Tag Archives: Sam Green

On Tour: Erie, PA

2 May

April 26th, 2013  |  What We Need is the Impossible!  |  Erie, PA

A great end to the tour. Christine Oliver, who is the events coordinator for Mercyhurst University, was a pro and a great host.

Woman in Red Shirt

We were walking through the parking lot to get to the screening and I made some remark about the beautiful Rolls Royce parked there. Christine mentioned that it belonged to two local artists, Jesse and Ricardo, who attend all the screenings. I was intrigued. Christine and I hung out with them after the show, and they were a hoot. They showed us some of their very nice, Joseph Cornell-like assemblages hanging in a nearby University building and then posed for photos with the car. Christine mentioned that they’d been featured recently on “Hoarders,” which made me wonder if maybe they were crazier than they seemed, but after checking the internet, it turns out it was a show called “American Pickers,” which of course I haven’t seen.

Plaid Couple

Erie, PA was a good town for photos. I did an interview at a local radio station, WQLN, and this sign was on the wall. Made me love public radio even more.

Sparkle Words

Walking downtown, I came across this establishment and was knocked out by the tagline. In fact, I feel like it’s one of the greatest business taglines ever created!:

photo-54

Take the inner you . . . to the outer limits!!!! I gotta make that the title of a film sometime.

As a final image, a building that I drove past in Richmond, VA and was so completely enthralled by that I turned around and went back to investigate.

Spaceship Building

At first I thought it was a Frank Gehry, but fortunately there was a plaque out front with the backstory. Wow! Inspired by a baked potato wrapped in foil – that’s fantastic! Really, one of the nicest looking buildings I’ve ever seen.

Markel Building Marker

Post by OSIP Touring Filmmaker, Sam Green

Advertisements

On Tour: Richmond, VA

30 Apr

April 24, 2013  |  What We Need is the Impossible!  |  Richmond, VA

The screening at the Firehouse theater in Richmond was a highlight of the tour. Shannon Hooker, the assistant director of the Modlin Center for the Arts, and James Parrish of the James River Film Society both did fantastic jobs putting together a lovely event and insuring a good turnout.

Firehouse

Stage

I’ve done so many Q&As that sometimes it feels like there are no new questions – I’ve answered them all. But then, every once in a while, someone will come up with something that’s fresh and provocative and really forces me to think. After the Firehouse show, a fellow asked “why exactly are you making all these films – what’s your purpose with this?”

That’s a huge question! It’s basically, “why are you doing what you do????” A great question indeed. And a valuable one, too. I paused to try to come up with a decent answer. “That’s a big question . . .” I said – stalling while I put my thoughts together. “And it’s hard not to sound like a jerk sometimes talking about this kind of stuff,” which is true. I then went on to say something about it being possible through art to make powerful human connections – I know that through art and music and films, I have experienced powerful and profound moments of human connection and that those experiences have lingered with me – sometimes for years. I said that in the world today, that kind of connection can be – is – especially important and valuable, and so I hope with my work to achieve that. I said that I’m not sure I’m successful in that or not, but that’s what I aspire towards.

It was an OK answer. It was spontaneous and actually heartfelt, so I hope that it resonated with people, but mulling it over later that evening, I thought of many other things that I would have liked to have added. One further thought that I’ll add here is that I see art, and the human connection it can create, as being political in a very fundamental way. We are living at a time when the market and the culture it creates feeds our individuality and narcissism and hunger for instant gratification. Empathy and the imagination are not valued or fostered. And so for me my work fits into a struggle for humanist values. I’m reminded of a verse from Diane Di Prima. “the only war that matters is the/war against the imagination/ all other wars are subsumed/ in it”

Revolutionary Letters Book

On a much lighter note, it was lovely to see several friends who live in Richmond at the screening:

Group Photo

(left to right) Bob Paris, Sasha Waters, Ester Partegas, A.K. Burns, at the Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, VA.

Post by OSIP Touring Filmmaker, Sam Green

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

On Tour: Monmouth, NJ

25 Apr

April 22nd, 2013  |  What We Need is the Impossible!  |  Monmouth, NJ

Monmouth is located on the coast of New Jersey about an hour south of New York. I’d never been to this part of New Jersey shore, so it was a real pleasure to look around. After the screening, I went out with the filmmaker Pete Sillen and his wife Beth to get a drink in Asbury Park. They live in the area and Pete grew up nearby, so I learned a lot about all the little shore towns and their history.

Driving back to my B&B, Pete mentioned that President Garfield had died in Long Branch right near the beach in 1881. He had been shot several times by a crazy guy in Washington DC and the thinking was that the fresh air at the Jersey Shore might be good for his recovery. Obviously, that  plan didn’t work out. After a few weeks in Long Branch, he died on September 19, 1881 and was buried in Cleveland.

