Well, well, well... some people have become... desperate, including myself.... My head is currently spinning right now... still... but what can I do but recap a chronological timeline of this past week? I haven't written a blog in a while, but I have been deep in my head... writing... and doing art.... So, what exactly happened is that two years ago, I barely made the cut of creating the introduction of a "World's Easiest Catch: Zen of Rock Crab" Film, which ultimately has a lot of baggage I have been carrying around. First of all, it's a controversial film, because I the film-maker am in it. Some people like it's existentialist eco-poetic properties but other people were pissed off that I was self-indulgent rather than focusing on the fishermen. Despite all the problems--like the acquisition of absolutely horrible audio, and the unfinished condition of the film, World's Easiest Catch was the notable student film at the Santa Barbara Ocean Film Festival in October of 2007. I had a fallout with one of my profs in concern of a grade of the film, and it turned out that the misunderstanding was not between me and the prof, but between me, the prof, and a backstabbing third-party student who miscommunicated my message to the prof. It was a very strange time that I had been suppressing in my psyche for a VERY long time, but somehow this so called notion of "love" can repair nearly all wounds and wipe history to a blank slate--October 17, 2005, to be exact. This film made it to be October 17, 2005 or 18th? Wait. There's Question Reality (Sept 15-October 15), Poetry Collection (October 16), Catch Share (October 17), and now The Curious Case (October 18). Great! Today, is October 18, 2005. My inner universe is slowly manifesting outwardly. Another suppressed aspect of World's Easiest Catch is that I felt I disappointed the entire fishing community of Santa Barbara. I have been hiding and feeling like a jerk for two years. I feel thankful that I was even hired as note-taker for the fisheries/FIN/MLPA process! Apparently, not all fishermen in Santa Barbara hated me. Or maybe in the end, I hated myself. After this current experience I am about to describe, I came to realize that (1) I collected BAD AUDIO all summer and (2) I overshot my capacities of what I can do as an INDIVIDUAL INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER. I cannot edit over 25 hours of tape, unless if I want to make myself go crazy. Another issue, is that I had to divorce my own existentialististic overly philosophical foo foo mind from the practical world outside. I was imposing too much of myself upon the realities of other people in World's Easiest Catch. Now, I am deeply in my head, I can divorce my esoteric self from the world outside through my dualist life of writing/art and film-making for other people. The list goes on... but it's okay, this is a blog! I am allowed to ramble, right?
Anyhoo, I was at some kind of ultimate philosophical low last Sunday (June 7, 2009), I had just spent about 3 weeks sitting in front of a computer, writing some very heavy stuff... from "A Graduation from Religion" to "Catch Share" to currently working on "The Mountain's Last Flower." I spoke with Barry Spacks in the morning before the graduation and he did a major surgery on how I should approach my scientist character. I just came out of the CCS graduation with a wonderful quote, "Join your community, but make sure the price of admission is your individualism." I called Bub, and I was just aching all over my body. I was anticipating of swimmng that day to loosen myself up. I needed to change my lifestyle, because the life of exclusive writing and art can be very agonizing physically for an active person who wants to be outdoors as well. So, I was feeling depressed, talking to my dad in the car, and then suddenly, out of the blue Sam Shrout calls me. Sam is one of my main characters of the rock crab film. He's one of the most respected fishermen in Santa Barbara; not only he works hard, but he is very intelligent, and knows how to use his resources, including me :-). He's like, *hey Victoria how's it going, how's life? and I stuttered oh things are fine, I think my advisors are starting to trust my pathway to life and ya, things are slow... stutter stutter rock crab film on back burner... * and then Sam patiently interjects, *hey Victoria what are you doing RIGHT NOW?* *Huh? like nothing. why?