So Long 2016


This year has been one of the most challenging I’ve had in a long time.  What is it about this year?  Almost everyone I talk to is happy to see the back of 2016 and are ready for a fresh start. I’m not sure about others but I know that for me it’s been an emotional rollercoaster and although it’s been a good ride I’m ready for things to calm down a bit.

Forget world events, natural disasters etc.  I’ve had one of those years where I’ve had work some months and then nothing, not at all unusual in the film business, but the intensity was what got me.  When I had work, I usually had several contracts all at once so I was working 20 hours a day for weeks on end and then nothing. Exhausting.  And then there were all the projects that we thought were going to happen and they fell through at the very last minute.

I make this year sounds like it was pure agony, but actually this year has been a really good one in many respects.

  1. I had more work than ever and several projects that I’ve been working on for three years or more now have finally made their way into the world. i.e. The Human Face of Big Data, CRAZYWISE and The Click Effect.  I even managed to fit in a few shorter films that I directed myself for PLU’s MediaLab and the PSESD.
  2. I’ve had more design projects than I’ve ever expected, especially considering I’m not a graphic designer.  Film proposals, websites (, film promotional pieces (posters, invitations, infographics) and more in the works.
  3. I have a beautiful new niece that I can’t wait to see grow up – but not too quickly please!
  4. And the biggest drain on my emotions – I’ve decided to finally move to California (sometime in the Spring after several postponements) and fulfill my lifelong dream to become a surfer… well in actual fact it’s to find more consistent work and take on a new adventure.  The surfing will be a perk if I can ever stand up for more than 0.5 seconds.  Right now I’m really talented at sitting on my board.

And on that more upbeat note, I’m preparing to venture off to meet my family for the holidays.  It’s my favorite time of year because for a week or two, we are all together which is rare for us.  I guess we can’t expect much else when we all live in separate states and/or countries.

As I sign off for the rest of this year, I leave you with this wonderful little piece that makes me smile even if it does seem a little scary in places.  The world really is a big scary place but I can only hope that this next year brings more peace and joy than we’ve witnessed in the last 12 months.

Karni and Saul

Until next year…

Talking with Whales

Have you seen “Finding Dori” yet?  If you haven’t, you’re missing out.  Yes, most of it is pretty fantastical and completely unrealistic but who said entertainment had to be resemble actuality?  After all, it’s a story about talking fish.

Even if you haven’t seen “Finding Dori” (or “Finding Nemo” *Gasp!*) you’ve probably heard someone try to speak whale just like Dori.  In Pixar’s world, speaking whale is something like “Weeeeeelllllcooooommmme tooooo theeee oooooccceeeaaaan!”  I’m sad to say that it’s not nearly as lyrical as we’d like to imagine but instead is more like a series of clicks.  You know, kind of like morse code.

No, I haven’t been taking whale lessons but in the last year I’ve learned a lot about whales (and virtual reality) for a relatively new project – “The Click Effect“.  I won’t try to explain the science or even how it whales communicate as I’m certainly not not a marine biologist but this little film explains it beautifully.

The Click Effect Poster

Here Be Dragons

Back in December, we embarked on the journey of creating a new virtual reality (VR) film about how marine researchers use freediving to research how whales communicate.  Besides the fact that I got to be a part of this project, the whole introduction to VR is quite amazing.

Unfortunately, VR is something that requires a separate headset (you can buy inexpensive versions from Google or you can go for the gusto and buy a high end headset from Samsung or Valve) but if you have the chance to experience it at the many new venues that this technology is popping up, I would highly recommend the experience.  It’s impossible to explain how cool it is without experiencing it first hand. To get some sort of an idea, check out this film that I shared a few months ago.

Of course, there are other ways to see “The Click Effect” if you’re interested.  Either visit Here Be Dragons or NYTVR and it will show you how to watch the film without a headset.

Now that this project is done and out in the world – it was at Sundance International Film Festival in January and released online in March, we’re on to other projects.  Many, are underwater and will premiere in a VR format but that’s all I can tell you for now.

Until next time, just keep swimming!

A Magical 3D World

Somehow we’re already well into March and this is my first post for the year.  Yet again, I say oops!  and then follow it with “but I have a really good excuse!”  We’ll see what you think…

Since last November, I’ve been inundated with paperwork and graphic design projects getting The Human Face of Big Data ready for it’s debut into the TV world on PBS.  When I started this process I thought that it would going to take me a week or two to get everything together.  Oh how wrong I was!  I’ve been glued to my computer so much that I began thinking it was an appendage and not an external tool that I can leave for a little while and come back to.  It really wasn’t an option with so many deadlines, but now that the broadcast is over, I can finally start to feel like a real person again and enter into reality.

