Friday, December 18, 2009

Ghosts of Docs Past, Present, and Future



I am going to begin this blog with something not about me, or what I've done or made, I am going to start it with a little "hoorah" for a student of mine.

His name is Tan Mai. From the first moment I had Tan in class, he made me laugh. He has a dry, subtle humor that I appreciate very much. Tan is a film major, so I have taught him in many classes. He has a tendency to produce some pretty absurd material... Needless to say, I have found myself shaking my head and laughing often at his work.

Tan is now in his final semester, and in fact, he is graduating this January. I am sad to see him go, but proud.

Tan took his final film class, Advance Filmmaking, with my good friend Steve McMaster this fall 2009 semester. I wish I could have taught the class, but I didn't have the time. Steve did a great job!

When Tan told me he was going to do a documentary for his senior project in Advance Filmmaking, I was very happy. I helped him along the way, as we had to meet for an independent study for another course he needed for graduation: Art and Electronic Media (I hope to post his project for that as soon as he finishes it!)

It was great fun to see Tan's doc development, and I tried to watch clips and offer as much advice as I could... Though I must say, I was on the edge of my seat, awaiting the final project.

When I saw the final piece, I really did swell with pride and joy. Using his own keen instincts, and all the preparation I made him do, followed by hard work in the editing room and the mentoring of Steve, he churned out a fine project.

As a professor, when you apply for jobs, they always request a reel of your student's work. I will be pleased to add Tan's film to that reel.

I am proud to call him a student, and proud to present his piece here!

The piece, My Photographer (An obvious homage to this great documentary. WATCH TRAILER), is a charming, day in the life of a children's portrait photographer.


My website has been getting recent updates. In this continued effort, I have updated my demo reel to include a segment from De Luxe: The Tale of the Blue Comet. I only fear that the reel is too long now. I'll have to watch and see if it's extremely booring. In these times of unending technology though, all one needs to do is scrub forward or hit next chapter on the DVD remote, so I guess it's not too much to deal with.

The hundreds out there that are reading this will have to let me know how it plays!

My demo reel:


Ok. I am doing this as an archival effort. That is... this blog, and what I am going to post next.

Since its initial screenings in that first year, I haven't let anyone watch my first documentary film, Enthusiast: The 9th Art. It's a documentary short about comic book enthusiasts. I came at it from three angles:

1. Comic book fans
2. Comics book creators
3. Comics book academics/educators

The film was great fun to make. I learned so much while doing it. I had big plans for the film and was set to interview a lot of top names at a big New York comic book convention, including Scott McCloud!

The convention was set for October 2001. As you know, the tragedy of the month before turned the U.S. upside down. The convention never happened, and I missed out on a bunch of interviews I was going to get from all the people flying in to the convention... Well, I had to forge on, and I did.

As I look on this film again, I cringe. I cringe at all the mistakes I made, the bad choices, the lack of good equipment, and I can't believe I ever showed it to anyone.

Like I said, I learned a lot from making the film. I guess it can be used as a baseline for seeing how far I've come.

Also, I was 25 when I made the film. Hard to believe it's been almost 10 years!

At the time I thought it would be funny to appear in the film as a pseudo-anthropologist, setting up the film and its purpose in the beginning (hence the ridiculously serious voice). I look like a baby in the film. I am old now.

Sometimes I wish I had another shot at making it... But I just have to walk away...

I suppose I was there on the forefront of taking a serious look at comics. The film got a lot of press, mostly because the new Spiderman movie was premiering that year, but the press was interested in why comics should be taken seriously, so I gave lots of interviews to newspapers at the time. My biggest achievement with the film was it played in a super hero film series at the Prince Theater.

So, take a look if you wish, be gentle in your criticism, for I most likely have criticized myself for it already.

The largest fault of the film is the sound quality. But I had no budget, no personal funds, no equipment, no boom mic, or audio operator. I had a camera I borrowed from the school. That was it.



I did it! One week of blogging everyday.

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