Thursday, May 29, 2008


Back from four days in classrooms learning – i.e. filming – about kids learning. It's one of the new things in education – formative assessment – and I was skeptical if it was just the latest thing or something. Turns out it really is something and really turned my head when I saw it work.

The best case was a fourth grade (I think it was fourth grade, but it all went into one, after a number of classes) math class in wich the kids were just cooking along in some formative exercises. The formative part is the kids and teacher assessing what they know. It's meant to be a quick snapshot which then moves into pushing the boundary of what the kid's know.

Very cool stuff and shows me how far the classroom can go in a short time.

The great fringe benefit of the job is that I got to stay with my sister, Nancy who had just moved to Columbus with her husband, Rich. They were in the center of all the school's we visited, and only two blocks from a real town center. Not a strip mall, but a real place. Glad to see we've still got some of those real places around the country.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

5 Point Film Festival

Just read Bob Lefsetz post "Doing Business." Bob's been on the changes in the music industry since napster and has provided insight into the changes, we in the film world are now seeing full-on today. Music led the way as digital audio is smaller than video clips. But download for video and streaming is here, and the changes to the industry and culture are revolutionary.

One aspect of the change is related to this blog and how we present our work to one another. As with so many changes it spins to both more and less mediation. On the one hand we – filmmakers – have more opportunity to present ourselves and our work to our audience. But, we also are even more dependent on others to present our work. The new paradigm is about partnerships, about finding alliances and interests and using them to get our work more known.

I was out at a new film festival in Carbondale, Colorado, the 5 Point Film Festival, showing a new version of Flying Downhill, our profile of Bode Miller. It was the next chapter – I'm calling it the second life – in this ongoing saga of one of the most extraordinary performers working these days. The cut I showed is based on "The Skier's Version" which we first constructed in 2004 to be more like a Warren Miller film – episodic as opposed to narrative, jammed with music, each piece of which becomes a theme in itself. Episodes are about: explorer, faller, family back home, the roots... What was fun about making this cut is that the episodes could stand alone. In a narrative there is an underlying structure that makes constructing the film a complicated puzzle, where specific pieces must go in specific places to support the whole. No hassles like that in episodic media. Film too long? Throw out an episode or two. Too short, throw in Bode free-skiing in Bella Coola, or being a superstar in Europe.

This kind of modular constuction suits posting short clips very well. It's not about previews from our film, it's about moments in time, episodes in the world our film inhabit.

In my films I become part of a world. I invest in the people and place that has hooked my interest. I form a relationship with character and the specifics of what makes this character tick. It is particular.