Achieving balance between reaching your goals, the greater environment and having a life is one of the greatest tricks we can pull off.

Monday, December 13, 2010

'Tis the season! To give ocean consciousness!

The holidays are here, no matter how hard I have tried to be distracted with other things. Even though the battle for access rages on in my home town, and the intertidal lands of my state are up for review, the holidays have come.

As every year, I feel sort of blase about the whole thing until our annual co-hosted holiday party. This even seems to always kick things into high gear for me. This year was no exception either! 100 people and tons of kids running crazy all over the house, Food, drink, merriment, and the true spirit of the holidays- time with loved ones family and friends all. Meeting new friends, reconnecting with old. Community. My community.

It is soon after this party that I realize, oh criminy! I haven't bought gift 1 yet! Yike!

It's a somewhat panicky moment for sure. But it always works itself out. I like giving gifts. I like taking the time to think about a person, and what they truly love, what I think they would appreciate, and what I think could really be excellent for them. But sometimes the panic overtakes this desire and I just freek out and buy.

Which is no good. You may have these holiday moments as well. So in an effort to help you curb such distress (in a somewhat self promoting way) I want to suggest to you a great gift for all lovers of the ocean, of surfing and of connection to nature. Grab a copy of BlueGreen from Cinema Libre. There is still tons of time.

It's got extra features, and a soundtrack included with the award winning documentary. Pick up a few copies for all the ocean enthusiasts in your life- grab one for yourself too. This documentary is a must see for everyone looking for their connection.

http://store.cinemalibrestore.com/bluegreen.html

Have a BlueGreen holiday!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Enraged

Processes can sometimes be hard.  Especially when the people that set up the rules that everyone else has to work by don't adhere to the rules themselves.

Here in my beautiful state of Maine we are undergoing huge coastal access issues. I mean it's not just here, North Carolina, Florida and Texas are all under similar duress.  But for some reason it is really coming to a head here in the northeast.  There are several cases pending in court which will determine whether or not coastal land owners continue to own to the low tide mark (one of 2 states- can you guess the other?) or the high tide mark.  More on this in another post...

But here, in my little burg we have been waging another war.  There is a beautiful little beach, not far from downtown Portland where the surf comes up in storms and when it's placid the townsfolk walk their dogs, hang with their families and generally get a moment to feel like they actually ive ina place that tries to incorporate the wonders of the coast into our every day lives.  It is a big, big reason why many people live here.

But recently a small group of landowners near the beach have been seeking to remove all on street parking. And they are making headway. We are trying, fighting the hard battle but it seems we are losing ground. In the belief that blogs should be short and readable I won't go into the terrible details, but if you are interested I can point you in the right direction (see below). But watch this quick little vid I put together to talk about the  issue.

video

But what I wanted to get to here is that last night we had an opportunity to talk before the town council about the issue.  One ex councilor brought up that the changes needed to be kicked back to an ordinance committee, because that is the procedure. Eventually what happened was that one of the councilors started berating the crowd and bullying the other councilors into not pushing it back and started bringing up all these points that the crowd was not allowed to mention because they were not on the agenda. He sat in his bully pulpit with another councilor and offered challenges to the crowd that due to procedure were not allowed to be answered.

Frustrating is not even close to what most were feeling. The whole issue is crazy.  The system is broken. The town is supporting a handful of their constituents against the rest of the public who clearly don't support the changes. They aren't listening.  It is really disheartening to believe you live in a democratic society where your voice will be heard, where you elect officials thinking they will do the best for the town and it's people, to be confronted by this.

I realize that I am still so enraged by this that this post probably will not make any sense. So for tose of you who are interested in yet another battle where the monied landowners are trying to deprive the taxpayers of their right to access public coastline you can check out what is going on here:

http://www.facebook.com/SaveHiggins  or another good resource is http://www.surfrider.org/nne

As a video tape of the meeting is public record I will be posting this crazy outburst by the councilors. I think that this is ridiculous, and people need to know what goes on behind the closed doors of small town politics.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Season Of Horror!

Halloween season is here, and with it comes the flood of horror films.  New and old, slasher and suspense, Zombie and ghost one and all. I love it.  There is not a genre out there that is pushing the limits of the imagination quite like horror.

