Tag Archives: maryland hall

On Tour: Annapolis, MD

30 Apr

April 23rd, 2013  |  What We Need is the Impossible!  |  Annapolis, MD

White Board

Each stop on this tour is usually about a three hour drive, so I’ve been all over the Mid-Atlantic region in my bright red Ford Fiesta rental (It’s actually a surprisingly decent car). I’ve gotten lost a couple of times – in fact I got hella-lost on my way to Annapolis and just barely made it to the show on time. I got totally screwed up in a spaghetti-like freeway maze around Baltimore, and was so frustrated by the experience that it caused me to give some serious thought to how I – and we – navigate on the road these days.

I’m going to say right up front – and you might think I’m a Luddite or just an idiot – that I don’t like GPS. Yeah, I know, it works and it’s a pretty fail-safe way to get somewhere – you just turn on that thing and it tells you exactly what to do. But that’s what I don’t like about it: many people I know who use GPS turn into zombies, just blindly following the prompts. I know someone who actually uses GPS to go to places that she’s traveled hundreds of times; she says that just likes the certainty of being told where to turn and when. I’m sure I sound like a crank, but I think this kind reliance on GPS actually atrophies one’s powers of thinking and orienting and sense of direction. If you just sit back and do what your told, of course, all those muscles get flabby. So I’m not using GPS.

The other thing that I hate is Mapquest directions; they’re often so unnecessarily complicated! Something as simple as “take US-17 to I-95” gets broken down into seventeen little component steps. “Go 50 feet on this spur, and then merge on to this off ramp, etc.” If you look at the Mapquest directions this looks incredibly complicated, but the reality is that if you just follow the signs, it’s usually pretty straightforward.

All of this got me wondering, what the hell did we do before the Internet? I couldn’t really remember how car trips worked back in the 20th century. I do remember as a kid going with my parents to the AAA office to pick up a bunch of little maps before a road-trip. And I guess I remember someone sitting in the passenger seat navigating and telling the driver what to do. Did people get lost more back then, or less? It’s striking how technology changes the way we do things, and then suddenly it’s impossible to remember what life was like before.

iPhone Map

So back to the I-495 interchange outside of Baltimore. My own lame solution so far on this tour has been to glance through the Mapquest directions and get enough of a sense of the route that I hoped I could wing it. The problem is, this doesn’t actually doesn’t work! I found myself lost and desperately looking down at the map on my stupid iPhone while driving in fast-moving heavy rush-hour traffic. I said to myself “I’m an asshole, and this is super dangerous!”

So I’ve come up with a new solution: before hitting the road, I sit down with the Mapquest directions and my phone and go through the route. I consult the iPhone map so I have some general sense of where to go and then condense the Mapquest directions to lose all the tiny irrelevant steps. I then write out on a piece of paper the different steps and roads and exits. I realize I must sound like I’m 80-years old, but it seems to work for me. As for all of you using GPS, I hate to say it, but if the satellites ever go out, you people aren’t even going to remember how to get to the end of your driveway.

So like I said, I barely made it to the screening at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts on time. A very small crowd.  The truth is that even if there were one person in the audience, I would enjoy talking to him or her afterwards. For me, even if I’m grumpy about the turnout, I get huge amounts of energy and inspiration from engaging with people after a screening.  That kind of human interaction and connection is for me what it’s all about.

Post by OSIP Touring Filmmaker, Sam Green

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On Tour: The Abels Arrive in Annapolis

18 Mar

March 12th, 2013  |  ABEL RAISES CAIN  |  Annapolis, MD

The idea of road-tripping with my parents, my husband, our baby and our dog over two thousand miles together in a minivan for two weeks straight might sound a bit crazy to the outsider. But I must say, the trip itself and having our 5-month old baby, Jalen, along with us has been a pretty incredible experience so far. He may only have a few fleeting memories of the sights and sounds, including those images of his grandparents projected on various screens, as we travel across the mid-Atlantic. But the memory of the tour for us as a whole will be everlasting.

I am instantly attracted to the small quaint historic section of Annapolis that we’re staying in with its teeny tiny walkways, colorful rows of houses and cobble stone streets. The scenes remind me of something my mom might create in miniature form with her dollhouse work. We took a day to relax and enjoy the sights. Arriving at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts the following evening, we were greeted by half a dozen elderly ushers wearing formal black and white attire. There were not many people and not very far to usher, but it was an enthusiastic bunch of volunteers who all chattered simultaneously, “Hello! We’ve been waiting for you!” as we exited the elevator. What a welcome, indeed!

