Wednesday, March 19, 2008

152. Blue Horizons Continued: Sparse Advertisement for the August 24, 2007 Screening

It was a couple of weeks after Blue Horizons. I needed to go up to UCSB to take care of transactions for housing. Maria de Oca was still in town and she had the whole apartment in Fountainbleu (Isla Vista) to herself. She was very kind to let me stay in one of the rooms. We had a blast those few days: definitely some hanging out time. One night, a group of us went out to Sharkeys (a bar in downtown Santa Barbara). When I was there, I felt a little anxious, but I look back at the images and I understand that it is important to experience these things on break because these memories are stress-relievers during the quarter system... when you don't have time to go bar-hopping! I also remember Maria's friend purchasing a margarita for me. You're probably going to laugh, but that was basically the FIRST TIME I ever set foot in a bar in downtown Santa Barbara. And what, I've been in this town for FOUR years?! He, he, he....

I remember one of the first nights we both stayed up really late and we ended up theorizing on the male species. On the last night I was there and a couple of days before Maria needed to return to Spain to finish her science communications degree, we went on a walk through Isla Vista, bought some smoothies at Blenders in the Grass, and ended up at "Dog Park" (I believe). It was sooo dark that we could pick out the Milky Way. I am surprised because it's not like Isla Vista is "far away from any city lights." Isla Vista IS a micro-city.

To get to the point, while we were walking, we passed by Emerald Video (the video store close to the UCSB campus that carries all the obscure documentaries and Italian films that the professors force students to watch... plus some mainstream blockbusters!) and there was one peculiar advertisement on the windows that stuck out from the rest of the ad collage. Not that it was noticeable to the generic eye, moreso the trained eye.

And voila! We retroactively discover micro-posters being distributed to advertise the student screenings. Apparently Clark (a student in class) spent quite a bit of time distributing them.

I just made a poster / post card for the Goleta Beach Greenscreen project, and not to say that the advertisement material were any GOOD, but I have developed a little bit of critical taste in the process of making them. Both Maria's and my instant response to the poster was "What would inspire anyone to see THIS?" Good question. The advertisement looks so formal and academic... so... politically correct, but no sense of desire of communication. Nothing sticks out. If you throw that poster in a pile of 5000 posters slapped onto a wall, you will have to ask, "Why would CERTAIN posters stick out over others?" This micro-poster would fail miserably. It's not like it's being purposefully critical. This is basic critique on the premises of how to stimulate the human brain. Then again, non-stimulating advertisement was probably good: it's not that we wanted a lot of people to come see the screenings of our first student films!

I think Maria kept the original flier. I just took pix for documentation.

In the next blog, I am going to be posting my rock crab film, so I decided to continue the drama of Friday from the previous blog. I was approaching UC Santa Barbara in the afternoon of Friday. I had to deal with some traffic, especially around downtown Santa Barbara. I finally reached the Digital Editing Lab (DEL) around 4pm, and I had two hours left to burn a DVD and mini DV for Michael Hanrahan, who was at the Multicultural Center. I was extremely nervous because I didn't know whether a burn was feasible (since burning at DVD at UC Irvine did not work). Oscar was in high demand, so Julio helped me burn a DVD through DVD Studio Pro. He was patient with me. I was a wreck. I felt like a wreck. Everyone was very busy making final adjustments on their films. Some people were glad to see I was back. I was barely aware of my surroundings, barely coherent because my adrenaline was so high, but my brain was so dead from one week of work and maybe 10 hours of sleep total. Tragic.

[A Brief Philosophy of Gossip]

I talked to Dulce and she was telling me that while I was gone people were talking bad about me. Yipping and yapping and snipping and snapping. Well, whatever. That's human behavior. If people have nothing better to talk about, then they gossip about other people's business. Even monkeys do it. So if our genetically similar friends gossip, why wouldn't we? Filling up empty space with hot air. Heck, even I do it once in a while, but with a very few select number of people. AND I try to make it meaningful, like I gossip with my dad about the weather and the plants. But the plants and the atmosphere don't seem to mind that sometimes we talk trash about them.

If people were saying negative things about me, I am sad, not because the things they were saying about me truly reflect who I am, but their gossip truly reflect more who they are.

But then again, I can't be sad because I was gone due to my anxiety and panic and miscommunications and so it's open niche space for people to gossip when someone "vanishes."

Then again, we are all humans, and a fundamental human property is the tendency to fill up empty space with hot air. I wonder whether gossip is a genetically ingrained property of human behavior. Well, I'm sure it is for females! :-)

When I first came to the Multicultural Center, Michael was quasi-shocked to see me. I gave him my mini DV and DVD. He tested out the first minute and he said, "It looks pretty good." I then sat down. Constance Penley saw me and she was very surprised. She actually gave me a hug. She also told me retroactively that she was simultaneously very sad--due to the whole miscommunication thing with my absence to Irvine for the week. I sat in the back by myself. At one point, I was trying to convince my parents to come, but it was probably best that they didn't come after all. Slowly people started to pile in, and the show started. Apparently Oscar and Dulce were in the Digital Editing Lab. "A New Wave of Energy" is a documentary that was created by Oscar Flores, Dulce Osuna, and Hannah Eckberg in English AND Spanish. They finished the English version for Hannah, but Oscar and Dulce were still working on the Spanish one! They never came because they couldn't finish their film! So sad!

I vaguely remember the order of screenings.... Rigs-to-Reefs went first. It had a "corporate environmental film" style to it. I probably mentioned this a thousand times in my blog, but I left feeling thoroughly pissed about the way how Dr. Milton Love was edited. Hence, the beginning of my expsosure to the FALLACY OF EDITING. My dad had been a victim of that a few bazillion times. Quoted out of context. Quoting him on the insignificant and irrelevant. So many news reports are so badly edited in terms of accurate representation of the people interviewed, you come to wonder whether anyone has the capacity to communicate anymore!

