Friday, February 02, 2007

More Illuminating Content From AU's Documentary Seminar

Repurpose. Recyle, Reinvent. These are the key points I took away from the 2nd day of American University's Making Documentaries Matter Seminar. Gone are the days when the documentary filmmaker toiled behind the production curtain for months or even years before rolling out the BIG PICTURE for one stunning night of broadcast, and then retreated back into the nether worlds of research and pre-production to begin the cycle all over again.

Today's production landscape is a rolling line of output and smaller milestones that reaches to community and partners for feedback all along the way to present in multiple platform and venues; community screenings, festivals, broadcast, cable, deep cable, deeper cable, websites, file sharing sites cellphones, house parties.

For me it's not news, just validation of the process that has already begun in my work which is tremendously helpful. The panels were too comprehensive and varied to do justice to them in my tiny blog, but below are a few random thoughts. The Center for Social Media does a tremendous job of documenting the whole event on DVD and on their website. Anyone who is remotely interested in the state of non-fiction filmmaking needs to put this seminar on the top of their to do lists.
-More gasps from the audience than the cell phone that you can shoot and edit on:
Jean Seoh of Arts Engine - an advocacy group on the participatory media panel showed a heart-stopping short film about the devastating effects of racism with the film A Girl Like Me which shows an experiment where black children are asked to chose between white and black dolls. You can find that on YouTube and the Media that Matters website.
-I couldn't imagine this job existed!:
Katerina Ciznek, Filmmaker-in-Residence, St. Michaels Hospital in Toronto. Katerina was on a panel about participatory media but I became obsessed with the concept of her job. Soooo - this woman was appointed by the Canadian government to go and hang out in Canada's premiere hospital to create projects like an art photo blog about pregnant teens and flash films about a day in the life of a health care worker so that the hospital could effectively advocate for issues that need attention. I am still trying to get my brain around this one but I think it is fantastic.
-New Media Word of the Day: What is a bit torrent?
I don't know, but my sense is we all better figure it out. It has something to do with a technology that allows users downloading the same video clip to share the "load" (my word) of the information so that the more people who view the clip, the better the quality of the clip. I could also be completely wrong. I looked it up on Wikipedia, but it is written in some kind of Vulcan dialect that I can't follow.

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