I am not a huge fan of the gore world, films like the Saw series, basically a 120 minute gross out. No, my favorites are the ones that get you to lean forward in your seat, to look around the corner or through the back window where the hero or heroine never seems to look...in time. They run the gamut as well, from the genre defining Halloween to outer space thrillers like the amazing Alien (how movies should be made!), to some of the paradigm breakers like 28 Days Later or 30 Days of Night. No I am not a horror aficianado so I am sure true lovers of the world of slashing knives and masticated brains will be harumphing and muttering 'he doesn't know what he is talking about'.

And it's true. I don't!  I only know what I like. Most of the movies I like have an intriguing story and all the trappings of classic horror- suspense, intrigue and blood! But emphasis on story.  That is what draws you in, brings you to the edge of your seat and then....gotcha! A good story can take you places you never thought you would be. In just a few more days, the onslaught of scary flicks will abate and we'll be back to more standard films.  But the desire for intriguing story will persist....

Check out the story in my film BlueGreen.  You can order it here:

http://store.cinemalibrestore.com/bluegreen.html

Check out the trailer here:

http://www.bluegreenconnection.com/trailer.html

And really importantly, if you haven't already, we are on a huge campaign to get netflix to carry the film, so it would be great if you could add it to your queue! Do so here:

http://www.netflix.com/Movie/BlueGreen/70125109?strackid=5f123914b6c...d0caf_0_srl&strkid=1980134918_0_0&lnkctr=srchrd-sr&trkid=222336+

And on a side note, with a week left to go before elections, I feel compelled to just write one little note.  No, it's not an endorsement for any given candidate.  But more a plea to get everyone to take a moment and breathe.  There is a groundswell of anger out there. But in this groundswell it seems that people are having this knee-jerk reaction and backing people that are truly unfit to be the elected representatives, the leaders of our country.  People who truly have no knowledge, who lie, who disrespect the very institutions we are electing them to, and will serve to only bring us all down. If elected, these people will not help us, will not help our nation, our states and cities. We will rue the day we put these morons (for lack of a better word) in power. Please.  I am begging you.  Take a step back.  Breathe. Not matter how angry you are at the way things are now. No matter how badly you want change. Look at what these people are saying, and look at what needs to happen.  I think you will find a huge disconnect.  Please make this election an election for sanity. If not, we could make this horror season a truly scary one that will have repercussions long after this Halloween is gone.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Finding The Balance

A good movie to me is one that draws you into it's story, makes you think a bit about what you just saw, and how that might translate into your daily life.  Not that every movie has to be a heavy, thought provoking treatise, but for me it definitely separates a 'good' movie from a 'fun' movie.

So as I sit here formulating ideas and approaches for my next major doc, I am overcome by the first and initial thought- where is the balance?  I definitely want to entertain, but entertainment without message seems to me a little void. At least in the area which I choose to make my films.

How does one find an equal balance?  Where is the line that keeps a film from browbeating you with a message, but also keeps it from slipping into a vapid music video type blur of imagery and music? I want to draw the viewer in, and then wrap them in the story, the message, without alienating them, yet still entertaining them.

It's a tricky balancing act for sure. I am not sure I will ever figure it out. As with all things in life, balance is key.  Certainly there are excellent films that are all imagery, or all message. For me though, the balance between the two is essential. I will let you know how it comes along!

For now, check out the balance in my last film BlueGreen.  You can order it here:

http://store.cinemalibrestore.com/bluegreen.html

Check out the trailer here:

http://www.bluegreenconnection.com/trailer.html

And really importantly, if you haven't already, we are on a huge campaign to get netclix to carry the film, so it would be great if you could add it to your queue! Do so here:

http://www.netflix.com/Movie/BlueGreen/70125109?strackid=5f123914b6c...d0caf_0_srl&strkid=1980134918_0_0&lnkctr=srchrd-sr&trkid=222336+

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Biz...help a brother out?

BlueGreen, my third serious effort as a film maker is being released world wide on September 28th, by earthNOW!, an eco-oriented label imprint from Cinema Libre. I already gave that news up a few weeks ago here, but you can now pre-order the film at http://store.cinemalibrestore.com/bluegreen.html

It's a really, really exciting thing, and quite frankly, a little bit overwhelming. No one in this business ever wants to admit their naivete about how the biz end of it all works, but I am here to say, it can be confusing and sometimes unnerving.  Even though this is my third serious effort, it is the first time that I have had to deal with hurdles I never even considered, contracts, and my reputation as a film maker. There were a few mis-steps and a crazy learning curve.

