L.A. the Blog Essential Read: ‘Project Dad’ Documentary

Making a film requires so many things, and unfortunately no matter how much talent you have if you don’t have money nothing ever really happens.  Even a student film five-minutes long runs at least a hundred dollars.  Sharon Shattuck, a filmmaker and animator, definitely has the talent.  This writer has been privileged enough to work with Sharon in the past on a few of those student projects, but that was years ago in New York City and much has happened since then.  Sharon’s first documentary short ‘Parasite’s: A Users Guide‘ screened as a finalist for the Student Academy Awards; her animation that premiered at Radiolab won awards; she currently works with Wicked Delicate a production company teamed up with Ian Cheney, one of the filmmakers of the documentary ‘King Corn‘; and her most recent documentary entitled ‘Project Dad‘ glows with such potential that we here at L.A. the Blog get excited just thinking about watching it on the big screen. Her current project needs that one thing to get it off the ground and it is so close!!!  It needs money.

The project described in Sharon’s own words:

Project Dad  (working title) follows Sharon’s quest to understand her LGBT family through a two-way dialogue with her dad.  Funny, poignant, and above all real, the film uses a mix of verité and interview footage shot by the filmmaker, and point-of-view flip-cam footage shot by her subjects, to answer the question, “What is a healthy family?”  Springing from her experiences growing up in a supportive family surrounded by outside misunderstanding, the filmmaker seeks out other children of LGBT families, expectant LGBT parents, family law experts, and politicians from both sides of the fence, to craft a film that is national in scope, and centered on hope and redemption.

With a Kickstarter campaign in the works with a just a few days left to raise the rest of the needed cash we encourage all of our readers and supporters to give the same support to Sharon and donate whatever money they have left after donating to KCRW/KPFK/etc, or perhaps split this years donation with Sharon.  Or just outright cough up the cash.  The project gathered some great support from The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and The Advocate.  It also gained the attention of a Sundance documentary programming associate who kind enough blogged about the project.  The project is a co-production of Wicked Delicate, and please if possible donate to the project.  And with that we have whined enough, pleaded until our fingers bled, and hopefully cajoled you with the big name dropping above.  Below find a short film Sharon worked on with this writer, and if interested in donating or supporting for ‘Project Dad’, or for just more information click here.

UPDATE:  Congratulations to Sharon, her projects got funded through Kickstarter, and congratulations to everyone who donated.

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L.A. the Blog: Lemmings CNN? A Metaphor For The U.S.? Really?

While perusing various news sites L.A. the Blog stumbled on a wonderful and irreverent video posted on CNN’s website created by their very own Erin Burnett for the daily news show OutFront.  Before we jump into the video we want to quote what CNN writes as a description of the show:

Erin Burnett OutFront airs weeknights at 7 p.m. ET. Designed to showcase Erin’s unique style–casual, smart, and confident–OutFront stays ahead of the headlines, delivering a show that’s in-depth and informative.

While we admit we aren’t an avid watcher of OutFront and can’t comment overall on Ms. Burnett’s “casual, smart, and confident” style, we can sure the hell comment on this video report entitled “Steering Towards a Cliff,” that covers the upcoming need to raise the debt ceiling, and the likely showdown between the GOP House and the Obama White House.  Lemmings anyone?

Hell, L.A. the Blog can be just as irreverent – Jesus Christ and the Holy Mother of God did she actually find archival footage of lemmings to put in her video!?  Did she actually just compare us all to lemmings!?  It could be me but I think she was really trying to say the Bill Clinton and John Boehner look like lemmings.  Serious though (if I can be serious at this moment) we give Ms. Burnett the award for funniest video of the month, John Stewart eat your heart out!

The language of doom and overhanging sense of imminent, total destruction by something totally out of our control, something larger than woman and man combined, as she talks about our nation’s fiscal debt reminds us of reading William Faulkner, and his personified, indomitable description of nature when it overwhelms and runs wild.  We think her choice of words might be slightly exaggerated and with the lemming video a little over the top.  Makes for good fun though!

L.A. the Blog leaves you with our takeaway from the whole experience, for the report isn’t just a video it is an entire experience to be had down the dark path of human lunacy and intimate look into man’s deepest fears.   Our takeaway – if you are going to use an analogy, don’t use one that will make the animal rights people angry.  All those dead lemmings on TV, poor little things.

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L.A. the Blog: Jerry Hultin and Urban Planning and Progress

May 10, 2012 – New York University hosted on Thursday night an evening of thinking about urban planning and the future of our cities.  As a quick disclaimer  this writer for L.A. the Blog is an alumnus of NYU and attended the discussion, so now there is no conflict of interest, nor is this shameless advertising for NYU, okay!

