Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Films Encourage Children To Smoke

Did you know smoking was a part of the criteria the MPAA addresses when deciding a film? It happened in 2007. But these people don't think the motion picture industry goes far enough. Their argument is based on the hypodermic needle model. That is, kids see Brad Pitt smoking a cigar and instantly, they drag their brainwashed behinds into a 7/11 and buy themselves a pack of Swisher Sweets.
Do you believe it is the responsibility of the motion picture industry to provide entertainment to kids, free of any items that might offend your moral sensibilities? Or do you believe children should be legally permitted access to all content, regardless of exposure to sex and violence and smoking and fatty foods?
In 2004, GKC Theaters (now out of business) attempted to introduce a system by which kids under 17 could attend films Rated R without parent supervision. Some parents loved this idea because they wanted the freedom to send their kids to the theater to see rated R movie without being forced by the MPAA to go with them. Some parents complained because they were afraid of being hoodwinked by their kids. This article cites a concerned parent saying ...they'll go see what they want to see with the card. They'll tell you they're seeing 'Billy Elliot,' but will see 'Kill Bill,'
Crazy kids can't help themsleves! If the state doesn't protect the children from themselves, who will? Parents?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Amanda Knox: Guilty or Not Guilty

“It is better ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be punished" - Thomas Jefferson

Consider this: perception is reality. If we take this axiom seriously, we must examine these perceptions and take into account the biases at play. When we focus on the limitations of our ability to understand the world, the truth of reality becomes more and more like a trivial abstraction. Our understanding of perception becomes the new reality.

This week's stranger (vol. 19 no. 14) comes with two articles concerning the Amanda Knox story. One is a fictionalized account of the murder, portraying Knox as guilty, meticulously cited from the prosecutor's notes. The other is a plea from an ex-roommate, Madison Paxton.

Charles Mudede's story
reads like a Quentin Tarantino script. How Mudede feels about the case is irrelevant. The genius of this article is how it pieces together the perceptions of the prosecuting team in a way we have not seen until now.

Criticism at the foot of the article strike me funny. I also read this article about how Mudede came to America from Zimbabwe and lived on the streets of Seattle. I suspect that Mudede is suspicious of cops and the legal system but he does not use this opportunity to expound upon his personal beliefs. I respect his style because he allows his subject to speak for itself.

The Madison Paxton plea and response seems to have been removed. The fault of the defense is, I have yet to see an alibi account of what happened on the night of murder. If Knox and Sollecito were not raping and killing Kercher, then where were they? Smoking pot and having sex?

Although not as dramatized and sensational as Mudede's fictionalized account, Paxton presents the logic of the defense in a succinct linear manner. Like a true college student, she begs us to walk away with three strong points. There are no recordings of the police interrogations of Knox. There is no evidence directly linking Knox and Sollecito to the scene of the crime. There is no logical motive, indicating Knox and Sollecito to rape and murder.

Analysis of the media maelstrom is to miss the point. At this time, the guilt or innocence of Knox is equally irrelevant. More important to society is, how believable is the prosecuting story? How pure and untainted is the due process?

After all, if perception is reality then our world is pretty hazy. Lets try to get a clear picture before we sentence someone to prison for murder.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Analysis of the Obama Doctrine

President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo could easily be the most important and most defining speech in his career. In it, he discloses the full Obama Doctrine. He begins by telling us about the necessity of war and leaves us with his feelings on charity. War for peace and giving what is required. You can watch the speech in its entirety below or read the text.

There are two parts to Obama's speech. The first half is his philosophy of war and the second half is his philosophy for peace.

Interesting how Obama accepts the award and reluctantly places himself in leagues with people such as Martin Luther King. When King delivered his speech, he accepted the prize on behalf of his people, or as he said it "beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold."

You can read the acceptance speeches of Albert Schwitzer, George Marshall, Nelson Mandela or any other laureate on the Nobel website. I look forward to reading the lecture of Paul Krugman.

I am intrigued by Obama's recap of history. He recalls the US involvement in World War II as selfless and heroic. He twice cites the Balkans as evidence to the effectiveness of 'peace through strength' and once refers to Korea. He insists history shows us the spoils of war may include lasting peace while maintaining King's contradicting philosophy, that “violence never brings permanent peace."

We know that North Korea is not a democracy and we know that the Balkans are run by the mafia. Funny how his success stories are not success stories at all. And interesting, how Obama chooses not to talk about how FDR's Machiavellian tactics brought democracy came to Japan. But of World War II, Obama speaks mostly about the European front, in which US involvement is a mere footnote by other accounts.

(citation, i admit, is missing here)

Obama makes it clear that Gandhi and King, in all their greatness, could not stop Hitler's armies or bring peace to Europe. He neglects to tell us that all of Kennedy's armies could not put an end to the Cold War, either.

Obama concludes his justification of war by identifying the war tactics of The United States as the ideal by which all just wars are modeled. When he says "I believe that the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war," he is indirectly condoning and aligning himself with the acts of war committed by George W Bush in Afghanistan and Iraq. Gone are all campaign promises of change.

In a transitional paragraph, Obama makes an interesting reference to Guantanamo Bay. He says he is against torture and that is why he ordered the closure of the prison. Funny, how there is no real deadline for the closure. Sometime next year, he says.

Obama says there are three ways that we can build a just and lasting peace.

The first is through imposing tariffs on trade and other economic restrictions. Obama says "sanctions must exact a real price."

The second is through recognition of man's natural rights as outlined in the American constitution and echoed in Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Obama said "I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear."

The third is through economic security and opportunity. Obama gives us the nut of the Obama Doctrine when he says, "for true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want."

The third path to peace is most interesting because it directly reflects his policy on domestic issues of education and nationalized health care.

My questions for Obama are:

Do trade tariffs truly prevent war or maintain peace? Is it possible to maintain conversation while a country is in alienation from the developed world? I would like to research and discuss how open trade aided in the cultural evolution of India, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Is it possible to force a country to respect the natural rights of its citizens without violating the natural rights of that country's leaders? I would like to research and discuss the legitimacy of the Vietnam War, Operation Iraqi Freedom and The War of Northern Aggression.

