Tamale Cup

Went down to SA to hang out and shoot with the Yarn Dawgz… again. They were doing an installation at the Tamale Festival in the Pearl Brewery. I was a little unclear on exactly what Dino, Billy and Sasha had in store but I was game.

One thing to know about San Antonio (and Austin to a certain degree) is that San Antonio loves having street festivals. Sometimes it feels like there’s a street festival every weekend during the nice seasons of Texas. Even though it’s December, it’s still pretty nice outside in Central Texas. The Tamale Festival runs from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday. The fest celebrates local traditions associated with the holidays and feature cooking demonstrations, food from the roasting spit, and more than 30 vendors boasting traditional, sweet, vegetarian and other tamale varieties. The festival concludes with the River of Lights celebration, caroling, and music and entertainment for the entire family. (All proceeds benefit the Culinary Institute of America and local charities.) Why not have a festival celebrating tamales.

The Yarn Dawgz was going to be doing a public installation of a table, chairs, and dining set inspired by Mexican Serape blankets that would later be sold at the Melissa Guerra Tienda de Cocina. It was pretty relaxed shoot. I was mostly interested in film the Yarn Dawgz just hanging out and knitting. Dino had some work to do back at Jump Star so it was just Billy and I for most of the morning and early afternoon. After several hours, it became obvious the the installation was not progressing fast enough. Once Dino and Sasha showed up, I took a small break and walked around the festival. I am a people watcher so I relished in walking around all the fest’s activity. I was super hungry but was completely overwhelmed by all the options. I honestly didn’t even know what line I was in but I ended up getting two Tamale Cups, which is a tamale in a cup. I brought one back to Billy and we joked about the concept of tamale cup. He even dubbed “Tamale Cup” as my new nickname. I can’t remember why.

As the afternoon progressed on, Dino and Sasha worked diligently on the table and chairs. I felt a little bad filming instead of helping so I decided to help out a little bit. I’m not sure where most documentary filmmakers feel about the relationship between the filmmaker and the subjects. I’m starting to think I’m too close to the Yarn Dawgz. I’m fine with it but I wonder what others think. I personally have never yarn bombed. I knit like a madman but I don’t bomb. I’m trying to stay an observer in that world. So all I did for the Yarn Dawgz was knit. I didn’t do the actual installation.

In the end, they didn’t finish the installation but I got some great footage.

Feelin’ a bit Woolly headed

Back in September Magda Sayeg was contacted by an advertising company to make a commercial based off the British saying “Feelin’ a bit Woolly headed” and using that to make a knitted a play-on-words. Magda worked with the Ad Firm and local knitters to help conceptualize the ad.

After months of hard work, the commercial is done, just in time for flu season.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5BEAxOdA0c]


I just spent the weekend filming with the Yarn Dawgz of San Antonio and I am filled with filmmaking adrenalin. I even called John on Friday night at like 3:30 am which means it was technically Saturday morning and said “I LOVE DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING! I want to do this FOREVER” on his voicemail. I vaguely remember this, he had to remind me.

One rule of documentary filmmaking is that nothing ever goes as planned so be prepared.
The plan was:
* Friday night film B Roll of the Yarn Dawgz, shoot Dino and Billy doing stuff for JumpStart at First Friday.
* Saturday film the installation at Blue Star and shoot one interview.
* Sunday film the other interview and get pick up shots. If time get scenic B Roll of San Antonio

I was a little nervous about the Friday shoot because I would be filming on my own in a very crowded area. John is in Portugal, Spencer is busy with school and Taylor is working. First Friday is an awesome San Antonio South Town tradition where all the art galleries and local shops open their doors to the city and have a big party on the First Friday of the month. It was going to be hard to be a one woman crew but I was up for the challenge.

I got to Jump Start around 4pm because of all the traffic on I-35 from Austin, thankfully before all crowds showed up on South Alamo Street in the Blue Star Art complex. I put mics on Dino and Billy and just started filming them in their natural element. Jump Start was preparing for a window performance of a graffiti artist taggin’ a boxcar. I wasn’t really sure what I was in for but was excited by whatever it was going to be. The guys also took me around the complex to show me an old installation that they wanted to take down. It was great to see the decay of an installation. It was faded and kind of gross, (which is awesome). I’m starting to think that the rot of an old installation can somehow be an ending to the documentary itself. I shot the guys deinstalling the piece before getting swallowed by the twilight Blue Star crowd.

