Part of what I love about digital creativity is that if you are always receptive to inspiration, the internet’s tangential structure will eventually reward you.
For example, at work this week, I needed videos of epic fails and colossal wipeouts, and instead found a beautiful doc that basically showcases the opposite perspective. It won’t directly or immediately help my work, but it dovetails with my other interests and can inspire forms of creativity that may.
Choose Not to Fall is a short (3-or-so minute) documentary by Matthew Marsh and Sam Rowland of 63 Productions, focusing on parkour / free runner Daniel Ilabaca.
In the doc, Ilabaca talks about the mental aspects of parkour, and how going “all out” is important but only secondary to the real liberation of free running: recognizing the freedom in living in the moment and gaining confidence in choosing your own path.
That’s powerful stuff, especially for those of us who want to document and capture our unique (though still collective) perspectives.
Check it out:
For those of you looking for the “how” elements of this, I found some info about how 63 Productions made the doc.
The filmmakers chose to use a tripod for the shooting because they believed a hand-held camera makes the viewer aware of another person (ie: the filmmaker) being present, which they felt was a distraction. Also, the filmmakers could only shoot 8 seconds of slow-motion footage at a go, so they had to time their shots perfectly to capture the tricks they wanted. If they missed hitting record at the right moment, they missed the shot (which apparently happened). Note the Explosions in the Sky-style music, and the “vignette” effect on the footage as well – subtle elements, but shorthand for “this is meaningful”. Still more impressive, is that this video was shot in one day and edited in two.
Choose Not to Fall is another fine example of mini-docs, and their ability to move us, inspire our thoughts and document our lives together.
Recommended by Fauna Corporation!
Have some mini-docs or digital inspirations of your own (or others’) to share? Let me know in the comments.
Dublab released a short video about 2 months ago, called Secondhand Sureshots. It was probably only about 12 to 15 minutes long, but I think it will have a lasting impact.
The concept for the project was to take four well-established (but still largely underground) instrumental hip hop producers, send them to different LA thrift stores with $5 each, and have them shop for records.
The producers would then return to their labs and create a beat (ie: musical piece) using only the records they bought within their $5 cap limit. These beats were pressed to vinyl, and each copy was given a handmade, art-piece album cover. Beautiful. Copies of the finished product were then taken back to the thrift stores and reinserted into the thrift store record bins. I don’t know what that’s supposed to say, but I like the reciprocal symmetry of it all.
The whole art project was documented and Secondhand Sureshots was released online, for free, for about a week. It was then it was pulled down and some trailers remained online to promote the film.
Now Dublab and Stones Throw Records are selling the DVD, a vinyl copy of the finished tracks wrapped in hand-made album covers, and 2 slip mats for $60. I think it is a great deal, and a great way to market what is a wonderful and strange little project. Also, by putting their emphasis on engaging consumers in a full experience, Dublab and Stones Throw are able to sell this larger package (at a higher price) rather than only the CD and DVD of the documentary.
In an age of instant digital downloads, this emphasis on a handcrafted object that music fans understand and engage with at a deeper level could offer another option to the music industry, or possibly, some inspiration to journalists, digital storytellers and other multimedia producers. The value-add has never been more of an added value.
In spite of all the digital marketing speak above, let’s not lose sight of the core cool: this is ultimately a nifty little documentary and album aimed at a niche, dedicated audience. One that includes me.
The producers, Ras G, Nobody, Daedelus, and J-Rocc are all talented weirdos, and I’ve been influenced by their music for a while now. I found it very cool to hear their thought process (or feel process) for diggin’ in the record crates and making beats. And because I didn’t know in advance that the documentary was only going to be online for a week, and was so impressed by the well-crafted final product, I’ve decided to buy the full package.
Maybe you should too. Or release your own multi-format art piece?
The second, Tilles Singer’s piece, Skateboardanimation, is a nifty hybrid of fast-shutter photography from print, and motion graphics or stop-frame animation in digital video. If we also consider that the video is being distributed digitally, pieces like this can really represent the evolution of our media across the years, in a single piece:
So much of the emerging wired world (and web!) is so highly designed that we sometimes lose sight of the substance in all that style.
This morning, I spent some quality time on Multimedia Shooter and was directed to the short films of William Hoffman. His work is a revelation to me, as it pulls at the edges of fiction and non-fiction, and creates a momentary pocket where the real subject matter seems to be our shared humanity. What a gift, to be directed to something that makes you feel more you while simultaneously feeling so everyone else.
I recommend checking out Hoffman’s Moments and Parabolas pieces as a great intro to his work, but perhaps the Everyone Forever Now series would be the most journalistic option for Fauna Corp readers.
Finally, you could have a look at this post to read a bit about Multimedia Shooter, and a few more multimedia journalism websites that I think are totally indispensable. Each shows that style is great, but style plus substance is a combination that puts us in touch with the deeper truths about our selves.
On top of the stack this week: Dispatches from the Edge
On a recent trip I picked up Anderson Cooper’s memoir, Dispatches from the Edge, and read it on a long flight home. Equal parts “war stories” (ie: tales from the field that journalists share with each other over drinks) and autobiography, Cooper does an excellent job of giving context for his journalistic decision-making while also pulling back the veil a bit on his (very) private life.
The son of Gloria Vanderbilt (which was news to me) who lost his father to heart attack and then his older brother to suicide, Cooper decided to pursue a career as a Foreign Correspondent seemingly to compensate for the pain these deaths caused in his life. By surrounding himself with the suffering of others, he was both excused from publicly investigating his own pain, while also being given the external stimulus that could allow him to grieve for his personal losses.
Reading Dispatches from the Edge so soon after losing my own brother was both painful and therapeutic for me. I could see why Cooper decided to throw himself so heavily into his career, but I could also read the toll that this decision took upon his mental and emotional well-being.
While not a perfect memoir (after a certain point, Cooper begins shifting between conflicts and emergencies so quickly that they all blur together – possibly a deliberate technique, but one that inhibits the deeper understanding that most of his journalism looks for), Dispatches from the Edge still offers a lot to journalists, whether professional, freelance or Citizen-styled.
Of particular note was Cooper’s early decision to arrive in a foreign country in the midst of a civil war, with no command of the language, no flack-jacket, no contacts, no media outlet supporting him, and only a fake press pass and a Hi-8 camera as his defense. While he acknowledges it was a stupid decision, it should also be noted that this led to his big break in journalism. Is there a lesson here for you?
Dispatches from the Edge is recommended by Fauna Corporation. It can be found at most major bookstores, but is also available from time-to-time used, should you need to save up your cash until you can buy your first Hi-8 camera and a one-way ticket somewhere.