This is the kind of historical detail that really doesn’t mean much to anybody, but I love the fact that we mark this kind of thing. Pete and Beth showed me the marker which is in front of what now is just some random vacation home on a little side street off the beach. The actual house that Garfield died in is long gone.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tombstone
Garfield Terrace

There’s something about the effort to mark events – to forever fix a time and place in the landscape – that appeals to me. I have a soft spot for the very human to urge to defy time and the inevitable processes that wash away the traces of our lives here. It is all of our fate to eventually be forgotten; the places we go, the things we do, the people we know and love will one day all be gone – like the house where James Garfield died. So markers appeal to me because they can be seen as a noble attempt to forestall the inexorable.

One of my favorite markers is the plaque commemorating the place where the great inventor Nikola Tesla died in 1943. It’s on the outside of the New Yorker hotel in Manhattan near Penn Station.

Plaque High

Plaque Closeup

I especially like this plaque for two reasons: a) inexplicably, it’s about ten feet off the ground, so absolutely no one notices it. I have sat and watched people walk by and it’s a sad reality with this plaque – it gets no love. And b) the fact that the plaque was put up by the Yugoslav-American Bicentennial Committee is also such a poignant reminder of the fact that time moves relentlessly forward and change is the only constant; Yugoslavia is not even a country anymore!

On that note, I have to get in my rental car and head to Richmond for my next screening. Thanks to Andrew Demirjian, who teaches at Monmouth University and put on the screening there.

Post by OSIP Touring Filmmaker, Sam Green

On Tour: Rehoboth Beach, DE

25 Apr

April 20th, 2013  |  What We Need is the Impossible!  |  Rehoboth Beach, DE

I was a little worried when I pulled up to the venue for my screening with the Rehoboth Beach Film Society. It was a huge multiplex, and my movies weren’t anywhere on the marquis!

photo-52_Building Front

I stood around in the lobby for a few minutes, waiting for someone to meet me, before I noticed a little doorway hidden off to the side with a sign above it that said “film screening upstairs.” I figured that was me, and went up there:

photo-53_Door Upstairs

photo-55_Screening Room

It was quite a weird space but there was something quite pleasing about it – it had good feng shui as they say. Sue Early was up there selling tickets; she’s the director of the Rehoboth Beach Film Society. I pulled out my camera to take a picture of her and she said “argh – I take horrible photos!” I disagree; I like this image:

photo-54_Sue Early

I had been worried about the turnout, but it ended up being a (little) full house. The Rehoboth Beach Film Society sounds like a pretty impressive organization; Sue said they have 1,600 paying members. Anyway, the screening was great. The crowd was mostly senior citizens, which I like. Older people are usually way more engaged with films and the filmmaker after. I had worried that some of the more youth-oriented films, like The Fabulous Stains: Behind the Movie for example would be too weird for them, but they seemed to like it. So it was a fun Q and A.

photo-56_Audience

I was starving afterwards, and someone told me that Dogfish Brewery started in Rehoboth Beach and that the original brewpub would still be open. This is definitely not any kind of paid endorsement here. I do have to say though that I’m a fan of Dogfish and had a pretty fantastic beer and meal there later that evening.

photo-57_Dogfish

Post by OSIP Touring Filmmaker, Sam Green

On Tour: Oswego, NY

24 Apr

April 18th, 2013  |  What We Need is the Impossible!  |  Oswego, NY

The highlight of the tour so far? Spent this morning with a bunch of birders watching migrating hawks at the Derby Hill Bird Observatory on Lake Ontario near Oswego!

photo-62_Birder Group

Chris, the lovely proprietor of the Serendipity B&B in Oswego (my pal Jenny Abel wrote about him in her recent OSIP blog post) mentioned that this is an auspicious time and place for migrating birds – the birds are flying north to return to their summer grounds and run into Lake Ontario, and apparently birds won’t cross a lake if they can’t see the other side. So they flurry around in the skies above Derby Hill before moving on to skirt the lake around to the east.

photo-65_Birds Flying

The birders at Derby Hill were great. They seem so nice! Reminded me of Esperanto speakers. They loaned me some binoculars and were happy to answer all my questions. It seemed like a real scene there, and I got the sense that many of them were regulars. Peter Davidson, an older hippie-ish guy, told me he’d been coming to Derby Hill for 25 years.

He said they see Golden and Bald Eagles, Sand Hill Cranes, Rough Leg Hawks, and Sharp-Shinned Hawks. And besides the birds, they have “a lotta knee-slapping laughs.”

One of the younger fellows, Steve Colby, is paid by the Audubon Society to come out and count the birds. I was particularly taken with the gizmos he had for keeping track of what he saw.

photo-66_Counter Billboard

photo-59_Important Bird Area

photo-60_Counters

photo-64_Counters

Derby Hill is a beautiful spot. It’s apparently very windy in Oswego in general, but it was especially windy up on the hill – a big blustery wind that felt like the whole sky was blowing. And the Hill overlooks Lake Ontario, which is huge and feels more like a sea than a lake. (Having grown up in Michigan, it felt good to be back around one of the Great Lakes).

Derby Hill map

And the screening? It was OK. I was happy to meet Jacob Dodd and Josh Adams who teach at SUNY Oswego. And I enjoyed speaking with their students during the afternoon. A light turnout at the theater though. I shoulda invited the birders!

Post by OSIP Touring Filmmaker, Sam Green

%d bloggers like this: