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‘Serdhak’ – The Golden Hill, Interview with Nepali Filmmakers at Seattle International Film Festival

Posted by Leonard on May, 30, 2015

I recently attended the screening of the world premier of the Nepali film Serdhak – The Golden Hill at SIFF, The Seattle International Film Festival. Following the QnA, I scooped up the young filmmakers, director and star/writer for some Seattle love beyond downtown and their hotel room. Over the years, I’ve visited Nepal 6 times living there for roughly a year and a half and speak almost fluent Nepali. I felt it my responsibility to host these young guys and share my city with them. We went down to Mertle Edwards Park on the Seattle waterfront and enjoyed a gentle breeze and beautiful sunset on a warm night in late May. This is a spontaneous interview we did discussing the making of the film.
Follow their progress as the film begins screening internationally at https://www.facebook.com/SerdhakTheFilm
Our interview:

The trailer:

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Filming WA Gov Jay Inslee on Climate Tour stop in Seattle’s South Park and Beacon Hill Neighborhoods

Posted by Leonard on November, 23, 2014

Did some work this week with local nonprofit Climate Solutions, filming events associated with WA Gov Jay Inslee’s Climate Tour stops in Seattle’s South Park and Beacon Hill neighborhoods. At first, I was among the broadcast news outlets basically running ahead of the governor, trying to get shots of him being lead on a quick neighborhood tour before meeting with community leaders and local residents first at the South Park community Center then at the Centro de la Raza on Beacon Hill. Both meetings dealing with the impact of climate change on low income communities and local environmental concerns.

Gov Inslee in South Park at a children's playground next to the adjacent freeway.

Gov Inslee in South Park at a children’s playground next to the adjacent freeway.

Somali community leader addressing WA Gov Jay Inslee at South Park Community Center in Seattle on WA Climate Tour.

Somali community leader addressing WA Gov Jay Inslee at South Park Community Center in Seattle on WA Climate Tour.

Gov Inslee at South Park Community Center listening to residents and community leaders talk about air pollution and other environmental concerns.

Gov Inslee at South Park Community Center listening to residents and community leaders talk about air pollution and other environmental concerns.

Seattle Chief Sealth High School students presenting their research to WA Gov Jay Inslee at South park Community Center

Seattle Chief Sealth High School students presenting their work to WA Gov Jay Inslee at South park Community Center

WA Gov Jay Inslee meeting with community leaders  at Climate Tour stop at Centro de la Raza in Seattle.

WA Gov Jay Inslee meeting with community leaders at Climate Tour stop at Centro de la Raza in Seattle.

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Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center – 2014 Year in Review Video

Posted by Leonard on November, 5, 2014

The Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center is assisting businesses, government and nonprofits with practical solutions for economic and environmental vitality. It’s a nonprofit organization that works to research and produce high quality, unbiased pollution prevention (P2) information, in order to promote environmental protection through pollution prevention. PPRC believes that environmental and economic vitality go hand in hand, and that both are necessary to protect the high quality of life enjoyed in our region. It’s this unique position that enables PPRC to be available to sometimes adversarial parties who need to work together but often find it challenging to both share their challenges and problems openly while also working within the confines of the laws and regulations. They do impressive work that has truly meaningful impacts and consequences.

Over the past few years we’ve worked together on a number of video projects and I’ve always enjoyed the work we’ve done together. Specifically I’ve enjoyed making visits to the sites where we film, to port facilities, solar installations, factories and other industrial and manufacturing locations. I especially enjoyed when working on the Zinc in stormwater project, getting the chance to film in the skies above Seattle to highlight the proximity of industry and potential pollution sources all along the Duwamish River corridor.
Each year PPRC hosts a regional roundtable to bring together players in the Pollution Prevntion (P2) sector to network and share around the issues and challenges they’re working to address. This year PPRC hired Pangeality Productions to put together a year in review video to open the conference at a downtown hotel. The video highlights PPRC’s ongoing work on the Solarize Bellevue campaign, The Green Sports Directory, their work with WA craft breweries, spray and paint efficiency trainings, and their wildly successful Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) program. I was also onhand to film the keynote speech and other related workshops. It’s always special to stand in the back of a packed room and see your work projected live onto a big screen. I look forward to more wiork together in the years to come.

PPRC 2014 FINAL from Pangeality Productions on Vimeo.

