NAPCOR, NEO’s and more!

The National Association for PET Container Resources and the Your Bottle Means Jobs campaign, in conjunction with the SC Dept. of Commerce hired me to create a video showing the process of what exactly happens to a PET bottle when it is recycled and just how many jobs are created when it happens!  Besides the Youtube version of the video I created getting more than 29K views in the last year, I also just found out that it’s on NAPCOR’s very nice new website.  Just check it out! Scroll to the bottom of the page til you see Your Bottle Means Jobs.

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I also found out that the same video is being used in New Employee Orientations (NEO’s) for all staff onboarding with Orange County in NC.

“Orange County New Employee Orientation (NEO)  provides a segment on recycling that was developed &  is usually run by our Education & Outreach staffer…who inserted this video into her presentations to drive that recycling is an economic activity… 

It is a great idea to have new employee orientation include a segment on recycling but we find it’s extremely rare.

The recycling segment is for all employees. One former HR director here said, ‘In 25 years of HR I’ve NEVER seen recycling on the agenda anywhere else in NEO’s”

So…I am a pretty happy camper!

Your Bottle Means Jobs from TheVideoSlab on Vimeo.

Speaking Out About UNC’s Silent Sam

In my short lifespan as a documentary film maker I have already learned how hard it is to tell a positive story.  Quite often if you are literally going to document what actually happened…people invariably incriminate themselves with their behavior.  The challenge for me in crafting a narrative is if I should just leave it all in and let the public judgmentally hang the person or should I steer it a bit in a different direction?  I am sure many would say to maintain the pure truth.  In the world today as it is, I feel differently.

You can’t show the truth because what you are filming isn’t the truth.  It’s a singular moment.  Humanity has a nasty habit of judging a person rather quickly and usually based upon mere seconds of interaction or observation.  Whatever happened to the “they were having a bad day”?  Now all it takes is 5 seconds of video and one thinks that they know a person, can accurately condemn a person.  You, as a documentarian, I feel, must take this “truth” into consideration.  Do you want to show something that will only inflame others to hatred?  No.  Not me.

Be assured. You are never seeing the whole story.  You are often only seeing a very very bad day in someone’s life.  Reverse that for the other truth.  Don’t think someone is kind as kittens just because you saw them behave kindly.  To really know the truth, you have to spend time with someone.  You have to get to know someone.  When you see someone from a distance, that is when judgment is deployed, for good or ill.  When you know someone up close, no matter what your judgments are, it becomes impossible to not see the humanity, the innocence.  Proximity multiplied by time equals understanding.  Understanding leads to dialogue.  Dialogue is what we need.

It’s a damn frustrating time to be alive…no one seems to want to dialogue.  Everyone seems to want to judge based on the sparest evidence.

This all brings  me to tonight’s protest gathering at Silent Sam on UNC Campus in Chapel Hill.  This venerable institution has a statue named Silent Sam.  Students and others are doing a sit in to have it removed.  The latest news is that the administration of UNC has been granted permission from the Governor to remove it.  Yet, the administration then declined to do so at last check on 8/24/17.  I dropped by tonight to see what might be unfolding.  My very unedited and straight shot of 3 clips in lousy lighting are below:

Silent Sam Protest: 8:30 PM 8/24/17 from TheVideoSlab on Vimeo.

Honestly the hardest parts to watch…I didn’t have my camera rolling.  I was too taken aback to remember to film.  When I walked up there was a lone female UNC Police Officer.  She stood stoically in a circle of light, her face bright with the cell phone flashlights of a crowd of a- how can I put this kindly?…a jeering rabble.  As I approached I noticed she didn’t speak.  Then I could hear the small crowd, half circling her, saying rude things, taunting her, laughing at her.  There was a man with a bright light and a small camera..he would get really close and robotically repeat things about how she was a white supremacist there to protect hatred and other such things.  I could judge these people but all I’ll be able to say accurately is that what they were doing, will never lead to dialogue.  I don’t know them but what they did was hateful, disrespectful, and representative of a society that feels dangerously close to losing it’s ability to maintain decency.  We’ve forgotten civility and we take for granted that we have the right to be uncivil.  But we are also like children in this regard.  Most of us, and I’d guess most at that gathering haven’t lived long enough or hard enough to know what it’s like to live in a place where simple things like freedom of speech may not be knocked around so loosely.  We have a lot of work to do for equal rights, but how is that now, we are sliding back into hate as a way to demand freedoms?