And finally, whose responsibility is it to restore hope to the hopeless? In what way is duty different from charity? Is it morally justified to force man to do good?

Interesting, how Obama talks about war. He refers to it as someone might talk about the weather. Americans do not seek this war. It is miserable like the rain and from it, we are inclined to seek protection. But keep faith, Obama says. Keep faith in humanity's tenacity to rebuild. We must maintain our faith in human progress, he says, and he never takes ownership of his war.

Edit: Thanks Fjahma for reminding me, Obama is now in ranks with great people such as Henry Kissinger and Yasser Arafat.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

nonsense / there is no other

i made this video as i was graduating from high school. i was such an artist back then! what we have here could be a typical film school image and symbol collage. we have hitler and billy graham and industrial japan and al gore. but what makes this special to me is the subtitled narrative.

i recorded the soundtrack myself. the first half is an audio collage full of all sorts of sounds i collected while in high school. the second half is a piece i composed in a midi sequencer. i captured the billy graham speech off the radio. all of the images are taken from movies i rented from the library.

i made this video prior to both 9/11 and global warming so i am not trying to make a statement about those topics. i am making a statement about national identity and point of view. and of course the image of al gore receiving the fascist salute is pretty funny now, considering his cult leader status.

when i show this video to people, they walk away with one of two messages. the first, is that i am contrasting man's world view with god's truth. man creates chaos and god is here to guide us through it. the second, is that i am only looking at man's image of perfection. for billy graham, jesus was the ideal to aspire towards. to hitler, science (bad superstitious science, but science none the less) was the ideal to aspire towards.

i prefer the latter because it lends meaning to the final question. is it best not to dream at all? in other words, is it best not to imagine an ideal? because in many ways, these ideals lead to genocide and prejudice.

i would like to challenge billy graham's statement that 'when we do what is right in our own eyes, there is chaos' because i disagree. i believe our country was founded on the principal that it is best if we are all free to do what is right in our own eyes. the problem lies within people who want to coerce their beliefs onto others, either through physical violence or social chastising.

so dream on. your world view is quite possibly your most valuable asset.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rosa Alba and Fjahma

I met Fjahma at the NW Film Forum where I volunteer once a week. He is generous with his world view and meek as a monk. He always wears a big black hood over his eyes. He's an ambitious guy. I respect ambition in a person.

rosa alba

fjahma | MySpace Video

8mm film about a CIA agent who follows a flower girl from the Bremerton ferry and kills her in an alley somewhere. In the above sequence, he uses a golf club he finds leaning up against a wall but in other edits, he just shoots her.

Not sure what it all means.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cops Good, Crooks Bad

A police might wake up in the morning like an ordinary man and put on his pants one leg at a time, but as soon as he dawns the badge he transcends his personal identity and becomes an icon of public safety. Injury inflicted upon his body is not a crime against mortal flesh but a crime against society.

Two stories of cop killers within 30 days, the common thread between Christopher Monfort and Maurice Clemmons is the media and community response. Who would willingly wage war on an icon of public safety? What kind of monster enters into a state of war with the man in the white hat?

The more important question is, what circumstances lure an individual into making enemies with a system he cannot defeat? He must know, upon breaking the social contract that there will be no return. Society will dehumanize him. His friends and family will become suspect of assisting and enabling him. His political affiliations forever tinged.

Monfort could be lucky if he never sees trial. History shows that the jail system shows no mercy to convicted cop killers.

From Seattle Times archive:

PASCO — A man convicted of killing a (Washington) State Patrol trooper is suing Franklin County and a sheriff's deputy over the way he was treated after being arrested.

Nicolas Solorio Vásquez, 30, alleges that Sheriff Richard Lathim's "tepid disciplinary action" condoned Deputy James Dickenson's behavior and the use of excessive force.

Solorio Vásquez is serving a life term in the October 1999 shooting death o
f Trooper James Saunders in Pasco.

Dickenson pleaded guilty in June 2000 to assault on Solorio Vásquez and was sentenced to 80 hours of community service.

The details surrounding the death of Maurice Clemmons leave no room for reasonable skepticism. Make no excuses, Maurice Clemmons executed four police officers in cold blood. He deserves none less than punishment at the fullest extent of the law.

In the hunt for Clemmons, police trashed the house of one woman (a family member of Clemmons) who decided to do the right thing and call the police. When Police have a monopoly in the business of capturing criminals, there is no accountability for the collateral damage of their man hunts. Begin moral debate over the legality of citizen vigilante groups. Or individuals.

Monfort and Clemmons are not heroes. It is wrong under all circumstances to kill another human being. Do not idolize their actions. Do not give them pity. Rather, is there no cure for mental illness? No way to reform a system than reaps absolute dualism between cops and criminals?

If Clemmons was a bicyclist, hit by a car, we might be inclined to put up a memorial at the scene of the accident. Society is not keen on sympathizing with cop killers and yet, how much like a bicyclist was Clemmons, precariously sailing our lives in a separate reality until just recently. He collided with reality?

The Decline and Fall of the Republican Party

I caught this video from my favorite progressive blogger and I want to share it with you. Its about the proposed Republican Purity Test. Its a suicide pact. Its tearing the party apart. It begs the question, what is the GOP going to do next? Are they going to splinter off ala reformation style?

Conservative economists Gary Becker and Richard Posner wrote about the deterioration of party politics, signs pointing back as far as the 1960s.

During the republican presidential debates Ron Paul said (among other things), the base of the republican party shrunk because of the war issue. Ron Paul continues to tell Rudy Giuliani that 9/11 was Islamic backlash against American Interventionism.

Senator Lindsay Graham dishes out some backlash of his own against Ron Paul's intervention of the Republican Party.

The Republican Party has fragmented into two camps. One group is the carrying the zombie corpse of The Bush administration and everything it stood for. That is, government bailouts, government sponsored monopolies in the health care industry and war mongering in the Middle East. The other group are the librarians who are against all that.