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PP Wins Honorable Mention from National Pollution Prevention Roundtable for Zinc in Stormwater Runoff Project

Posted by Leonard on August, 22, 2014

Excited to announce that one of our videos recently won an honorable mention in the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable’s MVP2 awards for our film ‘Zinc in Stormwater: Galvanizing Business Solutions’. The awards are designed to recognize outstanding and innovative pollution prevention (P2) projects/programs judged on the 5 criteria: innovation, measurable results, transferability, commitment, and optimization of available project resources. The overall focus is on projects that demonstrate source reduction activities.

“The video provides context to the issue of zinc pollution by showing how the metal leaches into stormwater from many different sources. Because zinc comes from so many places, no one solution is likely to suffice for any business. Businesses need to carefully assess the sources of the metal and then implement a variety of site-specific solutions.”

The film was produced in connection with The Pollution Prevention Resource Center, and funded by a grant from The Russell Family Foundation. Increasingly, a number of commercial properties were not meeting the necessary benchmarks outlined by the WA Dept of Ecology and this video is meant to assist those entity’s efforts in getting into compliance following BMPs set forth by others regionally. See earlier blog posts for photos and more info.

ZINC in Stormwater: Galvanizing Business Solutions from pprc on Vimeo.

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• Local Seattle Salmon Content Featured on CCTV Chinese English Language Media

Posted by Leonard on June, 16, 2014

Over the years I’ve done a variety of work with Puget Sound/Seattle area salmon fishermen, helping them to use video as a tool to share their story. Some of that content is now featured in a CCTV report about fish consumption worldwide. CCTV America is the American arm of China Central Television of Beijing. Based in Washington D.C., producing daily English language programming for a global audience. The content shows salmon being caught in Puget Sound, and unloaded at Fishermen’s Terminal for sale in Seattle area markets and farmers markets. For more info visit LokiFish and Puget Sound Salmon Commission.

Picture 132

 

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/r-qSwFnJdis?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

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• My work screening at Chicago Cultural Center this week

Posted by Leonard on April, 23, 2014

14 years ago I was a young filmmaker with a dream job. I was getting paid to wander the streets of Chicago collecting stories with a video camera. It was part of the CITY 2000 project that my good friend Jon Lowenstein had pulled me in to. Chicago In The Year 2000 was the vision of billionaire philanthropist Gary Comer, the owner of Land’s End clothing company. Inspired by the depression era WPA photos of Dorothea Lange and others, his vision was to capture what life was like in the City of Chicago in the Year 2000. He hired a group of full time photographers of which my friend Jon was one, and a small number of videographers that set out to document the city over the course of 12 months. The collection was a gift to the city and is now an archive housed at the Health Sciences Special Collections at The University of Illinois at Chicago that includes over 100 hours of video I filmed in neighborhoods throughout Chicago.

At the end of the year, there was a video that was produced to screen at a show at the Chicago Cultural Center on January 1st, 2001. That video will be shown again at the Chicago Cultural Center this week as part of a larger screening of Chicago documentaries.

Below are two of the stories I filmed that were included in the piece.

“I’ve got a quarter of a million dollars in my pocket, and I still can’t get a fucking cab”

This man’s life story eventually became the film The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith

Dead Cop In Trunk

City 2000 Chicago Cultural Center

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• Filming at Port of Tacoma & Washington Stormwater Center

Posted by Leonard on April, 22, 2014

Spent some time filming last week at the Port of Tacoma and The Washington Stormwater Center. In the port, shipping giant Tote runs twice weekly freight runs between Tacoma and Anchorage Alaska (that takes 66 hours nonstop one way). Tote has had great success in reducing the heavy metals and specifically zinc in their storm water runoff from their property. Working together with 12,000 Rain Gardens of Puget Sound, they’ve installed a series of rain gardens designed to filter and process water runoff. The water which collects on the paved surfaces of their facility and warehouse roofs carrying industrial pollutants and heavy metals, are filtered and absorbed by the garden now prior to it returning to Puget Sound. This video is being produced by Pangeality Productions for Pollution Prevention Research Center, with funding through a grant provided by the Russell Family Foundation, and is geared toward recording and sharing best practices among industries for managing and treating specifically zinc in storm water.

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• Pangeality Productions New Website Debut!

Posted by Leonard on March, 31, 2014

Excited to share the new Pangeality Productions website. With gratitude to my friends who helped to make it happen, including Peter Levin who wrote the demo music and William Washington who helped bring the freshness. And to Michelle Kilmer of KilmerHansen who built the site.

I’ve been working for a while to bring it out and am feeling good about releasing it into the world. Welcome and enjoy, and thanks for your continued support of Pangeality Productions. – Len Davis

Oh Yeah.

Oh Yeah.