HFOBD Placard 16-9 General-01

I have to apologize that I never actually announced anything on here but that’s how busy I was.  For those of you with any interest in seeing the film, you can see it here:


Anyway, to move away from Big Data for a little while, there are several other projects on the books that are ‘pending’ and of course I have no idea when they are going to start but I know that when they do, watch out!  So for now, I’m taking a chance to breath and trying to catch up on boring stuff like cleaning my home and catching up with friends that I have shamefully neglected since before Thanksgiving. Ok, so seeing friends is far from boring but I revel in the thought that I’m a real person again and not a working machine.  Did I mention that I’ve been working a lot?

I’m kind of glad that I haven’t had time to write here because I found this video ages ago but wasn’t quite sure it was the right time to share it. Now I feel like it’s time. In many ways, it has a lot to do with upcoming projects, I just can’t tell you which elements it has in common:

Future of storytelling

I found this particularly fascinating for many reasons:

  1. My grandparents used to save their favorite Family Circus comics for us to read when we came over and when we moved away, they would mail them to us in letters.
  2. I grew up watching all of these characters on the big screen – how cool would it have been to have experienced them in 3D?  Admittedly it would have been even more terrifying than I already found them – especially the wolves in Beauty and the Beast.
  3. How is this going to influence art in the future? Only time will tell…

If there is one thing that I can say about the last few months is that the blood, sweat and tears that go into projects are well worth the toil if you really love what you’re doing.  I got a lot out of the last few months and even though there are many things that I’ve loved about them, I’m ready to move on and get my creative juices moving in a different way.  Most of all, I’m looking forward to living in the real world again, and not the digital world of my computer screen or my cell phone.

Until next time – and let’s hope it doesn’t take me so long, right?

Korean Kimchi

Kimchi (Hangul김치Korean pronunciation: [kimtɕʰi]English pronunciation: /ˈkɪmi/), also spelled kimchee or gimchi, is a traditional fermentedKorean side dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. It is often described as spicy and sour. In traditional preparation, kimchi is often allowed to ferment underground in jars for months. There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi made from napa cabbageradishscallion, or cucumber as a main ingredient.

I had never had kimchi until I got to high school where a very large percentage of the student body was made up of Koreans.  To help make these international students feel more at home, every meal served up at school had the option of rice from the cafeteria line and kimchi from the salad bar.  This is where I first tried the delicious pickled “condiment”:


I’m a big fan of any kind of Asian food (although I tend to favor Japanese) and kimchi is somewhat of a staple in my kitchen.  Now after watching this film, I’m very curious to know if I have Chinese or Korean kimchi sitting in my fridge at home.  I’m pretty sure it’s Korean, but now I’m not sure…

I love the journalistic style of this film, it is after all, how I started out working in film.  All the various piles of ingredients add such a beautiful array of color and watching the women work just makes me want to run home and enjoy a bowl of rice and kimchi.  Perhaps that will be my dinner tonight…

Statistics – Motion Graphics Style

It’s been a while since I posted something that inspires me.  I’ve been swept up in a whirlwind of film screenings and getting other projects underway, and thus, had little time to share some of my findings.

So during a break the other day,  I came across this little beauty:

Neil Halloran

Now it may not be the most uplifting of topics but it’s informative, visually interesting and even better, the visuals enhance the message.  Sharing such devastating statistics and making it interesting would have had me puzzling over how I would even begin to tackle this project for all of eternity.  Well probably not, but because I’m tired as it’s the end of the week, it would seem like all of eternity if I attempted it right now.  It certainly wouldn’t turn out as cool.

I have always had an appreciation for good motion graphics but have become even more enamored by the really good stuff since having to do my own for my last project, A Raincoat by Sonja Silver.  I doubt that I’ll be moving towards using motion graphics exclusively in documentary projects in the near future, but I’d sure love to include something like this.

Happy Friday!

House Key

Filmmaking is about stories and I feel like I have forgotten that in the last few months.  When you work behind the scenes, one film takes months, if not years to plan, produce, edit and finally get it out into the world for people to see. When you’re worrying about the minute details, like I often have to, it’s hard to remember the bigger picture – that you are telling a story.  Stories are what caught my attention in the first place, and so I’m trying to go back to the base element of what I do.  I tell stories.  Or at least I try to.