* and then Sam just belches out to me in incoherence something about some law with lobster traps and escape ports and short lobsters and I had no flippin' clue what he said except for the part where he said "And I can be the director and you can be the camera girl and editor." And I said AUTOMATICALLY and in complete spirit of SPONTANEITY "Okay, COOL! I'll do it!" Sam caught me at the best of times. I know it was an automatic response, but Sam and Cherie were expecting some rock crab film footage, and besides they bought me sushi 2 or 3 times two summers ago, so I kind of owe them... quite a bit. In fact, when Sam said, "Hey Victoria, I owe you something." And I said, "Redemption." He asked, "For what?" And I said, "For not finishing the rock crab film." He laughed. For completing this film, I needed redemption. I needed to earn RESPECT from a fisherman, from a fishing community. And I needed to earn TRUST. REDEMPTION. RESPECT. And TRUST. Those three things I was after, and you can't place a dollar value on that. Money comes later. And a boat ride to the islands. I'll push for a boat ride, for sure! I also felt like an Environmental Media Initiative Exile, because I wasn't producing anything I was proud of. I had also been frustrated because EMI seemed to have become a "talking affair," and as one fisherman stated, "Those who talk the most, produce the least." I was actually getting depressed being surrounded by a bunch of talkers, and over time, I surrounded myself with the more elusive community of creators, producers. Very few friends I have now, you see. So I was tired of being an exile, and I wanted to show people something I was proud of. Thanks to Barry Spacks, he made me swear an oath, "No explanations. No excuses." It pertained to our up and coming slacker generation of pampered frosh undergrads, but I learned how to apply this to my life. Stop thinking. Stop talking. Just do it. By the time Sam Shrout called me, I was in a super-duper-just-do-it-mode. Sam told me to call in an hour because he had to do some research before he made this film.
I had to break the ice with several issues. My Sony semi-professional camera had been collecting dust and I had to reacquaint myself with my dormant body parts in the garage, let alone brain neurology that couples with the organs. Another thing is that I had to break the ice with all the film equipment that I purchased the year before so I could technologically and mentally divorce myself from the environmental media equipment at UCSB. If I had my own equipment, I could own my brain to myself and I would have to deal with a LOT LESS PEOPLE than what I had to deal with back in summer of 2007. My credits are very simplified now: Me as the the camera and editor girl, and the actors in the front. Thank your family and who ever inspired you for the film. The Rock Crab film credits were WAY TOO LONG because simply it was a training wheel film. Now? I'm off on my own. Whew. Dropping lots of people baggage.
I know this is a bit of a "side track" issue, but I went to the Blue Horizons screening for summer of 2008 and was pissed off to find out that two groups essentially copycated my film style and technique for going into the grocery store and placing your camera in a shopping cart. Those dweebs! Don't copy me! Get your own flipping style! Sheep! Mimicry! I hate sheep! If you're over 20 years old, you have to stop being a SHEEP! Well, I really liked the snowy plover spoof. Some character who was kind of like Grizzly Man, who wore hot pink shorts and defended the snowy plovers. I loved it, and it had this envirochondriac streak to it. It was actually my favorite film, but it turned out that this "Sea Urchin Diver" film was the hit of the year--they had underwater camera housing, UNFAIR! I didn't have that! I think was the prof's favorite group. I thought the film was VERY slow and had not much content to it. The urchin fisherman would say something, and then there would be this long pause and this audio soundtrack music that I detested. The film reminded me of the PBS Nova Special (which can be a good thing) but was ultimately 5 minutes of information in 50 minutes of film. But imagine, this film was maybe 8 minutes. So, let's just say it was 40 seconds of information spread out to 8 minutes of film. I'm not even sure the ratio's right. I HATE that type of film, but that's my personal opinion. I am anti-industry standard. So for me, as a political science professor stated, my film style is Michel Gondry ecopoetic metaphorical abstract foo foo that somehow relates to everyone's construction of reality. I am 7 minutes of film with 7 minutes of content, which has so many layers--like the whole onion-peeling deal--that you have to watch the film several times to dissect and tune into all the layers. As another person said, my blog is like eating a "dense piece of European bread." I intend for the same of my films. My own standards are very anti-norm, and because of that I'm pretty much in my own alternative universe and desire to operate as an independent... for now... and slowly accrue my few allies.
