Jan 14 2009

Film = finished

I’m not really sure how to do this post justice.

For the last three years I’ve been working/living/breathing Abode. Or, for posterity: Abode.

Throughout the process my life has changed so much; I’ve met new friends, seen new places, I’ve been pushed way beyond my normal comfort zone, and I’ve been touched and inspired by those who have let us into their lives. And now it’s winding down. Or rather I suppose, there’s a new phase starting.

It’s been a dynamic process; even through the editing we weren’t sure exactly how we wanted to bring it all together. Between Fernando and I, we think of making this film as “the process of becoming”. Not just because it’s about intentionality in a global/national/community sense, but also because for both of us the story has been a journey paralleled by our own growth over the last few years. Ironically (maybe?), for the majority of that time, we didn’t think the film involved us at all. We thought of ourselves as unbiased eyes and ears recording the world around us.

I’m having a hard time capturing all of the thoughts that are swirling around, but most importantly I guess I wanted to characterize this as something completely different from other projects in my life to date. On other creative endeavors, I’ve always had an overarching plan for what I was doing. Not the specific details, but the broad strokes– what I wanted to say, basically how I wanted to say it. And the process of ‘creation’ has been ala Michelangelo, to remove the statute from the stone and refine down the world of infinite possibility until I’ve got exactly what I wanted to say. Oh, and I don’t want to seem like I’m denigrating that method at all. In fact, I think that for the kinds of things I want to talk about, that method is probably the one I’ll use throughout my life. But Abode is something else completely. With Abode, I felt like Fernando and I (to continue the Michelangelo vector) were not even sure what the medium was. Were we carving from marble or from cheese? We had each other, and we had ourselves and we used that as a compass to guide us where the story needed to go. I think sometimes of this quote which I feel is vaguely a philosophical joke which runs basically: “If you want to have purity of actions, it’s really very simple. First, be perfect, and then act naturally.” I think we cast ourselves as documentarians and then did our damndest to act naturally.

So the whole thing really has a lot of us in it. Not just the memories we have of creating it, or the bits and pieces you see on screen of our bodies, or our immediate impacts, but it’s got a parallel structure to the last several years of our lives.

One illustration before I try to bring this all back together into what I wanted to say (which has to do with the ending).

After I tell people that I’m making a film and then answer their question of what it’s about, I always want to say something interesting that will in some way capture my experience (and maybe demonstrate what it is that I think documentarians do (and divorce it from “point a camera and ask questions”)) and I usually talk about the two weeks or so that I spent moonlighting as a full time filmmaker in New Orleans. When I finally got into the swing of things, it took viewing myself and Fernando as characters in our own lives, and our lives as part of this bigger plot upon which we had a limited amount of influence. So we would wake up and have coffee and talk about what we wanted to do that day. Not in a like “get lunch with Moose” kind of way, but more like a “we should spend some time with this person because today is the day that they’re presenting at this meeting, which could be a culminating moment in their story. and we should tell these other people that we’re busy because they won’t really be moving until next week and we should be there then instead of now. and if we were to introduce these two people at the river, not only would it look great and have good sound, but also there might be some really productive fallout regarding that new resolution that the city council passed.” Maybe that didn’t accurately depict what I was trying to convey, but the idea is that we would think about how we could have the best possible impact through our immediate actions and secondary impacts and then try to impact/nudge the events so that we would also have the camera in the right place at the right time.

So the concept of writing the ending was something that I think Fernando and I shared an unspoken trepidation about for years. How could we write the ending to our own story? How could we pop up a level from our own lives and figure out how to take meaningful resolution from it? I can’t speak for you, but very rarely in my own life do I realize “wow, that plot point just wrapped up really nicely”.

I don’t want to say that there was this “Aha!” moment where we realized there was only one way for the ending to be, but I will say that I smiled pretty big when we settled on what we did. It really feels like a part of me in there. Exactly my kind of thing.


It’s difficult for me to believe that we’re burning DVDs and submitting film festival applications. And on the 22nd we’re having an invite-only screening for many of the people that we interviewed throughout the project. I’m a little worried about people’s pre-conceived notions since this group is very closely related to the creation of the film. I hope it doesn’t get in the way for them that two years ago, the film was thought to be about something totally different. Or the fact that for many of them, despite being so generous with their time and expertise, we weren’t able to use any of the footage we shot with them. I think it’ll be a good crowd and there will be lots of support there too, I just hope they like it, and think we’ve been fair and true in our handling of their stories.

Jan 14 2009

Bike light stolen


I hate getting my bike light stolen because I love leaving my lights on and feeling like I’m giving people the benefit of the doubt.

Oh well, maybe $15 every few months to help illuminate less fortunate bikers is not such an excessive tax.