Experiences in movie and sound documentary production.

The following are some short films that my partners in crime, Teena Apeles and Kondwani Mase, and I, produced for our Film and Video class.

Remember Me, is a different kind of boy-does-not meet-girl, wants-to-meet-girl, then almost runs-girl-over-with-his-car story. Keep in mind that this was our first time behind the camera, as well as the acting debut of Laurence and Sarah.

The following is an Entertainment show spoof. A special edition of “Where It’s At”, featuring interviews with the director, writers, and stars of “Attack of the Hipsters”.

And last but not least, a look at Snow removal and Montreal that poses the question “Where does all the snow go?” and “Do people care?”. Plowed Away was produced together with two of the most intelligent, and dare I say strikingly beautiful ex-pat ladies in Montreal, Sarah McNeil and Teena Apeles.

Enjoy!!!!!!

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Whether singing Country or of Caminitos, beware of Communist Pilots!!!!!! Unless you’re name is John, Paul, or Ringo; in that case bribe them with a private show at the Kremlin.

So it is 1 am. I have one light on, setting the appropriate mood for late night studying. Currently writing a paper on the privacy implications of Social Networking Sites, I decide to leave academia for a moment and engage in some practice based research. I open gmail and start writing, to whom, I am not sure yet.

But. But.

Itunes competes for my online attention, proposing song after song, the one more fascinating than the next. I ponder the randomness of the Party Shuffle function. Is it random at all? Or is Internet God trying to lead me down some unknown musical path?

Late night musical geography

My random Itunes journey begins. I decide to limit myself to three songs because it is now 1:40 AM. I take a few minutes to make myself a steaming cup of Morrocan Orange Spice Tea to accompany me on my musical exploration.

Song 1:
Patsy Cline plays in the background, but I am unsure just how she got in my playlist. Probably a song my brother sent me. He is my only link to the dark side: country music. Patsy is Back in Baby’s Arms, but unfortunately, unbeknown to her when she belted out the tune in 1959, a plane crash four years later would end her life and career, then at its peak, forever painting her as a country music icon.

Song 2:
The Beatles are back! Back in the USSR. Never ones to disappoint, I suspected the Fab Four might make an appearance tonight. The song was released on the infamous White Album and prompted mass protests from British and American right-wingers, at the time engulfed in the midst of the Cold War. Russian urban myth has it that there was a long-haul flight with Beatles onboard, and due to some conditions, a technical landing had to be made in Moscow. The Kremlin bosses (although officially rejecting The Beatles as “bourgeois propaganda”) “INVITED” the band to give a special concert for the CPSU Central Committee members and their families, and that is how the song was written.

Now things are getting interesting. I take a sip of tea, nearly scalding my tongue with the yet-to-cool-to-drinking-temperature liquid.

Song 3:
The Cold War had ramifications across the globe. The US used its fight against Communism ( is there such a thing as prejudism against ism’s? they oft seem to be the scapegoat for the ills that plague us) to further meddle in the affairs of others. Fortunately our next performer, Carlos Gardel, was no longer alive to see his beloved Caminito fall into the hands of a brutal US backed military dictatorship in the 70’s. Gardel, perhaps the most prominent figure in the history of tango, died in an plane crash at the height of his career, that created, as for Patsy Cline in the US, the image of a tragic hero. Coincidence? The similarities don’t stop there. Supposedly, in 1915, Communist Revolutionary Che Guevarra’s father shot Gardel in Recoleta’s Palais de Glace in Buenos Aires.

Findings:
So where has this short trip in musical RANDOMNESS brought me? And what has it taught me?

Whether singing Country or of Caminitos, beware of Communist Pilots!!!!!! Unless you’re name is John, Paul, or Ringo; in that case bribe them with a private show at the Kremlin.

Mere coincidence? Overactive imagination? Or is the Internet God trying to lead me down some unknown musical path? “Nahh, that’s nonsense!”, I tell myself.

Go to bed, it’s 2AM.

I catch a glimpse of the illuminated apple on the back of my laptop and a half nervous chuckle escapes my lips as I turn the light off.

I am using the forbidden fruit of electronics!

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Happy New Year from top of Tajamulco, Guatemala.

