Monday, April 12, 2010

Visiting 200 B.C. in 2010 D.C.

I’m typically not a procrastinator but I literally waited until the 11th hour to catch the "Terra Cotta warriors" exhibit at the National Geographic museum. On March 31st at 11 PM, I walked the few blocks over to join the line of people for the last showing of these historic statues in the United States. I fought through the crowd past the first rooms to get up close and personal with the fighting figures. I figured I could look at the photographs later online.

The story goes that back around the year 200 B.C., Qin Shi Huang came into power at the age of thirteen as the First Emperor of China. It seems typical of a teenage boy to create an eternal army of terra cotta. Qin wanted his men to help rule his empire in the afterlife. It was a man-made necropolis (I love that word, it means “a large elaborate cemetery of an ancient city.” You’re on your own with the word, necrophilia). In 1974, a group of farmers stumbled across these silent soldiers and excavated a thousand of them, it’s estimated that a total of six thousand exist.

The Italian word for terra cotta is "baked earth," we usually see this material in plant pots or Spanish-style roof shingles. I'm not sure why they used this as the material to build these guardians of the afterlife. They weigh between 200 – 300 pounds and were made on an assembly line with the feet being built first and used as a weight to build the rest of the body. Their faces were made from eight different molds like ancient-day action figures.

Maybe it was because I was tired or because it was closing night, but I got an eerie feeling at this exhibit. I doubt I'll ever get to China to see the real thing but it was fun being apart of this phenomenon and putting my history major to use.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Interactive Life

As a Programming Committee member of Women in Film & Video ("WIFV"), I helped out at the event, “Creating Interactive Learning Adventures: An Evening with Sharon Sloane” on March 30th. Ms. Sloane, a WIFV Woman of Vision, is President and CEO of "WILL Interactive, Inc." The event showcased the premiere screening of "The War Inside," a video-based simulation that seeks to improve soldiers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Produced in collaboration with the Army Medical Department, the interactive video allows users to manipulate actors in real-life scenarios. The purpose of this video-based simulation, a cross between a live-action movie and a video game, is to help soldiers solve stressful situations they may encounter returning from deployments.

During the screening, the audience was given the opportunity to manipulate the scenario through electronic voting which was a neat experience. We helped a soldier avoid suicide by instead getting the help he needed to cope with his PTSD. It made me think about how I could have benefited from having an audience of people make my life decisions. I wonder how my life be different if electronic voters had chosen for me. . .

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Obama said it's sexy

I recently produced a web series about weatherization training and green building for the "National Center of Healthy Housing." I wrote the script, directed the interviews, and collaborated with the editor. The videos provide technical guidance on how practices and indoor environments can affect occupant health. We shot some of the interviews and broll in Washington, D.C. and then I traveled to Minneapolis and Chicago to film the on-camera host and more interviews. Even though there was a lot of technical information for me to learn in a short time period, I really enjoyed learning about ways to create cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.

I produced this series through "The National Association of Home Builders Production Group," who I’ve worked with over the past couple of years. I used to produce the corporate videos for the Association’s 220,000 members. During that time, I wrote and produced a two-part series on green building for "HGTV-Pro." The series was produced in conjunction with the NAHB’s Model Green Home Building Guidelines which serve as a toolkit for builders looking to utilize green building practices. Due to my green building knowledge, I also researched and conceived story ideas for a green home-related weather segment for the Weather Channel.

It’s cool that weatherization and green building have gotten the attention of President Obama. He recently outlined a plan to offer cash incentives to consumers who make energy-efficient renovations, such as replacing doors, caulking windows and padding their attics with more insulation. Obama actually declared that he found insulation "sexy" because it will save money. The new weatherization program will help to create jobs for the beleaguered building trades. Termed, “cash for caulkers," the program will use direct government incentives to consumers to spur economic activity, similar to the "cash for clunkers" last summer.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Word to the Wordle

When I was working on a branding campaign for the U.S. Army at a communications firm, we used "Wordle" which is described as "a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide." Maybe it speaks to the graphic designer buried down deep inside of me, but I just love to see how the different words appear on the screen.