So, that was a lot of baggage and backstory. Over the last two years, I have acquired a deep, gestalt affair with fishermen in general, primarily through the MLPA process. Their FIN proposal, external proposal A, received the MOST VOTES from all the RSG stakeholders for the southcoast process. And to say that I was a part of that process, of watching and recording all the fishermen put their heads together and construct a very highly desirable proposal, it just tickles my funnybone! I have met some of the most independent, real-world, intelligent, people-savvy, humorous individuals in my life! I am absolutely humblified. And to make matters even more ironic, fishermen have been receiving bad rap in the university and in the public due to issues of overfishing, but I have found ironies myself in terms of how scientists and fishermen operate. One major issue is that fulltime fishermen probably spend 20/30 days out on the ocean every single month, and scientists may spend 2 or 3 (or maybe 30/30 if they are on some intensive month of research). Fishermen have been establishing real-world models of the ocean in their heads through chronic observation and interaction, while scientists are oftentimes cushioned in their offices with wads of data and funky computer models. Fishermen remind me of the early scientists of fishers/ranchers who were by default amazing observers of natural history of landscapes. Fishermen married their minds to the ocean and the fish, and the scientists have married their minds to the scientific literature, which has become so diffuse and unpeer-reviewed that I am skeptical of scientific literature, as skeptical as if I were reading a sleeze article from US or People Magazine. And somehow you would think the stories would be the same, but there are vast dichotomies of thought processes for those who choose to marry these two different worlds. Anyhoo, that's just one line of thought. Another epiphany I made is that fishermen are about the only people who have earned "honest muscles." Their hands are rough, thickly skinned, and their whole form is often dark and blotched. The ocean and the weather has decorated them with beautiful, elaborate scars. So, as you can tell, I am in adoration and stupored fascination with a gestalt community of people. [It's amazing how film-making has so much backstory!]
So, by the time Sam Shrout called me and asked me for some help, all interior and external trains of thought of the physical universe led to an automatic "YES" and I dropped everything I was doing to resurrect the great dormancy in my multi-media head, and just simply... redeem myself. I raced over to Sam's house around 3:30pm (mind you, the days are long now), and we started almost right away after greetings with Cherie and Kevin. Based on the filming style, you could tell that Sam and I are very comfortable with each other. One of the main hurdles I had to jump over in the summer of 2007 is gain trust with fishermen and the fishing community. That hurdle between Sam and I had long been jumped over and by the time we convened, it was this relatively smooth dance between the director and the camera girl. The main message? All lobster fishermen received a letter from the California Department of Fish and Game in concern of strict enforcement of the size of lobster trap escape ports, even though there had been "slack enforcement" for the past 30-something years. Sam Shrout wanted to make a film to united the concerns of lobster fishermen in California, as well as communicate this message in a "problem" --> "solution" method through a youtube film. Sam provided an orientation of his trap-making shop (which was my second orientation, first one through the rock crab film), and then we hit the road to Goleta (it was SO DEAD, no one was around), and instead we headed toward Isla Vista (most people were busy studying for finals and getting ready to graduate), but we managed to get a diverse set of responses from several people. We interviewed three older adult males, and a bunch of young students in their twenties, potentially a couple of graduate students, and I think the missing age gap was older women and family-starting-aged people (thirties and forties). We almost received an interview from an older woman but she was some kind of zen buddhist who was very sick and didn't believe in killing any form of animals, but it was weird because she had a chubby tummy and so I was wondering what the hxck she was eating to give her such a plump tummy. I just certainly hope it wasn't cancer, because she said she was sick. Sam obviously is very intelligent, but he does have his witty sarcastic streak (as all fishermen do), and it seemed like a lot of the older people interviewed about the lobster trap escape ports were just overall cynical and bitter about the United States and California Government in general, cussing out the Governator and the like. It was hilarious to film but it was just not pertinent to the very specific issue of lobster trap escape ports.
