Few are scandalized by the BBC adding sound effects to documentary footage, as it's somewhat obvious and the intent is to bring the viewer to a truth that might otherwise be obscured. A lot of other storytelling magic is at hand, though, not all of it so ostentatious. Simon Cade illustrates some of the techniques, among which editing is among the most powerful. Read the rest
M.C. Escher: Adventures in Perception (1971) is a 20-minute Dutch documentary about the artist and includes scenes of him working in his studio. From Open Culture:
Obsessed with perspective, geometry, and pattern (Escher described tessellation as “a real mania to which I have become addicted”), his images have, by the count of mathematician and Escher scholar Doris Schattschneider, led so far to eleven separate strands of mathematical and scientific research.
The twenty-minute Adventures in Perception, originally commissioned by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offers in its first half a meditation on the mesmerizing, often impossible world Escher had created with his art to date. Its second half captures Escher in the last years of his life, still at work in his Laren, North Holland studio. It even shows him printing one of the three titular serpents, threaded through a set of elaborately interlocking circles, of his very last print Snakes. He never actually finished Snakes, whose patterns would have continued on to the effect of infinity, and even says here of his officially complete works that none succeed, “because it’s the dream I tried for that can’t be realized.”
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In its 1970s heyday, Detroit-based music magazine Creem was home to seminal editors/writers/photographers like Lester Bangs, Robert Christgau, Greil Marcus, Patti Smith, Bob Gruen, Jenny Lens, and so many more. Indeed, it was in its pages that Dave Marsh coined the term "punk rock" in 1971. Creem's content was superb. It was unabashedly critical of fame, didn't take itself too seriously, and documented the more underground artists, bands, and scenes of the time, from the MC5 to Alice Cooper, New York City's glam rock culture to the proto-punks of the US and UK.
Boy Howdy! is director Scott Crawford's forthcoming documentary about Creem and I absolutely can't wait to see it. Until then, I'll proudly wear the fantastic t-shirt below, scribbled by my pal Jess Rotter! And yes, they're also selling Creem's classic Boy Howdy! t-shirt, handsomely modeled by John Lennon below.
Boy Howdy! and Creem magazine merch
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UPDATE 3/5/2107 Peter Sjöstedt-H emailed me: "Thank you for promoting my interview with Tim Scully. Tim has emailed me to ask if the title of your article could be altered a little as it is now factually incorrect: Scully did not manufacture "750,000,000 Doses of LSD" but only *wanted to*. He actually only manufactured about 3,000,000 doses of 300 ug.
Peter Sjöstedt-H interviewed famous 1960s acid chemist Tim Scully for High Existence.
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In 1977 Tim Scully was imprisoned for the manufacture of LSD, a high-standard variety thereof well known in the 1960s as Orange Sunshine. Following his release in 1980, Scully returned to a life concerned more with electronics than with acid-infused ideology. The story of his acid adventures with Nick Sand have been documented in the new film The Sunshine Makers – philosopher Peter Sjöstedt-H here asks Tim Scully eight questions stemming therefrom.
In the documentary you complained of “bad trips” after your run in with the law. Do you believe that the so-called “bad trip” can be beneficial?
There wasn’t room in a 90 minute film to explain this point fully. During the time from late 1966 through mid-1970 I was frequently followed by federal agents. I had to lose them before doing anything important. They knew that I knew that they were following me and I knew that they knew.
In mid-1968 my 2nd Denver lab was busted as shown in the film when I was out of town. I was arrested by federal agents in the spring of 1969 on a fugitive warrant from Denver.
For $20 million, you could live in Grey Gardens, the East Hampton, NY home that starred with lovable eccentrics Edith "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale and her mother Edith "Big Edie" Ewing Bouvier Beale in the incredible 1975 documentary "Grey Gardens." (Watch the whole thing below!) Current owner Sally Quinn, the journalist and Washington socialite, bought the home from Little Edie for $220,000 in 1979 and restored it from its astoundingly squalorific state scene in the film. From the New York Times:
On a recent afternoon, Sally Quinn walked through Grey Gardens, her fabled summer home, one that has been the subject of both a documentary film and a Broadway musical, and passed by a glass menagerie of tiny kittens. The figurines had once belonged to Edith Bouvier Beale, better known as Little Edie, a woman of many cats, who for years lived in the house with her mother, known as Big Edie. Both were former socialites and relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Restoring the home was not for the faint of heart, but Ms. Quinn was undeterred. In fact, she was smitten.
“‘It’s yours,’” Ms. Quinn recalled Little Edie saying to her. “She did a little pirouette in the hall and said, ‘All it needs is a coat of paint.’”
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Bill Binney resigned from the NSA in October 2001, after 30 years with the agency where he was viewed as one of their best analysts: he quit because he believed that Bush-appointed leaders in the Agency had chosen to respond to the challenge of electronic communications by building out illegal, indiscriminate mass-surveillance programs that left the country vulnerable to terrorists while diverting billions to private contractors with political connections. Read the rest
Documentarians and news-gatherers who record sensitive material from confidential sources live in terror of having their cameras seized and their storage-cards plundered by law-enforcement; they struggle to remember to immediately transfer their files to encrypted laptop storage and wipe their cards while dodging bombs in conflict zones, or simply to remember to have robotically perfect operational security while they are trying to get a movie made. Read the rest
Thanks to the archival spelunking of the crowdfunded documentary WHO THE F*@% IS FRANK ZAPPA?, we can now watch this amazing piece of video of Frank Zappa being greeted at SFO by the Navy Band, who played Joe's Garage in his honor (and to his manifest delight). Read the rest
Filmmaker Brian Gersten writes, "'The Hollerin' Contest at Spivey's Corner' is a documentary short about the history, characters, and sounds of the National Hollerin' Contest. Hollerin' itself is considered by some to be the earliest form of communication between humans, and the competition has been held annually in the small town of Spivey's Corner, NC since 1969. The film follows the stories of three former champions as they attempt to reclaim their titles, and keep the oft-forgotten tradition of hollerin' alive." Read the rest
Documentary maker James H. Carter II is seeking about $4,000 to complete work on "Foolish Mortals," a documentary about Haunted Mansion fandom that includes a detailed 3D model of the Disneyland Mansion for you to VR in (or whatever!). Read the rest
This video from 2011 inspired a 2015 documentary called Sam Klemke's Time Machine.
In 1977, Sam Klemke started obsessively documenting his entire life on film. Beginning decades before the modern obsession with selfies and status updates, we see Sam grow from an optimistic teen to a self-important 20 year old, into an obese, self-loathing 30-something and onwards into his philosophical 50s. The same year that Sam began his project, NASA launched the Voyager craft into deep space carrying the Golden Record, a portrait of humanity that would try to explain to extra terrestrials who we are.
From director Matthew Bate (Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure), Sam Klemke’s Time Machine follows two unique self-portraits as they travel in parallel – one hurtling through the infinity of space and the other stuck in the suburbs of Earth – in a freewheeling look at time, memory, mortality and what it means to be human.
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Johannes Grenzfurthner writes, "My cinematic tour de farce through nerd culture comes to the West Coast. Upcoming Bay Area and L.A. premieres!" Read the rest
Rick Prelinger writes, "Today I've released my 2013 feature film NO MORE ROAD TRIPS? to the world for viewing, public screening and remixing." Read the rest
Typewriter sculptor Jeremy Meyer sez, "I just got back from Telluride where the feature-length documentary by Doug Nichol called 'California Typewriter' premiered." Read the rest
Louis Theroux's ability to establish a rapport with subjects is legendary, even with people who are aware that he may be, from their perspective, implicitly hostile. His affectation of ignorance and naivety is part of it, obviously, but it's more than that: he lets subjects take a position of superiority, remains emotionally detached, yet exposes himself to scrutiny.
In this video, Ryan Holligner explains just how good Theroux is at this stuff. Read the rest
Matthew Callahan's Galactic Warfighters series poses Star Wars action figures in scenes that recreate war journalism from US operations, captioned with AP-style slugs that conjure up the human cost of the battles hidden by the inscrutable armor of the Empire. Read the rest
Brett Bobley writes, "'Hypertext: an Educational Experiment in English and Computer Science at Brown University' is an amazing documentary film from 1976 made by Brown University computer scientist Andries 'Andy' van Dam." Read the rest