Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Odyssey in The World of Digital Media

"My Odyssey In The World of Digital Media" tells my digtal story as a DIY filmmaker and about the website I created to promote my films and bands I had played for in the past. It is a project I made for a graduate course on Visual Research Methodologies at Claremont Graduate University.

The main point I wanted to stress in my story was how the new digital medium of cinema that occurred at the beginning of the millennium encouraged me to shoot a feature film. In fact, in June of 2004, a few weeks before I began shooting Strangers In The Night, I attended the Lake Placid Film Festival to see Jon Favreau interview Martin Scorsese for an episode of Dinner With Five to be aired on IFC. I remember Favreau talking about digital cinema and how it was ready to explode.   

I believe that the increase in digital filmmaking has to do with accessibly, affordability and image quality, which brings up the issue of scalability and spectacle, which I talk about in the video.  

For me, one of the components of digital cinema has to do with better image quality in the three chip digital camcorders.  An important component of the three CCD is it provides better screen resolution than the older analogue video cameras.  However, depth of field is still limited, which I quickly learned when I projected my film on a large movie screen.  Deep focus photography, for instance, shot on 16mm and 35mm film, will have higher resolution than a three CCD. 

Spectacle was also a concern shooting Strangers In The Night.  When writing the screenplay, I was conscious of my limited resources, which I worked into the story.  I knew I could not shoot something "larger than life," so I placed a tremendous amount of emphasis on dialogue and character development. This is one element that my professor John Koshel at CW Post taught me when making No Deposit, No Return - be aware of your resources in relation to your story.  The other element Koshel stressed to me was to write a story that is personal and reflects an aspect of your own life.

Another issued raised in my digital story is the notion of the expert in regards to my website.  I believe the unexpected response I received from friends when I created a web page for all of the Hudson Valley bands I played for, put me in the position of an authority figure or expert - whether I knew it or not.  As I point out in the video, All Out War, the band I helped to form and play drums for, put the Hudson Valley on the map in terms of the underground music scene. When I started receiving emails from friends about the web site, I was taken back by how happy they were to read my stories.  In fact, some friends provided additional information that I missed or forgotten which I was then able to add back into the narrative.  

Having the skills to create a web page/Myspace page and owning the raw materials from the bands I played for (such as videos, flyers and photos) gave me the authority to document and frame my bands' history, providing information that would be hard to find in mainstream magazines.  Back in the early 1990s , fanzines were the main source of learning about hardcore bands.  Thus, the technology of the Internet has now helped to visualize the underground scene and enable bands to quickly circulate information on shows and recording updates.  And I believe it is important that I keep my website as an archive available for those who seek to know about the Hudson Valley hardcore scene in the late 1980s and 1990s.  

Initially, when I began my digital storytelling project, I wrote a very lengthy narrative of my experience as a filmmaker.  Within my story, I talked about mumblecore cinema, new digital technologies, and debates on what constituted professional versus amateur filmmaking. 

But out of nowhere, I decided to scrap my project and digitally record my story.  What was hard for me, at first, was getting the nerve to openly speak about myself.  But I am glad I did. After completing the film version of my digital narrative, I felt I was able to visually convey more information than simply displaying texts and pictures on my blog.


  1. I appreciate that you made this project primarily as a video, but it is its strength that inside that video, and here where it sits, it also represents a (recent) history of DIY media including bands, narrative videos, blogs, webpages, and media archives. Your point that what you make changes as the technologies shift is critical, but you seem to have stayed the same, too, outside growing up and learning more, and I wonder if you could reflect on both the personal and social value of counter-cultural production, whatever the medium. Finally, given your interests in both hard and mumble core, I wonder why you produced such a traditional, professional documentary of your experience, as opposed to one whose style reflects more of the DIY values and forms of these scenes.

  2. Thank you so much for these comments. In regards to your question on why I produced a traditional account of my experience. Not to posit an either/or position, I guess the question is whether DIY is a filmic style or an attitude/state of mind - or mixture of both. I didn't think about the production as reflecting a DIY style - but more as an attitude approach to the work itself.

    Thank you again for your thoughts and comments.