Friday, January 16, 2015

When Deadlines are a blessing

Screenshot of working sequences in Adobe Premiere CC for Butterfly Town, USA

Sometimes it takes 5 endings to find the right one.  I'm still not sure it's the right ending, but it's closer.  This is why there are deadlines. Ten endings later we'd be tearing our hair out. Deadlines are actually a blessing to the creative process.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Nurturing Creativity

My Dog Dobby in Dreamland

When I was about 8, I thought my hands had their own brain.(In adult speak, a kinesthetic learner.)
I loved to draw but didn't know how, so I decided if I trace enough pictures of dogs in this book of dogs I had, my hand-brain would learn how to draw.

I had forgotten about this until I read this article, 'But I'm not artistic: how teachers shape kids' creative development.'  It's a good read.

A teacher did shape my development when she asked what I was doing.
"Drawing," I said.
Her face fell "That's not drawing, you traced that! You can't call that drawing."
I was so deflated I stopped teaching my hand-brain how to draw.

Of course, that's a story with a happy ending in my case.  But it's not for everyone.

In reading the article, I'm starting to realize what has really been driving me to spend all of my free time, all vacation time, all podcast and movie time (EGADS - I haven't even listened to Serial yet!!) LOL the last three years or so on a documentary on the topic of creativity. It's not just a form of filmmaking madness, it's because I really wish that children today would grow up connected to their creative pulse—cooking, mechanics, engineering, science, dancing, whatever!! And I want to send these children a love letter. It's also a love letter to adults who are open to it.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Report Back on Butterfly Town, USA Screening

The advance screening went well! 

The Monterey Herald's, Walter Ryce wrote a very nice review:

"This is the story of one man's vision of protecting the monarch butterfly sanctuary in Pacific Grove, California," the smooth-voiced narrator tells us. That's an indication of where the film's loyalties reside, but that bias is mitigated by some of Bob's detractors. This is a well-balanced meal of a film: a little starch, a lean cut of meat, lots of healthful vegetables and a little dessert of entertainment value."

It was also the perfect time to escape to Pacific Grove during the STORM OF THE CENTURY— Da da dum — as water flooded our apartment and turned streets into great places to kayak in San Francisco. 

Thank you to the Monarch Film Festival and the town of Pacific Grove for welcoming this film. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Butterfly Town, USA Advance Screening

Most of you know I've been working at Concentric Media over the last few years on a documentary project. We're having our first public screening! The Monarch Film Festival in Pacific Grove is hosting the advance screening of "Butterfly Town, USA."

The screening dates are:
December 10th, 2014:  8:35PM
December 11th, 2014:  7:00PM

Details Here:

What's this film about?
In Butterfly Town, USA, we meet a community determined to protect their butterfly grove sanctuary. When the City prunes the trees in the sanctuary, activists work together to fill the gaps created in the tree canopy. This effort leads to a clash in how best to protect the Monarch Butterflies

I would love to see you there.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

What Exactly is Play?

Last week I filmed a presentation at the San Francisco Library by Boston College Professor Dr. Peter Gray. He is a very dynamic speaker and has a lot of insight into this topic. Check out the video below.  His book is also fantastic.

This may be the moment to announce that I have been working on a documentary about imaginative play now for a while. More on that soon!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

6 Creative Ideas to Deal With Rising Rents in San Francisco

6 Creative Ideas to Deal With Rising Rents in San Francisco 

From the beat generation, to the hippies, to the Indians of All Tribes occupation of Alcatraz and the Gay rights movement, San Francisco has traditionally been a place where ideas and creativity are nurtured, where anything is possible, where revolution, free love and change is born.

But those days are gone and there is a new San Francisco on the rise. Even the incoming residents to the city have probably noticed that they can hardly browse their Facebook wall or Twitter feed these days (on their iPhone while waiting in line for a skinny latte and $4 piece of toast at the Mill) without reading about the rising rents, evictions and how the history that has made San Francisco great, is crumbling around us.

There have been a few creative actions so far from the grassroots 
getting press, like staging an altercation with a Google employee or holding a block party in favor of diverse neighborhoods, but by and large the news is all doom and gloom as usual. Here's a few creative ideas for the artists, students, firemen or women, service workers, etc... who are getting shut out of the city due to rising rents:

1) Coordinate a Tantrum Flashmob

Let your anger out by throwing a tantrum. Tantrums are deeply satisfying and if nothing else they will let everyone know exactly how you feel about what's going down in San Francisco. It SUCKS to be evicted or priced out of your neighborhood.
Take a cue from the movie, "Network," and open up your window and shout, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" Turn this action into a flashmob.
If everyone started throwing a tantrum, and shouting out of their window:

 "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore," 

it would be so loud in the city that the noise pollution alone might cause those with power and influence to lobby on behalf of those without, for affordable housing options. (If for no other reason than to shut them up.)

2) Drown your Disappointment in Pie

Who doesn't love pie? Pie tastes good. It's celebrated in the classics like Little Jack Horner and American Pie. 
If you don't eat much pie then use your morning cereal or muffin or sandwich as a meditation on mulching away your disappointment in humanity. That's right. Set aside some time each day to imagine yourself chewing up disappointment and eventually pooping it out. You'll feel much the better for it!