Like this little one for instance. Netflix is a huge way for a film to get seen, reviewed and brought to others attention. But!  They won't pick up a film it seems, unless there is interest from the Netflix community.  What this means is, that to get Netflix to pick up BlueGreen, I need a little help from you all.  Put BlueGreen in your Netflix queue.  The more folks who want to see the film, the more chance there is that they will pick it up.  You can do it here:

http://www.netflix.com/Movie/BlueGreen/70125109?strackid=5f123914b6c...d0caf_0_srl&strkid=1980134918_0_0&lnkctr=srchrd-sr&trkid=222336+

You may ask yourself... do I even want to see this film?  Well check it out here:

http://www.bluegreenconnection.com

Amazing surf, beautiful locations and an illustration of how we are all connected to the big BlueGreen? Well, of course you want to see it.

So thanks in advance for putting BlueGreen in your Netflix queue, and helping me out while I am navigating some of these business hurdles.



Friday, September 17, 2010

Trying, without trying...

I am probably the worlds lamest self professed environmental activist.

Sure I give a lot of lip service, belong to the organizations that fit my lifestyle, attend the odd beach cleanup, pick up the occasional piece of trash off the beach- maybe. But I haven't been able to truly dig my heels in (unless there is an issue that directly effects me and my stretch of water).  Oh I have lots of excuses, too many to bore you with here, but excuses are just that.

This came to my attention when I did a few shows with BlueGreen in Washington State.  The excellent folks from the Surfrider chapters that helped out with the organizations of the shows out there teamed the screenings up with a couple of anti-plastics activists (Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen) who work for the 5 Gyres group.  If you don't know about these folks they are doing some amazing and hugely important research.

They had just returned from a trip aboard the Algalita (another group doing incredibly important ocean research) and started the evening off with a presentation about how plastics are choking the life out of our oceans. The presentation was so powerful and disturbing I could not sit through the whole thing, and watched one half one night and the other half the next.

What was truly impressive to me, and perhaps even made me a bit envious, was that here were two folks that had chosen to pursue this life, a life of ocean activism, of anti-plastics campaigning, because it was the right thing to do.  These two people (yes they are part of a larger team as well) have added their voices to the cry of outrage, and the effort to stem the tide. It is an hugely amazing and admirable thing. Why can't I?

Oh, I have work.  School.  The kids. I am tired.  I went to the Surfrider meeting last month.  The list goes on.  I know I am not the only one either. But there are things, small things, things that help, without hardly any effort at all. They are everywhere.  For instance, stop buying Happy Meals for your kids with the stupid little plastic toys that can't be recycled and end up in the trash hours later. Don't use a straw when you order a drink. Bring a bag to the grocery store. Yes!  Pick up that bottle on the beach! 

But for me, one of the hugest, easiest things I could do was saving up all the money from the hundreds of plastic bottles my family returned on a monthly basis- soda, bubbly water, bottled water- and bought one of these babies. Sure it's a little more work, but the carbonation is fantastic (it carbonates exactly like they do at the factory) and plastic bottle consumption has nearly disappeared in our house. Have you read the statistics on America's plastic bottle usage?  (Americans buy an estimated 29.8 billion plastic water bottles every year, Nearly eight out of every 10 bottles will end up in a landfill or the ocean, Less than 1 percent of all plastics are recycled. Therefore, almost all plastics are incinerated or end up in a landfill or the ocean)  Terrifying. I am glad that with very little effort here I am no longer part of the problem. That was pretty easy. It seems I have made a tiny difference without even really trying. Why can't you?

As a side/related note, Cinema Libre has announced that pre-orders for BlueGreen are now active! You can grab them here: http://store.cinemalibrestore.com/bluegreen.html. Ocean pollution by plastics and other non organic materials is a big part of the message of the film.  Help spread the word about the release and grab a copy for yourself....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Huge News!

It's been a long road, but I am pleased, no- totally psyched! To announce that BlueGreen, my latest documentary about the human connection to the ocean (through a surf-centric lens) has been picked up for world-wide distribution! The release is September 28.

That's right! Cinema Libre Studios', earthNow! imprint has picked up BlueGreen for DVD, VOD, broadcast and select screenings world-wide!  I can not even express how exciting this is for me and the film. (check out the cover to the right, and the trailer at http://www.bluegreenconnection.com)

As far as extras go, (every DVD needs 'em!) this DVD has extended interviews with Keith Malloy, Jim Moriarty of the Surfrider Foundation, and of course the eloquent Rabbi Nachum Shifren- the surfing Rabbi. It will also feature a 6 minute mini feature of surfing in a little trafficked corner of the US- The Northeast.  Additionally it will have the soundtrack as DVD-ROM content, and features French and Spanish subtitles!  It's loaded!

