John Maringouin, Cinema Eye nominee for BIG RIVER MAN and Spirit Award nominee for RUNNING STUMBLED, alerts us to his latest: a viral video he shot yesterday in Oklahoma City of a nearly naked woman in a wheelchair, stroking a poodle, being held by Oklahoma City airport's TSA forces.
There's been a bizarre bit of news developing in the past couple of days, as a powerhouse team - the Sundance Institute, YouTube, Ridley Scott and Oscar winning documentary filmmaker Kevin Macdonald - is emploring people to join in what they describe as "the first-ever user-generated film shot in a single day".
The organizers of LIFE IN A DAY are seeking folks from all over the world to shoot footage of their lives on Saturday, July 24. Then, according to the film's YouTube site:
"The most compelling and distinctive footage will be edited into an experimental documentary film, produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin Macdonald.
The film will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011 and will be available right hear on YouTube. If your footage makes it into the finished film, you'll be credited as a co-director and you could be one of 20 contributors brought ot Sundance to celebrate with Kevin Macdonald."
Hey, it sounds groovy and all, and congrats on one of the earliest Sundance selection notices of all time. But just one problem - it's not "the first-ever user-generated film shot in a single day", as Variety reported yesterday and as an email from the Sundance Institute trumpets today.
Hat tip to Christopher Campbell, who flagged this for us yesterday with his tweet:
Ridley Scott that @jeffdeutchman
already made a user-generated documentary feature shot in one day."
Indeed, Jeff Deutchman debuted his user-generated, shot-in-one-day feature documentary, 11/4/08, at SXSW this year and it's gone on to have quite a life on the festival circuit and is now playing select dates around the US.
As Campbell later tweeted:
"Noticed that 11/4/08 is screening in Indianapolis
on July 24. @jeffdeutchman
should film at the event and then submit it to Life in a Day"
Now, Deutchman may or may not have made "the first-ever user-generated film shot in a single day" - it's the first I've heard of, but who knows what's been out there in the ether" - but LIFE IN A DAY certainly can't claim that title. It may be historic in other ways (there's that July announcement for a film screening at Sundance again), but Scott & Sundance & YouTube should give credit where credit is due.
Deutchman beat them to the punch.
Update: Numerous folks have weighed in on other "shot-in-one-day" documentaries that feature some variation on a similar theme. In particular, Movieline's S.T. VanAirsdale notes 140, a film that premiered at the 2010 Newport Beach Film Festival, that seems pretty much directly on the same page as what Scott & Co. are hyping, although it limited its user-generated material to 140 seconds, a reference to the number of characters allowed in a tweet.
Also, on this topic, Christopher Campbell writes further at Cinematical. And USA Today's Susan Wloszczyna (who comments below, arguing that 11/4/08 doesn't fit her idea of "user-generated" since Deutchman recruited some of his footage) talks to Kevin Macdonald about the film project.
I was fascinated last night watching this YouTube clip that was produced and edited by Chase Whiteside (he also is the on-camera interviewer) and filmed by Erick Stoll. It's their take on the recent 9-12 protest in Washington D.C. that was promoted by Fox News' host Glenn Beck and attended by tens of thousands of folks (or millions if you believe the organizers instead of your own lying eyes).
It's not so much the right-wing politics of the event or the editorial slant taken by the filmmakers (they call themselves NewLeftMedia after all), but rather the professional nature of the interviews, the editing and the quick 3-day turnaround time. Whiteside has a natural presence on camera, it's easy to believe that the protesters took him for a journalist, rather than a more activist filmmaker - and he's clearly working in the Michael Moore-realm here. If there's an interview with a truly intelligent person who's opposed to the Democrat's various health care proposals, he or she did not make the cut.
Our pal Courtney Sexton from Participant is one of those leading the fight against Proposition 8 in California, which would strip existing marriage rights from same sex couples. Courtney joined friends in producing a series of ads that resemble the Apple v. Mac campaign and which feature folks like Molly Ringwald and Margaret Cho. My favorite is after the break:
A short break from our doc-centric ways for a piece of viral video that came out today. If you haven't seen it yet, here's a response from one of the featured players in John McCain's much talked about "Celebrity" ad of last week...