I think we finished filming around 7pm, and Sam was very eager to get the information out on Youtube. I didn't have my Mac laptop with me, so I had no way of placing the one-hour-ten-minutes-footage on a computer. I had to patiently wait till the next day (in the mean time, I recorded some drum beats and compiled some lobster imagery footage), in which I went to the Digital Editing Lab (I'm glad I went because Annie and all the lab techs were accessible to answer many of my questions. They have changed some policies. You have to register for a class in order to use the lab. Annie was very helpful, and then another character who was a Greenscreener was very impatient with me and wasted about two hours of my life with trying to create a DVD through DVD Studio Pro, which is not what I wanted in the first place). While I was going back and forth from my car to the Digital Editing Lab, I ended up running into Julie Robinson and Miriam Polne-Fuller and I had some wonderful conversations with them. We needed some catching up to do. Julie has been so helpful and supportive of my pursuits. It means a lot to me. Miriam and I discussed poetry and how her poetry ideas were ripped off by some renowned poet who's had work published in Orion. The code of conduct for "respect of ideas" is very different in the science world versus poetry world. That's why I place COPYRIGHT VICTORIA on everything. So, my level of paranoia can actually help me, eh? Anyhow, these conversations ultimately slowed me down, but by the time it was 3:30 pm, I had all my files downloaded on my music-centric external hard drive, and drove over to Sam's house as fast as I could. I provided all the raw footage to Sam's son Kevin, who worked with the footage on imovie for the evening and placed a raw main message on Youtube by 9pm, which is ultimately VERY FAST WORK (but a good job nevertheless for getting the message out). I was VERY sad because I rushed home (Riverside) to get my mac computer and I really wanted to edit the footage just to refresh my skills and do a stellar, professional editing job... Sam didn't know I was doing this editing gig, so I hid over at Jules' house and edited for about two days total (Jules was very excited and supportive), which was sparsed between a nice spaghetti dinner and a boat trip in which Jules caught a giant, green-colored Ling cod (man, I was totally hyped up by the "catch of the day" but no one else seemed impressed), and finally on Wednesday (Thursday?) I finally finished the 8.35 minute film and ultimately messed around with formatting--how to widdle down the film to 100 MB and 10 minutes. I ultimately wasted about one day with formatting experiments, only to find out that Youtube extended the file size to 1 GB, not 100 MB, and then I had to wait for three and-a-half-hours on Friday to have the dxmn file uploaded to Youtube (Jules' internet server is quasi-slow, I should have uploaded through the school server, oh well), I ultimatley missed the party bash for Brennies who graduated and received their masters. It was a penguin suit event, but ahhh... oh well. I saw the CCS graduation--Bruce remarks of viewing cancer as a "positive" thing, talk about a shift in perception!)--and that was more than enough for me. Finally around 2pm, I had the film uploaded. By that point in time I called Sam Shrout like 5 times, left two message, and finally got a hold of him around 6 or 7pm. He had been on a boat, out fishing (ocean ranching) for the last three days, and his first response to my announcement of the "second product" was "I wished you hadn't done that," because this kind of minor political film can easily put people in a bad light. It has to be well-edited... and I understood. Sam saw the film that night... so did Cherie and Kevin... and they all loved it. He didn't call me that evening because he was beat from three days of fishin, but the next day he called me and said he loved the film. It was very well done, and entertaining (in addition to being message-driven), and that my portrayal of him was very flattering (come on! Sam Shrout is COOL BY DEFAULT! Flattery is natural). Sam said he was going to send this film out to the other lobster fishermen for their commentary and now we have two films--a cursory, message-driven serious film, and a professional film that adds a dose of art, entertainment, and humor to a political discourse through media. Sam gave me the privilege to do what I wanted with the existing film (like submit it to a film festival :-), and that I was free to use the film as a portfolio item. He was going to spread the good word to his fisheries community and if they needed a film done, I'm up for grabs this summer, and up for cheap (for now, ha ha). He also informed me that this whole media gig has roused up the DFG and now they're going to have some kind of emergency meeting about the lobster trap escape ports this upcoming week. Everyone in the fishing community is SOOO EXCITED because this film gig is a "new way" for the fishing community to express their concerns and facilitiate discourse between sometimes very disparate sectors of fishermen, scientists, and government. Like I said, fishermen are smart. And they are getting even smarter... and more resourceful. And in this case, I was so glad I could help! (At one point Sam Shrout said, it's so hard to express my concern in writing, film seems better. Government documents are a drab. And now? Film can create an uproar within a few days. So powerful!)
