Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sound Unbound

DJ Spooky has a new book out. It's called Sound Unbound and it's about the art of the remix in music, film and the arts. The book has a great companion CD featuring such legends as Sonic Youth and Nam Jun Paik. He'll be discussing the book at a reading this Friday at McNally Robinson in SoHo, NYC.
In addition, we have him on a panel at Tribeca the day before - Reuse, Remix and Renew - the Renew in that title reflecting the fact that for the past two years, Renew Media (the org I've been running prior to our combination with TFI) has been working on a sampling license toolkit for filmmakers. Paul (DJ Spooky) will be speaking with representatives from the USC Law School IP Clinic who helped build the toolkit, Creative Commons who is collaborating on it and Tiffany Schlain, a filmmaker well versed in new ways of taking works out digitally. The toolkit is designed to help people use a CC sampling license for their films. Come find out why you should consider it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Shoe Leather Launches

Over at my day job, we’ve launched a new blog called Shoe Leather, by Teri Tynes, that’s part of a new, bigger project called Reframe. While Reframe doesn’t launch to the public for a few more weeks, you can visit the site now to learn more about how it works, and we felt so sure that Teri would be a good blogger that we wanted to launch this blog right away. I've known Teri for years, having first met in South Carolina where she was the editor of the local weekly. She writes an amazing blog called Walking off the Big Apple, that is literally the best non-film blog I've read lately, so I've been wanting to have her write for us for some time now.

What does the world need with another film blog, you might ask? I think that Teri’s idea for the blog – presented to me over some amazing sushi with mutual friends – is a unique angle for discussing films, and one that should catch on. As Teri says in her intro to the blog today:

Think of me as a curator who hands out cultural street maps of the film-going experience.

While she’ll begin the blog by working “in-family” on the Tribeca Film Festival, this blog won’t be partial just to Tribeca, or Reframe, films and events, so stay tuned post-fest for some great new takes on film.

Here’s a bit from her intro to the blog:

Shoe Leather: An Introduction

Think how many scenes you've seen in the movies of a character or characters strolling down the sidewalk or walking down steps of a courthouse or quietly strolling through a park. "Shoe Leather," a term used in filmmaking, refers to these parts of a movie that precede other scenes and serve to make sense of the transitions. These sequences, while seemingly pedestrian, establish necessary continuities, open up the action to establish a sense of place, and give the viewer an understanding of how characters arrive at their destinations.

I'll be writing this blog, titled "Shoe Leather," for Reframe in much of the same spirit as these shoe leather sequences. With the occasion of the Tribeca Film Festival and in anticipation of the curated digital collections forthcoming from Reframe, I'll be seeing several of the films featured over the next ten days and then suggesting on this site related films that go down that same street, so to speak. The films that form the 2008 festival naturally group into shared subject matter, such as films by or about visual artists, narratives of immigration, stories of military and state terror, and documents of fading neighborhoods, to name just a few categories, and I'll point you to similar films worth seeing. Think of me as a curator who hands out cultural street maps of the film-going experience. Read more.

photo credit: WOTBA

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Smarter Way to think of Blogger/Critics

I've been following the ongoing conversations about critics vs bloggers and the changing nature of film criticism with much interest. Karina Longworth has had some of the best coverage at Spout, and we (TFI) are planning a panel about this at the festival, but what I haven't heard mentioned is how this is just one tiny part of much bigger changes hitting our culture in the wake of digital. We sound so quaint now actually, and I can only imagine people looking back 20 years from now (maybe 5??) laughing at us for having this conversation. I haven't been able to exactly explain what I think is going on here, but it's definitely part of our shift from orality to electracy, which I've mentioned before and am cribbing from Greg Ulmer. To debate about print journalism vs blogging is as absurd as to debate about print vs web. It's not either/or, it's something new altogether.

Bruce Sterling from Innovationsforum on Vimeo.
In thinking about something else, I stumbled upon this great video lecture from the science fiction writer Bruce Sterling addressing an interface and interaction design conference. The video is long, at close to 40 minutes, and the best stuff is at the middle and the end, but it's worth watching as he describes the possibilities of the future, and what we already have now, very well. At the end, he states (close to a quote) -

It used to be you were a print man or a TV man, and those distinctions don't matter anymore.... The net and its adjuncts are becoming a hybrid meta medium that connects everyone, everything ever place.... Art, Photography, Writing, Literature, Cinema, Design - we used to have all of these formal hierarchies of the creative disciplines that are now all coming violently apart, right in front of our eyes.

He's right, and the people its affecting don't seem to know what's going on, but it's all interconnected in new ways and we are fundamentally different for it. The hand-wringing we're seeing now over critics/bloggers will seem very quaint in just a few years.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

New Indie Coalition is so 90's

There's a new indie coalition that seems to have formed. I can't link you to it, because in a fit of genius, the organizers have not started a website, nor a blog, or anything else you would expect for modern advocacy. Instead, drum roll, they started a listserv. And how did I hear about it? Someone picked up a copy of a three page, single-spaced diatribe they distributed at a recent media conference, and gave it to me. The document is titled "A Call for an Independent Producer's Voice in the Digital Debate" and some of their points are valid. In summary, it seems to be saying - hey, all this YouTube and other digital stuff is great, but what about indies that need to make a living. This conversation itself is one worth having, so that's why I'm listing it here, but I have to say I am more than a bit weary of a coalition forming to address the changing needs of digital when their spokesperson (or people, I'm not sure, though I have a hunch who is behind this) can send out a document that worries about "itoones" treating indies fairly. The geniuses behind this should at least develop an understanding of what's going on before trying to address it, and not knowing how to spell what is arguably the most important piece of the pie is a bit, well, looney.

Anyone who knows me and my writing knows I care passionately about advocacy for artist's needs, but I am pretty sure that what is needed in this day and age is a new form of advocacy, and I'm pretty sure it should begin with more than a listserv, more than a mimeograph and more of a clue about the changing nature of advocacy in a digital age. Geesh, it's not like we don't have plenty of political examples to look at! Anyway, if you want to learn more, send an email to them at indiecoalition-subscribe at yahoogroups com.

In the meantime, I am thinking about how advocacy has changed, and will hopefully get to do something interesting about it as a result of our recently announced combination with the Tribeca Film Institute. It's keeping me too busy to blog - I am seriously humbled by some of my friends who can keep this up, but I hope to be back with more after the Tribeca Film Festival.