The Most Dangerous Barber in the World 2014
He has been called “The Most Powerful Artist in the World” and “China’s Most Dangerous Man,” but he’s a horrible hairstylist. This bonus clip went out to Kickstarter backers when we hit our first Sand Storm milestone.
Axion° is an interactive documentary about dark energy and dark matter, custom tailored to viewers’ unique learning styles and interest levels. Axion° interprets biometric feedback (via EEG, or brain waves) and algorithmically generates linear, immersive, film assemblies of scientist interviews. Storytelling meets science, made possible by The Tribeca Film Institute, TRIBEC4 H4CKS, CERN The European Organization for Nuclear Research, CineGlobe Festival International de Films au CERN, PBS POV Hackathon, and NDPC Filmteractive. I am one of several contributors to this work in progress.
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The Guardian has called Edge “the world’s smartest website” and in the summer of 2013, John Brockman and Edge.org invited a group of social scientists to engage in an intellectual round table called “The Head Conference.” Since the 1970s, Brockman has archived the words of the world’s most fascinating scientific minds, often employing a distinctively low-tech shoot style (locked off camera, straight-on). He invited me to develop a new iteration for Edge video. I opted for total immersion. I like to call it a “post-TED aesthetic.”
Full-screen viewing recommended (click the arrow-icon on the video’s lower right).
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We Are All Radioactive 2012
In a hidden Japanese surf spot and historic fishing village where fresh water means life for the locals, post-tsunami reconstruction efforts were undermined by looming fears from Fukushima’s March 2011 nuclear meltdown.
I collaborated with journalist Lisa Katayama (The New York Times Magazine, NPR, and blog TokyoMango) to create a bilingual, crowd-funded, online documentary series about 2011’s unprecedented disasters which ravaged Japan.
We traveled to a town called Motoyoshi, about 100 miles north of Fukushima, where a group of surfers pitched tents on unaffected patches of land and set out to rebuild northern Japan. We gave waterproof video cameras to the residents of Motoyoshi, so they could share their experiences through their own lens. Finally, we spent time with Japanese artists, anti-nuclear activists, government officials, and global experts on radiation to help solve pressing, unanswered questions and to clarify the confusion surrounding this unprecedented combination of disasters.
The future for cause-based documentary production and distribution will likely involve a serialized, crowd-funded business model. As proof-of-concept, we released new episodes each time we hit incremental financing milestones. Chapter One received its full backing within 48 hours and went live on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake. Chapters Two through Seven rolled out soon after. Please watch and share if you’ve ever visited Japan, have loved ones in Japan ...or like sushi. In total the series adds up to 42 mins, the length of a single episode of LOST. (And you still watched LOST even when they time traveled to suburbia in the ’70s, so what are you waiting for?)
Random episodes appear above. Click through for all seven chapters back to back to back.
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Me The People 2012
Kevin Bleyer (Emmy Award winning writer for the Daily Show) personally rewrote the Constitution of the United States and needed his author’s portrait painted in the neoclassical style for the book jacket. I’d never been to a life drawing class before but heard they involve nude models. While we were at it, we also shot a couple alternate videos with Daily Show correspondents.
Five Bodily Fluids 2011
I just happened to be passing through the Maitri AIDS hospice in San Francisco with some friends and an iPhone 4. About a half hour later, they had a brand new PSA explaining the routes of transmission for HIV.
Tall Black Girls “Seahorse” 2010
Shot on New York’s Lower East Side. The band’s live shows are amazing but I thought capturing the Tall Black Girls in a blizzard would really fit their look so our shoot schedule was dependent on an Act of God. Inspired by early 80s concert fliers (and because there are times authenticity beats gimmicky computer effects), I printed out over 4,000 individual pages, halftone versions of every single frame, twenty four for each second, which I then went back and rephotographed to craft the final music video.
Animal Hands “Lavender Lakes” 2010
The first single by this Brooklyn-based quintet. The look is lifted from a toy camera I picked up ages ago.
TED Conference Titles 2009-2010
Every TED Conference opens on titles created exclusively for that live event. They rarely appear again after, even online. Usually we outsourced to design boutiques, but occassionally I rolled up my sleeves to try my own hands at directing. I wanted to breathe new life and variety into TED’s pre-existing idea-globe iconography. The TEDIndia (2009) theme was “The Future Beckons.” The theme for TEDGlobal in Oxford (2010) was “And Now The Good News.”
TED in the Field: One Laptop Per Child 2008
This is the pilot episode for a follow-up series about what happens beyond the TED stage.
I flew to Colombia for 28 hours with Nicholas Negroponte to deliver laptops to children. We traveled by military transport with Juan Manuel Santos, the Minister of Defense (now President), to an isolated village that had recently been liberated from FARC revolutionaries.
