Director of narrative, commercial, and virtual reality

Film Portfolio

Project Greenlight finalist | Short about sex, death, existence, time

Lily in the Grinder

Shabbat Dinner

Comedy short about coming out | Featured in 55+ festivals

Search is Back

Featured on TechCrunch | 7k users per day

Global event handing out nametags on first Sat in June

Nametag Day

Uber Forecast

Tracking Uber's surge pricing to guess what the weather might be

Archive for April, 2012

Wow, crowdsourcing is awesome. Now, Chinese and French!

Wow. You guys…!!

I put up the script for Shabbat Dinner a few days ago, and NINE HOURS later, the entire thing was translated into Spanish. And translated well! It was amazing watching little boxes flit across the screen doing the translation, so thanks everyone. I think it provided a necessary distraction from work for some people.

Let’s try this again but for Chinese and French! If you want to translate, click the links to open the Google Doc, and get going! Don’t forget to tell me that you did it so I can thank you.


Whoa. Naples museum director begins burning art to protest at lack of funding

From The Guardian: “Antonio Manfredi has already destroyed a painting and vowed to incinerate one artwork every day until his demands are met.”

Antonio Manfredi stands next to a burning painting by French artist Séverine Bourguignon during his protest. Photograph: Roberta Basile/AFP/Getty Images

Says the artist who watched her painting being burned over Skype: “I feel as if I am in mourning. It is very sad that they burned my painting. We hoped until the very last minute that someone would step in. And now I have to fix in my mind that I will never see that work again. But I hope it’ll be worthwhile. At least people heard about what is happening in Italy and  to culture everywhere. It’s been useful.”

Crowdsourcing a translation

Okay all, so I have one week to translate Shabbat Dinner into Spanish. While I could run the whole thing through Google Translate, that sounds wholesale and inhuman. Gah.

So let’s crowdsource it! I’ve set up a spreadsheet on Google Docs. If you know Spanish, just click this link. Then you put the translation in the column next to the English. Do one line, do 20. Do however many you want!

I’m taking a risk here, both by posting the script publicly while it’s still on a festival run and by making a publicly editable document. But yeah, let’s hope this works!

If you know French or Chinese and want to help, let me know and I’ll set up a spreadsheet for them too!

Speaking at Brown University Meetup on Tuesday

Hey all!

I’ll be giving a 15 minute talk at the Brown University April meetup. It’s called “42 ways to change the world with film.” I’ve got 2 so far..any suggestions? But seriously..I’ll be talking about the different ways film can be used for social justice and my experiences in them. Anything from issue-based documentaries, injecting social messages into pop culture, teaching film to marginalized communities, etc. I’ll probably talk a bit about making Shabbat Dinner and working at FilmAid. Or maybe I’ll be more focused.

Would love to see you there! It’s Tuesday, April 17 at 7pm at North Star fund at 520 Eighth Avenue, Suite 2203.

Check out the Facebook event and RSVP on the site!

Teaching and screening Shabbat Dinner at Harvard-Westlake

Apologies for the super long time between posts. Sometimes it’s better to live life than to write about it (or just impractical to do both), and that was March for me.

The month started off with a whirlwind week in Los Angeles, where I was invited to guest teach at the Harvard-Westlake video art program. The course was to focus primarily on color correction. Cheri Gaulke and I designed a four-part workshop, which we taught to each of the eight video art classes throughout the week.

What an amazingly gratifying experience. High schoolers are laser-focused and nimble or distractable and doltish, and it varies by the minute, but overall, these students were eager to learn and engage with the material and incredibly creative and driven. I’d love to do it again, and I will this summer at the Harvard-Westlake summer video workshop!

In the first our four lessons, my major take-away was that the director is responsible to have complete and utter control over every aspect of the frame. Though the idea makes sense in principle, it’s another thing entirely to practice it; it often takes seeing many examples to realize what can be done in a frame. My favorite example to tell is from teaching in Kenya, when several students filmed an interview in which 2/3 of the image was a giant USAID logo. Was it intentional? No. But it was still a part of their film.

I went over the basics of three-point lighting; followed to a T it tends to look staged to a modern eye, but it’s a great way to wrap your head around how to light a scene. I showed examples of good and bad lighting, in particular emphasizing that because video has a fairly low dynamic range, harsh highlights and shadows are to be avoided. Then I quickly discussed using elements in the frame to elucidate the relationships between characters, objects, and the viewer.

In the second class period, the students filmed a three-shot sequence. We chose locations that provided a number of difficulties: areas that were too bright or too dark (avoid them at all costs, even if it is helpful to your story), areas where the lighting was too flat (add some lighting using a light or bounceboard), cluttered areas (use close-ups or wide shots), and boring areas (add color or other interesting elements.) We gave them a few props that they had to use and 45 minutes to shoot in.

In the third class period I gave a tutorial on Apple Color, teaching techniques such as Secondary rooms and power windows. Manipulating the colors gave the students a much better visceral sense of why the shooting techniques described above actually work. They edited and color corrected their own projects during the fourth period.

I also had the opportunity to screen Shabbat Dinner for the Harvard-Westlake Gay-Straight Alliance. In the middle of a mind-bending eight repetitions of my opening lecture, after about three hours’ sleep, and returning to a high school I hadn’t really been at for ten years, it was going to be an intense experience no matter what. But seeing the students connect on a level I hadn’t seen before to the film was truly emotional. As the Harvard-Westlake Chronicle said in its article about my week there, “Murmurs of ‘That was so good’ filled Ahmanson Lecture Hall as the projector clicked off and the movie ended to applause.

In the end, the primary audience for Shabbat Dinner is high schoolers; I wanted the film to accomplish and speak to something even though it was not feature length. Hearing that it was true to the high schoolers’ real-life experiences and seeing their faces as they asked for copies of the DVD and even t-shirts was incredible. Ted Hope taught me that distribution of a film is as integral as any other aspect of its creation – in fact, more so, because the ultimate raison d’être of a film is to be watched. So the entire creation of a film leads up to the moment of a viewer experiencing it, and in many ways a film is defined only by that moment. And it was a great one!

Thank you to Cheri Gaulke, Kevin O’Malley, and Alyssa Sherwood, as well as all the Harvard-Westlake administrators and students I taught, for making that week such a memorable one!