Friday, January 02, 2015

PSA for Helpmate

I just made a PSA for Helpmate, a local non-profit that helps victims of domestic violence ( Had a great team working with me on this one: Andy Crespo working with me behind the scenes. Morgan Purdy, Drew McDermott, and Maya all acting in a PSA that I put together entirely from still photos that have been manipulated to look like super slow motion.  I had the wonderful Billy Goodrum ( writing a beautiful original score. Check it out:


Monday, December 29, 2014

My Toxic Backyard on TV

My Toxic Backyard finally had it's broadcast debut.  It aired on the local CW channel here in Asheville at 5:30am on a Sunday morning (because that's what I could afford.) I ended up buying air time to have it broadcast and with Diamond Brand as an associated sponsor that really helped defray some of the cost.

I submitted My Toxic Backyard back in July to our local PBS channel, but they turned it down.  They sent a letter telling me how much they liked the documentary and that they thought I was a talented filmmaker, but because it was a "point-of-view documentary," they said they did not "have a place in [their] schedule to broadcast point-of-view programs." They went on to say, "for complex issues, like the topic you tackle in your film, we look for a more balanced representation." I can see where they're coming from.  I could have argued that both the EPA and CTS refused to comment on the record, or grant an interview, or even release a statement to me, but I decided to let it go. 

I also tried to buy air time on another station before I went with the CW, but was turned down by that station for pretty much the same reason as PBS.  They bring up an interesting point about documentaries that I've discussed at length with many filmmakers: does a good documentary have to present both sides of an issue or story?  My answer is not necessarily.  While there is always a desire to represent events and people truthfully, sometimes (like in my case) you can't always get all sides.

If all you had to do to make a documentary is make a non-fiction film, one could argue that a gas station owner who has video surveillance is making documentaries.  Certainly it's possible to make a documentary from surveillance footage, but I don't think anyone would call the footage on its own a documentary.  There must be some selection of shots, some choices on what is presented and once that happens, no matter how objective the author of that content is, you are presenting a version of reality. You are manipulating events. 

I think the key is to acknowledge that you are altering information to create a compelling story while also working to present that information as truthfully as possible.  If you are able to present different perspectives in your documentary, I do think that can make the piece stronger, but I also don’t think a documentary should be abandoned simply because you weren’t able to present multiple viewpoints.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rotten Tomatoes and Closed Captions

My documentary found it's way to Rotten Tomatoes! You can check it out here:

and if you've seen it, give it your review by clicking on the stars under "add your rating."  As of this post it's averaged 4.9 out of 5 stars!  

I'm still working on closed captioning for the TV premiere.  What a pain! Next time I will hire a company to do it.  It's so painstaking and tedious, at one point I estimate I was taking an hour per minute of footage, but it's going faster now. 

I've been using adobe premiere CC to do closed captioning and the nice thing about doing it myself is I can really take my time and customize it all with different colors and positions for different people taking over each other. I can add sound FX and music cues and I can export as many different types of files I need. Right now I need two. For TV I have to embed the closed captioning in the movie file and premiere would do that in a quicktime so I making a special quicktime file just for the broadcast. For Amazon they want a separate file called an .SCC (scenarist closed caption.)  So it's been a good learning experience.  My main take away is it's worth it to pay someone else.


Friday, November 14, 2014

The Perfect Spot

When the production company I belong to, Gorilla with a Mustache Films, won the grand prize with our movie Joint Effort part of the prize was to have free entry into the next year's competition.  Even though we've all be exhausted working on our comedy feature film, One Hell of an Angel, we decided we had to take advantage of the free entry and compete again this year. The competition, formerly "The National Film Challenge" re-branded itself this year (probably because it's an international competition and the title is a little confusing) and is now called "The 4 Points Film Project."  Our team created a short film in just one weekend with some new faces on set.  We had the talented and ruggedly handsome Paul Anderson as our cinematographer, Lisa Styles our awesome Canadian Producer friend who we met at the Cannes film festival came down just to help us with this production, Michael Valentino came on board to help with editing, and Eruch Valo was our fabulous composer.  After a rocky start and a completely unexpected last minute script change, we set off to make a film pretty much by improv.  Luckily our actors are good at that.  While we didn't win any of the awards this year, we were chosen in the top 20 in the world, so not too shabby.  Here it is: The Perfect Spot.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Radio Interview for WRLN Arts Radio

While on the Southern Circuit I was interviewed at a public radio station in South Florida:


Friday, August 29, 2014

My Toxic Backyard Wins Best Documentary Film at Greenpoint Film Festival

My Toxic Backyard just won the highest honor a film can win at a film festival: Best Documentary Feature!  I'm so excited!  What an honor!

Jaime Byrd (second from the left) speaking on a panel at the Greenpoint Film Festival

Monday, August 04, 2014

Second Parent

Adoption law is supposed to be based on the best interests of the child.  I made this short film when I discovered an issue a lot of gay couples must face when trying to adopt a child.  While many states will allow gay couples to adopt children, they will only do so if one person out of that couple adopts as a single parent.  In the eyes of the law, that second parent is not recognized.  What if the adopting parent looses their job and benefits and that second parent ends up wanting to put their child on their health insurance?  What happens if the child has to be hospitalized while the adopting parent is out of town?  What happens if the adopting parent dies?
A lot of talented Asheville folks helped make this movie possible working in front of the camera and behind the scenes.  Thank you for your support and for giving your time to help make this short film happen.

Poster Designed by: Anthony Abraira