Guerilla Media Productions …coming to a neighborhood near you, hopefully!

June 25th, 2016

America’s “Mainstream Media” (MSM) is now owned privately by six corporations; the public must go elsewhere to find news sources they trust.

Project_Chanology_masked_protesters[1]

“The real mass media are basically trying to divert people. Let them do something else, but don’t bother us (us being the people who run the show). Let them get interested in professional sports, for example. Let everybody be crazed about professional sports or sex scandals or the personalities and their problems or something like that. Anything, as long as it isn’t serious. Of course, the serious stuff is for the big guys. ‘We’ take care of that,” wrote Noam Chomsky in What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream, almost two decades ago in 1997.

media-ownershipAfter the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the failure of New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Judith Miller to report an accurate and critical analysis of the lead-up, many American’s turned to offshore news sources like the BBC, RT, Aljazeera, or to small independent producers like Democracy Now!

“In the 21st Century, Corporate and Alternative Media Sites publish news paid for by the highest bidder – without regard for facts or truth. Americans have become tired of reading yellow journalistic editorials and front page falsehoods. In a free society, people need to know what is actually happening in their country, in their county’s government and in the world.” – Justicegazette.org

The latest example of nationwide news fraud was distributed on June 6, 2016 by the AP and then published in turn by every other major news outlet, announcing that Hillary Clinton “clinched” the Democratic presidential nomination on the Monday night before the California and New Jersey primary elections. Shane Ryan explains how this took place…

“What happened is that one AP reporter, Stephen Ohlemacher, called up some superdelegates—those party bigwigs whose influence in the primary is both undemocratic and overtly stifling— and extracted their commitment to support Clinton at the convention. With these new superdelegate supporters, he padded his numbers and essentially manufactured a Monday night win hours ahead of his competitors. This all went down on the eve of the last major set of primaries, when states like California and New Jersey were set to vote and play a major role in determining the mood of July’s national convention. The AP announcement was perfectly timed, if the goal was to have a chilling effect on those voters.”

If the MSM no longer provides authentic, investigative journalism, it’s time we learn to do it ourselves…

Guerilla Media Production

With the inception of live streaming and smart phones, on-the-spot documentation and news coverage may now be done by anyone with a bit of bravado and a steady hand. Camera evidence captured by on-the-spot bystanders has become the new norm, despite efforts made to curtail their activity with threats and intimidation.

Writing “It’s Your Right to Film the Police. These Apps Can Help” for Wired magazine, Allesandra Ram says, “In 2012, the ACLU created an app that allowed anyone to film interactions between police and citizens and upload footage to the ACLU’s website. Similar apps have cropped up since then, with new features allowing for quick and automatic upload to the Cloud or to YouTube, in case of confiscation or destruction of your device.”

Here are some additional apps:

But the Cop Block project founded in January, 2010 by Ademo Freeman, takes the concept of guerilla journalism to the combat level, providing film crew strategies and other educational material, as well as a decentralized publishing network that seeks to advance their motto, “Badges Don’t Grant Extra Rights.”

NHC’s BroadWave audio and BroadCam video streaming software led the way before Facebook and YouTube decided to extend their live streaming options. With advances in smart phone technology, live online video has exploded in popularity. If you are ready to join the ranks of grassroots reporting, Streaming Media magazine has a collection of 10 Best Practices for Live Streaming Production.

As we approach the summer of 2016, hoping to get newsworthy new coverage from the MSM, I am reminded of the classical definition of insanity that you have already heard too many times in the past. Rather than repeat the same thing that has failed in the past, it is time to get out in the street, camera in hand and begin collecting and sharing your own footage. We at DesignWise Studios have blocked out the time and made plans to be in Philadelphia for the full duration of protests and resistance expected to take place at the DNC Convention. Watch for our own grassroots coverage on our YouTube channel from July 23 – 29, 2016.