AND! The excellent folks at Cinemal Libre Studios have teamed up with the group that helped promote the documentary 'The Cove' to help promote BlueGreen. Which is pretty much unbelievably huge in itself.

I am incredibly excited on so many different levels.  It's a huge deal for me as a film maker, and I think it's a huge deal for the message of the film. Which (very broadly) is that we are all connected, whether we acknowledge it or not, to the ocean.  And if we continue to abuse it, we are done for. There is more to the film but that is part of the core.

I know I leaked this news to some  folks, but generally I tried to keep this under my hat until the release date was set. Not that it's ready to roll on September 28, I hope you will look for it. It's a great film that I am very proud of. Whether you like surf, you love the ocean, or just colorful personalities, it connects on a lot of different levels.

I will have more news in the coming months about what is happening with the film, in terms of screenings, festivals, where you can find it and more. The website and the Facebook page (and even twitter!) will be carrying more as well. Stay tuned, and thanks so much to all of you who have supported me through this process.  You know who you are!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Environmentalism In The Oddest Places

I like watching movies. I don't mind watching some movies over and over again. Good ones, bad ones, it takes a truly horrific movie for me to walk away. Sometimes I will leave the tv on in the background while I do particularly rote work where I don't have to think too much.  The channel of choice, of course, is AMC.  Why?  Because they show old, tired movies all day long, interrupted only by the obnoxious ads for whatever scooter device, or free diabetes testing kits the majority of their daytime demo needs (read: way over 65). It's where, as my Dad says, old movies go to die.

It takes a very bad film for me to change it off of AMC during the day.  For a multitude of reasons, when a Steven Seagal movie comes on, I won't change it.  There is a perfect mix of bad dialog, ridiculous action, b-list stars, and of course Steven's ugly mug playing the romantic action lead.  Normally it's easy to tune out, with the occasional explosion or burst of gunfire causing me to glance over from my work. 

But the other day, 'On Deadly Ground' was on. Typical Seagal fare for sure, he plays the good guy, working for the bad guys, then goes over to the good guys side, with lots of martial arts in between, and of course, somehow, inexplicably, he gets the girl. But while I was watching it, or basically ignoring it actually, something caught my attention- it was well written dialog! I turned my full attention to the tv.

At the end of 'On Deadly Ground' Seagal delivers a scathing report on Big Oil, and corporate greed fueled environmental destruction.  To hear a well written, researched, and delivered condemnation of those who seek to destroy our world for their own personal gain at the end of one of his movies was shocking to say the least, and really out of character I think.

And in 1994?  Almost unheard of except in Environmental circles. I am not really sure if anyone actually ever saw this film, beyond AMC, but this message rings true, ever so much more today.  With the BP spill still wreaking havoc in the gulf, and the Michigan and China spills on it's heels, this message has more power now I think, than it did tagged onto Seagals 1994 effort.

If you have 4 minutes, I think you should take a look.  It's worth it. Take what he is saying and multiply it by 10 for today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfNEKKva7HY

Friday, August 20, 2010

BlueGreen Screenings!

Slackery!  Slackery I say!  I neglected to mention that BlueGreen was going to screen at the Outer Banks Surf Film Festival this weekend!  Well you should get there if you can!  It's going to be a great weekend of films, fun and sun!  If you miss it, check out the Outer Banks Blues Festival the following day- BlueGreen will be showing there as well!

Not enough lead time to get there?  Well check out the East Coast Surfing Championships www.surfecsc.com on August 28th, where BlueGreen will be screening at the Upper Deck in celebration of all the festivities!  It's going to be a great party so if you are there, make sure to check it out!

In addition we have some terrific big news coming soon, oh so soon.  I can barely contain myself, but it will have to wait for now... soon!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's All About The Angles

Yesterday morning Evan (my intern) and I arrived at 7 am at the local Rite Aid to shoot two new Pumpkinhead spots for the Shipyard Brewery. For those of you who don't know Pumpkinhead, it's a great little beer with a cult following and really cool art.  The Beer lends itself to a ton of creative thinking.

The spots were very loosely written on purpose so we could explore where the concept would take us.  The only constraint was that we needed to be out of the location around 11. The spots are supposed to be a little goofy so we thought we'd have some fun with it.

