The on-line guy of the Las Vegas Review Journal has listed us in his top 16 speeches for the webby awards. Nice!
Add comment June 18th, 2008
The on-line guy of the Las Vegas Review Journal has listed us in his top 16 speeches for the webby awards. Nice!
Add comment June 18th, 2008
Above, a projection of Gerry and me at the Webby film and video party. I overheard that this Adobe party-trick (a digital photobooth that prints out your pic and gets you projected on a massive screen instantly) is currently really big at bars in NYC. People line-up for their photos before their drinks apparently.
Anyhoo, the Webby award ceremony itself was a tad long. over 45 winners in our night (all using the same statue for the acceptance speech up at the podium, the real hardware gets sent in the mail later. bummer.).
Good thing we were all limited to 5-word acceptance speeches. Our night for film and video had a few good ones. For ex.:
The Onion: “thanks for this pulitzer”
Hometown Baghdad: “brave iraqis made this possible.”
The Onion: “Together we’ll make reading obsolete”
At the other webby ceremony:
Stephen Colbert: “me me me me me”
and will.i.am: “now we know we can”
my speech for Filmmaker-in-Residence?: “the internet is a documentary.”
Not funny. serious. but did get cited by lonely girl on her blog.
And the same night we were in sweltering NYC for the webbies, Head of NFB Tom Perlmutter picked up our Rockie award at the Banff Television Awards for “Internet Only Program.”
Congrats to Rob, Loc, Sean at Subject Matter, and Gerry, Silva, Heather, Branden, Corinne, Renee, Norma, and all our partners at FIR for these honours!
Me, most likely saying my 3rd word, “is”.
1 comment June 12th, 2008
Small article in Globe & Mail today about our Webby. We’re the only Canadian win.
They didn’t mention co-creators and collaborators on the win: Gerry Flahive, NFB Producer, Rob McLaughlin, Loc Dao and Sean Embury of Subject Matter.
And to clarify: we are not “embedded in various locales around the world,” we are only at St. Michael’s Hospital.
Add comment May 7th, 2008
Filmmaker-in-Residence has been nominated for a 2008 “Rockie” out at the Banff Television Festival. It’s in the “Internet Only Production Program” and we’re up against two U.K. projects, one from the BBC called Big Art Mob and another called The Gap Year Bebo.
Add comment April 19th, 2008
We have just been nominated for the Webby’s, dubbed “the oscars of the internet” by The New York Times.
This nomination makes us eligible for a People’s Choice Award. Please consider voting for us, by clicking on the webby logo above.
We’ve also been mentioned as an honoree in the Health category, and another NFB project, Citizenshift is an honoree in the activism category. Fun!
Add comment April 8th, 2008
We’re in great company at the prix Boomerang, where our Filmmaker-in-Residence website and our web team [Subject Matter] have been honoured with an award. It’s a very Montreal web award, and the Grand Prix in our category (for “experiential” sites) goes to the interactive site for Montreal band, Arcade Fire. Simple really is so beautiful. (hint: don’t ferget to use yer clicker!)
The other prix in our category is really super-extra-hyper-fantastique in a whole other kinda way. It goes to a website for a tv show on the quebecois art channel, artv, called mange ta ville (’eat your town’ in english, literally). Makes me almost miss Montreal, that website. And the deep-fried pierogies at the Main at 4 in the morning.
Add comment December 8th, 2007
FIR Producer Gerry Flahive has an article about Sheffield published in Playback today.
Spotted on a historical plaque on a railway bridge in Sheffield, Eng.: “No guarantee can be given that passengers commencing their journey will be able to reach their destination.”
In this most analog of places, built on the steel industry and coping for some years now with its demise, the digital road ahead is a bit uncertain, too. But as the key documentary event in the U.K., Yorkshire’s tiny, perfect Sheffield International Documentary Festival (which this year ran Nov. 7-11) is developing a niche for itself as a center for the discussion of “digidocs.” Even terms like “the visualization of massive datasets” can seem interesting and sexy here, challenging notions of what ‘documentary’ media can be.
The last time I was here, in 1998, British filmmakers were apprehensive about the coming explosion of digital TV channels, and the feared impact on licence fees. Now, it seems like TV itself needs a hug - and maybe some help from its kid sister in figuring out how to download some music onto that iPod thingy.
This time I was with my colleagues Kat Cizek with our project www.nfb.ca/filmakerinresidence, nominated for the Grierson: Sheffield Innovation Award, and Michelle van Beusekom, who chaired the pitch session for the $10,500 NFB Cross-Media Challenge, a competition for socially engaged content with applications for mobile and broadband. (See sidebar.)
