EAT THE SUN – A film about Sun Gazing

Apparently there’s a whole group of people out there who literally “consume” the sun. And the health benefits are incredible. Check it out.

EAT THE SUN – Splash.

Man Gazing at Sun



Update: Don’t harm your eyes!

During my last eye exam I discussed this film and the notion that people were purposely gazing at the sun for “health benefits”. I haven’t seen the film yet and I’m not questioning said benefits. However, my eye doctor did caution me that gazing at the sun this way can cause “solar retinopathy“. So, keep that in mind if you’re inclined to try this out.

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Bill Cunningham New York

The Sky Could’ve been Falling. I didn’t care.

It’s the weekend before Mother’s day, and I’ve been working crazy hours with some crazy drama. I knew I needed a break before heading into weekend #3 of entertaining and family. The sun was shining, work problems were mostly solved, and, the cherry on top: I was working from home with some recent comp time banked. Why not take advantage? I quickly scanned the films playing and knew I couldn’t quite make “Jane Eyre” and wasn’t in the mood for “Win Win” – though I love Paul Giamatti. I decided on “Bill Cunningham New York”, a film I knew nothing about. But the description looked fantastic and suited the whimsical mood I was in.

It was perfect. Sublime.

For me it’s not just the film it’s the whole theatre experience that impacts how well I receive the film. And this time I lucked out. I literally had a private screening. I drove up to the West Newton Cinema and the meter wasn’t working. I ran in and bought a ticket and asked where I should park (they have great films but no parking lot and on street parking is scarce). So the guy tells me where to go but suggests another film because  I’m going to miss the one I chose because their trailers are just 5 minutes. I ask what the film is about and he tells me it’s  a drama with subtitles…as I mentioned, I’ve had enough drama. So not what I was in the mood for. I told him I’d chance it and raced to my car, quickly parked, and ran back in.

When I walked in he told me that he radioed the projectionist because no one else had bought a ticket. They were holding the film for me. Amazing. While I ordered my popcorn, I told him the movie was my Mother’s day gift to myself and thanked him. As he watched me turn off my cell phone he said, “You don’t have to do that. It’s just you.” I smiled and walked toward my theater and seriously wondered if the scenario could be more perfect.

Bill Cunningham New York

Private Screening for me, myself and I

As expected, the theater was empty. Just the way I wanted it. I plunked myself down in the aisle seat of the third row and made myself comfortable. Digging into my popcorn as the last trailer faded off the screen. Who was this Bill Cunningham character? I’ve recently become addicted to NY Magazine so anything about NY has a draw for me and I was anxious to learn more.

I won’t give away the film. But I will say that  I sat in awe watching a spry octogenarian straddle his bike and make his way through NYC traffic with ease. He  whipped his camera up and snapped shots of people in attractive street fashions all while on two wheels…in traffic. If any fear was present in this man, he never showed it. His singular focus on fashion and the everyday person was beyond inspiring. He’s the perfect example of what can be achieved if you feel strongly about something and just keep at it. Not in it for the money, the fame, or any of the trappings but the pure joy of the act. That’s Bill Cunningham. Oh to be Bill Cunningham! My focus has been so scattered all my life, I wonder if this laser precise focus can be achieved along with a family, a love, other passions.

All I know is that the film, the day, the scenario were perfect. I walked out on a cloud and floated down the sidewalk to my car. Driving away I thought that if the world ended in just that moment, that would be fine with me. I’d die with a smile on my face and a warm sense of acceptance that life is what you make it.


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The Upside of Clutter

We’ve been in an anti-clutter kick. But just a few weeks later I’ve noticed my kid suddenly seems to be all about TV. She hasn’t been wanting  to hang out with her dolls in their pretend world. And thanks to the new Internet TV,  she now knows what Netflix is and has been requesting “her shows” on “NETFLIX!” Cute the first time, not so cute the 50th.

While she was sleeping last night I  dragged out her suitcase of dolls and arranged them in a scene along with some other toys in her former favorite play area. What we would normally view as major clutter in our dining room. The idea was that she would wake up, see this, and begin playing with her long lost friends. It worked! She didn’t mention her shows and she was thrilled to be back in their world. And I was so thrilled that I left the mess just as she wanted it when we left to bring her to school.

When we got home it was the first thing she went to and their were no manipulative pleas for her shows or NETFLIX.

Tonight before I put her to be she asked if she could go to Pixie Hollow and fly with the fairies. “Sure. When you go to bed tonight close your eyes and think of Pixie Hollow and your fairy friends. Then ask one of them to sprinkle some of their fairy dust on you.  You’ll be able to fly just like them!” She saw this in a Tinkerbell movie so she knows it’s true. I said it in earnest; more than happy to hear her back to her magical self. She was beaming.


Fairies at Pixie Hollow

Later, I tucked her in and reminded her to think of Pixie Hollow before she closed her eyes. “Enjoy your flying time. Tell me all about it in the morning.” I smiled and kissed the top of her head.

“I not gonna dream about mermaids Mama, just fairies.”

“Okay.” I smiled and we blew each other kisses frantically as we always do before I exit and close the door behind me.