We got the standard shots, the shots we knew we had to have, the ones where in a worst case scenario we knew we'd still have a spot.  The necessary, make it go, have to have them and yes, maybe a bit obvious shots.

But then we started to incorporate more, and more interesting shots.  We stuck a camera here, we taped one there. We grabbed another camera and stuck it somewhere we couldn't get to by holding it. We used a skateboard for a makeshift dolly, and rode around the store in a shopping cart.

Who knows what we'll get out of it.  I haven't looked at the footage yet.  Who knows if any of it will be usable at all? But it was fun, interesting, a challenge, and who knows?  Maybe we'll get that money shot! If you don't try, you'll never know!  The trick is just getting the space to make the attempt.

That's where the excitement is I think.  Trying the new angles.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The 48 Hour Film Project in Portland Maine

I love making films.  Short long, made for tv web, whatever!  It just strikes a chord in me.  From the organization, the pre-pro, the funding (well, maybe not that part), the shoot, the edit, to the screenings heck the whole 9 yards!

One of life's greatest joys for me is participating with groups of folks who share the same passions.  So it was a no-brainer when the position of City Producer for the 48 Hour Film Project here in Portland came up.  For those of you who don't know what it's all about you can check it out here: http://www.48hourfilm.com/portland_maine

This is my second year as City Producer and it is just a really great time.  It's fun to get everyone their assignments, field the calls from harried and troubled film crews at all hours, and hear their war stories when they hand in their films.

But it's the screenings that really get me. On the Tuesday following the event, we screen all the films from the weekend.  There could be up to 31 films this year, of 14 different genres. Each film is a fantastic microcosm of the amazing creativity here in Portland.  And to see the throngs of people that come out to appreciate the films and their creators, and the pride of the film makers as the theater erupts in applause after their film is just a fantastic feeling.

It's a great way to celebrate Maine's independent Film Making community. It kicks off tonight at the Empire Dine and Dance in Portland where the teams pick their genres and I assign their elements. Then they are out the door at 7 for a wild weekend of film making!

My one regret is that as City Producer, I can't participate!

Good luck to all the teams this weekend....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Busted Back To Square 1

There is a certain freedom in starting all over again. Trying to figure something out, to search out a way to make it work. In crisis situations of course, it's hard to see it, but have you ever asked yourself what you would do if everything changed drastically? Pretty much everyone I know does.

But lots of these little opportunities arise every day, totally unrelated to crisis. We try something new, or we enter into a new situation. It is really invigorating.

The reason this has come to the forefront for me is because recently I have joined the ranks of the Sweepers. For those of you who don't know this surf lingo belittlement, it is how the die hard prone surfers refer to Stand Up Paddleboarders.

Now, living in Maine, I figured by crossing over to the Dark Side, I would increase my water time due to the infrequency of waves. And I have! But it's different enough from real surfing that it's like starting all over again.

But it doesn't matter! That is the beauty. In my mind I know it's something new, and that it's ok to stink, and I don't mind looking like a middle age wannabe, because essentially it doesn't matter- there is no expectation of greatness, no posing to be had, just a desire to figure it all out- and it's really freeing. I had more fun today on a board, falling on my back, my face, whacking myself in the head with the paddle on a terrible windy, choppy day, than I have had in a long time. The freedom from 'oh gosh what are people going to think' and 'I should be doing better' and similar thoughts is a pretty amazing thing.

Of course, the 'why can't I figure this out' and 'c'mon, get it right' starts to creep in after a while, but that is another post altogether...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Geezum Crow!

Well, I find it hard to believe that it has taken me this long to start a blog.  Seems like almost everyone in the entire universe has one now, but somehow I am extremely late to this party.

Which is fine!  Haven't had much to talk about until now.  Well, nothing I would have ever have thought was 'blog-worthy'. Whatever that means!

But here in this space, will be the spillover from my brain and life, everything from rants to raves, from concerns to dumb little stories. But most of it will be pertinent to something. Whether it be small producers living in far away places trying to make a go of it, the environment, the ocean and nature centric life, or being a dad and trying to instill a worldly consciousness into your kids perceptions. All with hopefully a little bit of humor and not-taking-myself-too-seriously injected.

I do have a lot to write about. There are some experiences that I think just beg to be shared.  Others not so much (and not just bad ones!)

SO here we go!  Bear with me, and lets try to have some fun and share some experience. There are some really really big things in the works here, and I think you might find them interesting and entertaining!