The Republican Party is in serious need of organizing and prioritizing their values. They may find that their survival into 2012 will call for compromise of various social issues such as legalized abortion, legalized gay marriage and legalized recreational drug use. Young conservatives do not buy into the hypocrisy of a political platform that preaches small government in economics and yet insists upon a federal church of morality.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

the xx, crystalised

i love the xx but this video seems a bit... uninspired?

i agree with the notion of presenting a minimalist style but placing the band up against a wall and using a video projector as lighting is a bit obvious. don't you think?

i wonder if the director alex flick was thinking about this nine inch nails video when he was doing this?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Working Class Hero

From NY Times opion:

“A working class hero is something to be,” John Lennon, that product of ragged Liverpool, sang just after leaving the Beatles. “Keep you doped with religion and sex and T.V.”

As someone who had a union card in my wallet before I owned a Mastercard, I don’t share Lennon’s dark view of blue collar workers. But as long as they can be distracted by people who say all government is bad, while turning a blind eye to manipulation at corporate levels, they’re doomed to shouting at phantoms.

I have been thinking about the big government versus big corporate groups. In your mind, which one is more evil? More importantly, are they mutually exclusive? Most Republicans and Democrats argue as though we have an either/or situation.

If the government isn't running things, then the evil corporations are going to rape us in our sleep!

Somebody once told me, the problem with big business is their ability to bribe the government. I think this kind of insight is very short sighted. He should have said, the problem with big government is that it opens the doors to lobbyists and special interest groups and as of late, corporate execs looking for bailouts.

How are we going to put the power back in the hands of the people? I do not think this comes from artificially inflating the power of either government or corporate fat cats. Power for the people comes from preserving options.

Why do you think non-paid internships are on the rise? I somehow doubt it is because our employers are not taxed enough.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Free Speech vs Defamation of Character

From Seattle Post Intelligence:

PERUGIA --Italian authorities have served the parents of Amanda Knox with legal papers notifying them they are under investigation for defamation, an accusation related to their allegations that police brutalized their daughter.

People might feel sympathy for Amanda because she's young and cute (despite the denim jacket). The Italian people already distrust their police. Heck, we aren't very big fans of our own police, here in Washington. These claims, truth or not, only reinforce a pre-existing distrust of police.

What actions do the police, as employees of the state, have against these allegations. By rules of logic, they are unable to prove that misconduct did not occur. Their best option is to maintain their professionalism and transparency throughout the case.

Cases of defamation of character in American courts are typically awarded to situations regarding individuals and private organizations. Cases that hold up in court are typically follow a utilitarian argument, gauging the malicious repercussions of the message against the social utility of the content.

For example, a department store may not post photographs of shoplifters on its front doors because it is of no use to the public to see the faces of people who have already paid for their crimes. Also, the information may hurt business opportunities otherwise available to publicly shamed individuals. A libertarian argument would suggest that public image is like a commodity that holds value. Damage inflicted upon public image is like damage of any other property and must be compensated for.

People exempt from pressing defamation charges are public figures such as politicians and celebrities. Their public image is regarded as public property and a fair subject for free speech.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

local hip hop

I discovered Zia Mohajerjasbi through his genius award write up in The Stranger. Check out his Vimeo page. He makes hip hop videos for local Seattle artists. Pretty cool, right?

I think when your average person thinks of hip hop videos they think of guns, gold chains and half naked women. People should be thinking of a second type of hip hop video. That is, the short film:

Common Market "Trouble Is" Music Video from Zia Mohajerjasbi on Vimeo.

Framing a hip hop video like a short film makes sense. Indie acts such as Common Market are heavily message oriented. They tell stories about poverty and economic hardship.

They're like the Almanac Singers of the modern depression. When I was making a documentary about street musician Tommy Dean, I really wanted to end the film with Tommy's comments on hip hop. The moral is, folk singers (by nature of their medium) are looking in the rear view mirror. Hip hop is current and modern. It doesn't preoccupy itself by imitating the blues and it doesn't try to hide behind a clever riff or a catchy melody. Its just message.

That said, I'm interested in what Zia is doing. I'll keep an eye on him.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

the blind side by mike lewis

Have you seen the preview for The Blind Side? You should take a look. Seriously. Next Hollywood blockbuster with a pay-it-forward sort of feel good moral. Its based on a true story about white people helping black people with their homelessness and drug addiction. And guess who the hero is? Football!

I read the review of the story in The Stranger and The Seattle Weekly.

I am sure the authors of these reviews all went to fine liberal arts universities and I commend them in their ability to point out the racism. Somebody please give them the Bill Cosby award.

If they had read Micheal Lewis' book, they would also know that the true story is aware of all their criticisms. Behind the movie script and the literary journalism are real people and a real moral dilemma regarding not only race and economic prejudice but also the sport of football and the impact it has on education and society.

It is easy to criticize white people for being so pompous as to paint themselves as the savior of poor black people and it is a legitimate argument. Michael Oher is adopted by the coach of Briarcrest Christian School for the explicit purpose of winning football games. The selflessness is a thin disguise for the true story of opportunists.

Also real are the benefits appreciated by Big Mike. He really was homeless. His mom really was a prostitute. His father really was a deadbeat living on the streets. Football changed all this.

Mike Lewis simply tells the story as any free market capitalist would see it. The sport of football presented a need for a tall athletic heavyweight and Big Mike was available to fill that need. Of course, Big Mike could not have made it on his own so he found assistance from Sean Tuohy and his wife.

The important dialogue that is being passed up here is: Sean Tuophy morally wrong for taking advantage of disenfranchised youth? He does pick the kid off the streets and give him an education. Is capitalism wrong for rewarding selfishness? Is football morally wrong for providing a means for the rags to riches story?