The guys got back to work while I absorbed the environment. When it was show time everyone in Jump Star was running around like crazy. Thankfully they were doing two shows so that I should get different shots of the performance. I was blown away by the show. It starred Cros, the other initial Yarn Dawg (who actually lives next door to Billy and Dino). It was about a graffiti artist sneaking around and tagging a boxcar and then being chased by the cops, only to have one of the cops tag a bench herself. It was really beautiful and powerful. I love live performances and theater. Nothing I could write or film could really capture just being there.

After a crazy long day I was exhausted but my adrenaline was still pumping through my veins. Billy and Dino invited me out to the Strip. Now I’m from San Antonio but I haven’t lived there for 8 years so I didn’t know what the Strip was. There’s a delightful area of Main Street in San Antonio, called the Strip, that has become populated by gay clubs. It was awesome. I’ll leave out the details of the night but it included some food at Luther’s Cafe accompanied by a Drag Queen singing Adele (actually better than Adele sings), some drinks and dancing at a place everyone refers to as Gay Bennigans. I was feeling good. I logged my footage and was in bed by 4am.

Saturday I met up with Dino and Billy at Blue Star to shoot their installation. I suited up (put my equipment on) and the guys got ready. As we’re filming, Billy and Dino notice that their knitted pieces don’t fit the poles like they thought. They discussed the options. They looked around the complex to see if their pieces could fit anywhere else. In the end it started to rain and they decided that they would not do a project that they didn’t feel 100% proud of. I went back to the guy’s place which turned out to be a yarn bombed sanctuary. Billy even walked me down their street to show me all the stop sign posts he’s done. We were running out of time because Dino and Billy were going to perform a song for their friend’s birthday later that night. We called it a day and planned to meet on Sunday.

On Sunday I got a call from the guys who had to cancel because of family stuff. I was feeling so good from the stuff I got on Friday and Saturday that I didn’t even feel sad about it. I could always get their interviews another time. Plus I can come back to shoot the finished installation.

Vancouver Trip

This post is a little overdue. John and I went to Seattle and Vancouver over Labor Day weekend to visit Jessica Glesby, Leanne Prain, Mandy Moore and Yarn Core. Jessica of Yarn Core, based out of Seattle, ended up canceling on us which just meant we got to spend more time in the great nation of Canada. It was really great productive trip. I wish I could just work on my documentary all the time.

I’m temped to sit here to tell you all play by play how the trip went, list the great food we ate, talk about the wonderful things we saw, the feeling of adventure I felt in my gut but I’m not going to. This is not a travel blog, this is my documentary blog. Of course this brings up an interesting issue, how honest can I be here? I mean if I confide in the blogosphere all the worries and problems I encounter, it might make me extra vulnerable to the world of criticism, doubt, and other negative vibes that come from being in the film industry. What if an investor reads one of my blog postings and thinks I’m too ____(fill in blank) and then doesn’t want to invest. Just something to think about.

With each trip I take and each shoot I do I get better which is true for most things. I’ve had many conversations with people about what does a documentary director actually do, what does a documentary producer actually do and interestingly enough, the answers are never really the same. Different people have different ethics and ideas about what you can do and not do in documentary filming. After our International Yarn Bombing Day shoot in San Antonio, I learned that I needed to make a wishlist shot list to help organize the shoot. Before we left on our trip I had written all the interview questions out, I had made a shot list, listed potential locations down, printed out maps to everything, scheduled the trip, and budgeted everything so we could not spend too much. A lot of these things are things producers usually do but for this trip I ended up doing most of it. I was pretty damn prepared. I even knitted John a hat and me a scarf for our trip.

Most of my hard work paid off while John and I were out in the field. I didn’t account for a tremendous amount of traffic on I-5 coming into Vancouver which made us miss our first interview which was with Jessica Glesby. Thankfully Jessica was super cool and we rescheduled to do the interview in the morning, before our interview with Leanne and Mandy. She even gave John and I some suggestions of places to eat in Vancouver. Everything worked out because John and I got to squeeze in a little nap before we wandered around the downtown area in search of dinner. I won’t get into it too much but Vancouver is beautiful and so are its people. We had a great time and got to go over everything for our big days of production on Saturday and Sunday.

