Sunday, July 6, 2008

European Book Tour Recap

Just after Sundance and before the Spring thaw, I dashed over to Europe for a quick three-city book tour to spread the word about "The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide". Sponsored by my publishers, the good people at Focal Press, it was only my second trip to the continent and even more enjoyable than the first trip last summer. As always, it was all too short.

My presentation was entitled, "Down and Dirty Filmmaking: Guerrilla Tactics for Professional Results". It was a motivational and educational seminar on developing a guerrilla mindset and milking every last drop of production value from limited production resources. This seminar picks up where the book leaves off and expands the Down and Dirty DV shooting philosophy with case-studies and
specific guerrilla filmmaking tactics and strategies. Don't worry, if you missed it, It will soon be available as a full-length DVD with enhanced slide illustrations and I'll be presenting it again this Fall in NYC.

The more people I meet and spend time with from other cultures, the more it re-affirms what I already know- that we all really are much more alike than we are different. The facial features, clothes, music, food and culture all change, but the people inside are truly all the same- just regular folks like me and you. And the struggle to make quality films with limited resources is even more universal. Everywhere filmmakers have the same struggle and hunger for new knowledge.

Here's a brief and long overdue European book tour recap...

Dublin, Ireland - Film Base

Recap: I touched down in Dublin sick as a dog with a nasty flu that was going around at the time. Although I was looking forward to it, I simply could not muster the brave heart to eat the black pudding sausage at breakfast. (And this is coming from a man who eats Scrapple!) The next day I preached the guerrilla film gospel to a group of about 50 people at Dublin's indie film mecca, Film Base, a real down-to-earth filmmaker co-op, not unlike NYC's own DCTV where I spoke the night before getting on the plane. To my surprise the crowd skewed older, with many of the filmmaker's in or past their 30's, but they were as much into guerrilla film tactics and learning the craft as any younger audience. It was a really surreal blessing to see my little guerrilla film handbook written right here from my ass-groove on the sofa and on the subways of NYC sitting there on the shelves of book stores half-way around the world. Despite my flu, I didn't let the visit go by without sampling the local ale and Irish music with Focal Press Ireland sales rep, Nathalie.

London, England - School of Audio Engineering

Recap: I took the world's most expensive taxi ride from the airport to my hotel in Islington - about $140! (London's subway,The Tube, I would later discover would've only cost me about $7 and been a lot faster.) I must say however, that they have the biggest taxi's I've ever been in. Had a nice session with a group of enthusiastic young people at one of London's premiere film institutions. I literally set the room on fire. As soon as I finished my presentation and began the Q&A, grey smoke began to pour out of a flourescent light fixture in the room and the building was evacuated until Her Majesty's Fire Department came - see photo left. (Who knew this guerrilla film seminar was that HOT?!) Had a great dinner with Focal Press rep, Emma, who took good care of me in London and Amsterdam. I walked around all the next day just marveling at buildings. Toured the Tower of London and realized that it's not always good to be king, or at least not next in line on the king waiting list. A whole lot of would-be and new kings seemed to get killed along the way. (Still couldn't eat the black pudding.)

Amsterdam, Netherlands - School of Audio Engineering

Recap: Although there were ample herbal cures available there, somehow merely touching down in Amsterdam seemed to be enough to finally shake off my nasty flu. I barely made it to my own seminar, because I was following one of those cutesy tourist maps that makes a mile and half hike off the beaten trail look like a short two block stroll. After wandering for a good 45mins. on the more suburban outskirts of the city, I eventually found my way to the SAE's filmmaking outpost. I did two lively back-to-back seminars for an inquisitive international crowd of new and emerging filmmakers in this incredible modern facility. How students manage to concentrate on their work in this very hip and very fun city I'll never know, but they've got excellent support in this hidden away film and audio school. I hope to return for a longer visit in the ner future.

Mad thanx to all my Focal Peeps in Europe and beyond for making this tour happen. Much thanx to everyone who came out to hear the guerrilla filmmaking gospel. Thanx for sharing your stories, tips, and inspiration and spreading the word about the The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide. As always, I learned as much as I taught on the trip and met some cool filmmakers from all over the earth.

If you're hustling to make your filmmaking vision reality, just know that you are not alone. Somewhere, in some city, province, village or block halfway across the globe is another filmmaker named Heinrich, Solange, Fritz, Erika, Chang, Kee-Young, or maybe Tony and they are going through the exact same trials and tribulations of filmmaking. And just like you, with a little knowledge, passion, and hustle they will eventually realize that vision and put it out there for all the world to share in the universal language of film.

Peace, love and video to all the Down and Dirty DV filmmakers all over the world. Keep hustlin' and shootin', shootin' and hustlin', smarter and harder than before. I hope to catch up to y'all again soon.


"The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide" European Tour

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