Cemetery (repurposed)

Rock Chapel, Blackwood.  A converted church that is now a private residence as well as a B&B, the husband and wife team who own it are big supporters of the Wales International Documentary Festival.  The chapel was my base of operations, and the graveyard outside provided much photographic inspiration over the two days of the festival.

As the chapel itself has been renovated and repurposed, so too has the cemetery outside.  I’d make a joke about the neighbors being quiet, but actually they weren’t, especially at feeding time in the morning.  I never knew sheep could be so excited over breakfast, but what they lack in facial expressions they make up for in the height that they can jump.  I thought for sure I had more pictures with the sheep in the graveyard, so maybe they’re there and I’m not looking hard enough…maybe they’re lying in wait, ready to pounce…

On the festival circuit: Wales International Documentary Festival

I never would have considered traveling to Wales for a film festival if not for some generous offers of funding when I had just learned that Overwhelming Majority had been accepted.  Unfortunately that funding fell through and I cancelled my plans, then decided very last minute that the opportunity to go was too good to pass up, even if it meant paying out of pocket for my plane flight.  It was a gigantic leap of faith my part and I am currently accepting donations to recoup this expense, as well as help me get to festivals further on down the road.

Though only at the festival in Blackwood for two days, I was able to get to know some cool filmmakers from Britain, Scandinavia, and Belgium, as well as see some interesting documentary films.  Probably the best part of the festival though, was being able to share my experiences with the interns, mostly film and journalism students from Cardiff University.  They were all cool people and I found that I fit in pretty well there.  I hope I’ll be able to get back to the UK before too long.

I brought the Canon 7 and the Olympus Trip 35, loaded with some classic black & white and slide films, shooting 4 rolls total.  There is much more to be posted from my first overseas trip.

Help me get to film festivals

Hey guys, I started a Gofundme.com page.  I’m about to go to Wales for a film festival and I’d appreciate any help you can give me to cover expenses, and help me get to further festivals in the future.  If you can donate anything, I’d be grateful.  The only reward I can give is to continue to post updates from my travels, as I’ve done so far.  Please click here to help me out.

Overwhelming Majority is an experimental documentary short dealing with issues of loneliness, alienation, and social anxiety. A young woman recounts a suicide attempt, muses on the nature of connectedness, and ultimately yearns for understanding.

Scoring Session: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Aka “Too Many Hats!”  I wouldn’t consider these the absolute best pictures ever, but it’s hard to be the composer, conductor, and music producer, and also try to take a few pics on the side.  This is the recording session for a new ballet film based on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.  As a ballet, I had to compose the music and have it recorded by a certain date, without having seen any footage.  Now that it’s recorded, I’m hard at work mixing, mastering, and polishing, while my director Felicity works on the choreography.  While I’d like to say that I drew a great amount of inspiration from Wilde’s novel, reading it would have taken much time away from actually composing the music; I watched Albert Lewin’s 1945 film adaptation instead.

This marks the first time I have used the Canon 7 since Fall of last year, and I’m out of practice: there are one or two rather glaring focus errors, and while I think I would have been better suited with an SLR, I’d say that I really focused on the music first (pun intended), and only snapped a few here shots here and there when not actively recording.  The camera was lying around in a few different places and not all of the pictures were taken by me, as evidenced by the fact that I’m in some of them.  The main visual component was shot by the film director as a “making-of” documentary, so at some point there will be a video of the recording session floating around the internet.

The pictures are almost current, as the recording session took place just a week and a half ago, and a few days later I was on my way to the Durango Independent Film Festival.

Trump

Please don’t take this as an endorsement.  I’ve been waiting to post for a while, but thought it might be more relevant around election time.  Donald Trump held a rally at UCCS back in July.