Hannah's "A New Wave of Energy" then played, followed by the Morro Bay "Buy-Back" program... then Maria de Oca's film (which I have a blog on Santa Barbara Sustainable Seafood :-))... then my film... then Clark and Helen's film on the Channel Islands sea otters that was done with Flash? Difficult! Apparently, that project remained unfinished. Clark was off to Europe after the program and Helen apparently had a car accident in northern California. Wow. Ouch.

Not only was this the first screening, but this was the initiation of a "dialogue-interaction between film-maker and audience." At that point, I thought my work was done. But in terms of communications campaigns, the work is JUST BEGINNING. The first couple of audiences I am starting to get training wheels on how to document audience response and receive written feedback, not only for necessary appraisal to get more funding, but also in terms of how to improve the film. What do other people see in order to make the film better? Or altered to an interesting pathway? The general audience response was: "You left us hanging. You were going somewhere. We want MORE." That is good. People want more. They want me to elaborate my 7.5 minute film.

The rest of the night was good-fun networking and eating university-catered food. Some quiche and some Mexican-based food. I met 6-10 new random people I never met before that night! It was a strange, amazing feeling. All my life, I have been chasing down people. If I need something, I track the appropriate party down for some help. But this was the first time in my life a group of people came to track down me, of all things. Talk about REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY! The emotion has long worn away, but it has been 7 long years since I have started my slow, methodological journal-writing and "philosophical inquiry" practice. I had been struggling for over two years to convince people to even pay attention to my writing or even acknowledge that I exist as an environmental philosophy writer and artist. And then suddenly, through film, people were starting to pay attention. It was like this multi-medium was finally opening doors for me... in a rapid way. I felt much more the same way even at the Santa Barbara Ocean Film Festival on October of 2007! Wow, what an adrenaline rush I experienced upon this realization: Something is finally starting to work. And its working... fast.

What a very powerful feeling. Very, very powerful. And humbling. People are starting to listen. That night I think I cried.

As for the nuts-and-bolts of networking, I couldn't go too far simply because my brain was dead. I talked with Markus Sandy (loyal attendee of Santa Barbara Indie Filmmakers Coop, inventor of Spinexpress and other shareware, works with the owner of Magnatune up in San Francisco!), Cathy Boggs and her husband, an overly enthusiastic physics Ph.D. student who made an extremely nice comment (paraphrased: "To think that science can sound so poetic, you are right there!"), Maria de Oca's sister Nuria (goes to grad school on the East Coast, I swear she looks like Bjork, except she's much taller!), a few other bureaucrats, and a few other people... they slipped through my mind like the sand at Goleta Beach on a stormy day. Like I said, I was interacting with people in a state of brain-deadness. Keith Boynton had equipment set up such that Blue Horizons faculty and students could be interviewed. I saw the film promo retroactively and the lighting was very poor in the hallway outside the Multi-cultural Center. Then again, what could Keith do? I was rambling like a dumb-butt and I don't even remember what I was saying. I don't even want to remember.

I also remember Dave Panitz and Logan approaching me. Dave mentioned that he really enjoyed the comical, philosophical side to my film and wished our group had done the same. Logan (CCS biology student, GO BIO!) said that we must DEFINITELY keep in touch. Will do. He's on the list for my on-call help.

I also remember having a strange conversation with Logan on the diverse scientific perceptions of the same system. I used a small, planted pine tree as an example. Mapping language on landscapes of the tree, you would notice that the molecular biologists would delve into the nuts-and-bolts of photosynthesis, physiologists would probably look at nuances of anatomy and morphology, as well as botanists, and ecologists would look at the tree and look all around them trying to figure out how this tree relates to everything else. One tree, and 6 billion different specialized ways how to view it. Is one way right or wrong... or most commony agreed?

Apparently Mike McGinnes was there but I did not have the best of luck to be able to have a conversation with him. Been wanting to for a while. Hannah Eckberg highly recommended that I talk with him. In addition, I would like to meet Michael Hanrahan's colleague at Brooks Institute of Photography. He taught us basic principles of lighting. I have probably taken millions of photographs, and all the random tid-bits of knowledge I acquired about lighting was brilliantly summarized in one giant sweep... within two hours of lecture. Brilliant.

The last person I "talked with" that night was Michael Hanrahan. He seemed preoccupied when we talked. He didn't seem all there. I'm not sure if anyone was. Then again, that was my perception. Heck. I wasn't all there. I just started trying to explain to him my situation with anxiety disorder and he interrupted me with a pat on the shoulder and left.

But... but... but...

Conclusion: Positive feedback from an audience basically charges you like an Energizer Bunny!

In the end, completing the film was a close call timewise. I felt so relieved. It was the first time in two years where I actually COMPLETED SOMETHING, completed schoolwork to its entirety. And despite any grades, I did give myself a pat in the back. And I rarely do that. And finally, I didn't live for the day. I started to see a longer-term future for myself... A future at UC Santa Barbara. To finally return from four years of struggle in the world outside of the infinite mental freedom of the College of Creative Studies at UCSB.

I hung out with Oscar and Dulce that night at the Digital Editing Lab. They managed to finish their film to some degree. We watched films and chilled. I went to bed and packed the next day to go home. The day after I left Blue Horizons was the first day I started to look for housing in the fall. I was lucky. The very first house I looked at is the house where I am currently living: three very chill environmental-interdisciplinary-oriented graduate students out in the boonies off of Storke Road in Goleta.

Where it begins / is where it ends / is where it begins / all over again!

Students films for the first class of Blue Horizons can be viewed at

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