Sunday, March 25, 2007

Suburban Secrets on CourtTV

Check out Suburban Secrets on Court TV, Monday, March 26 at 10:30pm. This is a show I directed in January with Sirens Media out of Silver Spring, MD. A Dudley, Massachusetts woman was poisoned by her husband and it took her mother and a dedicated detective years to put him behind bars.

It's called Methanol Mystery.

Adventures in Geekdom - DVD Recorder Update

Attention all you poor TV producers with PCs out there - your Luddite days of shrinking, ripping, and 10-step programs to produce a simple DVD are nearly over. While our Mac friends get to drag and drop their vid projects onto on-board DVD recorders, we've been suffering with our lack of a viable solution to produce a critical format.

NYTimes reporter David Pogue recommended the Sony VRD-MC3 DVD Recorder in his Circuits column a few weeks back. I just got the device and it is what he promised; a simple 4-button, high quality, low cost device that makes life so much easier.

You still have to do an output to Mini-DV tape before transferring it over - but this is a great solution until the PC world decides to cross the DVD divide.

Here is an excerpt from the Pogue column:

DIGITAL VIDEOTAPES -- If you have a more recent camcorder -- a MiniDV digital model -- things are even simpler. You connect the camcorder to the Sony's FireWire jack. The camcorder magically rewinds itself and then pours itself onto a blank DVD. Each scene on the tape is supposed to become a new title on the DVD automatically, although that feature didn't work on my unit.

The Sony can even handle video from Sony high-definition camcorders, although it doesn't burn high-def DVDs -- just wide-screen, standard ones.

All this being said, Pogue's next 2 columns dealt with the DEATH of the DVD - but in the meantime, this was $249.00 well spent.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Indomitable Hazel Dickens

One of the most haunting moments in film in on of my favorite movies of all time is that of a folk singer standing by the grave of a slain West Virginia coal miner singing a simple and heartwrenching hymn. That scene is in John Sayles film "Matewan"; about unions and mine workers and that singer is bluegrass maven Hazel Dickens.

Thanks to the dynamic-duo-brother-filmmakers Clai and Will Lashely, I was recently honored to meet and adore Hazel close-up while the Lashley's interviewed her in her adopted hometown of Washington, DC for their upcoming documentary on Bluegrass tentatively titled "Music Across the River".

Dickens is characterized by her "high lonesome" singing and her provacative pro-union, feminist songs. Her voice is considered among the most powerful and moving of all bluegrass singers.

All in the room were struck by this National Heritage Fellow's authenticity and humor. The stories of her family's extreme poverty and of writing "Black Lung", a tribute to her coal miner brother were poignant and moving. She was delighful as she told of moving to Baltimore to work in factories and trying to fit in by finding the "ings" at the end of her words; "sing-ING instead of singin".

Look for an upcoming tribute album to Hazel which includes covers by Roseanne Cash, EmmyLou Harris, Wyononna Judd and others.

Also, keep an eye on the Lashleys and the progress of their comprehensive film. Here is the link to their website.

Thank you Will and Clai - and thank YOU Hazel Dickens.