I can't comment on the movie because I have not seen it yet. I would not be surprised if the moral dilemma of the book is missing from the film. Please don't judge a book by its movie adaptation. All objections to the movie are actually the subject matter of the book. The "selfless and benevolent white people" are actually fully aware of their post-racist behavior and are torn between helping the kid and leaving him starving on the street. In the book, there is actually a parallel development between "Big Mike" and a lesser (little?) Mike character who does not get a football scholarship.

Friday Night Lights might be a better film but the literary story telling of The Blind Side is a terrific book. Also check out Mike Lewis's other novels.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

telekinesis! at bumbershoot

i had a lot of fun shooting and editing this video. telekinesis! reminds me a bit of both deathcab for cutie and older nada surf.

shooting bands is easy. the biggest mistake you can make is thinking too much. just point the camera and have a good time. use the opportunity to play around a bit. here, i stuck to wide angles too much and i think i botched it. don't do that. just have fun.

chief of sales?

this week marks the beginning of my new career in sales. my friend fransisco asked me to do some rep work for his clothing label, built for man. i have never worked in fashion or sales but here i am, neck deep in fashion sales. we'll see how i handle this challenge.

i really love fransisco's wool and cotton pieces. all of his clothes are made out of the finest materials. baby alpaca wool and pima cotton. also, they are sold at affordable prices. you couldn't find a better deal at target. seriously.

this last week, i've been compiling a list of all clothing stores/boutiques/outlets in seattle who might carry built for man product. next week, i'll be developing a sales strategy. wish me luck!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

portfolio links

social media profiles
facebook: /platypusrex256
twitter: /platypusrex256
yelp: /platypusrex256
linkedin: /platypusrex256
vimeo: /joshuaguerci

video samples
women behind bars: /click
hermes festival of crafts: /click
smith & winston: /click
football video: /click
emerson salon: /click
kexp bumbershoot: /click

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

laser light show on broadway

my friend angelo put this video together for seattle university's student newspaper. i'm glad to see the spectator take advantage of multimedia like this. i'm thinking i might want to swing by and take a look at this art exhibit while its up.

Lasers bring life to an empty lot from The Spectator on Vimeo.

Story of Tim Brenton and Christopher Monfort

I've been following the story of Officer Tim Brenton and Christopher Monfort pretty closely because I am interested in stories that reflect upon issues of security and civil rights.

Police officer shot dead Halloween night. (article) Brenton's position as a senior police officer and a mentor to Britt Sweeney enhances the symbolic meaning of the story. A police officer is dead and we are faced with the mortality of our protectors

Police in search of suspicious car. (article) Once we establish the mortality of our hero, we introduce our faceless anti-hero. He draws power from his obscurity.

I know it is a lot to ask from the city, but I would like to see video evidence released to the public. Screen shots of video are not enough.

Police share theory about suspect. (article) Our anti-hero challenges the morality of our hero. Our villain wants us to ask questions about the deputy sheriff and the girl in SeaTac. Our ghost story becomes a moral dilemma.

Monfort is shot at his home. (article) As DNA and other evidence is collected, it is important to note that Seattle Police own this story. The journalists were good to gather some additional comments when available but the Police remain the sole proprietors of meat to this story.

Friends and family of Monfort have an opportunity to speak to the press at this time. Often friends and family will decline to speak with the press, often by request of their lawyers, out of fear that the press is out to ruin the case and create prejudice against them before the jury is assembled. It is the journalist's first priority to understand the family's need for space but it is also important for the family to understand that silence is not always the best option. In the Monfort case, silence is counter productive.

If Monfort is innocent, it is the duty of his friends and family to step forward now to clear his name. If Monfort is guilty, the journalist might offer an opportunity for speak anonymously. Either way, if the journalist is not able to dig up information about Monfort, he loses an opportunity to tell a compelling story.

Monfort questioned authority. (article) When friends and family do not speak, a journalist must rely only on public record. Here is where we establish Monfort's identity as a proponent of freedom. He witnessed the fall of The Berlin Wall and participated in the first Iraq war. In school, Monfort was deeply passionate about the people's right to a government that stays within the confines of the constitution.

The danger of these findings is that the story becomes instantly political when the shooter is identified as representing a political point of view already grossly associated with domestic terrorism. For example, should society be fearful of people who question authority?

This story ends with a dead police officer but its power is in the conflict between security and freedom. The intent is not to vilify Monfort because to do so would to paint Brenton's death in vain. Also, the story is not to patronize Monfort's politics as to neglect the true struggle of the human condition.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rush to buy: issue of free speech

Rush Limbaugh wants to buy the St. Louis Rams. Al Sharpton is leading the crusade against Limbaugh’s efforts, arguing that Limbaugh is unfit to own a sports franchise because he is a racist and an addict; clearly an irresponsible role model for young Americans. While the drug possession charges are general knowledge, the racist argument is yet to be determined.

Common sense dictates that Limbaugh is a staunch conservative and therefor a racist and tainted with prejudice. But where are the facts?

Notwithstanding lack of evidence, is Rush Limbaugh entitled to his opinion? Or is his money no longer good?

This is an important ethical question for our generation to answer. Is it true that 'hate speech' is the antithesis of democratic free-speech and must be censored? If Limbaugh is a racist, should he be bared from participation in public radio, in sports, in business? Is Limbaugh’s money no good or is Limbaugh, in a free society, free to both speak and spend his money as he pleases? Is the NFL unable to stop him?

This discussion might be better framed as good or bad marketing: Does the NFL as a publicly traded organization have the freedom to pick and choose the partners it affiliates with?

David Sirota wrote in Huffington Post: Forget the double standard of Rush Limbaugh, a free marketeer, now decrying as outrageous the NFL corporation's logical business decision to protect its brand from his taint.

Sirota dismisses a good point. The St. Lewis Rams may, as a PR strategy, choose to turn down Limbaugh's offer to buy the franchise. But this decision should come from the Rams and the strategic decision will rest in the symbiosis of brands, weather or Limbaugh’s values are acceptable to the St. Louis Rams and their fans. Of course, we might safely assume that the target audience, Rams fans, are also Limbaugh fans. So.... it would make no sense to stop Limbaugh.

