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Sunshine Superman

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted here, but we’ve had some ups and downs in these changing media times. In fact, many days it’s felt like the photo above from the documentary “Sunshine Superman.” One Big Leap of Faith.

A special shout out to this heart racing doc “Sunshine Superman,” directed by Marah Strauch that Magnolia Pictures/Universal is releasing theatrically on May 22. The awe-inspiring story is about Carl Boenish, the father of the BASE jumping movement, whose early passion for skydiving and filmmaking led him to even more spectacular – and dangerous – feats of foot-launched human flight. I was the Line Producer for the Los Angeles portions of the film.
Nice mini review from Rolling Stone Magazine. In fact it’s been getting great reviews everywhere. See the trailer and follow the film on Facebook.

Another project I recently Line Produced/Produced was Nicholl Fellowship winner Alan Roth’s directorial debut “Jersey City Story” for Lexus. The dramatic short film is now available on the Lexus website, L Studio.

Our original comedy series “Love & Loathing: Adventures in Divorce Land” premiered February 14th through Mi Shorts distribution as part of Dailymotion The series questions if two middle-aged romantics can find true love flowering through the cracks of divorce? It’s pretty funny. Written and created by Tony Soltis (“The Shield”) and produced by myself, Tony and Mark Manos. I directed 3 of the episodes. The series stars Bonnie Burroughs and Christopher Hatfield. Love to hear your comments and thoughts. Watch it on the Love and Loathing Series site. Follow us on Facebook   Twitter @Divorceland

Inspired by these online showings and viral sharing, we’ve released some previous projects now for FREE online viewing. Many that I’ve written about on this site in the past. Check it out.

The Emmy Documentary on oil and the American men and women that make energy their business “Houston We Have A Problem” on Vimeo

My multi-award winning short narrative blues film, “Travelin’ Trains” Click on “Screening.” Also, the thought provoking short film I produced in 2005 starring Willie Garson and Misha Collins “The Crux”. Directed by Jeff Seckendorf​, Cinematography from Tom Houghton, ASC,​ Production Design from Edward L. Rubin.​ I think you’ll like both films.

The award winning 13 episode PBS series “Senior Year” on 12 young people in their last year of high school at Fairfax High School are now all available at a special Siteroll web site, SeniorYearShow . Also, from Displaced Films our documentary on race relations in the south “Displaced in the New South” continues to play on the wonderful preserve of documentaries on American roots, Folkstreams.

The documentary, “Go Public: A Day in the Life of an American School District” has been airing on PBS stations across the country since last May, 2014. The true stories of those hard working people in education; Teachers, advisers, students, etc. My favorite is the piece I directed on the janitor, Felix Lopez. Find us on Facebook for updates.

A television pilot “Kids2Kids” about children and their parents making a difference in their communities. Facebook

Enjoy and certainly spread the word! I promise to be back to the blog more often, but first you’ve got some watching to do!

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When I was in the eighth grade, my buddies would come over almost every day after school to my parent’s apartment to play the board game, RISK.  It became a ritual and soon the topic of conversation between us, each day at lunch and recess.  In fact, one time three or four female classmates came to the apartment, pleading for us guys to give up the game and spend some time with them.  We said, “no way!”  Ah, the decisions we make!

I’ve always been a fan of games, the more complex the better.  I’ve played board games, cards, Dungeon and Dragons.  I enjoy the social interaction, the elements of fantasy.  After all these years it shouldn’t be a surprise that I would take my filmmaking experience and put it to use in video games, but it wasn’t until last year when my company, Unconventional Media produced the live action portions to the Electronic Arts (EA) video game, “Need for Speed: Undercover” that I really began to understand the tremendous possibilities of video games and interactive storytelling.

