re: the documentary & the blogsphere


Richard Moore

Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2007
From: Bob Ocegueda <•••@••.•••>
To:  •••@••.•••
Subject: Re: re/ documentary : "A Compelling Necessity"
        I think the idea for this documentary is excellent.  We need 
many more examples of positive solutions to our problems.  Visual 
production have a much greater impact in our consciousness than words 
alone.  I wish you the best of luck for its completion.
        I would also like to suggest the use of YouTube or the like, 
for shorter pieces (or longer if they are split into 10 minute 
chucks)  It is proving to be invaluable to the dissemination of ideas.


When I received Bob's suggestion (above) re/YouTube, I didn't find 
the idea appealing, and it seemed like such an effort would be a 
diversion from the main project, a theater-oriented doc. But then 
over the course of the past week a few things happened that shifted 
my perspective. For one thing, I learned that one is expected to 
produce a pilot sequence as part of seeking funding, which means that 
some flavor of initial project (diversion) can't be avoided.

I was also inspired by how video was used on the website of the Wise 
Democracy Victoria people. I saw that as being in fact a documentary, 
but one that can be navigated, as is suitable to the medium. I was 
impressed with how simple it was to put together, while being at the 
same time so effective. I began to get a new sense of the power, 
expressiveness, and leverage of the medium.

And then my friend Joe told me a story... He used to be in a band, 
and recently he set up a MySpace site with old video clips of the 
band. After only a short time his site has thousands of fans. Of 
course I'd known of items on the web 'going viral', but somehow when 
something of that nature happens to a friend, it makes it more real. 
I began to realize (I'm a slow learner) that the web can itself be a 
path to a mass audience, an extraordinarily cost-effective path in 
comparison to the theater-doc alternative. But of course one cannot 
predict how much of an audience one might be able to reach. Dreams of 
'going viral' are like dreams of winning the lottery. Everyone thinks 
'it could be me', but in the end it only happens to a few, ie, 
there's a bottleneck between us and the masses.

In any case, I am now more intrigued by Bob's suggestion. In fact, 
we've decided to go ahead and produce an online version, using tools 
like YouTube, and to make it more than a pilot. Apart from production 
values, there's no reason why we can't make the same 'product' online 
that we would make for theaters. Indeed, it is the very relaxation of 
production values that can enable us to create the 'product' with 
almost zero cost.

In particular, we can get by with doing all our interviewing 
remotely. A phone-quality voice wouldn't be acceptable on the big 
screen, but it's OK on the web. And if the interviewee has access to 
a webcam and a good-quality connection, all the better. We can 
interview people anywhere in the world, with greater freedom than any 
filming budget could afford, with travelling film crews and all. 
Interviews really are the backbone of this kind of material. It is 
the words of the interviewees that tell the story. The visuals are in 
a supporting role. The medium, with its tradeoffs, is well-suited to 
our material and to our (zero) budget.

'We' in this case is Joe and I. He's a whiz at media software and 
dealing with sound & effects, he's highly motivated to make videos, 
and he's got tons of energy. We're both using Macs, which will 
simplify things a bit. And he's only a block away, making it easy to 
exchange large video files by disk.

This approach also makes sense as a learning experience re/ 
'expression in the visual medium'. A much cheaper and faster way to 
learn than with film. If we do a good job we can attempt the 'viral' 
path, and if that fails we can use it as a pilot in seeking funding 
for a film version.

As I've said before, this project has an energy of its own. It took 
the universe only a week to send me the messages I needed in order to 
recognize this available shortcut and its potential.

Given this new context, you folks may have additional useful messages 
for me as well. ;-)

going with the flow,


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