Tomorrow is a big day for me. The indie documentary idea I’ve been talking about for years is going to have it’s first shoot. I’m excited, slightly nervous but mostly ready to get some actual footage captured. I’m not an experienced filmmaker so I’ve been cramming like a college kid the night before a final exam, much of that from Anthony Artis’ The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide: A Down & Dirty DV Production. This afternoon I set up my equipment and tested it out, and I was surprised what a good, professional image I was able to capture with my prosumer camcorder and some cheap lights from World Market and Lowes.
I can’t remember when I first spoke aloud to another person that I wanted to do this film. It might have been as long ago as 4 years. Last year at Balticon I talked with Earl Newton about it quite a bit and got some seriously good advice from him. I had a conversation with the Ukrainian girl that was the lifeguard at the hotel pool about it too. I have a shoot lined up for next week and beyond that, I don’t know. My plan is to take the footage from tomorrows shoot, edit out a 2-3 minute piece and put it up on the movie’s website. This is partly for myself as a test that the workflow will produce something watchable out the other end, but also to give prospective interviewees something to look at so that they can understand what it is I’m talking about when I give them my crazy pitch for this film. Beyond that, it’s a loose ball that I need to grab.
This is way outside my comfort zone but that’s a very large part of what I like about it. I have an inflated enough ego and sense of self-confidence that I don’t doubt I can pull it off despite my inexperience. After all, pre-2008 Andre and I had no experience in running a conference and yet CREATE South is continuing to provide value to our town every year. Something will happen from this. My goal is to produce a feature length documentary film, one that is of a quality that could be shown theatrically. Whether it ever is will be a business decision for a later day, but artistically I want to make something in that ballpark. If I can’t pull that off, I want to get an hour long cut that would potentially be shown on the South Carolina PBS network ETV or other PBS systems. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll make the highest quality short film I can get out of it. I’m a pragmatist so I’m OK with having tiers of success and doing whatever I can on the highest tier I can pull off.
I’d say wish me luck, that that isn’t much of a factor. Wish me preparation and determination. Those I can use.
I’ve been having a hard time getting the show produced lately. I had planned to do an episode this weekend but my MacBook is fighting me every step of the way lately. Because of all these problems, I’m filling in the gaps with the audio of a panel I was on at Balticon 43 a few months ago. The panel was conceived of and moderated by Thomas Gideon, and my co-panelists were Patrick McLean and Earl Newton. If I recall correctly, this was the morning after I had met Earl for the first time and hung out with him for a few hours late into the previous evening.
I enjoyed being on this panel and I’d like to thank the other three guys and all the attendees for making it a good one. Here is the audio for your enjoyment.
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I’m really bad at doing thorough con wrap-ups, as evidenced by the fact that I usually don’t actually finish them. I though about presenting my Balticon 2009 wrapup as a compressed novel in honor of the recently late but always great JG Ballard but that turned out to be really difficult. Imagine that. That is now a scratched idea.
I’ll present a series of snapshots of my weekend. It won’t be as exhaustive as I was exhausted. I met a whole lot of great people that were new to me and basically had a blast the whole time. As always, I missed a few names here and there and will forget to mention people and things. This cannot and will not be a complete document of the event, just a quick strobe light version of quick shots.
- Paul Fischer invited me something like five times before I could accept this year and I’m glad I did. I met him for the first time, along with people I was either meeting for for the first time really talking to such as Phil Rossi, Earl Newton and Annie Turner, A Kovacs aka A Real Girl, Ross Scott, Tom Vincent, Matt Wallace, John Cmar, Jim Van Verth, Erk and many many others. You note that this list is mostly dudes, that’s because I’ve already met most of the ladies at previous events. I prioritize, you see.
- The biggest downer of the way it was set up was that there was not a lot of mixing of new media track people and science fiction people. I randomly saw Keith R.A. Decandido in the bar on Sunday afternoon which led me into chatting and then attending a concert he was doing that night. If not for fortuitously seeing him, I wouldn’t have otherwise known he was there. There are multiple other stories like that. I made a specific point of going and talking to some of the SF people but it took work. I’d love to see more mixing, and I suggested an explicit mixer: something like a “SF folks and Podcast folks party” .
- I saw from her blog late Sunday night that Kathryn Cramer and her family were at the con. I’ve been reading her blog for years and wanted to at least just say hello to her and tell her that I am a fan. As it happened, I got up Monday morning and went for a swim in the hotel pool. A few laps in she and her family also got in! It was slightly awkward to introduce myself wrapped in a wet towel, but I did it anyway because I Am That Guy.
- Monday in the dealer’s room, late in the con, I was specifically looking for some John Brunner books. I wanted non-collectible cheap copies I can take to the beach without worry, and specifically I wanted books that were the transition from his 50’s schlockier style into what we know from the The Shockwave Rider and Stand on Zanzibar style books. As I was shopping, Kathryn’s husband David Hartwell was walking by. I don’t know the man, but I stopped him and introduced myself to him. He gamely helped me and browsed the shelf with me. He suggested Squares of the City as the closest available to what I was looking for. Bearing in mind I’m a complete stranger, I thought that was just a cool moment. He suggested I try Darrell Schweitzer, who also thought over the question and suggested The Whole Man as a good one but didn’t have a copy with him. I’m not sure what those guys were thinking about the whole deal, but I can’t imagine that old guard SF people have a problem with youngish (relatively) fans trying to broaden their understanding of the field.
The panels I was on were all fun. My talk Friday night was lightly attended but still worth doing and quite edifying. Thomas Gideon posts on the “broadcast vs peer media” panel in his con wrapup here. Before this weekend I didn’t already know Chris Lester and Phil Rossi, but I had a good time with them on the music in podcasting panel. The final one was the “Social Media Triage” panel with Evo Terra, which is the sole reason I created my Facebook account. Previous to this, I had resisted for years. In 50 minutes he walked through my mostly default, newly created shell account and pointed out to me and the audience things that could be one to make the account more effective for the goals I want to achieve. Really good stuff.
- I was a little shocked at how early things shut down and Sunday night and how dead they were Monday, but in retrospect both were probably for the best. The bar closed down at 1 AM Sunday and I was still in the market for shenanigans but going to bed was better advised than what I would have done if the contrary was available.
- I had a lot of fun walking the social graph (literally, like, walking). At one point I sat down at Mur Lafferty’s table and as people came and went I ended up talking with David Moldawer for a long time. The conversation ranged a lot of places and he asked if I was familiar with Hugh Macleod. I said that not only was I but that I explicitly referenced his “Sex and Cash Theory” about keeping your day job in my Friday night talk. David reached in his bag and pulled out a copy of Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity and gave it to me. It’s not published for a few weeks, but I have it in my car as I type. Right on! Thank you, David, you kind kind man.
There is undoubtedly more, but I’ll publish now and make other posts later. Publish early, publish often, don’t sit on it waiting for perfection. That is what I preach, no? I had a great time. Thanks to everyone who invited me, made the con possible, talked to me, and so on. It was a great weekend, well worth the 9 hour drive each way.