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Electronic Entertainment Expo, simply known as E3, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  Presented by the Electronic Software Association, this is the event where new games and gaming inventions are unveiled each year.  The roll-out was impressive, the technology amazing.  I was in awe of the big LED televisions displaying such realistic, spot on graphics.  However, what really caught my attention this year is the amount of immersive game play devices being released.  Nintendo introduced a device, the Wii Vitality Sensor, that clips to a player’s index finger and reads their pulse into the game.  This is the same company that has been so successful with the Wii Fit, which helps a game player lose weight by bouncing on a board that feeds the movements into game play.  Basically, your movements are the game characters movements, so if the game requires your character to run or jump, then you, the player must do the same.  A hell of a workout.  Ubisoft Entertainment introduced a competitive, more serious fitness title, “Your Shape” that actually customizes the workout based on body type.

However, the Project Natal for the XBox really knocked me over.  You’ve got to watch the YouTube video attached to really understand the interactive possibilities.  You can fully immerse yourself into a virtual world.

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As I wrote in this blog last October, after the “E for all Expo,” the philosophy behind my company, Unconventional Media, is to deliver a fresh angle for new entertainment, incorporating movie storytelling into game play.  This seems to be a growing, exciting trend in the business, although much of it remains tied to feature film releases like “Batman,” “Watchman,” “Harry Potter,” etc..  I do admit it was fun to stand next to the original Ghostbusters Ecto-1 vehicle, parked outside to promote the Ghostbuster Video game. I believe with the immersing technology of virtual game worlds, we can create storylines to form a new kind of entertainment.  It’s like my fictional screenplay, “Press>Play” as reality.  We enter the story, virtually.

Since I’ve always enjoyed the social aspects of game play and find the solo aspects of most video games a little lonely, like playing Solitaire, you’d think I’d be a big fan of online gaming. I’m fearful that getting involved in games like “World of Warcraft” and other multi-player online activities will become such an addiction that I’ll never go outdoors again.  Hell, I won’t even play “Mafia Wars” on Facebook.  However, after viewing the EA and LucasArts upcoming release, “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” a multiplayer, online game based on the franchise, but set in a different time period, I may be hooked.

After a couple of days of the loud noises and visual attacks of E3, I had to make an escape. I sat down with some friends and played “Joan of Arc,” a good old fashioned board game.  The game takes place during the 100 year war between England and the provinces of France.  There are castles, battles, land grabs, even the plaque, but there are also alliances between players, negotiating between teams, the human element.  I miss this part of game play in video games.  Sometimes, it just feels like it’s you against the machine.  I like the social interaction. Maybe, I’m just a board game geek.  Anyone up for a game of RISK.

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It’s a lot of time and energy to keep up your profile on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Linkedin, Ning sites and dozens of other social networking sites. However, if you’re trying to make a living in the creative arts, be it an independent filmmaker, musician, artist, then you’ve got to look at it as part of the job.

Here’s just one recent example with my short film “Travelin’ Trains.” A few weeks back I notice Greg Sarni has become a Facebook friend with my sister Lindsay Mofford. Now I remember Greg, not well, but I remember drinking beer and hanging out with him at Emerson College. We reconnect, become online friends. On his Facebook site are photographs and notes about his days running the Boston Blues Festival. I mention “Travelin’ Trains,” my short blues film about a boy in search of his father in the Depression-era South. It’s full of traditional, acoustic blues. He wants to see it, especially because one of the stars is Chicago Bob Nelson.  A few years back, Bob collected the Blues Trust Lifetime Achievement Award. Greg is a fan of his music and makes mention of the prize and film in his online newsletter, Blues Trust. He also adds the Cacchi link where you can see my film for free.  The film gets a jump in views including a recommendation on Twitter by the famous Ash Grove bar in Los Angeles. I see the text and Twitter back that we need to do a documentary on the history of one of the most important folk clubs in the country. Discussions and developments begin. Thanks Greg.

Do you see where I’m going with all this? At Unconventional South in Nashville, we are constantly talking to an incredible roster of talented musicians who know that the old ways of creating an audience no longer apply.  Brian Adams knows this and is developing the network television series “Stone Cold Sober in Music City” with an online home base. You can read more about that venture in a previous blog.  We’ve also been exploring that with Billy Falcon, his daughter Rose Falcon and The Sowing Circle on Ustream.  A wonderful write up at indiemusictech.com covers what a musician has to do these days to get their music heard.  It was also a big issue of discussion at the SXSW music conference as referenced in Wired magazine.

