No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.
- Ingmar Bergman

September 25, 2014

Summer's end -- Taking it all in

It has been quite a busy summer -- I wondered why it went by in a flash!  I found myself traveling all around the Tri-state area and even bouncing down into Virginia and Pennsylvania, filming couples celebrating their wedding day.

It was also a rewarding time for "Widow", the experimental film created by Jil Guyon and filmed by moi.  "Widow" has been accepted it into numerous film festivals this year and most recently found itself being invited into Toronto's Urban Film Festival curated by well-known filmmaker Guy Maddin.  To top it off, it won La Jolla's Indie Fest Award for Best Experimental Film.  The "Widow" train continues as it will be in Columbus, Ohio's Music Festival and also showing at Musee de la Civilisation, Quebec, both in 2015.

I created an exciting project for S'MAC restaurant.  I worked with Sarita and Caesar Ekya, the owners of S'MAC , to create a promotional film for air on TaxiTV.  Not only was it fun drawing up the storyboard and filming, it was also delicious as Sarita and Caesar treated me to one of their many tasty Mac and Cheese dishes.  If you love Mac and Cheese, I highly recommend dropping into one of their two locations.  You will not be disappointed.

Finally, spent a few Wednesdays in August working with David Lackey, co-owner of Whirlwind Creative, Inc. filming and editing short pieces for Related Companies "Art in the Park" series.  Many food trucks, artists, and musicians participated in this outdoor event that was free to the public.  Everyone who dropped by the event had a blast eating and dancing in the beautiful summertime weather.

In case you haven't taken a peek at my work in awhile, I leave you and this Summer with a few glance-backs.

Welcome Fall!

Art Deco Glamour at Gotham Hall from Valerie Barnes Film on Vimeo.

All My Bright Tomorrows Belong to You from Valerie Barnes Film on Vimeo.

S'MAC Promotional Film from Valerie Barnes Film on Vimeo.

July 8, 2014

Celebrating Love in the Summertime

Summer weddings

Summer outdoor weddings always create interesting subject matter for cinematographers.  The natural light, the many colors and design choices, the environment plus the energy of people enjoying the outdoor space allows for stunning and lively imagery.

Angela and Mike presented us with all of the above!  Their ceremony was held in the grand St. Paul's Cathedral, and then they moved on to celebrate their reception at her parents' beautifully landscaped residence in Shadyside.

Sheila Weiner and her team ( converted the property into a tasteful outdoor modern space threading in colors of greens, pinks, red, and yellow flowers, flickering candles, and hanging beaded chandeliers. Numerous tents were put into place in order to shelter the over 300 guests from the elements.  Lastly, a white dance floor was added so that guests could show off their flashiest moves, and, indeed they did as they danced the night away.

All in all, it was a glorious summer day in Pittsburghh for Angela and Mike.

The couple reciting their vows.

July 3, 2014

26 Bridge Wedding Style Shoot -- Tropical Wedding Theme

What's New -- What I've been doing lately

The experience of participating in a wedding styled shoot is always an inspiring one.  Working with a variety of artists always keeps the creative juice flowing and it offers the chance to see what ideas are brewing in the minds of other talented people.

Which brings me to 26 Bridge, a newly opened event space in Dumbo.  The combo of bricks, mortar, wrought iron gives a very rustic yet industrial feel.  A great space for those who want to create their own design.  Jove Meyer ( and his creative band of merry men and women decided to showcase their work by using 26 Bridge as a backdrop for what turned out to be a fun-filled day of hard work and play.  I was invited to join in and film it.

Landon and Maddie, who graciously gave their time to model for us, are engaged to be married so even though it was a wedding styled shoot, it centered around two people who are in love.

All of our hard work paid off as we learned that Green Wedding Shoes (@greenweddingshoes) decided to publish the shoot.

The other artists who jumped in on the fun were:

Photographer // Amber Gress // @ambergressphotography
Accessories + Shoes // Hushed Commotion // @hushedcommotion
Ceremony Dress // Synderella Story // @synderelastory
Reception Dress // Shop Lovely // @lovelybride
Suit // A suit that fits // @asuitthatfits
Flowers // Blade // @bladenewyork
Paper Products // Katie Fischer Design // @katiefischercohen
Cake + Cupcakes // Lael Cakes // @laelcakes
Hair - Styles on B // @stylesonbnyc
Makeup // Morgan Gates // @mgmua
Videographer // Valerie Barnes
Catering // Pok Pok // @pokpokpdx
Jewelry // Anna Sheffield // @annasheffield
Bar Cart // Society Social // @societysocial
Vintage Palm Couch // Patina Vintage Rentals // @rentpatina 

June 3, 2014

Kara Walker -- "A Sublety" Exhibit

Filmmaker about Town --- what I film when out and about

Deteriorating factories have always fascinated me.  Perhaps it's because I grew up in Pittsburgh and watched the steel industry, once a strong factor in the economic incline of this country,  rot into ruin leaving behind dreams of economic stability and promising futures.

I've been looking at the Domino Sugar Factory sign from across the river for at least 15 years now, and during this time my curiosity about the space never died.  Domino Sugar was a staple in my family's household, but, as a child, it  never occurred to me how it arrived on a supermarket shelf.  I only watched my parents buy it and store it in our food closet.

Kara Walker's choice of sculpture material in her poignant exhibit "A Sublety" perfectly tells the story of how sugar was brought into this country -- through the sweat, toil, and blood of slave labor.

Sugar, resin and molasses were the materials she chose to create her sculptures.  Some were made with 100% sugar while others with resin and molasses.  Those made from 100% sugar are quickly deteriorating due to the climate inside of the factory.  As they deteriorate, pieces crash onto the floor. These pieces are then placed in the baskets being held by the sculptures that remain.

Towards the back of the space is the ultimate homage to the horrors of sugar production -- a sphinx sculpture made of 3-4 tons of white sugar.

The irony of sweet sugar being cultivated off of the backs of slaves who lost hands, arms, their lives, not to mention other heinous acts done in order to satisfy society's sweet tooth, resonates throughout the factory walls.  The walls are coated in dripping molasses and the floors are stained with molasses from some of the sculptures.   I managed to unstick my feet a few times after realizing I was stuck to the floor.

I highly recommend visiting the factory and taking in her exhibit.  It is up and running until July 6, but you may want to go as soon as possible because of the sculpture deterioration.

If you cannot visit, here's a taste of what hides behind the cold exterior of the Domino factory.  Shot with my trusty iPhone.

May 13, 2014

Pawel Althamer -- The Draftsmen's Congress

Filmmaker About Town -- what I film when out and about

A rain-soaked Saturday is always a good time to explore the museums in New York City, and so I did with a few friends by my side.  We stopped into the New Museum's exhibit showcasing Polish artist Pawel Althamer.  Though he is known for the figurative sculptures he creates of himself, his family and other people within his community, he also is an artist advocate who has gathered various groups of people to help push forward certain causes.  "Common Cause" initially began as a project to beautify a run-down park by turning it into a sculpture garden.  In New York, he initiated a coat drive for the Bowery Mission by offering free admission to "Draftsmen's Congress" to anyone that donated a free coat.

Althamer's The Draftsmen's Congress embodies his idea of community collaboration.  In this work, he invites visitors to express themselves by drawing or painting whatever inspires them on white sheets of supplied paper taped to the New Museum's walls.  The idea was met with much enthusiasm as people picked up their instrument of choice and began coloring the walls and floor with images and words in different sizes, colors and shapes.

Using my iPhone, I shot and created a short film showing the energy and excitement inside of the room with the white papered walls.

April 8, 2014

Howard Shore: Music & Images -- Filmmaker About Town

Filming Howard Shore speak about his work -- his thought process, score development, inspirations -- and tell stories about his collaborations with prominent directors such as Martin Scorsese, David Cronenberg, and Peter Jackson, to name a few, was a moment that is forever etched in my mind. After all, it isn't often I have the chance to film and listen to a renowned composer share his experiences.

Howard has created countless scores for films including Lord of the Rings, Ed Wood, The Aviator, Hugo…the list is endless.  He has also won three Oscars, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, The Two Towers and The Return of the King, and three Golden Globes plus been nominated for many other film scores.

The Tuxedo Park Library's Authors' Circle honored Howard on September 28th of last year.  He has been a long-time resident of the Park and has penned many of his compositions there.  Howard has said that the forest of Tuxedo Park allows him to "dream and think" which is why he draws much inspiration from it.

As part of the day long celebration, guests were treated to an afternoon talk given by Howard, held at St. Mary's-in-Tuxedo Episcopal Church.  He touched on many topics but one comment that resonated  with me is why he prefers pen and paper rather than the computer --  "Music is an ephemeral art.  What are you creating?  Sound waves. You're moving air. To do that with a machine doesn't feel right. You've heard of writing out of the box?  Writing in the computer is writing in the box."

The evening brought a few events including a cocktail party hosted by a resident of the park and concluded with a dinner held in the Library later that evening.  Barbara duPont spearheaded the event and Claudia Hanlin ( designed the evening's dinner space combining themes of Howard's music with his love of the forest.

Here are a few excerpts from the afternoon's talk:

March 10, 2014

Filmmaker About Town -- Laurie Simmons: Dollers video

Since this past week was "The Armory Show" in New York City, the city abounded with art openings.  One of the openings I checked out was Laurie Simmon's "Kigurumi, Dollers and How We See" Exhibit held at Salon 94 on the Bowery.

Kigurumi is a Japanese name that refers to costumed performers who represent cartoon characters, mostly animals. They perform in malls, for children's events etc.  However, in other circles, costumed performers dress up in masks and bodysuits as dolls, known as "dollers".   Simmons explored this subject matter for her project. Though she dressed them, dyed their hair and posed them, she did allow them to create their own gestures while in their costume. Her hope was that by wearing these costumes they would feel comfortable enough to reveal themselves in some manner.

Though most attending the opening concentrated on the work hanging inside of the gallery and speaking to the artist, I found the most interesting part of the show on the outside where a video of the dollers was being shown. My trusty iPhone allowed me to capture some of the color of the video shown.  See below.

If you are curious about this form of expression, there was a British doc done called "Secrets of the Living Dolls". This documentary follows men who masquerade as dolls (female maskers) for fun -- these maskers are heterosexual men who derive pleasure from dressing as women.  Many of these men have wives or girlfriends who are well aware of what they do and support it.