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Graffiti Politics: My new area of interest

While living in Buenos Aires this past year, after getting over the impulse of photographing all the tourist spots in sight, I began taking photos of the graffiti and murals found all over the city. I had never given much thought to graffiti before, but in Buenos Aires they are so elaborate and powerful that I became fascinated with their stories. I kept wondering why I had never noticed this at home, in Montreal? Montreal is after all known in Canada as a very graffitied city. One of my conclusions is that the nature of graffiti is different. This is apparent when looking at the the case of Argentina and Chile, two countries very different in both culture and politics, but similar in that they are both recovering from repressive military dictatorships. In Canada, or North America in general, graffiti seems to be more prevalent in poorer neighborhoods where the population feels unable to use traditional media or political means to express themselves. Does the overwhelming presence of graffiti in Buenos Aires, Santiago and Valparaiso indicate that the media to this day does not allow the majority of voices to be heard? In essence I believe this is a fundamental aspect of graffiti. It arises out of a need of expression that can obviously not be satisfied by other mainstream alternatives. The difference between North America and South America is the extent to which graffiti is being either eradicated by the re-appropriation of city space by the municipalities, or commercialized by corporate America. I was lucky enough to spend half a year in Buenos Aires to research the issue. Here are some interesting examples:

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Burdel Abierto.

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desaparecidos

I have recently decided to focus on this subject and develop it into a graduate study project .

Here is an outline of what I have in mind:
Outline of research in graffiti and communication

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Top Ten Things to do in Buenos Aires…

While surfing the web I encountered this really interesting site about Buenos Aires, http://baires.elsur.org.

The most recent entry on the site is a top 30 list of things to do in Buenos Aires. Although there are, as stated in the article as well, many of these lists around, I thought why not add one to my site and give it my own little personal touch.

For space purposes I will only repeat the top ten things. For the whole list you can go to http://baires.elsur.org/archives/30-things-to-do-when-visiting-buenos-aires/.

I know myself, having lived in San Telmo, I loved to go jogging in the ecological reserve or along Puerto Madero. Furthermore, by far my favorite Feria was Mataderos. I personaly liked it much more than the San Telmo Feria, but hey, that is just me.

  1. San Telmo without a doubt deserves a visit. If not on s Sunday for the feria then on a weekday. If you are looking for nice place to have a snack on Sunday that is not overcrowded or overpriced, try the cafe Caracol at the corner of Bolivar and Humberto 1. It is perfect for tea time….the tostados mixtos are cheap and huge!! 
  2. Recoleta Cemetery: Must be one of the great cemeteries of the world. Fascinating to wander among the tombs.
  3. Teatro Colón: The city’s great opera house. Performances are relatively inexpensive but if you’re not into opera or classical music then, at least, take a tour which will show you not only the beautiful auditorium but take you backstage. Closed for renovation.
  4. Tango at the Ideal: I don’t dance and I’m not a fan of the fancy tango shows for tourists but I do enjoy watching others dance, particularly ordinary people. The Ideal is one of those old style places with tango dancing on the upper floor. In the afternoons, after the tango lessons, the place will be filled with a mostly older crowd. Even if you don’t go for the dancing, the Ideal is a gorgeous place to eat or have coffee.
  5. Madres de Plaza de Mayo: Thursday afternoons at 3:30, the mothers of the disappeared still march every week inthe plaza. After their march, which lasts thirty minutes, the madres gather in front of the Casa Rosada for a short speech. It’s worth staying and listening.
  6. Café Tortoni: the oldest and most beautiful of the cafés in the city. Mostly a tourist spot now but still worth the visit.
  7. Plaza San Martín: a nice shady area in the heart of the city. Plenty to see and do around there so the plaza makes for a nice place to take a break. Go up to the top of the English Tower for great views and then take a look inside the old train station. Borges lived just a few steps from the plaza.
  8. Stroll down calle Florida: not the best shopping and you’re likely to be hounded by touts trying to sell you leather jackets or other overpriced goods but the pedestrian street still has an energetic appeal to it. There are some great buildings in the area. An easy one to explore, since it’s a shopping mall, is Galería Pacifico; the top floor is a cultural center that usually has very good exhibitions. If you’re hungry then the Richmond is an interesting place to stop; it’s one of the places that Borges frequented.
  9. La Boca: Oddly, it’s one of the least desirable neighborhoods in town but it’s also the most touristy. Actually, it’s only one small area of Boca that has found its way into practically every book’s photograph of Buenos Aires. I do think that the picturesque small street of Caminito is a tourist trap (and the tour buses lined up there seem to prove it). The colorful street was the idea of artist Quinquela Martin, whose paintings I think are superb. His nearby house and studio are now a museum of his works and should definitely be visited.
  10. Fútbol! While we’re talking about Boca, if you’re a football fan (or soccer to those in the US) then a game at Boca is a must. If you’re not a fan of the sport, then you can probably skip this one though it’s still an interesting experience.

