Following up on my previous post… here is Part 2 (of 2) of Cascading Effects.
I co-shot this piece – a project produced by fellow friend, filmmaker, shooter, and producer, Jim Tharp. A synopsis from Jim:
[Cascading Effects examines] the sublime landscapes of North Cascades, Mount Rainier, and Olympic National Parks, researchers shed light on emerging indications that climate change is real and predict how warming temperatures will affect the natural resources and timeless beauty of the region.
We began shooting in the North Cascades in June of ’08 – and, ironically, it was snowing relentlessly… not necessarily ideal for outdoor summer interviews intended to illuminate global warming. However, that ultimately addressed the notion that the climate is indeed changing despite the occasional cold snap (or cold year or decade)… and that things aren’t as simple as “it’s going to be a few degrees hotter in the future.”
Watch Part 1 of the documentary above. Part 2 will be my next entry, but if you would like to see it immediately you can watch it on Jim’s YouTube channel. There are also a range of viewing options on TERRA, a video podcast project from Montana State University’s Master of Fine Arts program in Science and Natural History Filmmaking (where Jim, Scott, and I learned to be responsible film-makers). Enjoy!
The folks at Zacuto have been producing FilmFellas, a “webisodic series” featuring round-table discussions with filmmakers of all variety, from novice to seasoned professional. The clip above is the first segment of the “DP Series” Cast (Philip Bloom, Trent Opaloch, Jens Bogehegn, and Robert Primes, ASC).
For anyone in the film industry, I highly recommend having a look. The round-tables are very informal and conversational, so a huge range of topics arise… often with opposing, thought-provoking, informed opinions. Very interesting and the entire project is a great example of innovative new digital media.
By the People: The Election of Barack Obama. Add it to the list of amazing content picked up by HBO Documentary Films. It premiered a few weeks ago, but is still airing - so catch it if you can. The filmmakers, Amy Rice and Alicia Sams, seem to have mojo reminiscent of D.A. Pennebaker (Primary and The War Room – also highly recommended).
As is often the case, the story behind the production is equally compelling. Rice and Sams started filming well before anyone would have guessed Obama would be the next president. Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman interviewed Rice and Sams on the day of the HBO premiere. Watch that interview here. Videography.com also ran a great article on the production, here.
I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of Samsara, the sequel to Ron Fricke‘s Baraka (an amazing, highly recommended, non-verbal documentary – shot on 70mm). The latest update that I could find, regarding the release date, is here. So, it’s hard to tell how long we’ll have to wait, but it seems to still be in the works.
While searching around for this info, I came across another great non-verbal piece. Richard Sidey shot this in September on a Canon 5D Mark II. He remarked,
I filmed this over a couple of weeks while working on an expedition cruise ship. Shooting in these environments is very opportunistic, basically grabbing what you can without being able to wait around for the right light or explore for various angles. The shots of the Aurora were especially tricky, due to necessary long exposures (up to 8 seconds at ISO 4000) and a lot of ship movement, wind, severe cold and on some occasions a full moon, which overexposed the sky. But when it worked, I was blown away with the results.
I think the footage is spectacular and definitely makes me wonder if DSLRs and HD video cameras are now on the verge of merging completely.
Werner Herzog discusses climbing an active volcano in order to get the shot. Although, as he puts it, he was merely playing “the blind lottery” and didn’t do it to “show bravado.” Filmmakers and cinemaphiles tend to have strong opinions about Herzog; from positive to negative to genuinely amused to gravely concerned… and just about everything else in-between. Often the topic of controversy is just as much about Herzog himself as it is his films and subjects.
For some deeper insight into the psyche of Herzog, Les Blank‘s Burden of Dreams can’t be recommended enough. One of the earlier feature length, making of-, behind-the-scenes documentaries, it chronicles Herzog’s production of Fitcarraldo, shot on-location in the Amazon. No matter what you think of Herzog, you’ll almost certainly be entertained with Blank’s treatment (though you may finish it with more questions than answers regarding what makes Herzog tick).
This clip is part of a much bigger project by the National Film Board of Canada, directed by Pepita Ferrari. Capturing Reality: The Art of the Documentary is a series of interviews of some of the greatest documentary filmmakers alive. From the NFB: “[filmmakers] offer insight into their craft while reflecting on the nature of representation and the perennially contested status of the truth.”
The NFB is really pushing the envelope of innovative new media on the project’s website. There, the entire experience is interactive… clips are parsed into topic and filmmaker, all available on-demand. Furthermore, Robert Lepage‘s original score plays quasi-randomly in the background – somehow making everything more cinematic than typical internet video browsing. [For a similarly engaging project, check out the website for Standard Operating Procedure, the latest documentary by Errol Morris]. The entire uninterrupted film (including footage of the landmark films being discussed) can be viewed here, at sling.com.
I co-shot this piece last fall for National Geographic (with fellow filmmaker, Stephani Gordon, and NGTV producer and friend, Laura Boyd). The featured Explorer, Joe Riis, does amazing work and his stills (used throughout the cut) are incredible.
Pronghorn are extremely timid and they have extraordinary vision – they can detect the flick of a finger from hundreds of yards away. So I spent quite a bit of time waist-deep in snow, pushing my telephoto to the maximum, and minimizing my movement as I operated the camera. It was a tough task… but persistence eventually paid off.
The original post from National Geographic is here.
From Boing Boing:
(Flash video above. Alternate viewing options: Download MP4 or watch on YouTube) Boing Boing Video presents a remix of “Synesthesia,” a documentary directed by Jonathan Fowler, about people whose senses blend, or mix. For instance: a synesthete might see colors when listening to music, or taste flavors when hearing a spoken word. Synesthesia was once thought of as a disease or disorder, but many who experience this alternate form of perception think of their anomaly as an advantage — or, for them, simply what is normal. In this piece, Dr. David Eagleman of the Baylor College of Medicine explains this condition, and four synesthetes explain how they perceive the world. The full-length version of this film was produced with support from The Research Channel, and is available for viewing on their website. CREDITS: Directed & Produced by Jonathan Fowler. Cinematography by Rex Jones & Jonathan Fowler. Music by Moby & Olis.
Yet another way to watch my original, full-length cut (Red Mondays and Gemstone Jalapeños: The Synesthetic World), is via The Research Channel’s HQ YouTube post. This piece was actually a student project I produced in 2007, as part of my curriculum for a Master of Fine Arts degree in Science & Natural History Filmmaking from Montana State University.
Thanks again to all of the participants, The Research Channel for the production grant, Dennis Aig and Simon Dixon as advisers, Xeni Jardin and friends at Boing Boing Video for the remix, and of course, fellow filmmaker and friend, Rex Jones, who operated that crucial second camera with his always eclectically keen eye.