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Friday
Apr202012

Regarding the Sabbatical 

I am often asked, “Cameron, where the hell have you been?” I get this everywhere I go in the city. It doesn’t matter if I’m getting my morning coffee, out for a run, or having a nice meal. My public demands to know why I have been missing in action. I have repeatedly had to tell my man Obama “get off my nuts, son.” This is all somewhat true. I have been terribly bad about writing about what’s going on with me and my projects on this blog, and I am now infamous for returning calls or texts in a month or two. No, I did not go off a move to Africa like Dave Chappelle. I actually had the most amazing and surreal experience of having a son just about two years ago. Or, when I went “MIA” according to some of friends.

I am not going to get all parental and sappy. Okay maybe I am so get over it. It has really been one of the most exciting and challenging experiences of my life. It’s just like everybody describes it. I am a much better and smarter person than I was before. Which is great news for me, because I thought I hit my intelligence peak around sixth grade. Anyhow, I live with my beautiful love Tasha and our little boy Parker on Russian Hill in San Francisco.

The reason I bring up little Parker and the family, is that has indeed been the big challenge of working in the arts and balancing family life. One of the most complicated things I have navigated in my short life. I started a bunch of projects in New York, and tried to move them across the country, which has been quite a struggle to prioritize and execute. I have also been talking about blogging and chronicling the creative projects I am involved with for the past two years. But it is very hard to sit and type about the stupid movie industry for hours, when you have a baby in tears with a 103 fever. Your priorities change obviously. I think I might have gotten to a point though, where I can venture back into the real world and start writing again on a regular basis. Please don’t quote me on that though. Seriously.

To my dear Brooklyn, I miss you more than you will ever know, you cruel beautiful beast. And I hope to see you see you soon. It is definitely much more of a challenge doing the bi-coastal thing with a toddler in tow.

San Francisco has been great to us since we moved back from New York. Near perfect climate for being outdoors all year round. An abundance of creative, smart, funny, and progressive people from all around the world. It has also been fascinating to see the tech and marijuana industries here in the Bay Area growing at exponential rates in this dismal economy.

On the downside of things in my re- introduction to San Francisco, is the the current state of the film and television industry. Porn seems to be some of the only media production in full swing here in the city. You can count the number of major feature films, and television shows probably on one hand shot here this past year. It’s sad to see how much work needs to be done in SF and in the Bay Area to get the scene back to where it needs to be to suport a sustainable film and television industry. There is no reason filmmakers shouldn’t be flocking to SF like they do to Austin, Texas.

It has been a long and tough journey debating with myself if it is worth being in the Bay Area, with the film scene on life support the way it is. Over this past year, I have really come to the conclusion that instead of bailing on the city and running to LA. I need to do as much as possible as a filmmaker and ghetto entrepreneur to help foster the scene here in SF. I hope to make some kind of difference, but who knows. I could be right back here writing in 10 years that we are still only shooting 2 films a year here in SF. I would like to believe that if there is a coordinated effort, we can make a positive impact in the film industry in the Bay Area.

On this blog, I will profile filmmakers, musicians, writers, directors and producers working on projects here in the Bay Area. This will be a way of promoting our area, and also as a way of archiving filmmakers work as they move from project to project. We will highlight the best Bay Area people that are making it happen.

Thanks for reading. I am excited for the journey.

Monday
Sep262011

MVIFF Wrap Up

It was a hectic and exciting weekend on Martha’s Vineyard where the 6th annual film festival really delivered. I met folks from all over the US: Maryland, Michigan, New York, and even Kansas. A great mix of movie lovers from across the nation converged on this tiny little island for an amazing few days of films.

Saturdays line up of films was heavy on docs, which everyone enjoyed. The day began with “Connected: An Autobiography about Love, Death, and Technology.” The film takes a multidimensional approach to understanding urgent social issues and how they connect-through the environment, technology and the economy.  The most anticipated film of the day was “Circo,” by director Aaron Schock, which recently won Best Documentary at the Hamptons Film Festival. The film follows the Ponce Family, a circus troup that has been criss crossing the Mexican countryside since the 19th century.

Being a food guy, my favorite of the day was “A Matter of Taste-Serving up Paul Liebrandt,” directed by Sally Rowe. The film offers an insiders view of the restaurant scene in New York, and the ups and downs of a brilliant young chef Paul Liebrandt who seemingly came out of nowhere.  Liebrandt is a sort of mad genius in the kitchen, preparing complex dishes with 20, 30 and 40 ingredients, and combining surprising flavors - chocolate and scallops is one example. Thomas Kellar is quoted as saying about Liebrandts food, “you don’t know what to think about it, since you have nothing to compare it to, so you can’t decide if its good or bad.” The film starts with a young hot shot snotty Liebrandt at one of his first NY restaurants, and we end up seeing Liebrandt mature as a chef and as a person over the 10 years of the film.

Sunday began with a series of films by local Martha’s Vineyard filmmakers. Entitled “Think Globally, Shot Locally,”  island filmmakers present their work-in-progress, trailers, and short films.  The screenings are held in conjunction as a forum where indie filmmakers talked shop with festival attendees, and each other. I was torn between the live music the festival arranged on Main Street and the closing night film “the Trip,” so I did a little of both.

The closing night party was held in the Vineyard Haven marina. Champagne, plus a vineyard sunset, plus entertaining people equals perfection. Part family get together and part film festival party, the event was totally laid back, but most of the filmmakers were partying pretty hard.

