I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute to a new series by Twin Cities Public Television and PBS Digital Studios called Are You MN Enough? While all the producers involved had a hard task in front of them, I made the ridiculous decision to try and create a social experiment setting and shoot it documentary style. Here’s what happened:
If you’re from Minnesota, know someone in Minnesota or just like awkwardness, you should check out the series. The rest of the pieces can be found here.
Here’s a little back story for you. I had initially intended to call this piece, The Last Bite. One popular cliche about Minnesotans is that if you go eat with a bunch of them, no one wants to be the person who eats the last bite of food. As such, it’s not uncommon for totally un-splittable food to be split in all kinds of ridiculous manners. We thought we would set up a situation where we told 4 people they would be eating with others but give them 5 pieces of food. Only problem? NO ONE WOULD EAT THE FIRST DAMN BITE.
This is documentary film-making 101. You have to go with whatever your subjects are doing. No matter how completely lost and distraught you may initially feel about the footage when the shoot wraps, you now have to focus yourself on the edit room. And so that’s what I did. Luckily, that whole cliche about no one taking the first bite is just as prevalent. And as it turns out, maybe even more true. Another end product. Another reminder why all the planning in the world can’t change what the universe has in store.
Say hello to Raven Johnson, a sassy and sophisticated budding filmmaker. Look out, Hollywood, she’s a comin’. (Check out one of her short films below.)
I met Raven when we were both freshman at the University of Minnesota. We lived in the same dorm – the honors students’ dorm, where high ACT scores were a prereq and geeks were plentiful. We were fast friends.
Raven is one of the toughest chicks I know. She tolerates nonsense from no one and speaks with confidence and spunk. She’s been known to console me with Doctor Who analogies and make me laugh with Harry Potter references. And she does her best at teaching me how to dance when I’m away from the ballet barre.
So check out her interview with Being Geek Chic! When you’re done, and you’ve decided that you need to network with this lady geek, follow Raven on Twitter at @JohnsonRaven, and check out her artsy Instagrams at raven_johnson321. (You’ll find a few snaps of yours truly.)
Q: What has led you to your passion?
A: For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved film and television. For example, I never questioned whether it was unusual for me to associate life events with what movies were in theaters at the time. But as much as I love watching movies and TV, I liked talking about them more - why good films are bad, why bad films are good, etc. It wasn’t until mid-freshman year of college I realized that I wanted a career that allowed me to be both critical of the work being produced in Hollywood and independently as well as a career that permits me to produce my own work.
Q: You’ve just graduated college, and you’re standing on the brink of an amazing professional career. At this point, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A: I used to say I see myself holding an Oscar or two in five years, but now I’m not too sure. I’m positive wherever I am in five years will have something to do with film, but I don’t know from what angle yet. Each day I change my mind from writing/directing, producing, film festival programming, to teaching. It’s exhausting, but there’s many places I can go, so it’s matter of figuring out where I truly fit. Although, I do intend to win that Oscar somewhere in my lifetime.
Q: You can choose one superpower. What is it?
A: Good question…I would want to be a master at reading minds. People are so simple and so extremely complex, so it would be fascinating to peek into their minds from time to time to see how inner thoughts compared to outer actions. Plus, if I could also move things with my mind that’d be sweet because I can be very lazy.
Q: If you could take any fictional character out for a drink, whom would you choose and what would you drink?
A: Aahh! Too many options! I first thought of Zoe from Firefly and we’d both drink whiskey, but I’d honestly take any Joss Whedon character out for a drink. Can I take out the whole crew of Serenity?
Q: What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
A: The same thing I tell myself now: You will not have everything figured out and that is okay. Also, CALM YOUR SHIT. You’ll be alright.
Emma Bauer is a Being Geek Chic Contributor. Clearly, she’s got great taste. She is a PR enthusiast, history scholar, tea drinker, fashion devotee, and of course, aspires to Be Geek Chic.
Follow her on twitter: @emmalynnbauer
I wanted to share a very important and very exciting project with you today. My friend, Jack El-Hai, and his publisher, Public Affairs Books, are releasing a new book tomorrow: The Nazi and the Psychiatrist.
If you love history, medical thrillers or have a fascination with World War 2, I can’t recommend this book enough. I had the pleasure of reading it in advance of producing this trailer for Jack and was impressed with the depth of research and dynamic storytelling within the book. I can also say that the book has already been optioned by Mythology Entertainment, the company behind Black Swan and Shutter Island. That should give you an idea of the intensity of the story.
So, could you do me a favor? Could you help us spread the word? We would be so grateful if:
1. You shared the trailer for the book on your social media accounts or blog.
2. You bought the book for yourself or a friend.
3. After reading it, you gave the book a review on your bookseller of choice’s website.
4. You simply shared this post with someone you know who may be interested.
You’re the best. xo, Liz
Having a bad day? I’ve been stressed to an unhealthy level the last few weeks and there’s one place I turn time and time again. Not to my night stand for sleeping pills. Or to the buffet for caloric satisfaction. Or the shopping mall for retail therapy. Honestly, I just watch The IT Crowd. It’s my sure fire cure for a terrible, terrible day. I mean, Maurice Moss. Is there anything better?
Maybe this is really just a Richard Ayoade appreciation post. I don’t know. Either way.
P.S. If you really want a chuckle, check out this website some internet genius created for Reynholm Industries. God, I love nerds.
I often feel I have to explain my existence as an internet filmmaker. Most people don’t get it. And then when you tell them it’s your job - well, it gets very, very confusing.
So let’s bust a couple myths: most of us don’t do feature length films. Sure, we would probably like to someday, but until then, we are all trying to reach millions in our own way. And yes there is a way to make a living from it. Most of the time, the film itself doesn’t make a ton. Maybe a couple hundred bucks off advertising within the player if you have 1 Million or more views. BUT, that doesn’t happen very often. For me, it’s how I attract clients who then hire me to make documentary shorts about their organization. And yes, it’s all legit. There are definitely a lot of people making internet videos for fun. BUT, there’s also just as many of us making internet videos for a living. That means we have to think about things like sound, good lighting and composition. We care about quality because we want people to see it.
Now that we’ve covered those bases, I’d like to introduce you to a couple people making truly incredible stuff who do all the things I just talked about:
The Planets is an ongoing web series by Andy Martin that takes viewers to a new planet each month. In each episode we are introduce to a new landscape, new characters, distinct problems or challenges - and we’re also treated to deft animation and gorgeous character execution. There’s nothing about this series I don’t love. Each piece stands on its own as a film, but together, they bring a planetary experience that makes you wish these creatures were real. If you fall in love with a specific planet, you can even buy a print from Andy’s shop.
Leigh is not a stranger around here. We featured here a few weeks back as one of the Lady Geeks of the Week, but since then, she has been absolutely churning out a regular hail storm of internet and geek culture critiques that are one point every. single. time. It’s truly impressive. If you are not a YouTube subscriber, you are really missing out.
Jonathan doesn’t have a regular set of shorts coming out right now, but his pieces are beautiful and one in particular, Requiem for Romance, features some truly gorgeous visuals. The execution is superb and the music breathtaking. What else could you want? You can check out his Vimeo channel here.
In trying to make a list of just three people, I’m realizingthis is an area of focus I need to spend more time on. So if you like it, let me know and I’ll be sure to write more posts on the amazing internet films I discover while trolling the internet at all hours. I also recommend ShortoftheWeek.com. Bookmark it!