Archive - 2005

More About All the Films About Juarez

I blogged a couple weeks ago about all the movies being produced about Juarez. The El Paso Times has more about that, reactions from people in Juarez and El Paso, and information about a few other films by independant filmmakers from the area. The didn't mention any that were documentaries.

In related news, over the last 4 days I got a lot done on my Juarez film, and finally shortened it to just barely under an hour, though it should be another 2 minutes or so shorter, really. I got a lot done because I was staying alone at a house of some friends that were out of town, so I had no distractions and could borrow space and equipment (monitor, mouse, table, TV, airon chair) to make a little temporary editing workstation. But now I've moved on and I need a new place to work.

One of many things

Tonight while attending an odd art performance/lecture thing, I looked down and saw on the floor the purse of the woman in front of me, and in the purse was "First World, Ha Ha Ha!", A good book about the Zapatistas, that I just read a few months ago when I was in Guatemala. I thought that was a funny and neat pseudocoincidence, just one of many little interesting things that happened today.


Wow, this is weird. While looking on Flickr for some creative-commons-licensed photos to use in my documentary I found this guy who had about 100 photos of crack pipes and other paraphenalia (I was searching for drug-related photos). He links to his blog, which he claims was entirely writtten, edited, "tweaked," etc, while on crack. I can believe it, from the obsessive and near nonsensical nature of the writing.

I think there's really everything possible out there on the internet.

La Vida Extraño

Well, I've been back in Portland for a week and things still seem odd. But it's a good odd. It feels like I'm still travelling. Nothing too particularly interesting to blog about on the personal front, and I haven't been doing a whole lot of web surfing or media consumption at all, so there's not a lot of fascinating web links or factoids heard on NPR that I can be shovelling your way, either.
However, things are moving gradually forward, so that's good.

    Here's a sampling of what I've been doing lately:

  • filed my taxes
  • showed some friends my Juarez doc and got some good feedback
  • saw a movie about the wild parrots of San Francisco.
  • helped a friend author a DVD for the new version of his zine documentary. and he even paid me a little for it.
  • I've been uploading a lot of photos to Flickr.
  • Did more thinking about and looking at Current TV. I still think I want to submit some stuff to them.
  • Went on a great bike-ride and potluck picnic.

So, yeah, nothing superexciting but, y'know, things are good.

Back in Portland and Back on My Bike

Thursday I flew back to Portland (and here's an interesting statistic: the pilot on one plane announced that we were expending fuel at the rate of $30 per minute!). It's pretty strange, a sort of culture shock thing, to be back in the thick of things happening and seeing friends, after having been isolated in rural Iowa for 2 months. But I'm happy to be back. It's also great to be biking again - I had not been on a bike since late February, in Austin during the Indyconference! You might think 'so what'? but when I'm in Portland I am biking somewhere pretty much every single day.

Last night I even went on this month's Midnight Mystery Ride. Usually I can't stay up that late, and the starting point is incoveniently far, but this time it was just a few blocks away, and my biological clock has shifted slightly forward.
We ended up by the Columbia Slough.

I'm staying, for now, in northeast at the house of Laurel, Seamus, Matt, and Kristin. They make their own beer, and have chickens and a hops trellis.

I just uploaded to Flickr a few photos from the last few days, including a couple from the mystery ride last night.

Several Fictionalized Films about the Juarez Femicide

A San Antonio TV station published a story about how there are a few different films, dramas, being produced about the Juarez situation. It's really quite incredible when something you've been following, a story so underreported in the media, suddenly seems to have piqued the interest of Hollywood.

I suppose a bright side is that when there's more than one movie coming out into the public eye it will signal to viewers that the situation is real. The fact that there are all these movies about the same thing will make people think, "hmm, it can't be a coincidence, this must be a real problem."

The thing I always wonder, though, even with documentaries, and even those that get huge exposure, like Michael Moore's work, is how much they actually influence anyone to do anything? Of course the reason I do what I do, that I'm involved with videoactivism at all, is that I definitely do think exposing more people to facts about things going on like this DO make a difference. I'm just not sure exactly how much of a difference.