The phone transaction was Saturday around 1pm (post Lion's Den with Shelly Lowenkopf in Montecito, with raving reviews for the Catch Share story, too much good news at once!) and all my anxiety that had built up from 3pm Friday to 1pm Saturday was suddenly released with the great phone call, and then I could move on with my life. Now, I can email all my academic buddies and acquaintances about this completely whirlwind out-of-the-blue adventure I had, which really ousted my very sad brain from depression of a life of exclusive writing. I love to write. I need to write, but I can't be exclusive with writing. I need to combine writing and art with community-building-film-making. I need to combine the predictability of my brain with the unpredictability of media-recorded adventure. I know I can balance both juggling acts. I need both to keep myself happy, and moving forward....
And now? Everytime I find myself in a rut... just pick up the film camera and have a random, purposeful adventure. I just have to promise myself to finish what I started. And to keep not talking, and just do it. Thanks for the Oath, Barry!
Conclusion: (1) Totally NEW habits for filming (a) one day of filming, acquiring all data (b) TWO FULL DAYS of EDITING (these are 20 hour-workdays, ya, seriously) (2) give up being in front of the camera unless you're being totally existentialist, work with people who you feel that making films of them, you are ultimately making films of yourself (3) try to create films that fulfill a need, e.g. facilitate communication between different environmentalist groups, potentially commercial-promotional.... combine politics with humor, always portray people in a good light, problem-solution based filming (4) I can operate as a film-independent--I need a support group, but NOT a large production group! (5) New editing style. Very fast, choppy MTV style hand-held camera editing. If the person in front of the camera pauses and says and, umm, if, err, but *fart* sooo... they get edited out, and it creates sometimes jarring edits, but it keeps the flow of thought to fast pace, it may seem like an "editing mistake" but I want to develop it as an editing style....
media friends: Oscar, Shannon, Barry, Sarah, Mary Connors, Jorge (ECP, precisiologist), Kristin, Blue Ocean Productions (Ventura), Julie (Catch Share), Milton (offensive?), Yasmin, Kyle-Karl, Hugh Marsh, Maria de O
family: Bub, Mumsy, JenJen, Uncle Dwight, Jules
academics: Miriam (poetry gig), Armand, Bruce, Oran, Gale, Ron, Mike, Carrie, JohnR, Erinn (and friend), Michael (ocean channel), Margaret C, Mike
Film Ideas: Envirochondriac / The Eleventh Commandment (Origins) / 6 Billion Ways to View a Moderate Cube of Space / Mindfield / MLPA (Who's Gonna Know Anything Anymore?) / Whatever's Left of the Wildwest / Ed Keller Isla Calafia / The Tao of Spiny Lobster / Bernard the Aquaculturalist / Brian at the Seafood Market / Santa Barbara Writers Conference / Rick Gutierrez "to catch a crab, you have to think like a crab" /
Improve Gear: get a 25-foot cord for a microphone-based dialogue / FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE A DOLLY WITH PVC PIPE AND A SKATEBOARD / contact Ari for music improvement
Ask Oscar Questions: (1) How to frame the video such that it is formatted for television (2) how to do Opacity-see through effects (3) formatting the best for Youtube (mpeg SUCKS!)
Opacity Button --> (1) Grab a Clip and go to "Motion" there is an Opacity button there (2) on the lower left of the sequence Toggle Clip Overlays (looks like a jaggy mountain), you can adjust the black line, as the opacity overlay)
The Green Boxes --> (1) the inner box represents Title Safe area (2) the outer box represents Picture Elements safe area (3) you can reach these boxes by clicking on "Title Safe" in the image-wireframe area
Goals: Make Three Short Films this summer (including hopefully Roadtrip Nation), Submit to Four Film Festivals (SB Ocean Film Festival, SB International Film Festival, SF Ocean Film Festival, Sundance! What a dream) / ComiCon Festival San Diego June
Overall Goal: Show the world that I have my own brain, so by the time I enter the job market, they can't treat me like a grunt.