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Buenos Aires to Soothe a Sleepless Soul.

Unable to sleep. It’s my own fault. I was exhausted at 7, took a nap but then woke up again. Should of stayed in bed, now I am wide awake. Insomnia reminds me of my semester away in Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is a city that lives at night and I had gotten into the habit of staying up till the break of dawn, unable to sleep most of the time, staring down from my balcony at the city below. Check out the cool mix of architecture that can be found in the city. You can tell when walking in the streets that it truly was on its way to becoming a great “European” city at the turn of the century. It is a shame that it was plagued by corruption, political strife, and economic woes.

Speaking of music, here you have an excerpt of Tango legend Carlos Guardel. I lived in San Telmo and the streets closed every Sunday for the famous antique fair. There was this nice old man who sang for change every week and he sounded just like Guardel. I stopped and listened to him every time I passed by. He always sang the same songs, but gave me a wink and a smile so I stayed for a while.

!My Buenos Aires Querido!

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Revenge of the MelaModster: Experiences with Photoshop

“Would you just shut up about this photoshop assignment and F@#$in do it”, said the Devil when I offered him my soul in exchange for super-photoshop-strength (he caught me at my weakest, what was I to do?). Then, as the little devil on my left shoulder disappeared in a cloud of smoke, mumbling that super-photoshop-skills were too much even for him, my mother popped up on the right shoulder to share one of her tried and true pieces of homemade wisdom: “Reduce, Re-use and Recycle”, she said. Hmmmmm….. Well, this got me thinking… Why stress myself out about having to take shots. Maybe I CAN recycle some pics I already have and give them a new life.

I will be transformed into the mod, 1960’s pop-art beauty that I really am at heart. Groovy baby!!!!!!!!!! I will even have a gang of hipsters to admire me (I am beginning to understand the allure of Blowup)

I started with a self portrait I took at the Espace Sono exhibit. I liked the fact that I was wearing my beret (one of the few fashionable fall pieces in my wardrobe) and the redness of the background. I opened the file in photoshop.

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In the same Espace Sono article, I had also taken a picture of the Paralèle exhibit brochure. Hmmm….. ideas started taking shape. I opened the second picture in photoshop as well. So I now had two layers. I have always liked being the center of attention, so I of course would need to be center stage in this production. I chose the magnetic lasso tool to cut out the images of the modern dancers on the brochure. The first cutout, my layer number one dancers, were conveniently looking to their left.

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I moved the image onto my background (self-portrait) giving the impression that they are looking at me. I wanted the layers to be somewhat transparent so reduced their opacity. My second layer, another one of the modern dancers, was harder to cut out because I had to move the magnetic lasso around her legs. The cutout was imperfect, but I decided to go the trial and error route and moved it onto the background anyways. Luckily, it looked pretty good. As my created image progressed, it took on a life of its own. The dancers seemed to be coming out of thin air and gave me a feeling of multiplicity, so I naturally duplicated my layer (duplicate layer in the layer menu). I made a total of four copies of my second layer, arranging them in such a way for it to appear as if they were multiplying and marching straight out of my photo, looking to me like the cover illustration of an old copy of Valley of the Dolls that my mom had in the basement when I was a kid (thanks again Mom!!). Hmmmm…. Still too plain! I then cut out some of the print from my second picture, the brochure, changed the opacity to 30% and pasted it onto my self portrait, careful not to cover up my natural beauty (hey, it is my Blog after all!!). I made another two layers using the rectangular marquee tool to cut them out and then the move tool to drag and drop onto the background. This gave me an unexpected, but very welcomed shadow effect. Since I had some free time on my hand and felt encouraged by the results so far, I played around with my background. I used the eyedrop tool to first select different colours already present in the image and then painted the background using the paint bucket tool. When I tried black, I knew I was done. As the finishing touch, I used the transparent red spray paint brush to create that nice red sparkle in my eye.

Voila………

Not only did I manage to finish my assignment and not loose my mojo, but I also have a cool new pic to put on my facebook profile.

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