I feel a mixture of pride and embarrassment about the peculiar practice I've fallen into over the years of producing personal documentaries. I've also come to embrace it. They all center around the creative adventures of myself and my friends. Sometimes, I was finishing making-of films started by other people profiling these independent art projects (Inertia: Remaking THE CROW). Other times, the documentation was planned from the outset and vital to the facilitation of the very undertaking chronicled by the cameras my pals and I turned on ourselves (Steve: Finding Rhythm).
These ventures are sometimes vain, self-aggrandizing, and esoteric. They can also be critical, self-deprecating, revealing, and universal. I’m starting to see these stories as more than just those of myself and my friends. More and more, I'm realizing there are tons of creative people like us all over the world toiling in obscurity. They work long hours at their jobs and also make time for their art. Folks who stay up late, get up early to tell their stories—and those of their friends and family—stealing the hours from comfort to create what they see, hear, and feel in their hearts.
I'm currently working on a couple of projects that lean into this larger narrative. These newly-assembled trailers of old documentaries are meant to give a quick overview of my long-form autobiographical filmography. (Click HERE for the lengthy list of shorts).
DREAMING OUT LOUD (1999)
Initially intended to be a straightforward, two-camera concert video, documenting the musical event dubbed “Cabinfest” in which a three-hour concert was performed by friends for friends on the porch of “The Cabin.” The culmination of a year’s worth of impromptu solo performances around the campfire, this more formal event featured a program of duets that allowed for seamless transitions between the different performers, ending with a group sing-a-long of Rusted Root’s “Back to the Earth.” However, the dim campfire lighting resulted in very lackluster results. This led to the addition of interviews with the performers, discussing the tradition of Friday nights at The Cabin, their chosen setlists, and the genesis of the concert. Heavily condensed, the concert footage became the first half of the documentary, the remainder of which focuses on the creation of a book of photographs by the principal players entitled The Dreaming Tree.
Filmed with Panasonic Pro-Line AG-456 S-VHS Reporter (Summer 1998)
Edited with Panasonic AG-A770 controller and the Newtek Video Toaster 4000
Normally, the music was impromptu, but this night was different. (Read the rest HERE)
INERTIA: RE-MAKING THE CROW (2001)
Told through intimate VHS behind-the-scenes footage shot by the filmmakers themselves in the 1990s, "Inertia: Re-Making THE CROW" takes an unflinching look at the creative evolution of two midwestern teenagers (one of whom is Yours Truly!) struggling to create a faithful, no-budget video adaptation of James O'Barr's acclaimed comic book series—the same as was the basis for the major motion picture featuring the final performance of actor Brandon Lee, who was tragically killed during its production. The ultra-grainy, black-and-white, high school extracurricular project profiled here went on to be hailed by Crow fans as “inspired,” “innovative,” and “powerful.”
Documentary footage filmed with family VHS camcorders, 1994-1998.
S-VHS Studio Interviews conducted Summer 1999
Edited with the Media 100 (2001)
Premiere Screening: February 10, 2002
60 mins, VHS
It was trickier than I thought to create a making-of documentary in which I was one of the main characters, and I never really got anywhere with it on my own. (Read the rest HERE)
STEVE: FINDING RHYTHM (2004)
Five friends from rural Ohio struggle to start a band amidst the maelstrom transition from teenagers to twenty-somethings in the early 2000s. This film follows STEVE’s formation through the writing and recording of the group's album, In The Event of Rhythm, the private gigs, and coffee-house concerts, the small town festival performance, right through the final song of their final show. Persisting through the creative, scheduling, and personality conflicts undoubtedly familiar to all those who have ever been in a band, the guys in STEVE manage to collectively strengthen their relationships through the collaborative process of expressing themselves through music.
Filmed with mostly with the Panasonic Pro-Line AG-456 S-VHS Reporter from May, 2000 - January, 2001 Edited with the Media 100 (2004) 90 mins, VHS
Though this documentary was the third feature-length project I'd produced about the creative activities of myself and my group of friends, it was the first I personally approached from the outset with the intention of capturing the elements necessary to tell a story. (Read the rest HERE)
NJs AND THE JEFF: 2008 SPRING TOUR DIARY Rock trio NJs and The Jeff (“Non-Jeffs” and “The Jeff”) emerged from the musical hotbed of Kent and Akron, Ohio in early 2007. They disbanded after only 18 months but left in their wake a blistering seven-track, self-titled EP and a few dozen “spine-blowing” gigs. This two-hour video diary was edited from five tapes captured by drummer Brian Yost during the band’s 2008 spring tour. Filmed with a Canon ZR40 MiniDV Digital Camcorder from March 15-20, 2008 Edited in Premiere Pro (2017) Premiere Screening: December 23, 2017 120 mins, DV I came to this project in an unusual way. (Read the rest HERE)