I was a bit nervous about this screening. I barely had any contact with our hosts. Several of the venues so far have undergone a major change in personnel and I wonder if our experience in these towns might have been different had the regulars been on board. Also in Annapolis, I was fearful that the cost to buy tickets was a bit much, especially for a community-friendly establishment catering to the arts. The Capital Gazette apparently ran ads in the paper about our screening. And so I remained hopeful that some folks might actually show up to see an otherwise obscure documentary.

It turned out to be a small but very appreciative group. It would have been great if more people came out, but we met some interesting folks. One woman used to work for a TV network in New York City that my dad occasionally hoaxed, WPIX-TV, which I remember watching as a kid. When I introduced the film, I warned the audience that halfway through the picture there is some brief nudity. The International Sex Bowl, another one of my father’s hoaxes, caused a bit of trouble for us during our tour down south last year. We were censored because of that scene, even though it’s presented in a satirical manner, and one of our screenings got cancelled as a result. Granted, I will admit the scene in question is particularly bawdy and the venue that pulled the plug on us was a church.

It was still painful to watch a mother in the audience hurriedly attempt to cover her young son’s eyes during this section of the film. In a silhouetted pantomime, I could see a bit of a struggle going on. I was worried that the boy might need psychotherapy after seeing our movie. I thought to myself that I would break the tension following the screening by joking with the parents that they should go ahead and just send me the doctor’s bill.

The projection at Maryland Hall was crystal clear and the sound was perfect, thanks to high-end equipment and Ben, the projectionist. It was a pretty screening room with its decoratively trimmed ceiling and arched projection wall. It’s funny and beyond ironic that during the introduction to my father’s faux ban breast-feeding campaign, I find myself in the back of the theatre breast-feeding my son. I also find Euthanasia Cruises and the KKK Symphony Orchestra amusing, no matter how many times I see the film. Both concepts are pretty ‘out there.’ Crossing the line into absurdity, collective laughter from the crowd erupts as soon as the inherent satire in these phony causes is revealed.

Jenny- Annapolis2

Sneaking out of the theatre, I wandered about and peeked into some of the adjacent spaces. It was a ‘Rear Window’ view of the innards of the hall. Between an opera rehearsal complete with an accompanying pit orchestra, ballet classes, pottery wheels spinning, and a distant piano plunking, it was a mish mosh of sounds and a hub of bustling activity. It was a very unusual but interesting space for a screening, to say the least.

The climax of the Q&A happened when a second-grader (the one who learned about the birds and the bees for the first time that night) raised his hand and asked my dad, “How do you do it?” “Do what?” my father retorted. “Everything!” the kid shouted back. My dad evaded the question for an uncomfortably long time and then finally gave up and said, “I don’t know.” I interjected that my dad has to put a lot of planning and effort into many of his stunts. There is a complexity beyond simple practical joking when launching one of his phony satirical crusades. In terms of how he sustains himself through a ‘career’ in hoaxing, I explained that it’s difficult. My parents have sacrificed a tremendous amount for their art, namely financial security.

One of the ushers, an older woman from a small town in Ohio, asked what my dad’s parents thought of his career. This question has never been asked before at any of our screenings and it’s something that I was always curious about. In actuality, my grandparents were proud of my dad. They collected newspaper clippings featuring his pranks over the years and compiled them into giant scrapbooks. However, I’m pretty sure they didn’t have a clue what he really did for a living. The ‘how’ or the ‘why’ of it all was unclear, but they were supportive nonetheless.

The same woman who asked the question about my father’s parents’ reaction bought a copy of my dad’s book afterwards. Jeff watched her hand it to the inquisitive boy who seemed intrigued by everything that he had witnessed this evening. The boy’s father quickly intercepted it and joked out loud that he’d better review the material first before showing it to his son! Not only do we create scenes, the Abels also cause trouble wherever we go. My sincerest apologies to all we’ve offended along the way, particularly those poor parents who have a lot of explaining to do in Annapolis!

 

Post by OSIP Touring Filmmaker, Jenny Abel

On Tour: Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts

20 Feb

A cold rainy February weeknight in Annapolis  Maryland is the setting for my next stop with Cafeteria Man. The elegantly refashioned high school that is the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts was surprisingly hopping with a multitude of activity. Theatre rehearsals, ballet classes, and studio artists meeting were all in effect, and I was pleased to find a screening room with about 40 really diverse folks gathered to see my film.