We got up early Saturday and headed out to meet Jessica. Even though we were prepared, batteries charged and all, I felt a little nervous. It felt vaguely like I was about to go on a blind date. She and I had been in touch for months now but we hadn’t really met. Once we were face to face it felt like we were old friends. John and I set up and dove right in. We had a two camera set up. Producer Spencer Stoner, lent us his Canon 5d Mark II. Jessica was really fantastic on camera. I felt like the interview went really well. John thought I was a little too formal and made the criticism that I should talk more conversationally. He said that Jessica was great but other interviewees might be more stiff on camera. Duly noted.

After lunch with Jessica and her boyfriend, we headed back downtown to meet Leanne and Mandy. We were meeting at Leanne’s apartment on Bute Street. We got there and started setting up while casually talking to both of them. I had mentally prepared myself to be a better interviewer, I was relaxed and ready to be more conversational, less formal. They wanted to be interviewed together but I was also planning on interviewing them each on their own first. I could tell what made them great professional partners, they easily complimented each other. When one was stuck the other jumped in and vice versa. Once we got all our audio set and ready to go, we only had about an hour worth of battery power and space on our cards. This was disappointing but not devastating. Once we got as much as we could, we left knowing that we would meet up with them later for a nighttime yarn bomb.

We rushed back to the hotel to dump all the cards, power up all the batteries and physically and mentally rest. We got some dinner, tested all the equipment and packed the car again only to head about again. Once we met up with Leanne and Mandy we walked over to the Carlyl statue that they were going to yarn bomb. Some people stopped and watched, or just made comments as they walked by but no one stopped them or stopped us for filming (I love Canada). We got a lot of great stuff. I even used my GoPro camera to get some super low angle shots. After I looked at the footage later, I couldn’t be happier with what we got.

After it was done, we all decided to go get a drink and just unwind. I was temped to put mics on them and film while we were hanging out but John talked me out of it. We hung out with Mandy and Leanne and got to know them better. Leanne has another book coming out called Hoopla. Mandy has been writing for some craft sites and magazines. I wish I would have brought my knitting with me, I feel like I could have used her expertise. (She had to leave a little early that’s why she’s not in the picture to the left.) All and all it was a great day.

The next day was all for B-roll. Again, I had made a wish list of shots to get. John and I drove around Vancouver, each taking turns getting some shots. This was pretty fun. Eventually when the sun started to set, we reluctantly had to leave Canada and head back to Seattle where we were flying back at 5:00am.

I might have to go back to Vancouver at some point and meet back up with Jessica, Leanne and Mandy and see how they are all doing. This trip was really amazing. I now have 100 more Gigs to log and transcribe. I just realized that today is September 11th and everyone is remembering tragedy but I’m trying not to look back to the horrors of the past, I’m looking forwards to the beauty that people can create with yarn.

a (not so quick) quick update

It’s been a while since I posted but I don’t want you to think that I’ve been taking a vacation from my documentary because it’s actually the opposite. I’ve been so busy with a hundred different things that I keep forgetting to post updates. So here’s the scoop:

I have been planning a trip to Vancouver / Seattle to visit Leanne Prain and Mandy Moore, authors of the book Yarn Bombing, yarn graffiti scholar Jessica Glesby, and maybe the Seattle-based group Yarn Core (I’m still waiting for confirmation). John and I leave for this trip on Friday morning and come back on Labor Day. It’s going to be really exciting. There are a lot of things to think about when planning a trip for a documentary. It’s not just hotels and rental cards, I’ve been having to secure equipment, release forms, scout locations for places I’ve never been. I’ve been reading and reading about my interview subjects and writing question. I’ve even made a shot list of what I think we should shoot. So needless to say, it’s a lot of work.

There’s been a shift in my crew. I’m happy to announce that Taylor Hagan has joined the prestigious rank of producer along side Spencer Stoner. John is taking a hiatus from producing to work on his own project (check it out, it’s pretty incredible, ONCE AGAIN). With Taylor and Spencer behind me, I know we’re going to get more organized and get this thing made. Now none of my crew, Spencer, Taylor or John, can knit or crochet but they are all lovers of the craft. Hopefully by the end of this project I will teach them how to knit or crochet so that they can have some yarn cred* in the community.

Lots of other fun things going on with the documentary. More grant applications. We’re currently looking into securing fiscal sponsorship. I’ve also been toying around with the idea of getting an intern to help me get my footage transcribed and organized.

One thing to know about documentary filmmaking, is that it’s a lot of planning, a lot of quick thinking, and a lot of work in post-production to make everything come together. It’s never ending as far as the workday goes. I dream about making my doc. I’m starting to realize that documentary filmmakers must be a little crazy because it’s a very unpredictable life that is almost constant stress, but I love it.