Freedom Watch hosts an interesting conversation:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

goodnight unknown

i am in love with this small documentary. its truly a personal little statement. i would love to spend so much time with an artist as they are making a record like this.

Lou Barlow - Goodnight Unknown Documentary from Merge Records on Vimeo.

documentary film is sharing a second hand experience. the trick is finding that experience that is worth sharing.

and finding a documentary you want to watch is kind of like shopping at garage sales. i suppose it goes without saying that i might see new life in old trinkets that no longer interest you.

its up to the documentary film maker to arrange the odds & ends and fragmented moments into a meaningful collage. a total product you might find more interesting than the sum of its parts.

Monday, October 5, 2009

fashion week bellevue

a fashion designer friend of mine wanted to bring me to bellevue fashion week to film this event at the hyatt hotel but there was a conflict with the model contracts. of course, i was welcome to come shoot the video for my own personal use.

it is funny how journalism and pr and blogs all adhere to different rules. blogs are the anarchy of information!

i think it is useful to watch even bad footage. obviously, i will learn what not to do. but also sometimes the amateur eye is willing to see things from a new perspective. out of the mouths of babes, so to speak?

Friday, October 2, 2009

(pow pow) powercorp video

i really launched myself into this project headstrong. i had just completed the video for emerson and i was feeling good about myself. i ended up making some silly mistakes on this one.

things i would change include:

1) don't perform an interview in front of a window. lighting is always tricky. thankfully, rory brought a truck full of watts or i would have been out of luck with a backlit subject. to avoid this problem, reserve a space ahead of time for interviews that you know will work.

2) use a monopod for b-roll. no hand is steady enough and a tripod is too much work.

3) plan the interview before you shoot b-roll. this way, you get b-roll that fits the audio.

4) planning is half the battle. you should know exactly how long the video is going to be and what is going to be said. even when the voice over is interview based, you should know the answers to the questions and script out the flow and feeling before you go in to shoot.

5) execution is the other half of the battle. planning goes to waste if you don't stick to the plan.

6) communicate clearly your expectations of all people involved. up and down the management chain, communication should be open and free. be respectful to your team members but also be respectful to the project and do what it takes to get the job done.

7) when you script out the quotes you want from your interview, you can better coach your subject into giving you that soundbite you need. don't think you can fix it in post because you will not always have the tools later down the road.

8) how many people are going to watch the video? who is going to care enough to show it to someone else? these are questions you should ask yourself when making any video content.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

a little slice of life

i like people. tommy is good people. so many experiences out there, waiting to be discovered if only you had the courage to talk to new people. or you can watch film.
that's what i like about movies. it gives you an opportunity to live vicariously through someone else's eyes. because we don't all have the courage to go home with weirdos like tommy and talk to them about the trinkets hanging on the walls.

wish i could show you everything but you probably don't care enough.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

looking for work at a time like this

my friend alex posted the video to his blog. also, washington bus posted my video to their blog. excitement all around.

today i spent the day applying for jobs.

has anybody heard of northwest marketing, inc? the google search results for the company show nothing but job listings. also, the website looks like it was built in 1998. sketchy.

also bizglimpz seems like a fishy program. they are looking for a freelance videographer and self-marketer to sell videos to local business. here is the deal: videographer brings the gear and the skill. bizflimpz supplies the web hosting and sets the price. videographer pulls commission. sound like a good deal? you tell me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

our money where his mouth is

have you seen the controversial gm commercial with ed whitacre?

people don't like that gm chose the ceo as the face of the ad when people are distrustful of people in suits now more than ever. to me, the controversial part is where whitacre says we're putting our money where our mouth is. politics aside, there are more problems with the ad.

vp & social media lead at razorfish shiv singh offers some insight into gm his blog that you might not get anywhere else. basically, that gm is missing an opportunity to start dialogue.

the problem is, how does gm regain america's trust after going bankrupt? the question of whether or not gm has any hope of turning over a profit is certainly subject for hot conversation. how do we divert the conversation back to cars? more specifically, how do we divert the conversation away from politics and onto something that will encourage consumers to buy cars?

pj orourke (take him or leave him) says in the wallstreet journal:

The American automobile is —that is, was— never a product of Japanese-style industrialism. America’s steel, coal, beer, beaver pelts and PCs may have come from our business plutocracy, but American cars have been manufactured mostly by romantic fools.

many have suggested, america's love affair with the car is over. i think this metaphor might be a bit unfair. i think america's relationship to the car is listed as 'its complicated' on facebook but it certainly is not over.

the problem with witacre's ad is that he fails to acknowledge the rift in the relationship. i don't expect him to get down on his hands and knees and beg, such as the entirety of the reinvention campaign, because that would look desperate.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

holy fuck from kexp music lounge

the name of this band is well deserved. i hid away on stage and you can tell my shots apart because i focus on the drummer and the bassist from the side of the stage while zeek and jim filmed the stage more head on.

the films of sean dunne

sean dunne is a filmmaker in new york. i found him through the little films blog. i like sean dunne's attention to detail. he is not afraid to get the camera in close and show us the texture of someone's life.

Man In Van from Sean Dunne on Vimeo.

man in a van makes me think of what i wanted to do for random. i can think of a million excuses for why i never made that film and none of them are suffice. maybe i ought to revisit the idea and take some notes from sean.

Buckles from Sean Dunne on Vimeo.

buckles moves a bit slow here and there but it retains gravity because of its historical value. someday even this will be a piece of history.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

songwriters shack

every man with big hair who picks up a guitar looks instantly like bob dylan. its a true story. and i've seen many of these singer songwriters buy into the persona and follow in bob's footsteps.

i stole this video from a big time dylan blogger. this is typical bob dylan-esque impressionistic storytelling and i don't think it is a minor detail that the 'dylan' character is reading kafka.

i like the soundtrack. is that the weight by the band?