In addition, there is a long tradition of pieing as a means of protest. Let's revive this tradition and begin a campaign called "PIES for GENEROSITY!!" We love generosity and dislike greed. Our campaign  would use the power of pies to shock people into remembering their innate generosity. Humans want to be generous, but it might take pie to get back in touch with that. 

3) Cast a Magical Spell*

Here's an example:

Don't be shy about creating your own. Print them out and leave them as offerings around the city, especially in places where dark energy lurks.

* Some may feel more comfortable with the term prayer, others may prefer the word, curse to describe this magical spell. 

4) Encourage your friends to take over the hashtag #douchebag 

Then regularly post with friendly irony, the things you love most about your favorite greed curmudgeons like developers, real estate speculators and tech companies that dodge taxes. 

5) Ask: What Would Quentin Tarantino Do?

By that I don't mean to advocate for violence, I mean to rewrite history taking principles from Gandhi and MLK while borrowing the brashness of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained.  Reach out to local storytellers at Porchlight or the Moth Radio or Snap Judgement and flood them with your stories, but here's the catch, add on a Tarantino Twist. Rewrite the narrative arc to how it should go.  For example:

Johnny is on disability checks and lives in a rent controlled apartment. His checks are $900 and his rent is $500. One day Johnny was evicted...

What happens next? 

Maybe a GIANT wave of tantrum flashmobbers flood the city for days until City Staff and Council are so pressured they decide to make affordable housing a top priority and clarify strategic ways to do so?
You decide.

Is this a pipe dream? Maybe, but dreaming alternative scenarios is the first step towards bringing them into reality. Let's tell stories to dream alternative scenarios for the future of our city.

6) Rent a Bed or Rent a Bed?

If you happen to see a spare patch of sidewalk in your neighborhood and can spare a few extra blankets, why not put it on the market for rent! 
Think of all the housing you can provide to poor artists, while still making a cool $2100/month on the side.

Post your new offerings on Craigslist. Every week or Every day. Encourage your friends to do it too!
We can flood the market ourselves with affordable housing.

Monday, October 7, 2013

On Being a Woman

A friend who I've grown to love, recently told me that he thinks he'd rather be a woman. That's right, he's a man but he feels like a woman inside.
That got me thinking about being a woman. I've always taken for granted that I feel like a woman inside, and would rather be a woman. Fortunately for me, I am a woman, which makes everything a lot easier. Still, even if you are a woman, sometimes it's hard to feel like a woman. 

For example, I don't especially feel like a woman when I'm working at home in my pajamas and I sort of look like this:

When everyone knows women are supposed to look feminine and perfect like this:

Speaking of what we're supposed to look like. Sometimes it's a challenge to feel like a woman when you're 6 feet tall, which I am. (Ok, for all of those who know me, I may have tricked you into believing I'm only 5'11" and a half, but who am I kidding? With shoes I can be anywhere from 6' to 6' 2" tall. If I'm going to a standing room only concert I'll turn up as 6'9" just to ensure a good view.) 

I'm often the tallest person in the room and sometimes I end up feeling like this:

Then of course there are all of those snide comments over the years related to your tallness that can resurface in the back of your mind: 

"For a second I thought you were a boy." 

It was a cold morning. I was wearing ten sweaters, a baseball cap and my hair pulled back into a bun. I also had my hoodie pulled up over my baseball cap. My roommate in college said that to me. She saw the look on my face and added, "Well, because your so tall." But it was too late, she had already conjured images in my mind of soft downy facial whiskers, a cracking voice, the tendency to masturbate into socks and watch porn online and (if he were around then, which he wasn't) Justin Beiber. None of which I'm particularly fond of. 

Then there that time in high school when someone called me RuPaul. 

I was dressed up, wearing a super short skirt and heels because I was on the volleyball team and everyone was supposed to dress up that day to show team spirit for our match. I wasn't thrilled by being called RuPaul at the time, but if someone said that to me now I'd probably say, "Shut up! Thank you, that's awesooooome!" Looking back on it, I think the guy was trying to pay me a compliment while at the same time, looking cool in front of his friends. So thanks man, it took me years to get back to you on that one, but thank you!

There are so many things I love about being a woman. We can wear make-up, or not wear any. We can have short or long hair. We can dress like woman, or dress like men. If we cry that's OK. If we don't that's OK too. We carry and give birth to babies (how amazing is that!). There are smart, funny, successful woman out there who give us tips like Caitlin Moran's, How to Be a Woman or Tina Fey's Bossy Pants.

We aren't in the majority of the leadership positions, but that's because we're shaking up the world from the grassroots upward. Leadership won't look the same when we're done. It'll look more like a collaboration. When we're in touch with ourselves, our ideas spring from our rootedness to the earth, from our collective role as mothers, who understand instinctively that we must care for the land we live on for the sake of our children and our children's children. When we are in touch with ourselves, we are present, and we walk in love. 

Here's a shout out to all the ladies in the house.