre: Social Issue/Political

11. Meet The Freegans
Team: Shields Films
City/Country: Portland, OR, USA
Genre: Social Issue/Political

12. Pennywise: The Changing Face of Change
Team: Lucky Shot
City/Country: Silver Spring, MD, USA
Genre: Social Issue/Political

13. Red Light Blues
Team: Abrahami-Netz Productions
City/Country: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Genre: Social Issue/Political

14. Stick and Pound
Team: It Donned On Me
City/Country: Foster City, CA, USA
Genre: Art

These 14 finalists will screen on the evening of Saturday, April 26 at 9:30pm at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival in Toronto where the Grand Prize Winner will be announced.


It has been a tough and unusual week. A little good news showed up this afternoon. So I say: Toronto Here We Come.

Breaking News

This just in: our short film made it into the finals of The International Documentary Challenge, so we'll be screening at HotDocs on April 26th. Details later tonight....

Thursday, March 20, 2008

No, Thank You

They seem to be filming a piece about the "junk shop" on First Avenue near my apartment. Which I'm all for. Good luck. I hope it goes well.

Perhaps they could put some identification on this flyer, though? A contact phone number? A company name? They've left these signs up for days, also, not just during the hours when I've seen the camera there. Are they shooting out the window onto the sidewalk? Is the camera hidden? Someone has scrawled "Is this legal?" on it. It would be nice if there was someone to ask.

Don't do stupid things that make the public suspicious of documentary filmmakers. Bring out your camera, and if you point it at someone and they say "no" then stop taping them. Have some respect. Don't just post flyers that make people think documentarians are out to pull a fast one.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

IDC Shoot

Over on my other blog -- New York Portraits -- I have a short account of what it was like to work on this year's International Documentary Challenge.

The amazing thing, of course, is that we had all six members of Profluence Productions again. Anthony Weeks flew in from across the country, and everyone moved their schedules around to make this work. I expect if we do it again next year, it might not be possible to have everyone here. Maybe the team will split in two. Maybe it will split into six. Or maybe we'll feel we've gotten all we can out of the process of making something for the Challenge.

If we do try once more, though, I think I should leave a few notes for next year while they are fresh in my mind:

First, since making a documentary in five days is crazy on the face of it, you've got to maximize editing time. We should choose projects that can be shot completely on Thursday night. Starting the edit Friday would be much better.

Second, a few days before the event we should have some technical practice. Everyone on the team knows how to work with cameras and audio, but we were overconfident. We used a camera that a few of us hadn't used much -- and had problems with a few basics. Once we got everything working, it was fine -- but it would be best to show up with everything dialed in.

Third, we need better lighting gear. We made it work fine -- I think our interview shots look great -- but being able to set up a softbox or shoot-through umbrella and a big white reflector would have been the way to go. We were saved by taking a long time and not settling until the shot looked good, but could have been much faster with the right equipment.

Above: Dana Bartle, somewhere in the NYC subway system.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

IDC Yet More

Haikugirl and Rackle also completed a film for the International Doc Challenge. Tons of respect to them -- that's not easy and it sounds like they were a two-person team.

I'll be curious to see how the numbers work out -- I believe 122 teams entered the competition, and some number can't complete their films in that time. It's a huge challenge, and anything from weather to any bad luck can stop a film in its tracks. I would guess over 100 will qualify, though, so I think the competition will be very tough....


Girl With a Movie Camera has a post about the process of making our little film. I'll have a few notes here (and on my other blog) and maybe a picture or two very soon.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


We finished our film. I think you'll like it.

Details soon....

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Huge congratulations to Cynthia Wade for her Academy Award win with Freeheld. I was thrilled to see this happen.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Documentaries in the News

Discovery Channel Accused of Political Censorship for Dropping Oscar-Nominated Doc on U.S. Torture

ALEX GIBNEY: Well, it turns out that the Discovery Channel isn’t so interested in discovery. I mean, I heard that—I was told a little bit before my Academy Award nomination that they had no intention of airing the film, that new management had come in and they were about to go through a public offering, so it was probably too controversial for that. They didn’t want to cause any waves. It turns out, Discovery turns out to be the see-no-evil/hear-no-evil channel.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Studio Day

Today was spent in a recording studio. First: voiceovers for some upcoming DVDs. Next: some podcasts.

Another view can be seen on my other blog.

I'm fine whenever I'm recording basics, but whenever I have to speak about myself my practice is to say too little, followed by saying too much, and then quickly follow this up by saying the wrong thing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Big Sky Opens Today

Well, it's finally here, and our film "Blind Faith: A Film About Seeing" will be included.

Big Sky Documentary Film Festival

Missoula, Montana - The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival opens Thursday, February 14 at Missoula's Wilma Theatre for the first of seven consecutive days and nights of world-class documentary cinema. The fifth annual event boasts 106 films from more than 40 countries, including many world premieres. In addition to screenings, the festival includes panel discussions, a Retrospective Series, Q&A sessions with dozens of filmmakers, as well as VIP events, receptions and parties. Since its 2004 debut, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival has matured into an internationally-recognized venue for showcasing innovative, contemporary, and classic works of documentary film


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sambadende Brazil Tour

Dana Bartle has been blogging her documentary trip to Brazil at Sambadende Brazil Tour 2008. I'm a little late to the party, but better late than never.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Frugal Traveler, Hawaii

Editing this episode of Frugal Traveler: Hawaii was a strangely textbook process. I don't mean mechanical by any means. Not at all. Rather, it went through very specific phases, progressing from an impossibly long first draft, through an intractable second version, eventually reaching that moment I still don't quite understand: when the piece becomes watchable.

Here's what I mean: the first assembly was 45 minutes long. (The final piece is exactly 7 minutes long.) Once this was done, I cut away at the material, but found I couldn't make a coherent version with my normal way of working.

Then, after a lot of struggle, I found that this particular piece wanted to be edited backwards: work on the ending, then the material before that, and continue back to the beginning. Seems strange after the fact, but that's what worked....

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Blind Faith at Big Sky

It's official. Our film Blind Faith: A Film About Seeing will be screening at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

We're an "official selection." Excellent.