Television dominates the funding schemes in British production, and many mumbled approvingly of Canada’s perceived head start in new media - with special pots of money such as the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund - meaning that these very same broadcasters are certainly working hard to “get it.”
Sheffield delegate Lalita Krishna, a Toronto producer and Documentary Organization of Canada rep, was one of several Canadians in attendance. “I was reassured to see that the U.K. is not much ahead of us - the issues and challenges are similar to the ones we face,” she says.
Xenophile Media’s Thomas Wallner agrees: “Last year, at the International Emmy Awards, three of the four nominees in the category of best interactive program were Canadian. I do think, though, that Canadian broadcasters have been slower to take risks and invest in the new emerging area of programming, but that, too, is rapidly changing.”
Matt Locke, commissioning editor for the U.K.’s Channel 4 - who was repeatedly introduced as having had no traditional TV or documentary production experience whatsoever - has six million pounds to spend this year on new media projects - and no requirement to put them all on Channel 4’s own website, as young audiences don’t go there.
Locke cited one of the biggest challenges in this transition from old to new media as “trying to find a vocabulary to bring together creators who talk about ’story’ and those who talk about ‘technology’ and ‘platforms’” - often difficult when many in film and television see new media merely as a “distribution machine.”
He also brought some common sense to what is often a jargon-fogged discussion by focusing on what he called “the warm bodies.” In assessing new media pitches, he considers the spaces people like to spend time in, rather than technologies they use to do so. In his framework, there are secret spaces (e.g. mobile/SMS/IM), group spaces (e.g. Bebo/Facebook/Tagged), publishing spaces (e.g. LiveJournal/Blogger/Flickr), performing spaces (e.g. Second Life/World of Warcraft), participation spaces (e.g. marches, meetings), and watching spaces, (e.g. TV, concerts, theater, etc.).
He cited World Without Oil, an American multi-level doc project (funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and ITVS) with an alternate reality game element (”they radically cast the seeds of narrative into the world for users to play with”) as one that truly embraces these varying levels of engaged-ness.
At the BBC, Nick Cohen, multi-platform commissioning executive for factual programming, will provide the new media talent from inside the corporation to work closely with documentary teams (which likely consist of new media newbies) pitching from the outside to ensure all levels of a cross-platform project mesh.
He doesn’t foresee the “death” of the commissioning editor model (as some imagine, or secretly hope for), but rather its transformation in the new media realm into something more akin to a venture capitalist - taking risks, seeking out the next big thing, and willing to take losses.
In this vein, the laboratory model is used here to incubate new media projects - intense week-long creative immersions, exemplified by Crossover UK, run by Frank Boyd of Unexpected Media - in which documentary film and television makers from Yorkshire and London collaborated with new media producers and game developers on interactive projects for cross-platform delivery.
The pitches here that benefited from the Crossover prep shone - everything from a mobile phone-driven re-energizing of staid historical sites in the Dirty History project, to the pitch winner, Museums of Our Futures, which invites web visitors to suggest and debate just what in our present world might be likely to vanish, like, say, countries - or even as one wag suggested, cross-media pitch sessions themselves.
Add comment November 22nd, 2007
Oh, what did I learn from the Brits at Sheffield Doc/Fest last week?
Scariest Thing: As a planet, we only have 5 years before we reach runaway climate change, according to the scientists to whom Franny Armstrong has been talking for her film, currently titled Age of Stupid. She screened 45 minutes of her rough cut for us. Ambitious, important work. But the clock’s a tickin’. Hope she gets her film out soon to push governments around the world for massive oil rations.
And so after that, what else really matters? Let’s see. Well, not that much. Just the demise of documentaries as we know them.
Big Picture Thing: Adam Curtis gave a keynote address about how the crisis in documentary is linked to genre’s inextricable historic relationship to politics. (Remember Mr. Grierson?) Curtis says the public doesn’t trust documentaries anymore, because they don’t trust politicians. He says we have moved into the age of the ideology of the self. Hyper-individualism and consumerism. Me me me. And that’s threatened our trust in documentaries, in the whole political process.
British TV Thing: For now, our U.K. documentary colleagues have saved Storyville, the “it” strand for documentaries on BBC TV. But perhaps that’s a little like the little dutch boy’s finger in the dike, ’cause there’s a big tidal wave of change coming. BBC is slashing jobs in the thousands across the board.
