Lost in the Movies: July 2013

It Was 20 Years Ago Today: When A Star Moves

Where there's a will there's a way, even if it makes no sense. On July 31, 1993, twenty years ago this day, I began shooting my first movie in the woods behind my aunt's house in New Hampshire. We used my dad's Hi-8 home video camera, several friends, an alien made of tin-foil (I provided the voice live, just off-camera), and several toy dinosaurs filmed in close-up (later to be intercut with the actors in an effort to disguise their true size). It was a surprisingly organized beginning although this orderly kickoff would soon devolve into a mess of delays, personal conflicts, and technical difficulties - all surprisingly ubiquitous even at this early phase. I utilized a formal screenplay, detailed shot list, out-of-sequence shooting (timecode diligently logged on Hi-8 tape), and a shooting schedule soon fragrantly disobeyed. My father was the cinematographer and I shouted orders from behind his knee, a four-and-a-half-foot tyrant in sweatpants two sizes too big.

Watch my short film, Class of 2002

Six months ago today, I concluded a month devoted to promoting and discussing my first online-exclusive short film. Class of 2002 is a (dramatic rather than comedic) mockumentary in which a young man remembers classmates whose tragic lives intersected his own after high school graduation.

Since completing my work on Class of 2002, I've become far more engaged with Twitter and also seen my blog traffic triple and quadruple. It seems a good time to introduce new readers, followers, or drive-bys to my movie. I hope you enjoy it. And if you do, please share it with others - right now, that's the only promotional campaign I have.

For more on Class of 2002, explore the round-up of related posts which went up on January 30. The film is also available on Vimeo, if that's your thing.

Odyssey of Images: a complete guide to The Story of Film

This is a visual directory to every film featured in Mark Cousins' 2011 documentary miniseries The Story of Film. I have screen-capped a frame featuring the title of each clip used, so let this serve as a resource both for those who've seen the doc (and want to revisit some of the titles), and those who haven't yet, and need some inspiration.

If you like this sort of thing, I've done it twice before, for Allan Fish's decades countdown and for my own video clip series. You also check out my previous posts on Cousins' opus (and the book it's based on). Beneath the proceeding pictures I've also included links to my own pieces on the films featured by Cousins. Incidentally, if you are a fan you can follow him on Twitter.

#WatchlistScreenCaps, 7/17 - 7/24

Here are the last ten films I watched, with a screen-captured image and quick sentence on the subject. Follow this feature on Twitter here, read about the kickoff here, and view the previous #WatchlistScreenCaps roundup here. Links below are to my post on the film in question.

5 Years: The Complete History (more or less) of Lost in the Movies, 2008 - 2013

I began my journey on July 16, 2008, in a small-town public library in New Hampshire. At the time I knew so little about blogging that I worried about my computer being able handle Blogger's format. False alarm after all, but somehow I prefer this particular genesis anyway: the image of a neophyte blogger sitting at a public computer, excited yet not quite knowing what he's doing or where it will lead.

The past five years have been fairly tumultuous and my blogging has often reflected that. Despite numerous changes in format, approach, and output my blog - initially titled The Dancing Image but renamed Lost in the Movies about nine months ago - has been an anchor for me, an always-welcome port in the storm. I'll tend to skirt over most of the geographical relocations and personal/professional adjustments of the past five years to focus exclusively on the evolution of my blog, but certainly my work was part of a larger pattern.

Not a fan of navel-gazing? Let this serve as fair warning: excessive belly-button lint ahead. That said, I suspect many bloggers (and even some non-bloggers) will enjoy this lengthy read; perhaps it will remind them of their own evolution, inviting a warm, maybe bittersweet, sense of nostalgia. The blogosphere is still very young today, but the past half-decade has brought many changes and much experience.

Links are sprinkled throughout this piece; think of it as a long hallway with many doors to be opened and explored. For that reason and because it's so damn long, you may want to read in installments. Or not.

Let's begin...