Buddha Jones’ Dan Asma Speaking on “Feature Trailers That Bring Them In” at #chifilmsummit

October 26th, 2015

Dan Asma‘s work leaves an indelible impression and includes such memorable film campaigns as those of The Shining, No Country for Old Men and The Hangover, to name but a few.

dan-asma-buddha-jones

I was fortunate to attend the 1st annual Chicago Film + Media Summit in October of 2013, still memorable years later because of all that I learned from personal interaction with talented and experienced industry leaders like Dan Asma. His prominent Hollywood feature film trailer house Buddha Jones, works with major studios as well as indie clients. The trailers they produce are created to “excite, provoke and ultimately compel an audience to see movies…” and they do just that! Dan warns against taking the “studio route” in his #chifilmsummit presentation, “I Gotta See That!”

Take the agency route,” he advises. Flight (trailer) was a challenge because in the movie, Denzel Washington is far from a hero, not ‘audience-friendly.’ How can you present this in such a way that sells the real story when nobody wants to see that story? By using the dips, the peaks and valleys. It’s all about compression,” Dan explains. “Editors are the ones who are primarily responsible for creating that emotional reaction in the viewer …and the music was tremendously important. In this case, the (Rolling) Stones let people know that it was a darker story.”

He cautioned against feeling satisfied with your initial effort. “Try to do it again, in any number of different ways. We call that burn and turn. Trying to be creative amidst seeming chaos can be really fun!”

“Buddah Jones does a great deal of horror movie trailers,” Dan explains. “With The Strangers (trailer) I thought, Let’s take the movie`s strength and stretch it.”

“Motion graphics is tremendously important… We are often asked to come up with a promotion for a film that hasn’t even been shot yet! Check the trailer for DaVinci Code (trailer) and The Prisoners (trailer), a Hugh Jackman film.  Inglorious Bastards (trailer), had several different routes that could have been taken in the trailer.”

“Market your movie before making the movie… A pseudo-trailer is often done to raise money in advance. Consider showing the most marketable part of your story first, as was done with The Bridge (trailer), a doc on suicides on the San Francisco Bay Bridge.”

Links:

Producers say movie-making has never been better in Chicago

Dick Wolf defends using L.A.-based writers, post-production for his Chicago shows at film summit

Continuum, a Corporate World Government Threatened by Time Travellers

April 13th, 2015

Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) is a detective working for a corporate police state in 2077 when she gets sucked into a time warp along with a gang of condemned terrorists. Fleeing their impending execution, they escape to Vancouver, in 2012 by leaping back in time. But, they did not plan to bring a cop along. Continuum, 3 seasons now streaming on Netflix

Kiera Cameron

Liber8 radicals leap back 65 years, on a revolutionary mission take down the corporations which have come to rule the world by 2077. The problem with this series rests within a deep inner conflict. Who are the bad guys and who are the good guys, when corporations have taken absolute control over government by way of a reverse bailout? In the future, world governments became so cash-strapped that wealthy corporations simply bought them out. It all seems way too likely from a 2015 perspective. What would a patriot do in 2077 but fight for freedom?

Liber8 hopes to avoid death while altering future history by waging war on the corporations in 2012 that would come to rule world by 2077. Cameron is a corporate “Eagle Scout,” a cybertronic lethal weapon, charged with protecting a way of life that she believes in. Suffice to say, this series won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Visual Effects and more…

Creator Simon Barry originally wrote the script as having a male lead named ‘Kyle’ – not a deadly female enforcer named Kiera. Continuum is Time Trax on steroids.

“I like these strong female role models,” says Rachel Nichols. “Carlos (Victor Webster) had a shower scene the other day, without his top on. He gets to do all the fun eye-candy stuff, and I get to kill people. It’s gritty.”

It’s also a very thought-provoking, well-crafted vision of a perfectly safe future, one efficiently sanitized by corporations for profit and without waste. But, not everyone is willing to accept the terms of citizenship. The series is entering it’s 4th season and for very good reason.