Monday, September 21, 2009

cover letter to razorfish

I am applying for the assistant media planner position because my unique background in film and video will provide me with insight into how to best engage people with innovative media. In my experience working in the film and video production industry, I learned that behind every successful creative decision lies both quantitative analysis and real human relationships. Bringing my experiences to Razorfish, my goal is to continue to build on these lessons while gaining a buyer’s perspective into media production.

Last summer, I made a documentary about Pike Place Market singer-songwriter Tommy Dean. I played Pennebaker to his Bob Dylan in my homage to landmark music documentary Don’t Look Back. Making The Tommy Dean Show taught me so much about harvesting a valuable second-hand experience from hours and hours of footage.

Currently, I am working with Rys Fairbrother. He sells video advertisements for vacation rental homes in central Oregon. Successfully completing these videos while working remotely, I have had to build strong communication skills, while organizing a systematic workflow and displaying initiative. Success on this project requires patience and clarity to develop a systematic workflow to compensate for the lack of face-to-face interaction that we often take for granted in business.

My most valuable experience was an internship with Guy Roadruck at Media Plant, a creative services group downtown. Media Plant taught me the value of systematically plotting the progress of multiple accounts, enabling all team members to quickly identify projects ready for action or waiting on assets.

Volunteering with KEXP and The Northwest Film Forum, I saw a despairing gap between what artists want to produce and what clients want to pay for. I read in an interview with Shiv Singh in which he comments on media professionals who task themselves with “educating and enlightening our clients” and I like how Singh counters this mindset that the relationship should be more symbiotic, that “we learn equally from each other even about new phenomena…”

If Singh’s remarks reflect the sentiment of the company, then I am happy to submit my application to Razorfish. I look forward to developments to come. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

service and client, growing together

I am applying for the the assistant media planner position because my unique background in film and video will provide me with insight into how to best engage people with innovative media. In my experience working in the film and video production industry, I learned that behind every successful creative decision lies both quantitative analysis and real human relationships. Bringing my experiences to Razorfish, my goal is to continue to build on these lessons while gaining a buyer’s perspective into media production.

Last summer, I made a documentary about Pike Place Market singer-songwriter Tommy Dean. I played Pennebaker to his Bob Dylan in my homage to landmark music documentary Don’t Look Back. Making The Tommy Dean Show taught me so much about harvesting a valuable second-hand experience from hours and hours of footage.

Currently, I am working with Rys Fairbrother. He sells video advertisements for vacation rental homes in central Oregon. Successfully completing these videos while working remotely, I have had to build strong communication skills, while organizing a systematic workflow and displaying initiative. Success on this project requires patience and clarity to develop a systematic workflow to compensate for the lack of face-to-face interaction that we often take for granted in business.

My most valuable experience was an internship with Guy Roadruck at Media Plant, a creative services group downtown. Media Plant taught me the value of systematically plotting the progress of multiple accounts, enabling all team members to quickly identify projects ready for action or waiting on assets.

Volunteering with KEXP and The Northwest Film Forum, I saw a despairing gap between what artists want to produce and what clients want to pay for. I read in an interview with Shiv Singh in which he comments on media professionals who task themselves with “educating and enlightening our clients” and I like how Singh counters this mindset, that the relationship should be more symbiotic, that “we learn equally from each other even about new phenomena…”

If Singh’s remarks reflect the sentiment of the company, then I am happy to submit my application to Razorfish. I look forward to developments to come. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

a bit too dramatic for a cover letter

I graduated from Seattle University with a degree in journalism. From the graduation ceremony, you could actually hear the walls of Post-Intelligencer caving in on it self. For four years, we studied the art of collecting and contextualizing daily trivia, listening to professors lecture us about how television and now the internet have corrupted what was once the practical skill of objective journalism, never to ask the important questions. That is, maybe we were wrong all along? Maybe we were naïve to think that journalism is the truth and that the public, who prefer to get daily news, filtered through partisan channels and marketing agencies, is wrong? Maybe the time has come, to rethink what we think we know about how people hunger for information and how they consume it? Time to let this failed dream die, wake up now to the reality of what consumers want, the value content providers imagine they provide, and the disparity between the two ideas.

I like the Thomas Jefferson quote in the picture above: Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

the valule of viral video and the second hand experience

viral video is a pretty cool idea. make a video on a low budget. maybe shoot it on your flip camera and post it to the web. the idea is, its not the production that brings value to your story but something else.

my friend fransisco said to me that he likes how you can experience something in real life and capture that moment on your flip camera and take it home with you. you can open the video on your computer and re-experience that moment in a new context and you can share that experience with other people.

i think that is great! but what is the value of that experience?

how about this experience? i bet you always wanted to hang out with a couple of microsoft testers and geek out with them about bing! well, now you can:

i don't know how long the video is because i didn't watch the whole thing.

i found this page through a link on a blog critiquing the marketing strategy leading up to bing! launch.

i bet these guys had a lot of fun when they were making the video. you can tell by the jokes they tell each other and how they laugh. i bet they're great pals. but something seems to be lost in re-contextualizing that moment for second hand experience.

i met today with fransisco and we explored the possibility of making some viral video for his website. website design aside, how might i create a video that will be able to transcend that re-contextualizing process? as a local seattle video artist i want to know, is there a way to instigate a moment that might even benefit gain new meaning through going viral?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

filmmakers with blogs

i don't understand why so few seattle film makers are putting together blogs. every time i meet a film maker, i ask about their blog and they look at me like i'm crazy. they say they don't have enough time.

i found Jeven's blog today. looks like he was up in seattle recently and he made a music video for fun:

he has two feature films in the hopper. the scripts are: steven king's cain rose up and 1-800-Suicide by Michael Lamio. he's just as busy as anybody i've met in seattle and yet he has a blog. two or three entries a month.

now, to find some local seattle film makers with blogs. i want to see what people are doing in this town!

edit: i met a girl at the northwest film forum the other day who calls herself purple. she was with her dad and they were looking for someone who could help them cast a film.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

parking in the neighborhood

sdot will be hosting a community open house september 17, at first baptist church. please come and voice your opinions.