In trying to keep up with a posting schedule that I made for myself for this blog, I’ve found that I’ve moved away from finding work that inspires me and that makes me want to tell stories in new and different ways.  Instead, I’m sharing whatever I can find to fill the space, and that’s not what I want this to be about.

This shift has exhausted me (like so many other bloggers out there) and I find that I’m struggling to find content that I feel goes with what I am about.  To be blunt, I’ve started to resent the pressure that I’m putting on myself.  Stupid, I know.  The good news is that I’m not going to stop posting, but I am going to stop with my monthly themes.  I may even stop with the weekly posts.  I’m not going away.  Just getting more picky about content but NOT about what month each item fits into.

So with this new freedom that I give myself, I’m sharing whatever I find when I want to.  And, I won’t have the pressure to find weekly content when I’m at my busiest with other work.  Yahoo!

So for my first week of my new found freedom, here is something that I found a while ago, but had never found a good time to share it:

Mackenzie Sheppard

I love the camera movement, and the sentimentality of what so many of us consider an everyday object.  I myself have so many keys on my keyring, that I tend to only think of it as another thing not to forget as I run out the door.  This little short reminds me to stop and appreciate even the seemingly mundane objects in my life.

Until next time…

Something by me… & ChefSteps

Finally, I get to share something that I had a hand in this year.

One of my film adventures this year included working with a company called ChefSteps, a high-tech cooking company committed to changing the way people cook.  This was probably the most fun that I’ve ever had on a film shoot and probably the most delicious too.  BBQ with all the fixin’s yum! Oh, and I happen to love all the people that I got to work with.

So without further ado, I present Wall of Fire : A ChefSteps Story

Intrigued? Go here for the full blog post on the ChefSteps website and while you’re there, check out some of their other amazing recipes.  Believe me.  You’ll be glad you did!

For the Foodie :: The Carrot

Growing your own garden from a seed is always seems like a miracle to me.  I’m always in awe of how nature can create something so amazing and complex with a seed, some soil and regular sprinklings of water.  It’s even more miraculous when the thing growing is more than a common weed- those things don’t seem to have any problem growing and taking over huge spans of land.

This summer I helped my friends clear out part of their yard and re-landscape parts of it, including a patch of weeds that we planted with wildflower seeds.  Now I know that wildflowers are just another variety of weed, but at least they flower and look a bit more exciting than the common grass.

After spending six hours pulling grass, roots and all, from an 8 by 8 patch of ground, I sprinkled the area with wildflower seeds.  The watering was probably the best part after working in the sun for that long.  After that, all I could do was wait.  Wait for the seeds to start sprouting and hope that I didn’t leave too many grass roots in the ground for them to overtake the patch again.  When I returned about a week later, I found that I had several sprouts of various shapes pushing their way up through the soil and I was beyond thrilled that they had taken root.  I felt like a genius for making it happen when all I really did was mix seeds into the damp ground.  Big whoop.  But I still felt amazing.  I can only guess how this little boy felt when his carrot was served for dinner:

Steve Annis


I think this advertisement is extremely clever because it gives emotional connection to all ages- the young gardner, the over looking father, the exasperated mother (when she can’t get her son to come in out of the rain) and the onlooking sister.  We’ve all had some sort of project that provide that range of emotion and it brings back those childhood memories of when something that now seems so small and insignificant, seemed so overpoweringly important.

There’s something about growing your own food that brings great satisfaction to people of every age.  I can see how farmers must feel when they bring in their harvest and know that their hard work is going to feed people far and wide.


Of all the films that I’ve seen this year, this is my favorite so far:


I liked it so much, that I saw it twice!  It’s funny, it’s original and it just makes me happy about life.  Between the colors and the music, it’s a sensory feast- not to mention the amazing looking food.  I’m still looking for a good Cubano since seeing this film.

I think what I like most though is the witty dialogue and the twitter graphics that tie together the spoken word and the cyberspace messages.  It eliminates the awkward cutting back and forth between the actor and the computer screen to give the emotional performance and the tweets simultaneously screen time.  It makes the film flow instead of separating the character from their tweets, reminding us that what we post is a representation of who we are and that our web presence is an ever growing part of how others perceive us.  The film also reflects on how dependent we are on social media to make our businesses thrive in today’s markets.  The film has a wonderful combination of the various elements needed in a good film and it blends them all so seamlessly.

I can’t wait for it to come out on DVD.