All in all. A well executed year for the festival, and director Richard Paradise. The festival has matured and adjusted. With everyone excited about a year round film center for the film society and MVIFF, things will only get better.

I am already looking forward to next year. Get the champagne and oysters ready. Okay perhaps not the oysters, as year old oysters would probably give me some sort of permanent intestinal damage.

 Please consider supporting the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society and the new Film Center.

 www.mvfilmsociety.com

Alright, I might take a small break this week and actually relax for  my last week or so on the east coast. But I will be back and writing again at the beginning of October. So hold your damn horses. There’s lots of good stuff on the way.

Saturday
Sep102011

Martha's Vineyard Int. Day 2

Festivities got into full swing for the festival on Friday, with a solid schedule of films during the day and into the evening.  The film “Bag It”  was the first film of the day I decided to check out. Diana Barrett, president of the Fledgling Fund, introduced me to the film. The Fledgling Found,  a financer the film and a sponsor the MVIFF,   “seeks to improve the lives of vulnerable individuals, families, and communities by supporting innovative media projects that target entrenched social programs.” The film explores the damage caused by non-biodegradable plastic products, and the devastation these products do to the earth and our health.

 Jeb Berrier is the subject in this film who tracks in detail what happens to all these products after we throw them away without thinking twice about it.  For us San Francisco hippies, living green is standard operating procedure, but when we had a baby about a year and a half ago, we looked at things in an even more serious light, especially about removing toxic stuff from our house. And this is also what happened to Jeb in the film. As Jeb and his partner await the arrival of a child, he tries to figure out the maze of toxicity that is in our everyday homes, to make it safe for his baby. The film was really well executed and educational.

Next up on the festival itinerary was the annual Reel Food MV, which pairs a delicious full meal, a meet and greet with filmmakers, and a screening of short films. What the hell more could you possibly want?

Both the dinner and the opening night party were held at the beautiful Saltwater restaurant where Chef Joe Da Silva provided some amazing edibles for attendees. The night began with Katama Bay oysters, paired with champagne and wine, followed with Caesar salads, crab cakes, grilled local swordfish, wood fired beef sirloin, and finished off with a bunch of tasty sweets. Perfect.

 The short films after the meal were an ideal ending, and it was nice to sit at your table and not have to travel anywhere to watch films. My favorite short of the night was “Morning Copy” - A funny and poignant black and white film about two old dudes racing everyday to get the first print of the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette- by Dan Martino, an island local. Shot in a gorgeous area of Oak Bluffs sometimes referred to as “Cottage City,” due to its’ rows of gingerbread houses, the crowd roared with laughter throughout.

 The night wrapped up with a Latin themed party in a cute little alley way off of main street in Vineyard Haven where the DJ cranked Jazz, Salsa, and Cumbia beats, as a pumped up crowd  talked films and gossiped about the vineyard. Although it was going on midnight when we all headed to the after-after party, the weather was still a perfect 70 degrees or so. I think that that temperature might actually be proved by scientists and weatherman to be the most perfect temp for drinking copious amounts of alcohol, judging from our mirthful  late night crowd.

It was a long day, and very late night on the Vineyard.

 

The Capoawock theatre on Main Street In Vineyard Haven.

Friday
Sep092011

Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival

For most people Martha’s Vineyard is the mysterious little place where U.S.  presidents go on vacation.  But for the lucky folks who have had the opportunity to spend time on the island, it is really a unique place with a special mix of longtime locals, artists, farmers, politicians,  entrepreneurs and a slew of people from the entertainment industry.  This great assortment of people on the island is the reason Richard Paradise started the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society and Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival.  In its 6th year the festival is one of the most popular events on the island.

Opening night festivities begin at a scenic spot called Saltwater, which overlooks the inviting Lagoon Pond. The windy, foggy and slightly raining evening-classic vineyard- didn’t stop a large crowd from coming out to celebrate the start of the festival with some unbelievably tasty bites from Saltwater’s chef.  Sipping libations, they laughed and danced to some groovin' tunes by Afro Beat Project.  Paradise made a great speech introducing the internationally focused festival and humorously reminded people on there 4, 5, and 10th drink that, “you know folks, there is a film tonight too!” We got the hint, and headed to downtown Vineyard Haven to watch the opening night film “Just Like Us.”

 “Just Like Us,” directed by Ahmed Ahmed, is a riveting documentary which shot on location in Dubai, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Ahmed (Axis of Evil Comedy Tour), has been known for his stand up comedy for some time, and this is his first stab at filmmaking. For a comedian who is usually used to talking at an audience, Ahmed did an amazing job just listening to his subjects in this film, and we get to see an insight into the humor of the Arab world what we Americans know little about. It was just a great opening night film, judging from the smiles and conversations as people left the theatre.

There will be a ton of great films, and interesting people this weekend, and I hope to capture as much of it as possible on this blog.  For island folks who are here year round, some exciting news: the festival is in the works to build a permanent film center in the Tisbury marketplace. It will  be opened year round with a state of the art screening room, and sound equipment, in one of the most beautiful areas of the Vineyard.

Big things are happening on this tiny island.

 

Director and comedian Ahmed Ahmed (left) and Festival Director Richard Paradise Opening night party at Saltwater overlooking Lagoon Pond

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