parking on capitol hill is a longstanding issue. are there too many people and too many cars to all park happily in the area? do more people need to ride the bus? do we need to tear down some unwanted buildings and put up a parking lot?

frankly, nobody can answer these questions better than the people who live on the hill, the people who bring value to the area. what city organization knows better for capitol hill than the residents and small business owners who live and work there? if sdot does not get your input, how will they know what to do?

i will be there to ask for an expansion of the zone 21 permit. i think anybody who buys a parking permit should be able to park anywhere on the hill and not worry about 1hr restrictions or putting money in a meter! so i hope to see you there and maybe afterward we can all grab a drink at rosebud!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

raphael saadiq live at bumbershoot

i volunteer with kexp once a week. most of the time i log tapes or catalog the archives but once in a while, online content cordinator jim beckman will invite me along to watch some live performances and shoot some video. i am grateful for this opportunity because it is a fun learning experience to record live performances.

raphael saadiq's old school rhythm and blues band was a surprise for me because i had never heard of them prior to the show. if you read his wikipedia page or allmusic profile, you will see that he's been around for a while.

for those shoots when a tripod is too much, it might be wise to invest in a monopod. no man can hold a camera that steady. i don't care how strong your arm is. you can never hold a shot for too long.

if you have the full final cut pro studio, you might be able to fix shaky clips in post. at kexp, we use the express copy so we don't have this luxury. but if you do have the full version, you can apply a 'smooth cam' filter. you can plan ahead for using the 'smooth cam' filter by keeping your shot a little loose. this way, when the filter enlarges your image for processing, you won't loose any information off the edge of the frame.

for a long time, i was obsessed with keeping one camera wide. here i will publicly denounce that initial philosophy. i learned my lesson. for live performances, wide shots are overrated. unless a performer is using the space in an interesting way, it is best to use tight shots. most performers do not move around too much and if you show them in a wide angle, you will only highlight the boring aspect of their performance. rather you should do the opposite and focus in on the little movements.

it might be wise to decide which camera is going to get which shots before you start. camera one focus on performer a and b. camera two focus on performer c and d. if two cameras agree to share a single subject, it might be wise to decide upon different focal lengths. this way, you keep your options open. you don't want to set yourself up for jump cuts in the edit studio.

try to minimize the noise in the shot. this is another reason to keep away from wide angle shots. the depth of field in video is too deep and if you throw in too much motion, you will only draw attention to the faults of the medium. keep it tight and try to keep the background bland and boring. black is good.

i love shooting video and i don't think i could ever grow bored with it. my biggest challenge is acquiring experience. every time i shoot video i make new mistakes. and with every mistake comes a lesson. and with every lesson, i am only more excited to go out and shoot more video.

thinking back to my work on the tommy dean movies, i would love to have a chance at that kind of project again. a subject like raphael saadiq would be a dream come true because his scene is neck deep in nostalgia. the question i would ask through a documentary about him would be, how does he capture the spirit of the original scene and how does he make it is own? pretentious stuff like that! anybody out there have any ideas?

Monday, August 17, 2009

my seagate issues, resolved

all things decay. all hard drives fail. they overheat and crash. the best thing you can hope for from a company is a guarantee on the gear. don't expect to see your data again. but you might be able to get a blanket 'im sorry' and a new hard drive in the mail.

seagate is an honest company. i'm still not impressed with their external designs but at least they will replace them for free when they burn out.

i don't care what brand you buy, you will want two. and backup your gear. the question is not about if but when your hard drive fails, did you backup your files? and pray to god that two drives is enough.

take advantage of livemesh for your most important information. with every you get 5gb of free cloud storage. this isn't much, but if you are a final cut guy like myself, this should be plenty of space to store your project files and special files from soundtrack pro or color.

recapturing footage might take time but redoing your work would put you in a whole new world of heartache. in many cases, you will never forgive yourself. kind of like losing your first born child.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

tommy dean movies

tommy dean is a singer songwriter who lives in the seattle and tacoma area. his life is a work of art full of adventure and mystery. he invites his audience to live vicariously through his music. some of his stories are true and some of his stories are outright lies.

if my movie seems overly romantic and idealized, it is because it was my first documentary film. like my subject, i am trying to find myself as an artist. it is a labour of manifesting my dreams.

tommy dean show (38:41) from Joshua Guerci on Vimeo.

this second film is an hour long. much of the innocent magic has dissapeared and the result is a much more gritty and real dipiction of my subject. as a film maker, i feel that i play the role of a selective mirror. i must find a balance between what the audience would like to see and what the subject himself wants to see.

further, it is a challenge to balance between scenes of idealizing my subject and showing off his grubby parts. too much of one thing will ruin the sauce.

tommy dean & friends (1:07:14) from Joshua Guerci on Vimeo.

if you would like a physical copy of these movies, please leave a comment below. you can see some outtakes on my youtube channel and send me a message there. if you would like to share this movie with a friend, i would be happy to send you a copy of the dvd in the mail.

i am an independent filmmaker living in seattle and i would love to do another project like this, to expand upon what i did right and practice some of the lessons i learned first time around.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

king rat by modest mouse

initially released in 2007, the rat king is released as an a-side to promote a b-side collection from modest mouse. i think the video is great!

pitchfork says heath ledger was directing this music video up until his untimely death. is that true? or is it some sick ploy? more likely, i think this video was directed and animated by terry gilliam.

whatever the case, this video is sick. whales hunting humans? do you think its some message of veganism? or some zen meditation? or maybe it just awesome. i'll go with just awesome.

emerson salon video

i am the cheapest videographer in town. what is the quality of my work? look below:

Emerson Salon: Rusty from Joshua Guerci on Vimeo.

how did i get rusty to talk about himself as a hair stylist? i got him to talk about what he thinks people want to see in a stylist. in describing his idea of the other's desires, he is talking about himself. clever? i thought so.