First episode date: May 27, 2012
Runtime: 45 min

(2012 Season One, 10 episodes)
(2013 Season Two, 13 episodes)
(2014 Season Three, 13 episodes)
Network: Showcase

The Other Presidential Assassination Film You Never Saw

December 22nd, 2014

Death of a President, a fictional documentary covering the October 19, 2007 assassination of George W. Bush in Chicago, Illinois, premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival where it garnered the International Critics Prize.

death-of-a-president
Despite the fact that Death of a President captured a total of 6 awards, Newmarket Films, who paid one million dollars for the U.S. distribution rights, failed to sway Regal and Cinemark, two of the largest U.S. cinema chains, to screen the British film.  CNN and National Public Radio refused to broadcast any ads. Thus, you probably never even heard of “the most controversial film of 2006.”

Although she had not bothered to see Death of a President, Hillary Clinton, then junior Senator from New York, was also quick to condemn it. “I think it’s despicable. I think it’s absolutely outrageous. That anyone would even attempt to profit on such a horrible scenario makes me sick.”

Now, we have Kim Jong-un, threatening cyber war over The Interview, as Sony briefly cancels its planned Christmas release, citing threats of violence by hackers who ironically call themselves the Guardians of Peace. The FBI and the White House both claim that North Korea is behind the initial computer hack waged against Sony Pictures, as well as the threats of 9/11 type retribution should Sony permit The Interview to play in theaters.

Senator John McCain called Sony’s decision to cancel the movie a “troubling precedent that will only empower and embolden bad actors to use cyber as an offensive weapon even more aggressively in the future.” But, I wonder what he said back in 2006 when roles were reversed.

The Bush assassination film is technically considered a docudrama while the Jong-un assassination film is categorized as a mockumentary, a comedy like Spinal Tap. Death of a President intends and succeeds to appear as a historic record of the events that led up to the October 19, 2007 sniper shooting in Chicago and what followed in the year thereafter. President Dick Cheney extends the powers of government surveillance with the passage of Patriot III, a Muslim is framed with the crime on weak evidence, hardly comedic. Because there are no immediately recognizable star actors in the cast, it presents with the look and feel of an authentic collection of news clips and interview footage. The film re-purposes archival footage of Bush and Cheney, along with historic photographs of the President, Photoshop-ed to include the film’s actors, interspersed with Chicago street scenes in which hundreds of extras effectively portray fierce anti-war protests and other fictional scenes staged by the filmmakers. And it works!

Critics who liked the film include Rex Reed of The New York Observer who called the film, “clever, thoughtful, and totally believable. This is a film without a political agenda that everyone should see.”

It was not the director’s intention to make a political film. As Gabriel Range explains, “The purpose of the film was not to imagine how the world stage would reset with the assassination of George Bush. The intent of the film is really to use the assassination of President Bush as a dramatic device—using the future as an allegory to comment on the past. If people go to the cinema expecting to have some great moment of catharsis watching the president being shot, I suspect they’re in for a pretty big surprise. I think that anyone who’s expecting this to be a liberal wet dream is in for quite a shock… It was very important that the film was not a political rant. It was not just a condemnation or polemic because I think that polemics are easy to dismiss.”

Peter Howell‘s review in the Toronto Star said, “The film’s deeper intentions… elevate it into the company of such landmark works of historical argument as Peter Watkins’s The War Game, Costa-Gavras’s Z and, closer to home, Michel Brault’s Les Ordres. Every thinking person should see Death of a President.”

death-of-a-president-dvdI first discovered the film in 2006, a bootleg DVD among the wares of a Chinese street vendor. I bought it for less than a dollar and got my money’s worth. It wouldn’t load or play, but I have kept the dust jacket for all of these years since returning to America. I always wondered what the film was like and with Sony’s latest self-censorship, I was determined to discover what it was like in 2006, when the shoe was on the other foot.

You can rent or buy Death of a President on Amazon or on YouTube for as little as $2.99. Hulu streams it with commercials for free or watch it without commercials on Hulu Plus. It was a $2 million dollar production with a musical score by British musician Richard Harvey, that concludes with a surprising turnaround (no spoilers). It screened in the U.S. for only 14 days, showing at 143 theatres. The motion picture ethics committee in Japan prevented Death of a President from being shown in most cinemas there in 2007. Worldwide, it only grossed $869,352.