Jerry Hultin, the president of the Polytechnic Institute of NYU, led the evening soiree, and for all you would be politicians, I can personally attest that Mr. Hultin greeted and spoke with every guest at the event before his talk on urban planning, including yours truly.  In many ways the event was as much as a discussion of our cities landscapes as it was an introduction of the universities newest school – The Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP).

Founded in an effort by New York City to stay competitive in this growing age of science and technology, NYU CUSP is a joint partnership between the city and NYU.   You can read a full press release about the new school here.  Basically NYU applies the students and the academics, and the city supplied the land and the building.  Housed in Brooklyn it will take a long unused MTA building and convert it into the future!!!  Really the building looks pretty in the infographic they presented.  There is a nice video on the project found here that fills you full of hope.

Enough about the facts, lets talk about urban futures.  Well, smart cities for one.  What is a smart city you ask?  Nothing really at the moment, it is just a theory where we use all the available data and renewable technology, along with perhaps some cool new inventions like grass roofs (not reefer, but actual grass) and vertical farms.  Think a farm outside your window.  When we say data think of for example information on electricity usage and technology that directs the flow of electricity only when needed to areas that need it.  You may think that is the case now, but in actuality electricity is mostly going everywhere at once in high volume, but if a “smart” grid can shut off certain sectors of the grid not in use at certain hours (like 3 a.m. at my house), then it can direct it elsewhere lessening the need for the higher volumes to cover all areas at once.

I am sure you can imagine that resources like water can use the same technology, and traffic has ebbs and flows too so if we can speed up traffic through technology that better monitors heavy traffic areas and adjusts on a more minute to minute basis, we could cut down on electricity or gas consumption.  Consider if we go electric car in the next 10 years, where are people gonna charge their cars?  We sure don’t have a garage to plug into so some public charging stations would be nice too.

Hultin mentioned that IBM has started a Smarter Cities program (more selfless advertising on our part).  L.A. the Blog would like smarter politicians and corporations to go along with our smarter cities if we are on the subject …

Other than smart cities the major topics of importance that pose a challenge:  distribution of goods throughout the world and educating our future generations.

It was noted by an audience member and confirmed by Mr. Hultin that in India, a study showed that 40 percent of agricultural food was lost transporting it from the field to the table.  With such a high percentage of loss this represents a serious challenge that urban planning should address.

The other portion of distribution is the rising cost of fuel and the dense populations that make transporting goods more difficult.  Hultin noted that India and China will both be building and planning cities for 1 billion people in the future, so just the logistics of distribution in such an environment poses serious problems.  On top of that if they build cities as we build cities in the U.S., Hultin estimated it would take six earths to provide all the resources to supply the world’s population.  Obviously we only have one earth so Houston we have a problem.

Just to scare you into caring we are linking to a report that Hultin mentioned called Resource Revolution. A quick disclaimer, we haven’t read the whole report so don’t blame us if it is actually some propaganda put forth by bleeding left-wing liberals or screaming right-wing republicans.  We looked at the percentages in the front and decided it was scary enough and we didn’t need any more terror.

Going right into educating the young, does everyone else feel like this writer and wishes they pursued engineering rather than a liberal arts education?  Well that is part of the problem, how do we get future generations interested in science and engineering?  Get kids to stop running of like rap stars and rock’ n’ roll gods so they can get down to the business of saving all us old people.  Maybe we need some drug addict engineers to appear on TV yeah?  American bandstand for engineers?  Though we are speaking tongue in cheek about this, sadly for fields like engineering it helps to start people young as who the hell at forty is going to go back to basic math class?

There is also a surprising disparity in the engineering field between men and woman.  Most engineering schools look like this – guy, guy, guy, guy, guy, guy, guy, guy and 1/2 woman – meaning there is way too many dudes in the kitchen cooking up technology.  Since women are such a large part of the population, more the 50 percent last time I checked, it would help to have them helping out too.

L.A. the Blog will leave with one single quote from the evening, Hultin when describing what the greatest resource of the 21st century said, “Talent is the oil of the 21st century.”  Smart cities won’t just build themselves out on their own, we need smart people too.

L.A. the Blog: Time Cover of Julian Assange, Gagged

“The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Oh yeah didn’t we assassinate that guy?  The Time Magazine cover of Julian Assange that makes a strong statement about the state of our country (if you are interested in reading what Time wrote click here and here).

With Time the only news magazine on the shelf at the checkout counters of Pavilions Grocery store in West Hollywood, tucked in the bottom shelf hiding and the tabloids taking center stage at top, its placement makes a stronger statement about what type of information our nation values.

Sadly we prefer the lies of tabloids to the truth of news.

Time_Assange

The Time Magazine cover of Julian Assange. The only news magazine at the grocery store checkout stand, hiding almost unseen on the bottom shelf with the tabloids and fashions magazines dominating the display.