My footage doesn’t show this.  But I spoke with some of the officers.  The woman was a graduate of UNC.  She said “I came back as an officer to give back.”  She was proud of her role…you could feel it.  But no one there knew that but me.  No one ever stopped to talk to any of these officers as human beings.  To the crowd she was a racist pig.  I was glad my young daughter wasn’t there to see this version of “democracy” in action.

We all keep seeing this intense focus on how police are tools of the oppressor.  We keep hearing how cops are loose cannons, eager to strike, hoping to knock you down for using your voice.  Some of them are that way I am sure.  Very few.  But cops aren’t just cops…they are people.  The childishly behaving rabble yelling jeers at the cops tonight…I am sure they have had better days.  They are people too…and still…they just felt like they were yelling at their parents….and I felt ashamed to be there to see democracy reduced to this level.  The point is that we are all living in this country.  There are few of us who want to see it get worse.  What I saw tonight is exactly how to make it worse…the protestors showed me.  I hope they do better next time.

The police of UNC Campus showed me how we all wish police would react.  Calm.  Patient.  Dutiful.  Under pressure but not shaken.  They behaved the way that one wished the protestors had behaved.  The officers had people in their faces saying  “suck a dick”.  They were called “motherfuckers”…yet, they just stood there and took deep breaths and let the people get it out of their systems.  When I asked the officers how it was that they could remain calm, one of them said, “they (the protestors) are using their first amendment rights, we are here to protect that too.”  My hat is off to the UNC Police.

If protestors who are fighting to halt racism are using hateful epithets to accomplish their goals…hate still has a home and has gone nowhere.  It’s just changed identity.  It’s the same amount of hate let loose in this tired world that needs more love.

Meanwhile…8 months later

Not that I even have many readers here…I mean, does anyone even read blogs any longer?

In case they do, imma gonna write something.  I’ve been BUSY!!!  OMG!!!

There, that’s the update.  I’ve been busy.  I’d love to write more but I’m too darn sleepy.  So I’ll just post some links to some of the most recent fun stuff I’ve done or am currently working on.

Managing Instagram for the Historic Carr Mill Mall in Carrboro, NC

Managing Instagram for The Fragrance Shop

Managing Instagram and Facebook for Townsend Bertram and Company

Organizing monthly screenings for  the Adventure Film Series for Townsend Bertram and Company (sponsored by Osprey Backpacks)

I screened my film to a nearly full local theatre and screened the film 7 other times besides…and now have it online for anyone to watch.

The Promo Reel for Oh Crappy Day finally went public…

My Your Bottle Means Jobs Campaign Video hit over 29,000 views on Youtube…

And a local TV Station liked it enough to make reedit for their own uses…

Then I crafted this first attempt at a series I am calling “Vital Signs”

I also decided to help out a local Fluoride activist group by making these short and simple vids.

I also finished some bigger private projects.  A wedding video…a short fiction film for entry in to the NASA Cinespace Contest.

I am slowly working on a documentary about the history and consequences of Fluoridation.  I am about to release a new series called PTSD: Mission Recovery.

Finally I just wrapped a second project for the Your Bottle Means Jobs campaign. Mums the word…it’ll be coming out soon!

Jesus…no wonder I am tired.  And video isn’t even my day job…yet.

 

Bolin Creek Update: The Flyover

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To catch up on what the Bolin Creek Project is read HERE.

I have been into Bolin Creek Forest more times than I can count.  It’s how I know it should be preserved from even a single square foot of pavement.  Yep…been in there a lot.  But something I never thought I would do is to see it from above.  One day, a few weeks ago though, I was sitting there wishing I could show people how special it is from a whole new perspective.  Just how small is it, or large, when seen from above?  Just how green is this oasis?  How closely is the city already encroaching? How gorgeous IS Bolin Creek Forest as seen from above?

Last week I got to find out.  A very cool local pilot took me up so I could find out.  I will save the best parts of that experience for a video episode of the project.  But I do want to share some images of his absolutely beautiful aircraft.  It’s a 1946 Piper Cub.  An original WWII Navy Trainer.  Going up in this small craft was something that changed me in a lot of ways.  Seeing Bolin Creek treetops whisk by did indeed change my perspective on how fortunate we are to have this place so close at hand. And flying in a plane that unique and rare, with such a fascinating pilot with local knowledge was a game changer as well.  I don’t know how I keep getting so lucky when it comes to finding great projects to be a part of….but the trend continues.

If you haven’t been in a plane as small as a Piper Cub, I’ll tell ya that it’s about as small as it gets.  It is more like having a jacket on as you fly through the air, than being in an airplane that keeps you from feeling that essential closeness.  I had no idea flying could feel that way.  As the pilot said, “bigger planes slice through the air…but in this plane you are a part of sky.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Anyway, after the flight I grabbed my trusty Nikon and fixed 50mm f/1.8 and had some fun.  Enjoy the pics and remember that you can click to make any pic larger.

 

 

If you like what I am up to and want to support me so I can just do more good things like this then look for me on Patreon.

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Patreon, Timelapse, A New Documentary Project.

I spent some time in a little nook of woods this week near town called Tanyard Branch. Never been there in 13 years of living here.  I found a huge tree that had been cut. In the local forests I have visited here over the years I haven’t seen a tree that large before.  To be fair it had rot all through the top of it…but way up in the crown.  It was still growing but on it’s way out.  But it probably could have stood for another 50-60 years or more with some growth. I don’t understand exactly why foresters and town arborists have a mandate to cut down trees like this instead of letting them stand and be a habitat for all sorts of critters that need that sort of habitat.  This tree was growing there in 1916..I just feel it deserves a better end than a chainsaw.

It’s also along a path of where a proposed paved greenway is to be built.  I am sure that has something to do with why it has been cut.  I could ask someone all the good reasons they have for cutting down a tree and some reasons I might even agree with.  But for me, when I watch this short timelapse—I see a trail, trail runners, and a lovely forest and I am thinking that this patch of woods can’t really be improved upon with pavement or cut trees.  I am also thinking that this tree could have remained there, half growing, half rotting, just like nature intended and no one would have been affected by it.  It’s THE woods…not OUR woods.

On this note I have been made aware of potential projects and other actual projects that threaten a riparian corridor here in the town which I live.  I am going to be creating a series of short documentary style videos sharing how beautiful the area is…as well as trying to inform the public about what the issues are and how they can make a difference vis a vis not having it paved.  I always try to think of how I can (and others) use video to create positive change.  And the areas known as Bolin Creek and Carolina North have given me a lot…now it’s time for me to give back by trying to help preserve it.  This is somewhere that I can try to create some positive change.  One thing is for sure, if more people don’t try to save Bolin Forest, it’s going to get paved.  My stance is that not every forest with a gorgeous creek needs a another damn greenway paved through it.  It’s okay to leave some things alone.

I like to think of how different this video would look if I were leaning against the tree, before it was cut and how much more like a forest this forest would be.

I have many other updates I am scrambling to make…another really exciting documentary is in the works..well…okay, TWO of them are in the works.  I have work coming out of my ears.  But to help fund all the things I love doing I am announcing that I am going to give Patreon a try.  It’s a way that creators have patrons fund their work in the world.  For me it’s clear that I love utilizing cameras and editing software to tell stories and inform…but the kinds of causes I want to cover don’t have bank accounts.  Bolin Creek doesn’t have a bank account.  Instead of the normal cycle of seeking funding for one project at a time I am going to try creating more content weekly and then having those who enjoy it, offer patronage to support it.  So I do hope people consider donating even $1 or more to the cause per month.  My page is still being set up…and it will be interactive once more so…here it is

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New Doc! AT BOTH ENDS OF THE LEASH!

