Bugaboos Redemption Almost Done

Bugaboos Redemption is the first full length documentary film that I have worked on.
This movie is nonfiction and about 20 minutes long.  My plan is to submit it to film festivals…particularly outdoor film festivals.

Well…I have worked “on” other films and short documentaries but I have never been able to say “I made this…just me!”  So with this one I created the vision for how it could be done, set things in motion creatively speaking…and then did all the editing, color correction, audio correction…everything.  It was and is super satisfying.  But in order to make it out of my echo chamber, in order to make it truly great…I can’t stop there.

Tonight I emailed about 20 people with the password to the video where I have it housed online.  I am seeking opinions, feedback, harsh criticism if necessary.  Because after I got that “I made this” feeling I definitely smiled, but then had to admit that I can’t see what I am missing.  I have no objectivity when it comes to this project…how can I?  I have been looking over this stuff and living with it in my mind for nearly 5 months.

Here are some lessons learned so far while making “my” first documentary.

  • Everyone you interview, or film and everyone who helps you make the connections to those people-they are equals in your creation.  It won’t happen without them.
  • As a video editor I am not the storyteller.  By the time I see the finished footage from the camera the real story is already in the past.  I am taking a story of what happened and retelling it, trying to be true to it.  I creatively display the story so that people who were not there, can feel like they were…and learn from it the same way the individuals in the film did when it was actually happening.
  • With editing on a timeline you can misrepresent the truth so damn easily to accentuate crowd pleasing tendencies…don’t do it.  It’s not honest.  Leave that for your fiction projects.
  • Having great footage doesn’t matter.  True moments die during editing if you can’t read the story the way the viewer needs to see it.
  • Take 20 different video editors and ask them their opinion and shoot for the median response.  To a point, no one can say “it’s better this way”…or at least it won’t be true.
  • Leave the audience out of it.  Sometimes you just need to write with the pictures and soundtrack for your own edification.
  • Like all art, video crafting is an art.  There are video editors who just take blocks on a timeline and schlep them together…and then there are people who create movement and emotion because of how they edit and how they care about the potential impact the visual story can have.
  • It’s going to take more months than you think to finish that documentary.  Think of your project and come up with how many months you think it will take. Multiply it by at least 3.  Then again by 2 more.  You are getting closer…
  • Working with musicians who come to your house and compose on the fly while watching the footage is a damn fine thing.
  • Work your connections and ask for favors.
  • Need a song?  Try to skip free online music you have no connection with.  Don’t use copyrighted material that you’ll invariably have to switch out if your film goes into a festival.  Ask a band you like.  Pick one that wants the props for being in a soundtrack.  Win win.
  • Talk to people who know more than you do.
  • Watch videos or movies to see different documentary styles but trust that you have your own. It takes time to find out what your own is.
  • Don’t trust autosave.  Everytime you think “OMG I love where everything is at, right now”…hit the save button.
  • Everytime you want to get fancy and experiment DUPLICATE THE SEQUENCE and do the work on that sequence.
  • Color code all related footage…if it is in the same BIN give it the same color.  If you interviewed Mr. X then color all Mr. X footage Blue…and so on.  Makes timeline management so so much easier.
  • Organize those folders on the desktop!  All footage should be right where you think it should be and organized by subject or timeframe…
  • NAME all footage before you even open up your video editor so that all assets can be found by subject instead of long redundant numbers.  Changing the default camera numbered filenames can take a while but it saves you so much time later when you can tell what is what by just reading the name.

Well…there’s my two cents for now.  Anyway…here are a few screen grabs from my documentary.  I am not saying much more about it now…sssshhhhh.

 

 

Press Release for YBMJ Video!

You may have read about this on my blog already…if not, here is the TALE.


But…something extra fun happened too…a super thorough press release.  How cool is that…right?  A crazy long press release about a video I made.  Makes me happy for sure.  Here is the copy below.

NEW VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS JOB CREATION THROUGH PLASIC BOTTLE RECYCLING

Organizations Join Forces to Encourage More Plastics Recycling in Support of Carolina Jobs

December 5, 2016 – The Carolinas Plastics Recycling Council (CPRC) and the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) announced today the release of a jointly produced “Your Bottles Means Jobs (YBMJ)” video. The focused, two-minute video tallies the 3,500 jobs in plastics recycling and related fields in the Carolinas, including plastic bottle sorting, recycled material processing, and manufacturing of recycled-content products such as polyester fiber made from recycled PET bottles.

“We are pleased to promote recycled plastics processing and manufacturing jobs in South and North Carolina, and to see recent investment by industries that facilitate or use recycled plastic material feedstock to create and sustain jobs,” said Chantal Fryer, Director, Recycling Market Development for the South Carolina Department of Commerce. “The ‘YBMJ’ video shows us how these jobs add up, and is part of an ongoing YBMJ campaign to encourage everyone to recycle just two more bottles each week in support of local jobs. Although our video is Carolinas-focused, our message of local collection supporting local economies, job creation and infrastructure is relevant across the U.S.”

