I was working at the Santa Fe Film Festival last week. There were lots of great documentaries up there, but my favorite was Super Amigos. It’s about luchadores (Mexican wrestlers) who serve as social advocates in Mexico City.
My biggest challenge in starting this media for change career is sustaining myself. I mentioned before that I was working in commercial television, mostly Viacom, and I was turning out stuff like this:
In the past, I would take commercial production and post production jobs. It was a way for me to build upon the knowledge that I gathered in film school, but my real motive was to hustle for the equipment. I would work on a Nickelodeon job at the office until about 6:00 PM and then use the tape decks and computers for my own projects until 10 PM. That was exhausting so I’m very happy to have come to a point where I actually own a camera and a laptop with Final Cut. I’m still tinkering with some encoding issues, but I’ve been posting my work on YouTube and Google Video. So now I can work and distribute my stuff independently without really having to rely on the industry.
My next step is to get my camera and computer out into the field. They are light enough weight that I can potentially travel with them into remote places. Instead of tromping around in the jungle, mountains, desert, or savannah with the entourage of a film crew, I’ll be able to travel by myself with a low profile. I’m hoping that this will make the films that I shoot more candid and personal.
However, if I’m going to go this route I’m going to have to invest in protection and power. Cameras and computers are fragile so I’m going to need a good case to keep them from getting beat up in the field. The case also has to be low profile. I don’t want to draw attention that I’m travelling with thousands of dollars worth of valuables. There is a good chance that there won’t be electricity where I end up so I’ve started doing some research into lightweight, portable solar panels that I would use to charge my batteries.
I’m a filmmaker who is interested in using media as a catalyst for social change. I’ve worked in commercial television and movies over the last five or six years. I’ve seen how successful the medium is when it is used to pursuade its audience through advertising. I’ve come to the conclusion that film and video are powerful tools. If they can guild Times Square or Hollywood in gold why can’t the same techniques be used to help develop third world countries?
Recently video and editing equipment has become extraordinarily cheap. The Internet has taken off too and streaming videos on YouTube have become the norm. Filmmaking has moved out of the studio soundstages and into our neighborhoods. It is finally becoming accessible to the average man, woman, and child.
Before we had lavish, blockbuster spectacles that the audience could watch, but could not create. Now, we have home movies shot on camera phones that end up at the top of the news hour. Television and movies have become more than just entertainment and escapism they have become actively democratic. I’m using this blog to take notes on the emerging uses of media.
Filmmaking can break news, it can create cultural awareness, document a fading tradition, teach the audience a new craft, and it has begun to give the voiceless a voice. There is still a huge gap between the haves and have nots when it comes to getting access to equipment and how the finished product gets distributed. I want to use this blog to brainstorm on ways to bridge that divide.
Any feedback is greatly appreciated and, if you’d like, you can see some examples of my work here: www.myspace.com/doublethinkproductions