As a special treat, I was able to introduce and salute Sheila Kinkade, my dear friend and the film’s originator and producer who was present at the screening with a friend from Baltimore. The discussion was lively and very honest. Many people were moved by the film’s positive message amidst a subject filled with frustration and obstacles. Almost all of them wanted to speak, many weighing in on their own nostalgic take on school food. It occurred to me how the subject is familiar to almost every American, even if not in a dramatic way. And for people under 60, the memories and experiences of their cafeteria days range from dismal to horrific.

image

A nice little bonus was an eleven year old girl who proclaimed that she was currently making her own documentary on her school’s food situation which was her reason for attending the screening.  There is some kind of developmental stage of adolescence where social activism and a desire to speak out emerge. If it’s guided a little it can be a great tool for awareness and reform. She was in that zone and really motivated to make things better.  I think she inspired us all. It just reminds me again that problems in our society like school nutrition are not someone else’s to solve but our own.

This screening in particular and the series itself are valuable to me (or I think would be to any documentary filmmaker) in allowing a glimpse of how a film can genuinely contribute to a collective awareness and act as a call to action.

Post by OSIP Touring Filmmaker, Richard Chisolm

Stu Maddux Brings Gen Silent to Annapolis, MD

21 Sep

I am checking in from our next stop on the OSIP tour.  The lovely Annapolis, MD. I place that I have never been to but certainly will return.  I didn’t know if the Naval Academy would over power the character of the rest of this colonial community. I didn’t realize that it is also the state capital.

US Naval Academy in the background

They all compliment each other both in the types of people here as well as the cityscape. I suppose you have to after hundreds of years together.

Main St.

The Maryland Hall for The Arts was a perfect place for an intimate screening of our documentary, Gen Silent.  A tornado watch had the volunteers and staff expecting low turn out.

They were right. But it didn’t matter because several people drove two hours to see our film about LGBT aging.

Filmmaker Stu Maddux and Performing Arts Director Tom Fridrich with two audience members who drove two hours to watch Gen Silent.

During the screenings, I usually wait quietly outside the theater and listen carefully for audience reactions (laughter, etc.) to tell me what kind of crowd it is. This time I had company in the form of an exhibition of paintings about LGBT couples.

That was more than a good sign. It told me that the subjects of my documentary would not only be accepted here but celebrated and valued.

Gotta  run off a crab cake or two before I meet students tonight at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey.  I wonder what they will think of a film about old people?

Post and photos by Stu Maddux, OSIP touring filmmaker. 

On Tour: A Busy Night at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts

23 Apr

Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts

The Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis, Maryland is a former high school that at one time was destined to be leveled into a parking lot. Thankfully, it has instead become a thriving community gathering place. As I walked through the halls, peeking into the re-purposed classrooms, I was impressed by rows of dancers doing rigorous exercises, listened to singers practicing opera, and watched youngsters giving piano recitals. I even saw a class of potters at their wheels. In the auditorium, the mayor was defending his budget. And then, my movie BLAST! was playing to an enthusiastic audience!

Posters all over

This crowd included some tech-savvy people who were blown away by what happened on screen. They seemed flabbergasted that the scientists had to subject such incredibly sophisticated instrumentation (How do the the detectors work? How does the telescope point with such precision when dangling beneath a balloon?) to such an inherently risky process (You mean they can’t control where it floats, it’s just moving with the wind? How does the telescope separate from the balloon? What caused the parachute separation to fail?) The lively Q&A evolved into an extended conversation about how BLAST! portrays the humanity of scientist in ways we rarely see elsewhere and the challenges of science education in the United States.

The lively discussion

When I met him that afternoon, Director Thomas Fridrich had explained that this is one of the first times the Maryland Hall has participated in a film series. But as far as I could tell, they were doing a great job so far. BLAST! was printed up on their monthly brochure; I picked up a separate flyer that included an announcement for BLAST! right beneath one for Merle Haggard, who had played there the night before; and out front was a huge banner on the facade of the building promoting the entire On Screen/in Person Film Series. Great start, if you ask me. Look for good things from Annapolis as the Maryland Hall develops its independent film audience.

Reaching the community

My wife Emily had to teach in New York, so we planned to meet up the following day in Washington DC. Instead she surprised me and showed up in the middle of the Q&A! Very happy she did, because Annapolis is a cute, historical town and she is going to enjoy exploring it.

At the docks

Exploring Annapolis

Back on the Tour together!

Post by Paul Devlin, OSIP touring filmmaker

To read all posts by this filmmaker, please click here!