It was a fun exercise during the branding campaign to see which words popped out at us. We shared the Wordle with the client who thought we'd spent hours creating it.

There's a Gallery to view other Wordles that people created. I love the "Apartheid" one, it's like art work.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Strutting their Stuff

Sometimes when I go to an art gallery, I’ll rent those audio tour cassette players with the headphones. I do feel like a dork, especially when I forget that I’m wearing them and accidentally shout at the person I’m with. But it’s definitely a good way to get more information out of an exhibit. I didn’t have to wear the headphones yesterday when I got a private tour of the "Conner Contemporary Art" gallery.

The gallery, located on Florida Avenue NE in D.C., is in a beautiful space and on a Wednesday afternoon, we had the whole place to ourselves. I went with my friend Megan to see the exhibit “Anyone Other Than Me” by former D.C. resident Jeremy Kost.

Kost is known as "the Polaroid artist" on the New York circuit and he's photographed club kids in places all over the world. I knew Megan was familiar with the New York scene but I had no idea she’d actually know the people in the Polaroids. I got the inside scoop on Ericka Aviance, Amanda Lepore, and Half Nelson - drag queens and club kids who know how to strut their stuff.

I liked Kost's "collages" the best. It seems like a challenge to determine which shots to take in order to build such a free-flowing collage. I used to take Polaroids of my friends when they came to my apartment. I’d make them put on a wig from my collection because I liked seeing how people’s attitudes changed once they’re wearing a wig. I read that Kost wants his audience to evaluate the artistic and societal roles their "attitudes play in the cycle of desire, opportunity, and attainment.” I wonder how my old Polaroids would fit into his exhibit.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Finding my match on Media Match

Since I work freelance, there are times when I am in between jobs or gigs. I try to make this clear to my friends outside the film and TV production industry so that they don’t think I’m constantly unemployed. When jobs aren’t being offered to me, I use all of the job search engines out there to find my next gig. I’ve set it up so that the latest jobs are emailed to me, then I just quickly scroll through the list to see what jobs I’m qualified for.

Media Match is a good search engine. It posts current job openings along with over 80,000 TV and film professionals' resumes for employers to review. I especially like it when Media Match sends me an email telling me that there are companies out there looking for me. They call it a “missed match.” It makes me hopeful. You can check out their jobs board page here: "".

* By posting this, I received a free's month subscription to Media Match!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Little People, Snakes, Multiple Births

About a year ago, a cameraman that I was working with told me that a trend in reality TV was stories about little people, snakes, and multiple births. My experience in TV production has yet to involve all three of these story lines but I have had some interesting opportunities.

When I worked as a field producer for TLC’s “The Little Couple,” I met Bill Klein and Jen Arnold who are both under four feet tall. They were considering having children which would be considered a high-risk pregnancy due to their small stature. I conducted the interview of the Perinatologist, Dr. Judith Rossiter, who counseled the TV couple on their decision. It was amazing to witness how Bill and Jen managed their day-to-day lives in a world designed for people over four feet tall. It made me realize all of the things I take for granted: driving a car, ordering at a counter, using a public restroom.

Fortunately, I haven't worked with snakes. I did conduct research on great apes and their habitats at the Jane Goodall Institute and learned about the producing of mammalian wildlife programs. The research was used in the Animal Planet's program, "Hope in Gombe."

With an all Japanese crew, I served as the coordinator and locations manager for their filming of a historical drama, “Sakano Ueno Kumo” that was scheduled to air on NHK (which is the Japan Broadcasting Corporation). It was an interesting shoot. Only one of them really spoke any English, so I spent most of the day nodding my head with a big smile on my face.

I won't be surprised if I see a reality TV show about snake-handling little people with eight children. It'll be interesting to see where the reality TV "trend" will go.