If any of you are political junkies, then you've probably been tuning in to the fractious DNC Rules Committee hearings this afternoon which seem to have solidified Barack Obama's claim to the nomination.
Much has been made of the loud, pro-Hillary protesting that went on inside the hearing room, but if one Harriet Christian is any representative, perhaps these folks should do a little less verbalizing if they want to be a net-plus for their candidate (via the liberal blog Firedoglake):
Once upon a time, we used to talk politics here on a far more regular basis. But in the midst of the bitter, mostly ridiculous back and forth between Hillary "Beer and a Shot" Clinton and Barack Obama, we've pretty much stayed out of it.
Imagine our surprise today, however, when all of the political tongues were wagging over a piece of YouTube video, culled from DA Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus' Oscar nominated THE WAR ROOM that purported to show then-and-now Clinton adviser Mickey Kantor calling the people of Indiana "shit" and "white niggers".
Purported because the "subtitles" at the bottom of the screen told the viewer that Kantor had used the offensive language to describe a state that is soon to go to the polls (and fairly essential to HRC's continued argument of viability).
Except - at least to this viewer - it seemed pretty obvious on first viewing that at least the "white niggers" comment was an incorrect subtitle - either a mistake or a fabrication.
Now, true or not, you may be asking yourself why in the world would anyone care what Kantor - one of a hundred advisors to Hillary Clinton - might have said more than 15 years ago? Why indeed.
But this didn't stop nearly every political site from Drudge to ABC News to Huffington Post from jumping on this shocking non-controversy and posting the clip from THE WAR ROOM with many bloggers insisting that they were attempting to get an audio expert aboard to more closely examine what Kantor said (nevermind that you could have asked a halfway decent lip-reader and realized that he never says the word "nigger", which - take a look in the mirror - requires a pretty specific mouth movement).
"I spent a little time this afternoon capturing the audio source from the War Room from the longer clip available on YouTube, the clip that Politico linked to this morning. I captured the audio in digital audio editing software, amplified it, then ran noise reduction to lower the background hiss. That's all I did. No adding or enhancing sounds, just working to make the existing sound louder and clearer."
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Ben Smith at Politico, who did as much or more than anyone in pushing the Kantor kerfuffle by dedicating a breathtaking four separate posts (complete with updates - here, here, here and here), got the scoop from the great man himself:
"I just spoke to DA Pennebaker, the director of THE WAR ROOM, who said his film had been doctored to produce a widely-viewed YouTube clip...
'(Kantor) does not say that. He does not say that,' said Pennebaker, after viewing the clip.
He said the initial expletive referred to the anticipated reaction in the Bush White House to the fact that Ross Perot's polling numbers were holding strong.
'What he says is he’s surprised Perot’s numbers are holding,' said Pennebaker in a brief phone interview. "He says they must be shitting in the White House."
The second expletive, he said, appeared to have been entirely fabricated, with new audio dubbed onto the original movie.
Pennebaker appeared surprised and amused by the video."
Surprised and amused. How dare he. Does he not know that this is "the most important issue of the day?!?!!?" At least a few of the readers posting at Politico would have none of Pennebaker's excuses. Behold now as a number of great internet geniuses call DA on his shit:
"No way. I have obsessed over this thing for several minutes now. Kantor and Pennebaker are full of it. The audio is muffled but clear. In fact, Pennebaker's excuse makes no sense. Kantor said it."
"Can somebody please make a run to Blockbuster to verify the language"
"I can't believe, really, that you'd call that audio "inconclusive." Maybe you had your speakers on a really low volume or something. Now the director is probably trying to spare the Clinton campaign the trouble, I dunno, but it's pretty evident what Kantor said."
"SPIN PENNEBAKER, SPIN. I have never read a more tortured explanation than this brown-nose, a## kissing gofer has come up with."