Mashable.com is a wealth of information of guidelines, with success and failure stories of what works for artists and entrepreneurs. The write up about Ning job networks and entrepreneur networks are two of my favorite resources. How do I know when there is a new article? I follow them on Twitter. When a new story is online, they’ll put a link on Twitter. I can access it if I’m interested. This process is exactly the same for all us artists. You release a new song, photograph, film, art show and let people know it is there. The fans decide if they want to access it or not. They hear or see it and your network spreads the word. If they’re not spreading the word then something isn’t grabbing their attention.

Now everyone has their own set of rules of what and how they want to communicate via the web. I use MySpace mostly for listening to new bands and keeping track of gigs via bulletins. I reserve Facebook for my actual friends, mainly because I’ve got some friends on there that I’ve known since Junior High School.  I’d rather not share those old stories with someone I just met at a networking event. In those cases, I stay linked to the business contacts, new and old, via LinkedIn. And for me, Twitter is all about the RSS feed. I’m following you because either I like what you have to say, play, write or communicate. If you’ve got a suggestion, I want the link. I hope those that follow me feel the same way about my “tweets.”

Now I know there are dozens of other social networks including “Ning” sites like my Brother-in-Laws site, All Hands on Board, which can be very specialized. I just don’t feel like I need to be on all of them.  It might look like some sort of desperate need to be noticed. You see, there is a fine line and only you can decide what is needed to get the word out and what is too much.  We each make our own rules and that, my online friend, has got to be one of the greatest things about social networks.

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As many of you know, my sister Lindsay Mofford’s husband, Tucker was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) a few years back.  I make mention of this here because I think some of the artwork Tucker has been doing since being diagnosed speaks volumes of the creative potential of the internet.

Tucker Stilley, former Mass Art student has always brought a unique perspective to his creative and professional work as a musician, artist, sound designer and film editor.  I’ve worked with Tucker on many professional projects including the redesign of the sound for the DVD release of my film, “Travelin’ Trains.” Because of the disease, he is no longer able to use his limbs, instead using a reflective bindi dot on his forehead to control a complex system of computer technology, largely of his own design.

His website, The Permanent Record is a portal to computer art, songs, ideas and videos rearranged and redesigned from media sources scrounged from the depths of Google and other web search engines.  Recombining the found visuals, Tucker forms multi-media collages of sight and sound, a self-described “Anarchival Research Gimp.”  A couple years back, I commissioned a video piece from Tucker for an upcoming feature film project, Press>Play.  I was amazed by the images he discovered and edited that related to the subject matter of the effect of the media on a relationship, just by surfing the net, all public domain.

A social networking support page of friends and family called “All Hands on Board” has been created through Ning.com and it has become a work of art in it’s own right.  How exciting to see all these creative people add photographs, videos and even artwork stimulated by Tucker’s life and work.  To me these are just some examples of what is possible when talking about communication and new media.  Musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers can build their own social networking sites beyond Facebook and MySpace.  These spaces become testaments and build memories.  Exciting times indeed!

An exhibit of Tucker’s work will be on display at the beginning of the new year, but if you are so inclined, some of his artwork will be on display October 23 at the REDCAT Theater (Disney Hall) in Los Angeles along with a special screening of acclaimed documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman’s film “HOSPITAL.”  This is a very special treat since Wisemen rarely releases his older films, (years ago, Tucker and my sister, Lindsay worked for him).  Time magazine called this Emmy award winning film, best documentary of the year in 1969.

* Get your tickets now by calling the REDCAT Box Office at 213-237-2800 *

You can also help us end this horrible disease by clicking on this link ALS/Team Tucker or send a donation to:

The ALS Association, Greater Los Angeles Chapter
Attn: Walk to defeat ALS/Team Tucker
PO Box 565
Agoura Hills, CA  91376-065

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