British Digital Thing: Meanwhile, BBC is investing millions of pounds into commissioning documentary and factual programming in New Media. So is Channel Four. And the DigiDocs stream of panels and discussions at the fest gave some sparks of hope for Documentary re-emerging after the flood, but in radical new forms and styles. Paula from Magic Lantern gave a nice list of bookmarks of early examples.
Innovation Thing: And finally, the Grierson: Sheffield Award for Innnovation, for which our on-line documentary website was nominated, went to the v. moving short film, Talk to Me, made out of 20 year’s worth of the filmmaker’s personal telephone messages and photographic snaphots. Its a strong emotional story, and maybe, just maybe, the online world is too cold and fragmented a place, to easily — or ever — attain this kind of documentary emotion.
So what will we gain, and what will we lose in the digital documentary future? I guess we’ll all check back in 2012. That’s if we’re not some of the 6 billion dead.
One Last (small-ish and hopeful) Thing: The Brits are moving a little on their commitment to their rail system, and public transport. The photo above is my snap of the spanking new refurbished St. Pancras Train station, officially opening today. The clock’s a tickin’ but it sure is pretty.
Add comment November 14th, 2007
Guelph Film Fest paddles on despite water shortage.
Just got back from the best-film-fest in the ontarian-southwest, where i did a presentation on New Media and documentary, featuring Filmmaker-in-Residence. Got a chance to catch up a little with co-presenters Dawn and Don, who do great audio and new media work in that lovely hamlet of Guelph. Sure having a huge water problem there though. The whole town relies on ground water, but there’s been a drought in the area, so now water is hard to find. No wonder the screening after us was even more packed-out than ours. The room was hopping with engaged townfolk: the film was about water!
Now Gerry and I are off to Sheffield Doc/Fest, where there’s a whole stream of programming dedicated to DigiDocs. Oh yah, and 75 great-looking cinema-documentaries too. We’ve been nominated for an award, the first ever Grierson:Sheffield Innovation Award. We are up against the great master Brian Hill, whose master class at the Festival I will not be missing. He is truly a hero of mine.
Then, back in Hogtown on November the 14th, the very innovative University of Toronto’s Health Care, Technology and Place is showing our film The Interventionists, followed by a panel, including the nurse and the police officer. And me.
That very same night, our Street Health Stories exhibit is taking a little trip from St. Michael’s Hospital up to Carlu, for the Ontario Association of Food Bank’s annual fundraising Gala, Thought for Food, with Stephen Lewis and Evan Solomon.
The Exhibit then takes a bigger journey up to Ottawa the following week, for the Community Forum on Homelessness.
Meanwhile, The Interventionists is riding along with Dr. Ian Dawe, the head of emergency psychiatry at St. Mike’s, to the Canadian Psychiatric Association Conference in Montreal. He is presenting a 1.5 hour workshop with the film.
And back In T!O!R!O!N!T!O!, we’ll be presenting FIR and Street Health Stories at NAC’s annual conference, to be held at the Gladstone Hotel, which is, funnily enough, where I am blogging from today. (Best Tourtière in Toronto, btw.)
And that’ll be November at FIR. The questions is: how are we ever going to get any work done around here on our website updates and all the new projects?!
1 comment November 6th, 2007
FIR hits a great Canadian island *the Rock* next week for the St. John’s Women’s Film Festival. I’m on a panel about cross-platform filmmaking, with Irene Duma and Mary Lewis, moderated by Judith Keenan (Book Shorts). At the Masonic Temple (!), Saturday morning, Oct 20th, 10 a.m.
And great news from another island, this time from England. FIR has been nominated for the inaugural Grierson: Sheffield Innovation Award at the upcoming Sheffield DocFest. My favorite fun fact about Sheffield is that its the town where The Full Monty was filmed.
We are up against some heavy hitters:
1) Consent Brian Hill for Century Films (this guy is my hero. He’s been innovating in the documentary genre for years, and has only recently started getting the attention he deserves. He’s done “musical docs” set in prisons. Read this for more on his process.)
2) How is Your Fish Today? Xiaolu Guo for Xiaolu Guo Productions
3) Talk to Me Mark Craig for Stopwatch Productions
And the sister award, the Green Prize, has some interesting entries as well:
China: Shifting Nature Jonathan Lewis for Granada / KQED Public television
A Crude Awakening - The Oil Crash Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack for LAVA Productions AG;
God is Green Mark Dowd for CTVC and 3BM
An Inconvenient Truth Davis Guggenheim for Participant Productions
So who gets the Full Monty? we’ll find out Nov 10th.
Add comment October 12th, 2007