The Airborne Toxic Event “Sometime Around Midnight” 2008
The official, original music video for the iTunes #1 Alternative Song of 2008. One of the Rolling Stone’s Top 20 Music Videos of the year. In rotation on VH1 and MTV2. The record label later released a color version and a second video (removing this one after 2 million views on YouTube) so here’s the rare, first version, online again.
The Airborne Toxic Event “Moving On” 2007
The first official music video for these LA-based rockers: “Does This Mean You’re Moving On?” Home made by me and the band. I aimed for full HD (on a budget), unheard of in 2007. They called me back for their first hit.
Zen of Zombie 2007
I came out from short-lived book promo retirment when a publishing house gave me carte blanche to market a self-help book targeted at the undead. I had never attended a flash mob before but I liked the idea of staging my own. I had also never seen yoga up close. I just needed 100 flexible people who liked gauze. Fortunately, a surprise New York Times write-up quoted our invite, which read, “Bring a Yoga Mat, Dress Like a Zombie” ...that’s how I got to have my brains and eat them too!
Maynard & Jennica 2007
First-time novelist Rudolph Delson and I completely ignored his actual content in favor of selling “the idea of a book” instead. We’d heard the publishing industry had recently resorted to such flashy tactics as producing “book trailers,” and I am a sucker for a good movie trailer as much as a good mash-up, but we were certain these would never last, so we had to make one.
I Want You to Want Me 2007 MoMA art installation
It’s not exactly filmmaking, but my friends Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar were commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York to make a giant-sized interactive touch screen. Unveiled as part of 2008’s Design and the Elastic Mind exhibit. It visualizes real-time data pulled from online dating sites using 500 micro movies I made for them over one (very intense) weekend, “Rear Window”-style vignettes of people milling about in the tiny, isolated bubbles of their daily lives. Remains in the MoMA permanent collection.
Icon Chef: Designer Challenge 2005-2006
It’s not exactly filmmaking, but I developed (and emceed) “Icon Chef,” a live-event mash-up that’s part design lesson, performance art, creative inspiration, and cooking show. In one hour, two teams of top tier designers battled (royale-style) to make movie trailers and posters for fake Hollywood blockbusters (of my devising). Contenders included heavyweights like Pixar vs. Lucasfilm. Sponsored by Apple, Adobe, and Getty Images. Toured with the final year of the RESFEST film festival to LA, NY, SF, Chicago, London, Cupertino, and Singapore (pictured).
The Weekly Pic on Nerve.com 2005-2006
It’s not exactly filmmaking, but the online dating and “literate smut” site NERVE approached me to curate and review the latest and raciest in online video, much as I had previously done with the New Venue only now including the occasional exposed nipple. Or two.
A few years before the iPhone, Sony was developing a portable media player of its own. This was to be the first of several spots promoting its Kinoma video software. It depicts an alternate reality where you entertain yourself by dragging around a couple guys to act out all your favorite songs and movies. (It is the same alternate reality in which you are personified by supermodel Jenny Shimizu.) Co-directed with Rodney Ascher.
Cursing the Gulls 2000
Instant cinema! Imagine a time, not long ago, when meeting a collaborator, writing, shooting, editing, and uploading a movie all in one day was considered revolutionary. In an attempt to shake up the inaugural Digital Cinema Conference at MIT, we made this parody of an art school film and offered it to our audience as a harbinger of online pretentiousness yet to come. True to the genre (being a parody of an experimental film not an actual experimental film), we shot in a cemetery. Co-directed with Evan Mather.
Makin’ Wookiee 1999
It’s not exactly filmmaking, but ramping up to the release of the Star Wars prequels, I co-sponsored a fan film parody contest. “Makin’ Wookiee” resulted in 300 script submissions including “The Qui-Gon Show” as the winning comedy short I co-directed (ok, so it is exactly like filmmaking) while I was directing Star Wars or Bust for Channel 4, a mix up of “The Truman Show” and “The Matrix.” As an unusual technical feat, it switched back and forth between QuickTime video and Flash animation both as an aesthetic and storytelling device and also as a means to load fast and keep file size down, because that mattered then.
read more: Los Angeles Times 1999'
Star Wars or Bust 1999
People don’t want to consume media, they want to engage in it. Look at TED, or better yet, look at fan culture.
In 1997, I sold off my childhood toys to send five camera crews to five movie theaters around the country and simultaneously document Star Wars fans camping out for the re-release of a movie they had seen countless times before. One of the first documentaries shot on digital video (I didn’t even realize that, just seemed like the right tool for the job). British television acquired Tatooine or Bust and commissioned its Episode I sequel (or... prequel), Star Wars or Bust.
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