At Both Ends Of The Leash-Abridged from Charles Morris on Vimeo.

My buddy Brad called me up around May 1st, 2016 and said he had a project.  It took me a few meetings to grasp fully that I’d be required to film INSIDE of a medium security prison.  This was also going to be pretty much my first crack at shooting and editing a documentary that mattered to me on such a strong level.  I instantly had a vested interest besides paid work.

I have always wanted to volunteer in prisons.   I have just always wondered what it was like.  What are the lives of inmates really like?  What is it like for them when they are released?  I also wanted to be able to be of service somehow to inmates in terms of breaking down the “us” and “them” construct that most of “us” have.

We all see and watch shows like Oz, Orange is the New Black, or more recently Prison Break.  But what did someone like me really know about a world so different?  Not much.  This project was about to take me closer than I ever thought I would get.

Ears, Eyes, Nose and Paws (EENP) trains service dogs for people with disabilities.  They recently began working in a medium security prison here in NC.  They were training inmates to work with the puppies.  Inmate trainers who commit to the program are paired with a puppy that lives side by side with them for over a year.  They sleep together, go outside together…they are literally together at all times.  During that time the inmate trainers, under the guidance of EENP staff, are bringing along the pups to a very high level of service competence.  I didn’t even know dogs could do what these trainers were having them do.

Anyway…EENP was about the graduate some of the dogs and they were having a ceremony.  The problem was that the public wasn’t allowed to attend a ceremony in prison.  So EENP needed a way to bring the experience to an audience out here…hence the video idea was born.  There was to be a public celebration where the video would be screened.  My task was to create something…somehow…that captured the spirit of what EENP does, along with the graduation ceremony.

I could go on and on and on about how incredible this experience was.  I had so many “I must be dreaming” moments.  My first big project and there I was, filming in a prison.  Was I ever nervous about not getting it right?  Oh hell yes!

But just to keep this brief, I loved every minute of it.  And I did indeed learn an immense amount about prison life.  Us and them ceased to exist for me.  I feel flummoxed about what more to share here, because honestly it would be a book.

I’ll skip to the end then…

Watch it.  Convince your friends to watch it.  It’s about real life prisoners/inmates instead of paid TV actors.  These are real people who are working hard to better their lives and the lives of others.  And…there are tons of cute DOGS in the video…and it doesn’t get better than that.  You get your dose of hard hitting reality and a nice blend of…smiles.  Yes, people in prison smile.

There is an abridged version, which is the one included above.  The EXTENDED version has the full graduation speech, which is worth the watch for sure.

I want to give a huge shout out to Alan Lorden, who composed all original music for this movie.

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Also it never would have come together without the direction, guidance and intuition of Brad Bethel, who also is the Director of the award winning documentary, Unverified.

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But the film, in my mind, is definitely dedicated to EENP and all the hard work that they and the inmates put in to keep At Both Ends Of The Leash afloat.

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Early September Update!

What I have cooking right now…

  1. A long awaited short doc that highlights the non profit work of Ears, Eyes, Nose and Paws (EENP).  This group teams inmate trainers at a medium security prison with puppies…and what happens then?  You’ll have to watch to find out.  Coming soon!  Audio and original soundtrack nearly complete.
  2. Live Your Dream Challenge Grant.  A climber receives the Live Your Dream grant from the American Alpine Club and heads off into the Bugaboos.  This short movie is about the AAC’s grant, the climber’s aspirations before the climb…and then what happens when dreams meet with the mountains.
  3. Your Bottle Means Jobs Campaign ad.  I am still in process with various groups to finalize a short commercial showing the process of what happens when you recycle a PET bottle here in NC, how many jobs it creates, and what is created from those bottles as well…where they go…the whole thing!

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