Life in transition

No idea what I’m doing with my life. Pretty typical statement coming from someone my age or any age really. It’s also an overstatement. I have ideas and I definitely know what I’m not going to do with my life. I’m not going to get addicted to meth or heroine and start prostituting myself out or pick-pocketing. I’m not making real judgement on those life choices for other people, all I’m saying is that they are not for me at this time. That said, I’m pretty against stealing. Stealing is bad. I digress.

My mother always said, “fake it ’til you make it” thus I have been projecting forward an essence of success and comfort with being some sort of an artist. I’ve even been identifying myself as a “filmmaker” when people ask what I do. This can be a challenging sequence of syllables to say as I don’t really direct films which is what people associate with that identification. However that is what I am and what I do. Sometimes I produce for people, making sure the film gets made. This is a publicly unappreciated job but probably where I excel the most. Sometimes I edit the video. Another unappreciated job. Sometimes I shoot and sometimes I direct. Sometimes I write. Then there are times I do it all. It’s what I have been doing with my life in one form or another since 1999. It’s what I love. It’s what I study. It’s just what I do. I do film stuff. I am a filmmaker.

My life is in transition at the moment. I got laid off from a job working at a documentary production company which was heart breaking. Getting the boot from a job feels a million times worse than any romantic break up. Personal break ups are bad but mostly I can find a zen moment when I realize that we were best without each other. I try to look at that relationship as a stepping stone to the next better relationship. Professional break ups feel gut-wrenching in that I am currently questioning my professional self-worth. I’m hoping to find that balanced moment where I can see it as a path to a better job. I’m just not there yet. However I do think this extreme doubt and questioning is cathartic. Maybe everyone should do this? Though I don’t wish this upon anyone.

Another obvious statement – job hunting is awful. It’s all consuming. I spend at least 4-8 hours a day, 6 days a week, looking for job postings, researching companies, tailoring my resume, writing cover letters, submitting applications and following up with applications. I also spend time staying in touch with professional contacts that may help me find my next job or gig. My thought process is that if I keep this up something has to pan out. I’ve been told that for every 100 applications one job offer will happen. Hopefully that’s some what true. I’ve disciplined myself to stick to a strict schedule that even includes time for exercise to make sure I have regular amounts of endorphins. I’m averaging about 5-10 applications a week. I’m hoping that in the next 10 weeks I can find a more permanent job that I enjoy.

I have been fortunate enough to keep freelancing through this unemployment adventure. I’m still feeling like a new kid in the Bay Area. I don’t have a lot of contacts with other filmmakers and thus I’m having to take jobs well below my rate in order to make relationships. I was hoping that moving from Texas to California would give me a professional clean slate. In my earlier 20’s I made a lot of mistakes and had many miscommunications professionally. I’m still haunted by some of my earlier flubs. I actually have nightmares about it. At what point do you out grow your earlier oversights? My brother doesn’t believe in mistakes. He believes that all choices that were made are opportunities that you learn from. I subscribe to his book of thought though it’s hard. I’m hoping to take all of my past experiences with film freelancing into a successful future. I’m dedicated to making it work. Need a video made? I’m available for hire?

I recently signed up with a temping agency. I figure why not. I’m thinking of it like office freelancing. I’m hoping that it will help supplement my lifestyle until I find other, better, work. Plus it’s temporary. It’s still new. I’ll try to write about it more later.

All of this unemployment, freelancing and general Bay Area survival has resulted in the decay of personal projects including my Yarn Graffiti Documentary. I have to spend all my waking energy finding ways to make means to continue to live in San Francisco and figure out what I’m doing with my life. My rent is cheap for my area but that doesn’t mean it’s any less of a struggle to maintain. Food and bills are also very real. I’ve heard from many people who live in the Bay Area that they have to work several jobs just to keep living here and because of that they hardly have time to enjoy the actual city. It seems like a cruel joke – living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and not being able to have time to enjoy it.  Moving forward I hope to get full time work in filmmaking that allows me time to enjoy the Bay Area and also time to work on my feature film.

Wish me luck.

 

Hiatus

The Yarn Graffiti Documentary is on hiatus. I’m in the Bay Area still adjusting to my life here.

Don’t worry though – I’m still working on it even when I’m not working on it.

Stay tuned.

Women and Their Work Fiscal Sponsorship

The Yarn Graffiti Documentary is now fiscally sponsored by Women and Their Work, a local non-profit that serves women artists. For those of you who are not familiar with it, fiscal sponsorship refers to the practice of non-profit organizations offering their legal and tax-exempt status to a film production engaged in activities related to the organization’s missions. This means that if you donate money to the documentary, your donation will now be tax exempt, plus 8% of your donation will go to Women and Their Work. (All checks must be made at to Women and Their Work.) It’s win / win for everyone.

We are really happy to be partners with a wonderful organization such as Women and Their Work. Women’s connection to knitting and crochet is one of the things that keeps come up in the documentary. We’re all thrilled to have the support of an organization that does such wonderful things in the community. Make sure to LIKE Women and Their Work on Facebook.

absence makes the heart grow fonder

  You might be asking yourself what the Yarn Graffiti Documentary team has been up to lately. Are they still making the movie?! Let me put your mind at ease and tell you, Yes we are. We haven’t been traveling but we have been busy working. Behind the scenes, we are writing grants, planning for future shoots, staying in touch with subjects, organizing footage and working on a work sample.

It has been over a year since this project started but we still have a long way to go. Hang in there and keep letting us know what you think, sending us tips on neat projects and liking us on facebook. Especially let us know if you know of anything crazy being planned for International Yarn Bombing Day 2012.

Remember that documentaries take a long time to make and anything worth doing it worth doing right. And even if you think we’re going at a grandma’s pace, know that grandmas make really amazing things when they finally finish a project.

New Year’s Resolution

Happy 2012! I don’t think the world is going to end anytime soon so we might as well keeping living and doing what we do. It’s a new year with new goals. I’m not going to bore you with my personal resolutions of weight loss, spending more quality time with my mom, break dancing and increased bike riding. We’re not here to talk about that. As far as the Yarn Graffiti Documentary goes the goal for the year is to wrap up primary production. To wrap up production the Yarn Graffiti Doc team is working around the clock to get money to finish this movie.

Another big resolution is to make sure to keep all of you updated through this blog. I’ve let this blog fall to the wayside. I promise to stay on top of this.

The holidays were good to me in strange way, (I love my family) but bad for the documentary. For 2 weeks I didn’t really think about it. I’m happy to be back to normal life where I think about this documentary all day long like a monkey on my back.

I’m back to work on the doc! More coming soon.

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]

Taggin’

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.