Wrapping Up

Sherlock Fox
Well, I am really close to being done with the Juarez documentary, but I think it's just not going to possible, or even advisable, to finish it, or even call it finished, by the time I head back to Portland this Thursday. I think tommorrow is going to basically be the last day I can work on it, and then I have to relax a little, then prepare to travel back to Portland.

I still don't quite have all the spanish bits translated. Very close, though, actually only 3 clips that I really need help with. It's been so amazing and gratifying to receive all the help that I did, something like 8 people pitched in, and some of them completely out of the blue. It's a great example of the power of the internet for collaboration, as well as tools like Backpack (though Backpack isn't quite perfect for the job, but it did help, and it was easier than setting up my own wiki or something).

As I work on final touches, like the intro sequence, I've been wracking my brains for a better title, a final title. The working title for the last 4 months was "The Multi-layered Enemy: femicides in Juarez." Now I guess I've decided, for now at least, to go with "On the Edge: The femicide in Ciudad Ju&aacuterez." I'm not super super excited about it, but I like it all right. What do you think about it? Got a better idea? Let me know in a comment. What I like about "On the Edge" is that the metaphor of "edge" works in a lot of ways, the border, the economics, the violence, but also the hope for improvement as we see more and more activism around this issue. So, it works, but I am definitely open to other suggestions.

My other problem is the film is still just a little too long. I would so love it to be 57 minutes, but it's 64. That's one reason I need to wait and really finish it back in Portland, because I need some other people to give me advice on what can be cut so I can get it down to that 58 or 57 minute mark. Why that lenght, you ask? Because I want to get it on television. I want this to be seen by as many people as possible, and fitting it into an hour broadcast television slot is one way to do that.

A Look At The Frontrunner in Bolivia's Presidential Race

In his blog Jim Shultz describes the man who is ahead in the polls for Bolivia's December 4 presidential election. A disturbing excerpt:

More troubling, during his brief year as President (Banzer resigned in 2001 with fatal cancer) the young Texan-Bolivian outdid his mentor in a chilling category

Current TV

So, I had noticed Current TV online last week but I wasn't chomping at the bit for it to launch. I've been too busy to pay attention to when new cable channels are firing up. But then last night I was taking a break and briefly channel surfing and saw Current TV right there on the channel guide for Direct TV. So I checked it out.

It's an interesting experiment. The basic idea is: short videos submitted by anyone. This concept is a double-edged sword. They call these shorts "pods." Possibly the coolest thing is the progress bar in the lower left corner, so if you don't like something, you can tell how long you have to wait before it's over.

There is an almost bewildering variety of "pods," from weird fluff pieces to heavy investigative reporting. (examples: There's one 2-part piece about suicide in Japan that's really great. There's a disturbing quick look at an African model bragging about her ass. There's a boring pod about how to buy real estate.) They divide things into categories and show pods from each category on a regular rotation, but they don't have a lot of content so there's a lot of repetition. All this is punctuated by young cute hosts and hostesses who say dorky things about each piece and stand there looking cute and dorky, in varying proportions of the 2.

I'm not sure what to think yet. There's a lot of other blogging about it going on, including one blogger that basically described the whole first day at the Broadcast and Cable blog. It will be interested to see how things develop. One observation and suggestion I would make is this: despite the variety of subject matter, all the pods seem to have a really similar narrative voice and videography style and production value. It's almost like all the producers went to the same film school at the same time, or something. I wonder if a lot of these first pods were produced in-house, or maybe they "finish" submissions with their own graphics and color correcting and stuff so everything looks the same. But that seems to defeat the purpose... If Current wants to be about everyone sending in stuff, about the multiplicity of media creators out there, then production values should reflect that variety. It shouldn't all look so slick and isotropic. However, maybe as they get more submissions their content will start to be more varied in look and form.

Postal Service Sells Out

Last night I saw an M&Ms commercial on TV that used a song by the Postal Service. It wasn't the original recording, it was someone else performing it, in a slower, dreamier style, but the words were definitely Ben Gibbard's, the song about the freckles on our faces being aligned when we kiss, etc. All accompanied by those cartoon M&M guys floating around in kaliedescopic, mandalic patterns. Ugh. I groaned and yelled "NOOOO!" when I saw that. How disappointing. I've seen a lot of musicians sell out like this but none ever that I was this fond of.