When I sent her big sister in to say good night 10 minutes later, she was already sound asleep with a subtle smile across her face. No doubt navigating her way through the lush woods of Pixie Hollow trying to fly faster than the notorious fairy Vidia.

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Mr. X – Another Amazing Street Artist

I just saw this today and wanted to post it in relation to “Exit through the Gift Shop”. I like the creativity and wit behind these images.

The Irreverent and Funny Street Art by Mr. X – on’s blog

Art by Mr. X

Fat Man Swallows Ronald McDonald

Gator crawls into sewer grate

404 Error: Building not found

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‘September Issue’ Director to Adapt ‘Fabulous Nobodies’ Novel Next «

‘September Issue’ Director to Adapt ‘Fabulous Nobodies’ Novel Next «


Testing Press This for the first time.

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Exit Through the Gift Shop. Wow.

I’ve been trying to see myself as a filmmaker and really live the life and ingest as many film related things as possible. I do well when I flood my system this way. This has meant working with video, editing, listening to film podcasts like “Film Threat“, reading about films, following news about filmmaking and, of course, watching many more films than I have in a long time. This is in any form: on the my laptop via Netflix, DVDs on TV, cable, and taking my 3 year old to see movies;  just to share in the experience of seeing a film on the big screen with an audience.

Kite Runner Family. Street art by Banksy

Tonight “Exit Through the Gift Shop” was one of 3 films that arrived in the mail via Netflix. I’d been waiting for it and was pleasantly surprised, though exhausted and woozy from sleep deprivation. I struggled to put my daughter to bed and then popped it in and sat back. What a ride! I can say that it surpassed my expectations because even as a write this I am ignorant of its accolades and purposely so. I try to take films on their own without all the hype, mainly because I don’t like to be let down. But I’ve heard this film mentioned both in writing and podcasts and I still didn’t know quite what it was about or what to expect. Wasn’t it nominated for an academy award? Didn’t it win? I don’t know. I’m not into awards shows because I think they’re rigged and mostly a popularity contest that has little to do with their work.

So I won’t spoil the film. But I will say that it’s about street art from the perspective of a an odd Frenchmen who habitually videotapes his life and the lives of those around him. He winds up somehow in the heart of a street art movement; a classic case of being in the right place at the right time. But he embraces it and it consumes him in a way that it beyond what a typical filmmaker would do. Eventually the film spins in an unexpected direction when the camera is turned on him as he begins to take part in the street art scene as an artist. He dons the moniker “Mister Brainwash” or “MBW” and what unfolds is incredible. And really, a work of art in itself.

Documentary filmmakers who put themselves in front of the camera without any good reason annoy me. It’s self serving and completely unnecessary. But this is a case where doing so made sense and wasn’t motivated by ego per se, but actually is just part of the story. I won’t say more than that.

After the film I decided to look it up on Twitter, to see what people were saying. Turns out many people watched it along with me tonight, around the same time anyway. Which is kind of cool, considering we were all watching in our own way and through various devices. Our twitter comments and time stamps united us though we were spread across the globe.

Twitter comments

A key character in the film is an artist known as “Banksy”. His true identity is hidden so he’s interviewed with a synthesized voice and in shadows always with a hood pulled over his head. His artwork is thought provoking and often beautiful. He works with stencils sometimes and typically his art is a commentary on a social or political topic. The piece shown above was done in LA. It’s a take on the no fleeing zone signs for immigrants tempted to dash across the highway from Mexico. Banksy is a true artist and cult hero. I hope to write more about him as I learn more.

Off to dream in spray paint.

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SXSW Induced Identity Crisis

This is about the identity crisis I experienced at SXSW. I’m part interactive, part filmmaker but not geek enough to really feel comfy among the geek masses. I don’t feel like a fraud, I’ve put my time in coding with the best of them. With 15 years in the information technology field working closely with uber geeks, you think I’d feel uber comfy by now. Nope. The truth is, I’m not a hipster. I dig what they’re about, but it’s not me.

hipsters at SXSW

I studied film at Emerson College. And documentary filmmaking is my passion, though not what pays the bills. So when I stood in line to get tickets for screenings, it was like sitting in a comfy armchair. Film enthusiasts, cineastes, actors, filmmakers, directors, producers, all these people speak my language. We’re so completly on the same wavelength that talking to complete strangers for an hour and sitting in the dark for hours was like a present from God. I’m not joking. I found my tribe. And realizing it at thls late stage in my life kind of had my head spinning. Mostly it was the guilt of knowing I was darn lucky to be at SXSW to begin with.

Why didn’t I wan to race back to those darned sessions in the conference center? Why did I prefer to hang in a line for an hour and wait to see a films I knew nothing about?

I was happy to attend the interactive sessions but they weren’t always what they were billed to be, nor did they follow the schedule listed, and a few times the room was full and I had to wait for someone to leave so I could be let in. The conference center is ginormous. If you want to quickly scoot from one session to the next one of interest, it’s not as easy as you might think. Even if you have your running shoes on the distance between on side of the conference center and another is huge. The energy it takes to haul a laptop around adds up.