Last night I was happy to attend a Documentary Filmmaker Panel sponsored by a group at the University of Texas at Austin, Women In Cinema. The panelists Laura Sobel, director of Cereal: History in a Bowl, Rakeda Lashae, documentary television director, and Mike Nicholson, producer of Better This World came together for an evening of shared non-fiction filmmaking secrets. I was really inspired by each of the panelists. As I heard them talk about their struggles, it gave me strength to persevere through this tough patch. I know that I’m on the right path.

* Yarn Cred is similar to Street Cred but it has to pertain to the world of crafts specifically the fibered arts. I don’t think I came up with this on my own, I’m sure I’ve heard this or read this. Actually I think someone praised me and my documentary because I have yarn cred.

Yarn Cred – Commanding a level of respect in the craft world environment due to experience in or knowledge of issues affecting those environments.

The Indiegogo is over

Well our online fundraising campaign is over. We had a good run. We raised $5,640 of a $15,000 goal by 112 different funders made up of friends, family, colleagues, knitters and strangers. I got 65 comments including favorites like, “Sarah Gonzalez has a true vision and I am glad o even have a small part in her success! All the best!“, “Who knew that knit one, pearl two could unite the world. I look foward to seeing more.“, “I am very impressed with your vision and the powerful message I know your film will send. Every action people take to make the world a better place is a worthy action. Congratulations in advance for this great work.” and many many more.

Even though we didn’t hit the goal, there is no doubt that this campaign was a huge success. Many people have found out about the documentary and are generally excited. We got enough money to travel to the Pacific Northwest to films some more yarn bombers. I’m excited. This is another beginning.

It’s the Final Countdown!

Well there is only 5 days left in the online fundraiser on Indiegogo. I’ve been blasting everyone I knew on the internet and I’m sure a lot of people are getting annoyed with me and will be happy when my campaign is over too. We’ve already raised a little over $5,100 by 101 different funders which is amazing but isn’t as much as I would have hoped for. I’m feeling really good though about the campaign, even though we are no where near the $15,000 goal. I’m glad we finally hit the $5,000 because it feels like a lot more than $4,000 which doesn’t make sense. I’ll also be glad when this whole campaign is over because it’s been really stressful. Thankfully I’m not measuring my self worth by the success of this campaign.

Other exciting things that are happening: I’m working on the ITVS application even though I probably won’t get it. I’ve been pulling my hair out trying to finish it. Both my producers, John Moore and Spencer Stoner, are too busy doing their own project to help me. (John is working on his MFA graduate thesis documentary and Spencer is working for the Discovery channel, producing a show in South America.) ITVS would be the dream grant if I get it because they help secure exhibition through PBS.

Redseven Entertainment GmbH, a German company is currently working on a TV-show named “Galileo Big Picture” for German national free TV broadcaster ProSieben is wants to use some of my footage for a segment about new fads in art and graffiti. We’re still working out the logistics but it’s pretty neat that I’m getting their attention.

I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to write about but I’ve been filming some things with Magda Sayeg lately. I’m not going to name anything but she’s been directing a commercial that has a lot of knitted/crocheted stop-motion animation. I’ve been shooting the behind-the-scenes of the making-of which has been really exciting. I’m going to share my footage with this ad adgency and in return they are going to share some of their behind-the-scenes footage of Magda and give me access to the finished commercial for my documentary. Because everything has been really last minute, I couldn’t get anyone to help me shoot. I was running both sound and camera. I’m a little afraid that the ad company isn’t going to like my footage as much as they would’ve hoped.

Tomorrow I’m suppose to be interviewed for K&L Media in Bellingham, Washington, which is always exciting. Yay for more press.

As you can tell, it’s been busy around here in yarn bombing documentary central. After the indiegogo campaign is over, I’ll be planning a trip to Seattle and Vancouver.

Stupid Me

Today I did something that may be stupid, I quit my job. You might be wondering why I’m sharing this here, well I’ll tell you: I haven’t been working on my documentary at all lately because I’ve been caught up in work drama. Lots and lots of drama. It was all just too much.