i enjoyed talking to rusty and putting together this video. rusty told me about how he enjoys helping customers discover the hidden 'sexiness' of their hair. as a videographer, i enjoy helping interview subjects discover their message. one of the first rules of journalism is, everyone has a story to tell. and i believe it. with the help of a creative and skilled journalist, any person can be transformed into a goldmine of storytelling.

there is a trick to getting people to talk. the interview should be at least twice as long as the intended application will allow and a good interviewer will use that extra space to ask peripheral questions. not worthless or trite questions but poignant questions that will prime the memory well, so to speak.

this is the first personal project in which i used soundtrack pro. once you get over the initial intimidation of the software, it is very powerful tool. i am familiar with sony soundforge, cakewalk sonar and pro tools so it is not difficult for me to get into soundtrack pro. no video should be completed without first going through the soundtrack pro treatment.

if i had more time to play, i might go in and tweak things in color. add some gain to the shadows maybe? subtract a bit from the bright window?

the eye is naturally drawn to the brightest part of the picture. in this video, that would be the window. so did i make a mistake by shooting into natural light? i like the effect. but do you?

Friday, July 17, 2009

tiny vipers at kexp

this was the highlight of my week. chatting with jesy fortino before her set at kexp. i have a lot of respect for musicans who manage to fold time and space with mere sound waves. communicating these feelings are hard enough but also to get into that headspace where you are capable of accessing them. amazing. tiny vipers is not just another girl with acoustic guitar singer songwriter shindig.

KEXP inStudio 11.1 from More Dust Than Digital on Vimeo.

i had no part of this shoot. i think i might have handed someone an extention cord but i was a happy bystander of a professional set up.

some things i might have done differently? maybe fewer cuts. i like the static shots, sometimes inconventionally framed. my only biggest complaint is silly but, i don't like the camera on the other side of the microphone. i know most people don't think it looks wrong but to me its jarring.

i like the wide shot that is kind of washed out while the other shots don't really match. i believe the wide shot was captured with a different camera. these mixed media shoots are tricky. more tricky than you'd think unless you've tried it before.

more dust than digital is a seattle based video production company in the university district. they volunteer their expertise to kexp and i would love to work for them!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

shane tutmarc at kexp

i volunteer with jim beckman once a week at kexp. its a great opportunity to practice shooting video because he's happy to get any help, open to new ideas and quite patient when those ideas don't work.

he and i shot this video together on canon xha1 cameras.

i had problems with the manual setting here and i am embarassed by the results.

using manual settings can be tricky but it is not hard if you think strategicly about what each of the settings does and how you might adjust them to best serve your situation. to take the weight off the thinking, make a system for yourself and stick to it.

first i set the shutter. this setting limits the durration of time that any frame is exposed to light. too long, and the frame appears smudged and overexposed. too short, and the frame is dark. for most situations, i find the 1/60 or 1/90 to be good enough.

then i set the gain. this is how the camera works in low light situations and it works kind of like selecting an iso for film. more gain is like a higher iso. the picture looks exposed but it will also look grainy. best to stick with the lowest iso you can.

finally, the f stop. smaller the number, bigger the appature. a big appature (f2.8) will let in more light while a small appature (f16) will have a much more open depth of field.

my mistake in making this video is, i did not think about ballancing all of the zones of the scene. i set the exposure not thinking that the scene was unevenly lit. so there are parts that are very dark. nothing looks overly exposed so this tells me i set the exposure for the most lit part of the scene. big mistake!

complains about the camera: not sure if the lense can hold a focus. also, too heavy for hand held but center of gravity won't allow shoulder mount.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

tommy at the tavern

tom brosseau will be promoting his new album, posthumous success, tonight at the tractor tavern. $10 at the door.

the new tom brosseau album is inconsistent. you would expect him to evolve after his brilliant 2007 efforts, grand forks and cavalier. and he does.

like tom waits, he crafts songs that tell stories about characters more complex and compelling than any singer songwriter could tell about themselves. that is, they are dishonest and kind of creepy. he consciously identifies himself with subjects that are larger than himself. much older.

it looks to me that tom has been looking to expand his sound with a band for a while. last year, he performed at the triple door with hauschka. it struck me funny that tom was looking much more comfortable when the avant garde pianist joined him on stage.

in performance, tom brosseau is one of the few musicians who can hold an audience on his own. while i am happy to see tom expand his sound i am nervous that in the transition, he will loose what makes him so special.

foolish and pretentious of me to see the dylan '67 story arch here. the artist who betrays his roots and reinvents himself as something, like his characters, so much larger than himself.

Friday, June 19, 2009

free jones soda

free soda at jones soda headquarters every friday from 3pm-6pm

Monday, June 15, 2009

Westboro Baptist Church in Seattle

Westboro Baptist Church came to Seattle Sat, to protest against synagogues, churches and public schools.

My girlfriend came with me when I was shooting this video. She had an interesting conversation with a rabbi from the nearby synagogue while the rest of us were occupied gawking at the haters.

The rabbi asked, why are people so eager to give them press coverage? Some people might think that it is the journalists civic duty to report about possible threats to the community but I am not so quick to buy into this theory. At what point does the reporting of the news distort the event?

The Wesboro Baptist Church are not dangerous. Never before has a member of the Westboro Baptist Church been accused of violence. If the police come to a protest, it is to protect the haters from society, not to protect society from the haters.

The danger of the Westboro Baptist Church is their ability to distort arguments. For example, there is legitimate discussion to be orated on the role of the US and Israel in the middle east. But to simplify the discussion to God hates Jews is very counter productive. It reflects poorly not only on themselves but onto everyone who has faith in God or is critical of Israel.

It is interesting to watch the gay community. Of all minority groups striving for civil rights, the gay community enjoys the controversy and is able to use it to their advantage. Watch the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in the video below as they approach other gawkers to give money for their cause.

The comments section of my videos are like little windows into how common America feels about issues of free speech. They try to tell me that 'hate speech' is the antithesis of democracy and must be stopped. I disagree.

To the Wesboro Baptist Church I would like to say, it's great that you feel that way and I encourage you to continue voicing your faith because open dialogue is what makes America great.