To produce the video, CPRC partnered with NAPCOR, the trade association for the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) packaging industry. “The video walks us through a straightforward explanation of how PET recycling works, and shows where jobs are created in the process,” says NAPCOR Executive Director Rick Moore. “We hope people will share it broadly and spread the word that recycling plastic bottles creates domestic jobs, generates tax revenues, supports ‘green’ manufacturing, and creates other economic benefits.”

The avoidance of other costs can be one of these benefits. “In addition to job creation and strengthening our domestic economy through increasing plastic bottle recycling, local governments and taxpayers also win through reduction in waste disposal costs of those bottles,” said Blair Pollock, Orange County North Carolina Solid Waste Planner.

The Your Bottle Means Jobs campaign is a project of the Carolinas Plastics Recycling Council whose mission includes promoting plastic recycling companies operating within the Carolinas. Recent investments in new or upgraded plastics recycling-related facilities in the Carolinas include plastics recycling technology provider American Starlinger-Sahm’s new headquarters location in Fountain Inn, South Carolina; Sun Fibers’ recycled polyester fiber production facilities in Chester and Chesterfield counties, South Carolina; and Unifi’s PET bottle processing plant in Reidsville, North Carolina.

“Unifi’s new REPREVE Bottle Processing Plant in Reidsville is a major investment in the company’s successful, sustainable product line and it will create more than 80 new jobs here,” said Jan Critz, Director of the Rockingham County Center for Economic Development, Small Business & Tourism. “This is an important project for our community. ‘Green’ products—such as REPREVE, which is made from recycled plastic bottles—will only continue to grow and we are proud that Reidsville and Rockingham County are a part of that.”

The new video is the latest addition to the ongoing CPRC campaign to increase plastic bottle recycling in the two states. “The next time you’re holding that bottle, be sure to throw it in the recycling bin, not the trash,” said Fryer.

View the video at https://vimeo.com/190005789 or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-KCZHAc6lE

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Established in 2011, the Carolinas Plastics Recycling Council works to raise awareness around the importance of recycling plastic bottles and to promote plastic recycling companies operating within the two states. In recent years, the CPRC launched the Your Bottle Means Jobs campaign, which aims to get more of the three billion plastic bottles discarded each year in the Carolinas back into the production cycle. Visit http://yourbottlemeansjobs.com

Founded in 1987, the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) is the trade association for the PET plastic packaging industry in the United States, Canada and Mexico. NAPCOR is dedicated to promoting the PET package; to overcoming hurdles to the successful recycling of PET; and to communicating the attributes of the PET container as a sustainable package. More at www.napcor.com

Atomic Veterans Speak- All Vids to Date!

Leading up to Veteran’s Day was quite busy for me.  I had the footage that Paul had recorded for me (for us!) for about a month or more and was wondering how best to use it.  When I realized that Veteran’s Day was just around the corner I knew it was time to use the footage….how could there be a better time than that?

If you are reading this and wondering what I am talking about then read THIS.

I came home bleary eyed from another long day of retail sales (my other job) on Wednesday November 9th and realized that to put out all 7 videos before the end of Friday November 11th was going to be quite the task.  I was working full retail days as well each of those days.  Oh…and don’t forget being a single parent to a teenager …that counts in the mix too.

Somehow I pulled it off though.  So here are all 7 videos.  I want to introduce these also as the FIRST 7 videos from Atomic Veterans Speak.  I am going forward with contacting other Atomic Veterans and finding others who would like to add their voice to this video project.  I hope to find hundreds and build a website just for this project…like a video archive of stories that should never be forgotten.  Please do watch these 7 videos.  None of them bore…, none too long…all of them have some hidden gem of information about nuclear testing that you have likely never heard.

And please do consider supporting the work that I am doing, so that I can do more of it, at my Patreon page by clicking the link below.

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Atomic Veterans Speak

It’s a long story and the hour is late.  But my work on Radioactive Veteran led me to really become informed more fully about atomic veterans…what they did, what they went through, how long they have had to fight for recognition and compensation.

It’s a part of American history that remains well hidden and rarely publicized.  Things are changing though, which is why I loved being a part of bringing Radioactive Veteran to the screen.

Recently the National Association for Atomic Veterans (NAAV)  had a conference in Las Vegas, NV.  I was unable to attend…but my original hope was to go and have the chance to interview some of these veterans.  They have such a unique perspective and incredible stories to tell that should not be forgotten.

Since I couldn’t be there I somehow got in contact with one of them…a Mr. Paul Sparacino, an Atomic Veteran himself.  He graciously agreed to film some of his contacts there just using his iPhone and then Dropbox’ing them to me.  He filmed 7 in all.

As Veteran’s Day approaches on November 11th my hope is to upload each of the interviews, completely uncut.  Ideally I’d love to have even more interviews…having family members or friends of this vets capturing their tales so that they will not be forgotten.

Stay tuned to my site for updates!

Also please consider supporting my efforts in the work that I pursue…

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Your Bottle Means Jobs

It all started with a fella named Blair Pollock.  I ran into him at the outdoor retail shop where I work.  He was asking us if we could help him get in touch with our rep from Patagonia.  He wanted some help from Patagucci in helping him tell the story of how right here in the Carolinas that PET plastics recycling is directly tied to creating the fabrics that go into Patagonia products.  It was a cool concept…you recycle PET bottles here in the Carolinas…and right here they are transformed into fabric that Patagonia buys for their clothes manufacturing.  Blair works in the waste management industry and seemed to have facts about plastics and the recycling world in general coming out of his ears.

He also spoke about this whole big project that was being launched in the Carolinas called Your Bottle Means Jobs.  Meanwhile he didn’t know that he was talking to a guy (me!) who had always wanted to tell the story of what happens to a bottle after it goes into the bin.  Where does it go next?  Where does it end up?  I wanted to be a fly on the wall, with a camera, to tell this story.

I will tell you that it was quite the journey.  It ended up being a joint project between the Carolina Plastics and Recycling Council, the SC Chamber of Commerce and NAPCOR. I visited 4 different facilities.  I filmed in strange old buildings with machines that look like dragons breathing smoke and in newer ones with state of the art machinery.  I met people that have been working the floor since before recycling became a “thing”.

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I got to dive into the heart of what the realities of recycling plastics really are.  It was satisfying, overwhelming and incredibly sobering.  When you are standing there looking at how much material enters these facilities…and you think of what would happen to our environment IF we didn’t recycle…it’s honestly horrifying.  The sheer scale of how much we use is shocking.

It is though eclipsed by the fact that 70% of the PET that can be recycled in NC never makes it to these recycling plants.

It’s a reality of our lives that we don’t ever “see” unless you set foot into a MRF…a mainstream recycling facility.  I actually got palpitations standing there on the raised metal decking and seeing the mountain of combined recycled material.  What I presumed was perhaps a weeks worth of material, was unbelievably only the amount that they would process in the next 2-3 hours.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was fully overwhelmed in every way by the volume of what I saw there.  How could there be that much?  And this was just one city, just one average sized city’s (Raleigh) worth.

As I next visited the three other facilities, my daughter traveled with me, being a second camera and assisting me in not missing angles and shots.

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I wondered how seeing this would shape her view of this industry that goes unseen, this industry that so many espouse being proud of “sure…I recycle!”…yet they have no idea just how critical it truly is and how much work they do for all of us.  I also learned how connected recycling is to jobs.

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A lot of jobs are created via recycling.  When the campaign says “Your Bottle Means Jobs”, they are being literal.  It’s just the kind of thing that video should be used for…to tell this kind of story, to have some kind of impact.

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I love how storytelling gives your entrance into places you normally wouldn’t ever be allowed…meeting really cool people you never would have met.  The people that work at these facilities go to sleep at night with their eyes on the big movements.

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This video below is the short version that I concepted, shot and edited.  Heck, I even ended up doing the voiceover for the English version.  It was quite the learning experience.  I will release the longer version soon.  And the Espanol version of the short will be released ideally within a week.  As with all video…it’s hard to turn so much footage into such a short end product, but that is the fate of anyone creating video or short film.    I just sincerely hope that this video and the Your Bottle Means Jobs campaign gains traction.  If we can turn that 70/30 split into 100% recycled, that would be amazing and likely…quite necessary.

 

 

 

Music Video: Adele’s “Hello” in ASL

I am finally getting into some projects that have been backburning for some time. This video is a collaboration between myself and my daughter’s ASL teacher, Judie Birchfield.  Judie runs a group called Signsations.  They perform for primarily hearing audiences here where we live in the triangle region on NC.  They sign in interpretive ASL to contemporary music.  That way the audience can learn a bit of ASL (by hearing the music and seeing the signs), as well as see the beauty and artistry inherent in ASL.

My daughter first met Judie at a Christmas parade that was passing through downtown Chapel Hill.  Judie was on a Christmas Parade float with about 8 kids and they were all signing Christmas Carols.  At the time Zoe was only 6 but she was really captured by what she saw…and 8 years later she is still a part of Judie’s group.

Recently Judie, Zoe and I have been knocking around the notion of creating some ASL style videos.  This was my first crack at making a “music” video.  And I can attest that making a music video is a whole lot different that making any other kind.  Trying to synchronize the movement and cuts with the music is tough!

Anyway…I hope you enjoy it.  Oh..BTW…when you hover over the HD logo choose 1080 for the best viewing resolution as Vimeo defaults to a lower res setting.

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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