Regarding that other assassination film that we have yet to see, Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana) has written President Barack Obama with the aim of getting the White House to screen The Interview just to prove that the US “will not bend to the will of bad actors.”

“The policy of rewarding terrorists, authoritarianism and cruelty with concessions should not be the legacy we pursue. Therefore, I ask that you host a screening of comedy film ‘The Interview’ for members of Congress in the White House the week of January 5, to be followed by a serious discussion of the strong, substantive retaliatory measures we plan to take as a nation against cyber attacks,” Vitter writes.

But the best response so far is that of Hustler publisher Larry Flynt who says that he’ll be starting his own production, a porn parody of The Interview.

“I’ve spent a lifetime fighting for the First Amendment, and no foreign dictator is going to take away my right to free speech,” Flynt told the Hollywood Reporter. “If Kim Jong-un and his henchmen were upset before, wait till they see the movie we’re going to make.”

How to Create a Viral Video… Top 20 Shared Videos of 2013

November 11th, 2014

Go ahead… Google that phrase, “how to create a viral video.”

20-top-shared-videos-2013

While everyone wants to discover the magic secret to creating a viral video (if there truly is one), about 4,040,000 resulting pages suggest they have answers. The following suggestions popup above the SERPs…

  • Don’t be “too good” for marketing. I almost didn’t put together a marketing plan. …
  • Understand how things go viral on the internet. …
  • Release on Monday or Tuesday. …
  • Figure out who has a stake in your video. …
  • None of this matters if your video isn’t good. …
  • Tell a story. …
  • Make your video shorter. …
  • Write a viral title.

The Huffington Post talks about everything from Gangnam Style to Justin Bieber as the most watched videos, but what is it that makes people share a video after they watch it?

“Videos eliciting positive emotion, including joy and humor, are most likely to be forwarded,” says Rosanna Guadagno, Program Director for Social Psychology at the National Science Foundation. “Videos eliciting feelings of alertness and attentiveness are the next most likely to be forwarded. Clips that evoke negative arousal are near the bottom of the hierarchy, but still more likely to be forwarded than dull, non-emotional videos.”

The “arousal hierarchy” that she and her colleagues describe in their study, is not a hard and fast rule as evidenced by the wide range of subject matter in the following collection of top shared videos of 2013. The ever-rising views tallied below are accurate as of the day of this post – but the number of views is not always proportional to their standings based on measured social sharing. Thanks to Unruly Analytics for providing the Viral Video Chart which continuously plots and displays stats on the most popular shared videos online. They have tracked over 329 billion video views and provide the insight needed to analyze what content is getting consumers talking.

Here are their current top 20 shared videos of 2013:

20Code.org: What Most Schools Don’t Teach – 11,051,313 views

19. Sony: Official Playstation Used Game Instructional Video – 14,438,194 views

18. Rockstar: Grand Theft Auto V: Official Gameplay Video – 32,979,174 views

17. H&M: Short film directed by Guy Ritchie starring David Beckham – 11,043,087 views

16. Three: The Pony #DancePonyDance – 7,630,095 views

15. Phonebloks: ‘Phonebloks’ – 18,261,173 views

14. GoPro: ‘Fireman Saves Kitten’ – 18,678,704 views

13. PooPourri: ‘Girls Don’t Poop’ – 19,980,113 views

12. TrueMove (Thai telecomms company): ‘Giving’ – 14,315,147 views

11. Neft Vodka: Biting Elbows – 18,517,436 views

10. Volvo Trucks: The Epic Split feat. Van Damme – 52,123,482 views

9. Ram Trucks (Chrysler) ‘Farmer’ – 20,592,328 views

8. MGM/Carrie: ‘Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise’ – 49,609,464 views

7. Pepsi Max: ‘Test Drive’ – 45,299,800 views

6. Budweiser: ‘Brotherhood’ – 15,426,610 views

5. Cornetto: ‘Yalın – Keyfi Yolunda, Aşkı Sonunda’ – 26,401,796 views

4. Kmart: ‘Ship My Pants’ – 30,189,838 views

3. Evian: ‘Baby & Me’ – 66,304,981 views

2. GEICO: ‘Hump Day’ – 18,529,620 views

1. Dove: ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ – 14,315,147 views

 *Rosanna E. Guadagnoa, Daniel M. Rempalab, Shannon Murphyc, and Bradley M. Okdied (2013). What makes a video go viral? An analysis of emotional contagion and Internet memes. Computers in Human Behavior

One Saturday morning in 2006, they dropped 500 Mentos mints into 100 bottles of Coke in front of a video camera. Their video went viral in a matter of hours, and before they knew it, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, and NPR were calling.Since then, more than 100 million people have watched The Extreme Diet Coke & Mentos Experiments. Why? Because Voltz and Grobe did everything right.

“These guys are the viral experts, and they show you the way in clear, concise language. This is the first recipe for virality that I buy.” — Kent Nichols, cocreator of viral phenomenon AskANinja.com

Now, in The Viral Video Manifesto, they explain how you can make a video guaranteed to pack a major punch by applying four core principles:

  1. Be True . . . Don’t fake it. Make it real.
  2. Don’t Waste My Time . . . Get down to business right away.
  3. Be Unforgettable . . . Show us something we’ve never seen before.
  4. It’s All About Humanity . . . An emotional connection is the key to sharing.

50 Years and Counting

May 30th, 2014

“50 Years and Counting” …that’s my working title anyway. It started out as a lark, a fantasy-op, a video feature film show kind of like the Tonight Show hosted by our own class letterman El Blanco, aka Dave White and produced by me, Stephen Kastner.

Over a year and then some, before an official Prospect High School Class of ’64 50th Reunion had actually begun to materialize, Whitey and I and MaryLou DeMoch had been talking about getting grads together for a casual 49th alternative – like pizza and beer at Mother’s Pinball.

But, thanks to a whole group of grads who picked up the ball and ran with it, many of us are now looking forward to enjoying the upcoming weekend of festivities and events at the Meadows Club. I am still searching high and low for a sport coat in order to be suitably attired. Nonetheless, I will be there with my sidekick and best friend Alisa and we plan to be armed and somewhat dangerous. No fear!

She will only be packing a Nikon D-3200 DSLR. I will be porting a Sony HVR-Z1U and a few concealed-carry Kodak Zi8’s (pocket cams). We’d really like to shoot you, but only if you are willing.  Here’s the premise:
In 1983, Meryl Streep gave a commencement speech at her alma mater and said that “…life is like high school. Not like college. Not a box of chocolates. Not a brief candle. Not an actor who struts and frets her hour upon the stage.”
But, it was Kurt Vonnegut who first said it in a 1974 interview: “Life is nothing but high school … you get into real life and that turns out to be high school again – class officers, cheerleaders, and all.”

Vonnegut began exploring this theme in 1950 in his novel, “Welcome to the Monkey House.” He simply said that life is high school, the highest point in your brief time on Earth and from there on, it’s downhill all the way.

Here’s where the courage comes in…

I’d like to capture your opinion. Do you agree with Vonnegut? Within the span of your own “50 Years and Counting” do you feel that you have hit a peak moment somewhere along the path , one that you will never surpass? Or, do you believe that you still have untapped potential for even greater greatness ahead?

Don’t be shy…
At this age, you have nothing left to loose but fear itself! Stop me or Alisa anywhere you feel an overwhelming urge to speak your mind and we will record your testimony. Start with “Hi, I am ‘First Name, Last Name’ and then… share any of your favorite peak moments or experiences on camera. Don’t worry, We’ll edit out the stumbles and any false starts. The results will be a masterpiece film starring us, the Class of 1964, fifty years later.

This is us working… very, very serious!
Filming a live chamber music concert at the largest mansion in Wisconsin.

If you agree with Vonnegut, we’ll have our cameras along on the PHS tour and we’d love to record some grads speaking at the alma mater. We will have them handy everywhere. One way or another, “50 Years and Counting” may be your 15-minutes of fame…

Let me know if you are interested!
Stephen Kastner
920.256.9449
sjk@DesignWise.net 

Door County Film Screening & Discussion: “Years of Living Dangerously” April 13

April 9th, 2014

Executive producers James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub, and Arnold Schwarzenegger have recruited an all-star cast for an important documentary event. “Years of Living Dangerously” will air at 7 PM on Showtime this Sunday.

The Guardian calls the “Years of Living Dangerously”a global warming blockbuster. “This new Showtime climate change documentary is a nonfiction thriller you won’t want to miss! …perhaps the most important climate change multimedia communication endeavor in history.”

CLICK TO RSVP

It features major (rich) celebrities talking to real (poor) people who have been negatively effected by global warmingJessica Alba, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, America Ferrara, Harrison Ford, Michael C. Hall, Olivia Munn and Ian Somerhalder are just a few of the celebrities who travel the world learning about this issue and sharing their thoughts.

…and DesignWise Studios has been selected as a public screening location. The first of nine episodes is being streamed for free on YouTube  (and at 350.org/watch-years). Future episodes will be on Showtime. But the difference is that we’ll also tune into a web-chat with people involved in the show and leaders from the climate movement afterwards ...and some great popcorn!

map-330-Joliet

we’ll also tune into a web-chat with people involved in the show and leaders from the climate movement.

Slik Slidin’ Away to Benro-ville… when money is no object!

August 29th, 2013

My Slik tripod had to go… ever since I heard the words “fluid head.”

I have had it for more than a few decades and small parts were falling off. Then last week, one of the leg locks broke off into a handful of small bits! As one reviewer says, “Sure I’d love a Manfrotto or Sachtler, but I don’t want to spend 3-5 times more for it.”

Benro-C1691T

The Benro C1691T Travel Angel Transfunctional Tripod Kit with Carbon Fiber Twist Lock Legs with B0 Head would be a great replacement for the sturdy old Slik – if I was still just a “still” photographer. I am really impressed with the firm, yet extremely lightweight carbon-fiber, 4-part telescoping legs all folding down into a very trim package, with a nice zippered, shoulder sack included. It is currently (8/29/2013) priced at $485.

But, as a photojournalist turning filmmaker, I need to be able to pan and tilt a live-action shot without any hitches. I had to feel the action, so I did the evil-shopper dance down at my local Camera Corner store, asking questions and testing out all of the stuff in stock. I even checked on the rentals.

Benro C2573FS6

Above and beyond all of them, the smooth and silky feel of the Benro head was like the taste of rich, dark chocolate. I cannot stop thinking about the leap forward it will add to my work.

The Benro C2573FS6 Single Leg Video Tripod Kit has a fluid head designed for videographers …and that makes all of the difference! Price: $465.

But, out of respect to an old friend I did look at Slik’s latest and am even tempted to save some money…

Slik-Pro-500HD

Slik Pro 500HD Tripod With 500DX Leg & SH-736HD Head 615-501 615501 is now (8/29/2013) priced at $149.

…or save even more with Sunpak Tripods:

Sunpak 6200 PG digital 620-620-CPG Tripod

List Price: $89.99
Price: $29.98

If the Sunpak 620-PISTOLGRPQR Tripod, Ball Head (price below) is included, this is an amazing discount.

List Price: $49.95
Price: $24.99

 …and if all else fails:

Sunpak SPK620786 5-Inch Flex Leg Mini-Spider Tripod

Five Stars for “West of Thunder”

July 30th, 2013

West of Thunder is winning numerous awards including two from the USA Political Film Society based in Hollywood, California for “Best Film on Human Rights” and “Best Film on Peace”.

la-et-mn-west-of-thunder-capsule-20120921-001

Dan Davies… as Henry Seed

They were competing against some powerful contenders that included George Lucas’ Red Tails and the Andy Garcia/Eva Longoria/Peter O’Toole film For Greater Glory. Since 1987 these awards have been given to such films as Platoon, Schindler’s List, Good Morning Vietnam, Dances with Wolves, Saving Private Ryan, The Insider, The Green Mile, Remember the Titans, Hotel Rwanda, Dead Man Walking, Blood Diamond, The Hurt Locker, Gran Torino, Avatar, Inglorious Bastards – you get the idea. By the way, the other two March 2013 USA Political Film Society awards were won by Ben Affleck‘s Argo (Best Film Expose) and Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln (Best Film on Democracy).

Dan Davies (‘Johnny’) and Sadie Kaye star in this 2012 American Western feature film, directed by Jody Marriott Bar-Lev and Steve Russell. My friend and actor Ed DiMaio played the Bookstore Owner, listed among the  full cast and crew. He invited me to attend a local  film screening at Hope Church here in Sturgeon Bay. I went expecting to be polite and sit through a semi-professional local film. What I saw was much better than anything I have seen out of Hollywood in years – if for no other reason than to hear the beauty of Native American people speaking to each other in their own language with English subtitles appearing at the bottom of the screen.

But there are lots more reasons why I am quite impressed with this film. It breaks or blurs the boundaries between spirit and imagination, between ghosts and the incarnate. It provides a bridge that spans the missing gap in American history as European tides of un-settlers swept across the old West. It revokes the medals awarded to the decorated “heroes” of Wounded Knee, holding them accountable for their acts of barbarism imposed upon indigenous peoples.  I would categorize this film as a spiritual mystery tale. It’s spooky and very thought provoking.

If you are lucky enough to find it, resist judging the film by the opening titles or the credits. They are both absolutely repellent, each in their own distinctive manner. Call that the stale bread and toss it aside. The core of this sandwich is a rich treat. The actors are real unvarnished people, the kind who might be found more than a hundred years ago in a dried up small town on the outskirts of the Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation. They have sinned and are held accountable in this dark tale of revenge and personal responsibility.

A musical score from both cultures is woven into the story, performed with fiery passion… be sure to sit quietly through those endless closing credits for a reward performance by Neville Farmer, Ian Hatton, Deni Bonet, and Jon Bridger. There are numerous Native dancers and an explanation of the Spirit of the Drum to accompany the beat of the Lakota.

And today… “Pine Ridge is the poorest area of the United States with the statistics of a third world country, lack of housing, lack of heat and running water, 85% unemployment, 70% school drop out, high rates of alcoholism and drugs, very high teenage suicide rates, poor health and nutrition and a life expectancy of only 47 years. The current reality is that Lakota people are at a precipice—unless something is done to affect change, this once noble nation will be ‘just pages in history books.'”

Profits from screenings of the film support the building of a K-12 school that will serve the Lakota tribe. Have I given you enough reasons to track down and see this film?

“This was a wonderful movie that honestly conveyed the real issues that affect the “silent minority” to this day. I loved the cultural awareness woven in through the film and how it makes us aware that The People truly survived through their choice of completing their circle, choosing harmony and peace-keeping ways. They knew that to do otherwise would destroy them. Their losses were so great through the massacres, loss of family, land, language and way of life. This is a part of “OUR” history and we are all complicit in our silence. Our prayers and actions are needed for all Indigenous People of the world. They are survivors, having much to teach us about living simply, in harmony and balance with Nature and each other.” – Melissa Nelson

Danny Strong on the Art of the Hollywood Pitch

October 29th, 2012

“I actually don’t think there’s a ton of luck in the writing game because writing is one of those things where you’ve got a script, you know, it’s 120 pages, or 30 pages for a TV show or 60 pages for a TV show …and it’s either good or it’s not good, and it doesn’t really matter whose name is on that cover page.”

Actor Danny Strong has established himself as a screenwriter, specializing in political dramas. The first script Strong sold was to HBO, based on the Florida 2000 election battle. Recount, was eventually directed by Jay Roach, and produced by Kevin Spacey, who also stars in the film. It premiered on HBO on May 25, 2008.

“You really need to get the person you’re pitching to see the story; to get them to be able to see the movie as clearly as possible. And sometimes that means being extremely detailed, and sometimes it’s a matter of having specific details that take them into the world of it and then having sort of more of a general discussion than having the entire thing, you know, beated out moment for moment. So it varies from project to project.” – Danny Strong

Recount went on to win three Emmy Awards in 2008:

  • Outstanding Made for Television Movie
  • Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special (Jay Roach)
  • Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or Movie
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