Lost in the Movies turns 5 today

I am writing an extensive 5th anniversary overview of my blog's history but me being me, it's taking longer than expected and doesn't look like it will make it up before midnight. Thus, I want to post some sort of acknowledgement on the day itself and here we are.

The official anniversary post will be up before morning, but in the meantime I want to thank anyone reading this for, well, reading this. When I began my blog it was entirely for myself and very much under the assumption I'd probably never find any readers. I am extremely gratified by the people who have discovered and enjoyed my work over the years, whether they are lurkers, commentators, or sporadic visitors. Thanks for making me feel like my efforts are worthwhile.

I've seen peers of mine post the most under-the-radar acknowledgements of their own anniversaries - perhaps a sentence slipped in to an otherwise irrelevant post. God bless 'em, but that's not my style. Embarrassing as it may be to admit, this blog has been my proudest accomplishment of the past five years and I intend to celebrate its birthday with appropriate pomp. If you are skittish about such self-absorption, feel free to tune out, but do return - I expect that within a week or two I will be posting more regularly, not just with my viewing/reading/listening diary as I have been lately, but with actual reviews.

Today I've hit a significant signpost on the road, but the path continues, heading into the horizon as far as the eye can see. Thanks for walking with me some of the way.

#WatchlistScreenCaps, 7/5 - 7/16 (short films edition)

Here are the last ten films I watched (all of which happen to be short films), with a screen-captured image and quick sentence on the subject. Follow this feature on Twitter here, read about the kickoff here, and view the previous #WatchlistScreenCaps roundup here. Links below are to my post on the film in question.

And the beat goes on...: #iPodAlbumPlaylist, pt. II

Several months ago, I completed and posted an "album playlist" on my iPod, numerous LPs listened to in their entirety. The order (of the albums, not the tracks within them) was shuffled, leading to some interesting juxtapositions - especially since my taste in music (as in other forms) is eclectic. That playlist was very long and took several months to get through; I waited a while to start another, but it was much shorter, so after just ten days here's the complete lineup. To follow future entries, keep your eye on the Twitter hashtag #iPodAlbumPlaylist.

As before, I've included a favorite track (at the time of listening, anyway) with a link where possible to an online video. My greatest discovery on this listen (which mixed familiar favorites with albums new to me) was The Langley Schools Music Project. It's a compilation of two initially obscure albums from the late seventies featuring a chorus of schoolchildren singing pop or rock songs from the 60s and 70s, with eerie, unusual instrumental backing, under the tutelage of an imaginative music teacher. I found it haunting and kind of beautiful, and surprisingly well-done.

What I feel needs to be said

Very rarely do I post on political issues or news stories, or non-movie related topics in general, mostly because I feel it's generally outside of this blog's purview. Only when I feel pushed or compelled beyond my usual vaguely depressive disengagement with contemporary U.S. politics or the daily news cycle do I step outside of this avoidance and post something from my gut about what's going on out there in the non-movie/arts world. The last time I did so was in April, when a bomb exploded at the Boston Marathon and I was drawn back to my connection to that city; what resulted was probably one of the more autobiographical posts I've shared on this site.

Tonight, a day after the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmermann verdict, it's hard to say why I feel so personally invested that I want to write a blog post on the subject. And yet I do. I've tweeted more on this topic than any other, and almost entirely since the verdict. I did not follow the trial very closely, and I didn't even know the details of the case until a few months ago (when it happened, I was in the midst of a move to L.A. and not following the news closely at all - I only knew the names and none of the specifics, so that until a few months ago when I delved into a Wikipedia article, and the relevant sources, on the subject I didn't even know that George Zimmermann had killed Trayvon Martin during an altercation in a neighborhood both belonged in). And yet here we are. I'll attempt to make sense of my jumbled reactions below; take it as you will. Maybe I shouldn't have posted this at all, yet - as a co-worker of mine is fond of saying - "let me tell you where my heart is."

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