Next year, if I decide to go, it’s going to be a vacation and I’ll be taking in as many films as I can. No guilt. Pure joy. The way it should be.

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Who’s Giving up Twitter or Facebook for Lent?

I’m not Catholic. But given what I’ve seen in the twitterverse I may observe the Lenten period.

People are actually giving up Twitter and Facebook for Lent! That’s 40 whole days without it. Cold turkey for 40 days…that’s enough to break a crack addiction. They say it only takes 21 days to break a habit and 28 to create a new one.

I may actually give myself permission to pull away.

“Hey kids, come on. Walk away. All the cool kids are doing it.”

Which means that I may actually produce a short film or two and feel darn good about being disconnected. I’m loving the idea that divine intervention has situated me squarely in a position to do exactly what I am inspired to do: re-ignite the flame and get back into filmmaking. Just don’t look for me at church.

While I’m at it I may even give up chocolate.

What are you giving up for Lent?

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Keeping Your Social Media Sane

This afternoon I found this response to a message I had replied to. It was a client and friend who noticed my Twitter activity.

Separate question/not criticial: you are all over twitter. How do you find the time or manage the time? There’s so much great stuff it’s just overwhelming. How do “limit” all your input channels and stay sane??

My flight from SXSW had returned the night before and I was feeling particularly gleeful that I had stuck with my “dumb phone” throughout the conference. Don’t get me wrong,there are times when I wish I had one and I will upgrade to one in several months. But I don’t feel it’s necessary for me to be completely connected all the time. Disconnection keeps me sane. So I responded.

OgilvyNotes cartoon graphic explaining social influence

Re: Twitter…great question! You’re sane for asking. I don’t have a smart phone and so far that has worked to my benefit. So I send personal tweets via text from my phone when I know someone is “listening” for updates from me. When I’m online I tend to only use b/c it’s more sane and less overwhelming than tweetdeck etc. I don’t have to slow it down. I can scan my lists etc at my liesure and pick and choose what matters. I also do a lot of keyword or hashtag searches when I need information. You can save searches too, not that I have.

At SXSW everyone was so connected and into the live updates to the point that they were literally walking into each other or sitting in a room “socializing” but no one was without their smart phone and few were engaging w/others. I want to avoid that and have real conversations. Plus, I was alone a lot of the time or on a bus so I had more time to send tweets.

Limiting this social stuff is good. Just log in 1-3Xs a day (briefly) and spread it out so you still appear “active”. Don’t get sucked into doing it the way the “cool kids” are telling you to. They live, eat and breathe it, but you have a life! Social media IS overwhelming. But it’s also such a great resource for connecting with smart people who know their stuff. Oh yeah, and don’t ever treat your linkedin profile like twitter (with lots of updates). That’s a great way to piss people off…I’ve heard that one a lot lately.

Wow. You clearly struck a nerve with this question. Good luck!

Then tonight after enjoying down time with my family and editing some inspiring video from my trip (an incredible interactive documentary session) I noticed this post on Twitter: Take Back Control of Your Work (and Your Life) by Tony Schwartz, the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working.

I like numbers 1 and 3 in his list. If I could do these all of the time I would be exponentially more creative and efficient.

1- Just say no.

3- Do one thing at a time as much as possible.

What do you think? Is it an impossible task? Do you find yourself taken over by the coercive aspects of social media?

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SXSW is not just about parties

I’m in Austin and thrilled to be where the sun is shining and the temperature is over 70. I packed lightly this time to compensate for last year’s overloaded suitcase. I was so determined that at the last minute I actually decided not to bring my iPad and tiny keyboard. Both are sitting on my kitchen counter. Stressed and rushing as usual, I wanted time to spare at the airport and was nervous about fitting it all in without breaking something. Not a great time to make a decision. Suffice it to say that this event was custom designed to take advantage of the iPad: everything from the ease of the size, length of battery life, to the cool SXSW apps and real time tweeting. If you don’t have an iPad and you have an iPhone or Droid, you’re fine. I do not. So, my dilemma: walk lightly with the heavy schedules when not blogging, or tweeting or taking notes (when I’m heading to see films). Or lug the big ole heavy laptop everywhere.

SXSW Film Book

This years SXSW Film Guide

Given that my feet are a bloody mess from walking miles and miles the first day, I’m choosing not to lug it when I have a movie event to get to. I worked out my schedule for tomorrow. The first half of the day is web accessibility at the convention center. The second half is me on my butt in the theater. So my other challenge is how to get to the film(s). I can leave my heavy stuff in my car and hoof it, take the shuttle, or drive. The choice really depends on where the movie is, how big the crowd will be, and whether or not I have another event to get to afterwards. See? It’s not that simple. And all of this is just me talking about the actual work and fun sober events. Tie parties into it and it gets even more complicated. Or les, if you’re drinking…that at least takes driving out of the scenario. Which also may mean giving up an exciting new film that’s logistically too far.

Just so I don’t go nuts with all the decision making and little things that irk me and get in the way, I tell myself I have to accept my decisions and avoid the shoulda coulda woulda scenarios. They will only detract from the experience. So my new mantra here is: “silence your demons and make the most of it. You’re a lucky girl.”

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