"If people believe what Pennebake and Kantor is saying then I have some great property to sell you on Mars."
"OMFG, yes, I am suppose to believe Pennebaker! BWHAHAHA, Yes, typical Clinton brush off, 'he was amused'"
"I guess we will have to wait for Pennebaker to post the original unedited footage."
"You can tell this is potentially harmful when Clinton supporters, including Pennebaker, make elaborate excuse. He says 'they must be sh''ing in the White House'??? Ah, no. That's not what he said at all. It was clear. The audiophiles will determine if the rest was dubbed."
"Well, If that is the case; Why doesn't the director post proof on you tube ? With all those mikes and cameras filming. We can solve this mystery....Show us another angle of audio of the scene. Every movie has several takes.."
"Nice try, Mr. Pennebaker!! Why does it have to be Obama's Team, could of been the Republicans. Let's see if Mr. Pennebaker goes on Cable TV and straigten this out, or if Cable TV will mention this, I doubt it."
"So I guess that the self serving denials of Kantor himself the documentary's director (who is a Clinton lackey) prove that our ears are lying to us."
"Sorry, Pennebaker, but I've seen the film and the the YT clip, and Kantor clearly says this. In fact, it's probably YOU who have doctored the scene in your little mockumentary."
"If the original movie and the youtube tape are the same and Pennebaker says that the tape is doctored does that mean that Pennebaker doctored the tape?"
"Let's see here...Pennebaker is on board with the Clinton group and since he says it's been doctored that should be the end of the story? RIGHT and let's sell some bridges to the American people.......we are suppose to just believe the Clintons group? Are you friggin nuts?"
"i am also highly skeptical of pennebaker's statement that this was doctored....as i just read that he is working on a sequel to the "war room" to catch up with what carville, stephanopoulos, & co. are doing all these years. not saying he's lying, but you gotta admit, since he's basically depending on these guys to be on board for his next documentary, he would have a very definite financial incentive to stand behind them. just saying....i'd rather have a team of unbiased experts take a look at this video, and not rely on the statements of some director who is obviously friendly with the clinton camp."
I too am highly skeptical of this "Pennebaker" fellow - if that is his real name. Who is he anyway? Some kid who just started posting stuff on Current? Good thing he somehow hitched his star to James Carville, cause that's where the serious documentary money is.
But I digress. In addition to the joys of revisiting one of the great documentaries of the 1990s, seeing clips from THE WAR ROOM always startle me because it reminds just how young and completely in the tank George Stephanopoulos was for Bill Clinton.
And that in and of itself reminds that the oft-declared high-mindedness of journalists - which was on display last weekend in the NY Times tsk-tsking of Errol Morris for paying some of his subjects - is so much bunk.
Which brings us to tonight's Anderson Cooper 360, wherein the former host of The Mole, informed:
"We don't know who released this tape...and frankly we debated even airing this story tonight, but we think it's important that you know the facts. This thing is all over the internet. And the facts really about not just this video but how dirty tricks, those smear campaigns, ugly and slanderous, are part of the political season, and how truths are twisted into lies."
See, CNN agrees. It doesn't matter where the thing came from, what the person's motivation might have been (although fearless Ben Smith just emailed the guy through his YouTube account - funny how that works), the fact is that "this thing is all over the internet".
Hey, ABC's Charlie Gibson already is on the record agreeing with this standard when he asked Barack Obama about not wearing a flag pin because "it is all over the internet".
Yes, these are the journalistic standards that we filmmakers are supposed to be looking to for guidance. No thanks.
But since it's out there, literally "all over the internet", we feel obliged to call out Pennebaker and his obvious shilling for the Clintons. DA, don't you think it's time that you came clean?
For a moment I thought maybe I'd made a film and forgot about it. But in reality, this is the kind of thing that happens when you direct a movie about They Might Be Giants. Somewhere out there is some pretty unbelievable fan fiction in which I make a cameo. Anyway, kudos to the team behind my latest opus: