Snappy short form: about.me/docuguy
500 Words is a series of essays written over the past four years. They are always published on a Thursday, and that is reason for the name of the blog: 500 Words on Thursday. The current entries are a discussion of online communications, marketing, parenting, babies and coffee. The older entries cover alternative medicine, activism, spirituality and science. If you’re searching for anything in particular, the categories work pretty well.
My other blog is here: Over 50 Under 5. I’m writing about being a father over fifty with a child who is under five, and also about being the father of two older children who live in other cities.
Looking back on my fascination with words and pictures, the magnetic attraction to pictures came first. One of my first jobs as a kid was working after school in a camera store. I remember, at first, working there for free, grateful to soak up everything I could about film, filters, photographic paper and darkroom technique. Cameras were, and still are, mystery machines, time machines, people catchers – magic boxes of the highest order. Even the names call up mythos: Argus, Miranda, Nikon, Linhoff, Leica. I’ve always liked that there is still a high-quality lens called Schneider and a brand of high end filters called Lee.
As a kid I was a shutterbug with camera in hand most days. My father, an executive at ABC, got me and my brother Miranda cameras, which were slipped in an ABC news pouch, sharing space inside with network news film of the war in Vietnam. I photographed everything in black and white and disappeared into our basement darkroom in Larchmont, New York for many hours to make the images appear. At Mamaroneck High School I added sound, creating audio documentaries on a reel to reel tape recorder. After Antioch College I wrote fiction: plays, novels and screenplays, produced them Off-Broadway, sold them to Disney, optioned them to broadcast networks. I wrote a good number of episodes of the beloved, cult cartoon series “ThunderCats” and “SilverHawks.” Whenever I needed to make a steady living, as when my first child was born, I was able to turn to news writing. I liked seeing what I wrote up on the screen immediately. That immediate gratification led me back to documentary work. It was good to capture real people in real situations again. True stories are powerful. They are the trailhead on a journey that begins in information, traverses to knowledge, culminates in wisdom.
Documentary filmmaking will take everything you can give to it. If you can write, it will use that. Operate a camera? You’re in. Direct, produce, edit, compose? Useful – when can you start? I’ve always loved that about this work – the variety of skills required. Add running a company to this and you include reviewing employment and production contracts, learning Quickbooks, setting up computers, assembling desks and workstations, location scouting, amateur psychology, web design and a host of other identities and skills. As DocuCinema expanded I took on more of these jobs, also becoming an assistant editor to the talented editors I hired, adding some of my own production photographs to the publicity packets and also in the films themselves, sometimes operating second camera.
Early on I saw the value of combining intense visuals with the energy of editing, and using both to enhance the power of a person telling their own story. The power of what DocuCinema does resides in the eloquence of a single human voice, expressive visuals and a music score carrying ideas like a river. Blending these elements in new ways always makes me want to make the next film, a film that wraps you in its own world, a film that can be seen by lots of people, a film that communicates a shared experience.
Most of the media I’ve been creating over the past few years has been about campaigns, persuasion, and advocacy. I’m formed Red Cup Agency to bring this to a bigger platform.