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

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.

March 7, 2014

What's New? --- SKIN moving forward

SKIN moves forward.  Many things have been happening in the past 6 months for SKIN. Larendee Roos, (Roos, is now onboard.  Her responsibilities are to help pinpoint SKIN's message, create a timeline for the project and connect SKIN with appropriate sponsors.  Julia and I are thrilled that Larendee took an interest in SKIN. She is a welcomed addition to our team.

In December, we finished filming a few more scenes for inclusion in the new teaser and then last week, Julia recorded the new script.  On the day of the recording session, I took my camera and filmed a bit of the session.  I thought it might be interesting to give a taste of what goes on behind the scene.  The excerpt is below.

Tim Cramer, SKIN's sound designer, will now combine Julia's read plus his sound design into a new SKIN audio mix.

February 4, 2014

What's New? -- Jil Guyon "Widow"

As part of my continuing interest in collaborating with many artists, I worked with Jil Guyon, director and performing artist, on adapting her performance piece "Widow" into a film. We worked tirelessly, filming it in one 12 hour day, and Jil worked even longer editing it. As a reward for our work, the film was selected to be a part of Lincoln Center's Dance On Camera Festival 2014 beginning in early February.

Jil had a great review written of the film.  You can read about it out at:

January 27, 2014

The Talent Pool Corner presents Francesco Mastalia, Fine Art Photographer

"Organic", an exhibit of photographs by Francesco Mastalia is a must see if you are visiting Beacon anytime between January 27th and February 2nd.  

The subject matter of Francesco's work is the farmers and chefs of the Hudson Valley, farmers who are determined to continue to grow food using sustainable methods, and the chefs who support these beliefs by cooking using food grown by these farmers.

Francesco logged over 17,000 miles driving throughout the Hudson Valley photographing and interviewing over 136 of its farmers and chefs.  For his photographs, he used a technique called wet-plate collodion (originally termed "The Black Art"), a process that requires a few steps in order to create an image and also, a bit of patience because the subject needs to remain still for at least 15 seconds.

Francesco was kind in sharing with me the story of "ORGANIC" and his love for wet-plate collodion. 

Why use wet-plate collodion as your form of artistic expression? 

"I started working with the wet-plate collodion process a number of years ago when digital photography started taking over. There was a real disconnect for me working in a digital format. I always loved working in the darkroom, and felt the magic of photography took place there. Now I get to bring a portable darkroom whenever I am photographing.

The collodion process is a photographic process dating back to 1851.  It was a time when all our food was organic. It is a beautiful, mysterious process to work with; and it too is an organic process. The Civil War was documented using the wet collodion process, and the photo of Lincoln on the five-dollar bill is also a wet plate photograph. The process dominated photography for a thirty-year period into the 1880’s."

A large format wooden camera -- used for wet-plate collodion.

Why did the stories of farmers and chefs resonate with you?

Early on in the project, I was interviewing a farmer, and I asked him, “What comes to mind when you hear the word organic?” He replied, “I am not use to saying that word, because the government owns it.” I asked, “What do you mean?” and he went on to tell his story.  Driving back that day, I realized, there is a much larger story to be told.

The word organic doesn’t always means what you might thing it does; it really depends on whom you are speaking with.  

I am amazed that, as adults, we know so little about how our food is produced, or manufactured. The reason being is that our food system is designed that way. The companies that manufacture and produce this food do not want us to know.

If people are willing to spend more money on food because they think they are getting healthier, more nutritious, clean food, shouldn't we know exactly what we are getting?  As one farmer says, "There's organic, and there's organic."

When we think of organic, we think of clean food, food grown without the use of chemicals.  

Unfortunately, that is not always the case."

Lynn Faurie ©Francesco Mastalia

What has impressed you most about these men and women who are passionate about farming?

"The passion of the farmers and chefs was truly inspiring. These are a group of people who share a deep commitment and respect towards the plants, the animals, and the earth.

They share what it means to grow and live organically and sustainably. ORGANIC is not just about growing and producing food, it is about the life of the planet."

Willie Denner ©Francesco Mastalia
What's next for "ORGANIC"?

"“ORGANIC” Farmers & Chefs of the Hudson Valley is being published by powerHouse Books, and is set for release in September of this year. The 224 page book will include 100 of the photographs with accompanying text from each of the farmers and chefs." 

Francesco Mastalia
Francesco Mastalia has traveled the world photographing tribal, religious, spiritual, and indigenous people. His book DREADS published by Workman Artisan is a photo documentary on the history of dreadlocks. With travels to Ethiopia, Kenya, Angola, Namibia, Senegal, India, Japan, New Zealand, Jamaica and throughout the United States. DREADS is now in its eighth printing, sold worldwide in four languages, and includes an introduction by Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker. Mastalia’s book, ORGANIC, is slated for release by powerHouse publishing in the FALL of 2014.

January 22, 2014

Filmmaker About Town -- Will Champlin -- finalist, The Voice -- performs in Soho

If you've ever wondered where the career path goes for some of the finalists of The Voice, I can share a bit of info about one.  Will Champlin, one of last season's finalists, gave a performance in Soho this past Monday as part of Elan Artists showcase of bands.  With iPhone in hand, I filmed a bit of one of Will's songs.

For your listening and viewing enjoyment….

November 1, 2013

Filmmaker About Town -- MS Can Do Honors Clay Walker

With all of the tragic events that occur on a daily basis, it's always refreshing to learn of people who are doing positive things to make someone's life better.  One such organization is MS Can Do  They help those living with MS reclaim a "sense of dignity, control and freedom" by empowering them with the knowledge, skills, tools and confidence to transform challenges into possibilities.

I had the privilege of filming their awards dinner held this year at The Metropolitan Club, New York City.  Each year they honor an individual who has demonstrated the Can Do spirit and who has made a significant contribution to improving the lives of those living with MS.  This year they honored country musician and founder of Band Against MS, Clay Walker  Clay has battled MS since he was diagnosed with it 17 years ago.  Thankfully, he is now in remission and is moving forward with his goal to help raise awareness and fund research.

Below is a Fox News short showing a clip from the event and a quick interview with Clay -- happy to say that my footage of Clay accepting the award came in handy.

A special thank you to Claudia Hanlin for connecting me to this fantastic organization.

If you or someone you know has MS, check out the MS Can Do website so you can learn more about their programs.