We all found out about the rally two days before he was here; it happened to be my day off so I went down.  I can remember a lot of outrage almost at once, mostly individual outbursts on Facebook, but it does remind that while Americans talk a lot about valuing free speech, it’s usually only when it’s speech we agree with.  Word got out of a petition signed by 114 UCCS faculty (many of whom I know) which, as far as I can tell by reading the wording of the text, doesn’t condemn his appearance on campus as much as just declaring disapproval of Mr. Trump in general.  What that petition was supposed to accomplish besides putting on the record those professors who are likely voting for Hillary Clinton, I don’t really know.  Personally, I was excited that UCCS should gain the exposure brought by the rally and was happy to attend.

One could get a maximum of two tickets for the event, free on Mr. Trump’s website, and I saw a lot of suggestions on Facebook discussions that people sign up for tickets and then not show up.  Well, this didn’t accomplish anything at all because room was given on a first come, first serve basis; they didn’t even check tickets, but I did get junk mail from the Trump campaign for weeks after that.  I got on campus around 10:00 (Trump was scheduled to come on at 2:00), walked from a free parking spot, and got in line around 11, with the line already stretching East from the University Center, past Dwire Hall, down the hill and halfway around Centennial Hall.  It took 90min to get inside the building (great organization there) by which time I wished that I’d had some food on me–of course there would be no food served inside, but thank God there was water!

I learned later that only about 1500 people were allowed inside Gallogly Events Center (it’s where we have basketball games) and I must have been among the last few hundred let in.  Most of the bleachers were full already, I hung around on top for a minute before being told off by a security guard, and did manage to spot a friend of mine standing near the stage, so I went and hung out with him.  Trump was late by more than 45min, and I remarked at one point that it was no longer fashionable.

I’ve done my best to stay out of this most recent rat race, and hadn’t heard Mr. Trump speak before.  I have to say, he was quite entertaining, even if he didn’t have much to say.  I think he spent the first 20min or so cracking jokes about the DNC.  People would yell to him to talk about a particular issue, and he’d pause on that briefly before going off on some wild tangent.  He did have some strange fixation on our fire marshal doing his job, I hear he went back to that several times after I left.  I stuck around for about 45min (perhaps an hour), but my back was killing me and I was hungry.  I had heard that perhaps as many as 10,000 people had shown up looking to get in to the rally, and that the protesters had finally decided to roll out of bed and come down, so I went to take pictures outside.

I’ll admit, one of the main draws for me was the possibility of seeing some “excitement” break out among the protesters, but it didn’t happen.  Talking to a few of the photographers and newsmen outside, evidently there were many more protesters that left before I got out, but when I was there they were only 50-75 strong, talking loudly to about the same number of people on the other side of the campus road.  Nothing happened and with not a whole lot of people out there, I went to the on-campus pub and got some lunch, then played pool with a friend of mine.  Well, the day fizzled out so I then decided to go home.

I’ll admit, I feel a little bit like Les Blank on Burden of Dreams here, missing the best parts of an event by being in the wrong place and at the wrong time.  I missed more gigantic crowds outside, and also found out after the fact (from friends’ Facebook posts) that Mr. Trump walked the floor after his speech, so I missed out on getting up close and personal with my camera.  Oh well.  Here are a few links pertaining to the event:

http://www.kktv.com/content/news/Fire-marshal-responds-after-being-called-out-by-Trump-at-UCCS-rally-388720102.html

http://www.uccs.edu/trumpevent2016/index.html#july28

http://www.coloradoindependent.com/160419/donald-trump-colorado-springs-protest

http://www.csindy.com/IndyBlog/archives/2016/07/28/trump-event-at-uccs-stirs-controversy?showFullText=true

Finalist

Well, here’s some more good news:

One of the requirements for the Advanced Photography class was to enter our work in an exhibition.  I was so busy that I didn’t even want to think about this for the longest time, and ultimately decided to enter a single picture in the semi-annual Photographers’ Forum Magazine photo contest (you’ve seen it already).  Not only did I not have to worry about editing the massive body of work I’d been assembling, but the PF Magazine entry cost me a whole $5 and I was done with that requirement.

AA052

Of course now that I’m not nearly as stressed out I feel a bit more like submitting to exhibitions, and this has been an encouraging reminder for me. I’m happy to say it’s one of the 13% that go on to the next round and will be judged by a group of college-level photography instructors.