the truth is…

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council commissioned me to do this one about an art show they mounted to coincide with the 10th anniversary of 9/11. (Not ABOUT 9/11.)

It was a beautiful day on Governors Island, another one of NYC’s less celebrated treasures. Just a free ferry ride away!

Watch Over Me

Here’s a video I just made for a really innovative non-profit called Watch Over Me¬†that provides homeless people with the some of the tools they need to get their life back on track.

Aside from still images and the interview with the founder, all the footage was shot on an iPhone. Thanks again, Steve Jobs!

Clinton Global Initiative

Last Week, I had the opportunity to attend this amazing event and shoot interviews with some of its esteemed participants. CGI is an annual summit of world leaders, non-profits, non-governmental organizations, philanthropists and activists. Toss in some editorial journalists and academics and stir. Founded and MC’d by Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative focuses on the key issues of the day (climate change, development in the developing world, preventable disease, etc) with forums and keynotes, interspersed with pledges where a foundation will announce its commitment to supporting a worthy program.

President Bill Clinton in conversation with NY Times editorial columnist Nicholas Kristoff

Supplementing webcasts of some of the panel discussions and presentations, I worked with a small team to present live interviews with some of the notable attendees such as Muhammed Yunus (Nobel-winning economist and pioneer of micro-finance), Mandy Moore (pop star and anti-Malaria spokesperson), Melanne Verveer (US Ambassador for Women’s Issues), Gavin Newsome (California Lieutenant Gov.), Valentino Achak Deng (Sudanese activist and co-author with Dave Eggars of “What Is the What?”), and Chelsea Clinton who was quite charming. You can watch all the interviews HERE on Facebook.

Other highlights from the week: Desmond Tutu in a skype conversation with Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, President Obama stopping by for a speech, Chelsea Clinton interviewing her mom onstage, “the panel on “mega-cities, mega challenges,” and the panel called, “From Conflict to Creativity: Reducing Violence through the Arts.”

The Dude and friends

So, I’ve started doing camera work for Livestream, the premiere web streaming outfit, and one of my first assignments with them was one I could have only dreamed up. The principle cast of one of my favorite films was brought together for one evening at Hammerstein Ballroom for a live chat about their experiences making the film and then living with it for the past 13 years or so. It was the final evening of Lebowski Fest, an improbably annual affair that started as a party in Louisville, KY, but it was also a big studio expense to promote the blu-ray release of The Big Lebowski. John Goodman (Walter), Steve Buscemi (Donny), John Turtoro (Jesus), Julianne Moore (Maude), music supervisor T. Bone Burnett, and of course the Dude himself, Jeff Bridges, were all in attendance.

When asked by the moderator what message they all felt could be taken from The Big Lebowski, Jeff Bridges responded with a line from the film. John Turtoro’s character has just promised the Dude and his bowling team, in colorful expressions,¬† that they would be defeated mightily in the upcoming tournament. “Yeah well,” the film’s hero somewhat confidently replies, “That’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

The event itself was quite colorful with maybe a couple thousand Lebowski heads packed into the Ballroom and balconies, many dressed as different characters from the film, and most drinking white russians.

Click on the photo to watch the event. (I shot the center camera position.)

Up on the Roof – coming home to roost

Imagine this blog post being delivered by messenger pigeon. Now imagine that my 2008 film, Up on the Roof, had finally become available on DVD and in downloadable format. Well, which would you prefer to be true?

Up on the Roof is finally widely available, courtesy of IndiePix Films. The download gets you the one-hour film while the actual DVD comes packaged with two additional films on the same topic, which is, roughly speaking, people keeping pigeons on New York tenement rooftops. Only the other films were made in 1967 and 1981.

Other extras include a recounting of the history of pigeons in America, an academic discussion of Brooklyn gentrification and scenes from the battle against over-development in the Williamsburg section of that storied borough.

Order your copy today!

(also, stay tuned for news about a broadcast coming later in 2011!)

Last Summer at Coney Island

on sale now!

It’s on. The past 4 years of my life go on sale this week. Well, actually, it’s the DVD of Last Summer at Coney Island and I couldn’t have done it without anyone. So, if you know who you are, thank you.

The film runs 94 minutes and the DVD has close to an hour of extras. Oh, and it’s going to be on some PBS stations, starting with Thirteen/WNET on Sunday, May 15th at 10pm. Click HERE for schedules and info.

The story concerns Coney Island’s roller coaster relationship with redevelopment and it features a kick ass soundtrack by Kaki King. Other music by Alex DeMammos, Gwen Stefani, Death Cab for Cutie, Bliss Blood, Amiina, Lullatone, and others.

Please share the news!

Taxicab Confessions

Got HBO? Tune in for the latest installment of Taxicab Confessions, on which I served as coordinating producer & cameraman. And if you ever wondered what exactly a cameraman does on a show known for taking place inside a taxi with hidden cameras, just watch the trailer. We shot this 2 summers ago, cruising the streets till the break of dawn like an aimless, insomniac surveillance team. Also cozied up to some burlesque performers, flew in a helicopter with no doors, played drag bingo on the Bowery, and generally attempted to capture all the spit and vigor that New York has left.

You can watch the results on Sunday, 1/30/11 at 11pm Eastern Standard Time (2am if you’re in the west) or check your local listings. They also seem to be offering it on demand some times but not others.

Another New Year at the Crossroads of the World

Proud to be working again with Countdown Productions, the company that owns the New Years Ball and produces the festivities and the broadcast from Times Square each year. Now, you can watch the show from your iPhone, Droid, or iPad. Get the app and other info from New Year’s central or your local app store. (how much does this sound like a commercial? but it’s true!) And, of course, you can watch from your regular old computer, which you will probably have connected to your TV or digital projector. I don’t know! The point is, any time you see pre-recorded video in the webcasted show, it’s from me. Case in point, this segment on the history of celebrating New Years Eve in Times square. Because you’ve always wondered.

Haiti

Just got back a few days ago from a mind blowing 2 and half week trip to Haiti where I was working with two great organizations: Global Nomads Group and Architecture for Humanity. They’ve partnered (along with the Bezos Foundation) to rebuild a few of the many schools that were damaged or destroyed in last January’s earthquake. My role was to document these rebuilding efforts and to introduce the people, culture and schools of Haiti to young people of North America (and beyond) who have signed on to help raise the money necessary for work to begin. (Bezos Family is contributing matching funds.) The videos say more than I ever could in a blog post about the devastation, beauty, despair and resilience that we encountered. Please visit the partner sites and the Global Nomads Facebook page for more information on the situation there and how you can get involved.

We produced four videos during the trip while another was done in Kansas, portraying some of the American students who are exploring philanthropy for the first time in their young lives. Gotta say my favorite of the project was the profile we did on one of the students in Port-au-Prince. What was supposed to be a 3-4 minute piece turned into a 7 and half minute short film called “Diandine.” This precociously smart young woman has a lot of unique qualities and it was truly an honor getting to know her and her family, but if you’re looking for a window into the challenges and determination that define the young people in Haiti right now, this is a great place to start.

While you’re on the YouTube page, there’s plenty to explore, including a segment we did on Haitian Vodou!