During the normal school year, I teach a high school film class and I work at UT helping the students in the film school produce their movies. I also work at a filmmaking non-profit which was my sole job this summer. I was suppose to work at a film camp this summer but not enough kids signed up so the job fell through. Needless to say I’ve been living on a part-time wage this summer and it’s been rough. All the stress has been piling up. How could I raise money for my documentary when I barely had enough money to buy groceries? Today I woke up and realized that I didn’t need that drama in my life, I need to focus and make sure I’m not going to bring work stuff home with me.

In my college career I have been thankful enough to have heard some great people speak: Spike Lee, Kevin Smith, Matt Stone, Mike Judge, Richard Linklater, Morgan Spurlock etc. During one night, probably 3 or 4 years ago, I got the opportunity to hear Francis Ford Coppola speak. One thing stuck out to me about what he said, he credited his success in film to being a father. He said that when he first heard that he was going to be a father, the thought that he would be supporting his family pushed him to do whatever it takes to be successful. I don’t need to get knocked up to hopefully push myself. I’m hoping that being unemployed for the next two months, barely having enough money to pay my bills, will light a fire inside me to do what it takes to succeed. It’s been more stupid of me to neglect my doc. I not only owe it to myself to make this doc, but I owe it to the yarn graffiti community and all the people who have back my project on Indiegogo.

Sometimes it’s okay to be stupid and take risks. Wish me luck.


When I was at work today, I wandered down the hall and was water-cooler talking with the guys at Picturebox Productions. In a lot of ways, I feel like Kevin (J. Smith) , Mike (Nicholson) and David (Layton) are my older brothers. They are all definitely super supportive on my doc. I’m hoping to raise enough money down the line for my doc so that I can hire them during my post production phase of my documentary. They did an amazing job with a feature documentary called Better This World. If you get a chance to see it, SEE IT. It was easily the best documentary I saw at SXSW Film Festival this year (Where Soldiers Come From at a super close second). I digress…

Today Mike showed me an article on Slate which was talking about this Craft Social Media Networking site called Ravelry. “The best social network you’ve (probably) never heard of is one-five-hundredth the size of Facebook.” I feel stupid that I haven’t been utilizing craft, knitting, and crocheting online communities. Today I joined Ravelry (user name Gonzography, please add me as a friend). It’s awesome. I can’t believe my friends and even my aunt have been on this site for years. It’s funny because people are freaking out about Google+ but I’m getting excited about Ravelry.

Thanks Picturebox guys for always looking at for me! I now have a new way to waste, I mean spend my time.

Side projects

Part of the reason I love this doing this documentary is because I’m a knitter. Ever night, after dinner is made and eaten, emails are sent, my boyfriend and I curl up on the couch and either watch movies or tv and I knit. I’ve only been knitting for the last 3 years or so and I’m honesty not every good. I only started purling a year and half in. I mostly taught myself through books (I wonder if I plug my favorite knitting books if they plug my documentary?) and through the encouragement of some of my more crafty friends.

I’m still trying to get crocheting down. My mom is a huge crocheter. She made my baby blanket while I was an infant in her arms. She said she never got into knitting. She’s tried to help me with crochet but I just can’t get into those hooks.

Here’s what I’ve been working on recently:

Last summer I heard that I should expect to have a new nephew by the spring of this year. Once I heard the good news I started to make my first baby blanket. Since I’m really good at knitting squares and rectangles, I figured I would make a checkerboard square blanket. I cast on 40 knits then I alternated knitting one row then purling the next for 80 rows (classic stockinette stitch). My good friend Julia advised me to knit all the ends so that the ends of each square won’t curl up too much. After 10 months, Jackson Douglas Gonzalez has arrived to the world and he has a new blanket…
My mom crocheted the edges to give it that more polished look. It’s probably not the best blanket ever made, but it was my first blanket and is Jack’s first (special) blanket.

After this huge task I really didn’t have much inspiration to do anything. I had hit a wall with my knitting. During International Yarn Bombing Day I was hanging out with the Yarn Dawgz and Billy was making a little knitted pouch while we were sitting and hanging out. He ended up giving the pouch to David which David continued to gush about for the rest of our shoot. It really inspired me to try to make one myself.

I randomly switched between knitting and purling. I made it the size of an ipod/iphone and then I gave it to Amanda to cheer up her day. I made it in one sitting but I thought I could do a better job. So then I did this…

Again, it didn’t take me long to do and it turned out ok. I still wasn’t satisfied. I thought it was time to learn to knit with circular needles and double-sided needles. I took me several tries but …and what I made was…

A much nicer ipod pouch! I’m pretty proud of myself for accomplishing this.