On Tour: Launching a Dialogue

14 Mar

March 9, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Annapolis, MD

Kony 2012 didn’t really come up tonight – no one in the small, but engaged, audience had encountered the viral phenomenon, and its counter conversation. But I couldn’t help reflecting on it once again, as I have continually for the past few days, and what it says about how we tell stories and engage with them in a culture that is increasingly driven by multi-tasking, texting, 140-character bites of information.

Kony 2012, to my sense – and to others who’ve been critiquing the campaign – makes it all too simple: here’s a bad man, hurting poor Africans, and if we in the West can stop him, the world will be a better place. And buying a bracelet, and making Kony as famous as George Clooney, is going to be a big part of making us all feel better about doing something important to make the world a better place.

Now, I’m oversimplifying in some ways here, too. But that’s pretty much the gist of the campaign. It doesn’t engage in, or encourage, a discussion of the complex realities of the situation; of who the “bad guys” are, or even of who the “good guys” are (the assumption is that we in the West are the good guys); it most certainly does not reflect the thoughts or desires of Africans, who don’t even get to speak for themselves (except for the one formerly abducted child soldier whose story features in the film).

But I love the dialogue that’s been launched by this campaign, and I do hope that a generation of young people will become more aware of the world we live in, and more committed to being a partner in finding solutions to the challenges that face us all. But that requires deeper thinking than what the Kony 2012 campaign is asking of us, and I’m not sure how we encourage that kind of journey. I’m concerned by the rush of information in the world today – and the oversimplification of critically important issues into tweets and “likes.” We have got to give much more of ourselves to understanding complex issues, and learning how to deal with them in ways that may push us out of our comfort zone, causing us to critique our own assumptions and perhaps even to adopt new frameworks for understanding how we engage with the world.

Which brings me to Fambul Tok. What I love about sharing this documentary is that it never, ever leaves an audience without a host of questions. Post-screening conversations go on for a half hour to an hour or more. Based on the 82 minutes they’ve just spent watching a film that allows Africans to speak for themselves – that explores cultural solutions to justice and reconciliation that fly in the face of Western norms – audience members find themselves grappling with all kinds of questions: How is this kind of forgiveness possible? What is the role of community in supporting this kind of reconciliation? Is it possible for us to do something similar in the West? Do we have something to learn from Sierra Leone, and Africa? Is the West really getting it right with its overarching priority on prosecution and punishment? What role does apology and forgiveness have in our own lives?

None of these questions – and the soul-searching, transformative wrestlings required to begin to come up with answers – are the stuff of viral campaigns. But I do believe they spark the kind of thinking that will lead us to become more constructively engaged in the world, and will help us learn how to be better partners in the process.

Fambul Tok 2012? Now that would be interesting!

Post by Sara Terry, OSIP touring filmmaker

On Tour: Ryan Meets the OSIP Staff

13 Feb

Annapolis here we go! I’m fresh off the road and ready for these impressionable minds. Well I’m actually the impressionable one in this equation. Everybody turned out to be like 30 years my senior. We screen at The Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. This is a really funky center. It’s a hub for several art disciplines. They had sculpture, dance and a 60 + person theater rehearsal going on during the screening. The place was buzzing. I dig these creative environments. It makes me think of being a kid going to Fillmore Arts in DC. Each door you open was a new surprise.

I had an extra treat at this screening. Brigid from Mid-Atlantic Arts came by. It was cool to put a face with the voice and have support from the organization there. The crowd seemed to be regulars to the center’s events. It was an older white audience but immediately they came off as open-minded and art advocates. I spoke to a couple women as they went in. One lady said to me, “I’m glad you brought this film. Now I’m going to tell you exactly how I feel about it so it better be good”. To tell you the truth that kind of made me nervous because she seemed like she was right at the age where you didn’t sensor your thoughts anymore. If they feel it, they say it without any care of the cost. Oh boy.

Brigid Myers and I.

When the film was done nobody left. Everybody stayed for the talk back. This is the first time that has happened. A few people always slip out after the film. I normally come down front soon as the credits roll so they at least feel bad seeing me as they leave. This was a feisty bunch. I almost got more testimonies then questions this time. I think my favorite was “thank you for including the element of religion.” She went on to reference a pivotal part in the film. I would share but I don’t want to spoil the film. It was one of my favorite parts too. Oh and the lady I was nervous about, she liked it. She had a little trouble with grasping some of the kids dialogue. I guess because of the vernacular but all in all she seemed pleased. Annapolis I had a great time. Thank you for being so open.

Post and photos by Ryan Richmond, OSIP touring filmmaker. Thanks to Brigid for checking out the screening! Brigid is a big part of the OSIP behind-the-scenes and books all of the filmmakers’ travel. It’s a big job, and she does it well. 🙂

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