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Sweet Grass Farm, The Best Beef For My Family

Posted by Leonard on March, 13, 2014


One of my favorite recent projects has been working with Scott Meyers of Sweet Grass Farm on Lopez Island here in NW Washington state. SGF is raising Kobe Wagyu beef, that is considered by local chefs and food writers to be some of the best beef in the world. I spent some time on the farm with Scott on 2 separate trips, both times shooting b-roll around the pasture, and speaking on such a wide variety of topics including water conservation, bovine terminology, grasslands management, seasonal care, birth and calving, slaughter, and so much more.
SGF mainly direct markets their beef, so the majority of their product goes to families in the region who they sell directly to with no middle man. They also sell to a few select markets and restaurants but the vast majority is straight to the consumer, where they don’t slaughter any animals who haven’t already been accounted for before hand. For me, this type of marketing video is the most clear expression of what Pangeality Productions is best at- giving you the ability to connect with your customers in an authentic voice, telling your story and sharing your values. Segments that came out of the project which SGF now uses in their marketing include The Best Steak Ever? Why I Call Myself a Farmer and Not a Rancher, What’s In a 30lb Box, and Ear Tagging and Selenium Injection. This is a short video that gives the best overview of the work I produced for Sweet Grass Farm, and here is a testimonial that Scott did for Pangeality Productions, discussing how this approach of creating a series of short videos that each stood as it’s own video worked to reach, educate and entertain their customers. We’ve still got another hand full of videos in the pipeline but these were the first set that Scott chose to roll out.

Why I Call Myself A Farmer Not A Rancher from Pangeality Productions on Vimeo.

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Filming on Stormwater Project for Regional Nonprofit @ Port of Port Townsend

Posted by Leonard on March, 7, 2014

Spent a day this week filming at the Port of Port Townsend on a storm water project with Seattle based nonprofit PPRC (Pollution Prevention Resource Center). The project is about sharing best management practice regarding removing heavy metals from surface water before it drains into Puget Sound, our regional body of water, and with this site specifically at maritime facilities. Specifically zinc, is present in tires, roofing and siding, gutters, paint, fencing, pressure treated lumber and so many other materials and products found in a typical setting like this. Ironic that the material used to protect against the elements, in this case rust in the marine environment, is the main polluter. So the pollution sources are both the marine vessel maintenance and the on site buildings themselves. It was quite fascinating to learn about the port of Port Townsend being the only remaining DIY port in the state of Washington and the battle to maintain that character and access, which means allowing boat operators to work on their own boats in the facility 24/7. To my surprise that is apparently unheard of in this day and age and the battle to do so is both an importantly held value there, and a top reason for the presence of a high volume of heavy metals in their stormwater that they’re responsible for before it returns to sea. We spent most of the day with the environmental compliance officer whose role it is to police the work being done in the port, and make sure the rules and regulations are being enforced, specifically around things like whether people who are sanding their boats before painting have the proper vacuum attached to their sander to limit the airborne dust, where the toxic chemicals removed from the hulls of ships are draining to, as well as the installation of proper downspouts on the gutters of the port’s warehouse and maintenance buildings.
One sound bite that stuck with me from the interview with our host were the challenges of bridging the two worlds- that he had the credibility of having worked in the maritime trade for many years himself, but enforcing the environmental rules with a lot of salty dogs not too happy to have him around looking over their shoulders and ‘seeing those same guys at community BBQs and events in ‘a county of only 37,000 people’…

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PCC 60th Anniversary Video

Posted by Leonard on March, 5, 2014

PCC (Puget Consumer Co-op) is turning 60 years old in 2014 and Pangeality Productions has been hired to produce the video celebrating this great legacy.  What began in a household basement as a food-buying club of 15 families in 1953, is today the largest consumer-owned natural food retail co-operative in the United States, with $200 million+ in sales last year at 9 Puget Sound area stores. The videos  will combine a huge collection of archival footage, old newsletters and articles from local print media, membership cards from over the years,  interviews with various people who’ve contributed to the success. I’ll also be shooting footage from a variety of their stores and operations, highlighting their farmland conservancy program, cooking classes and other community initiatives. PCC is opening new stores in Greenlake in June this year and in Columbia City in 2015.

The project consists of telling 6 5 minute stories, each representing a decade in the life of the co-op. As a PCC member, it’s an exciting opportunity to work for it. I also produced the board candidate videos which the membership community will watch and vote on at http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com
Here’s more info about their upcoming event http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/sc/1403/board.html
http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/member/election/

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Returning to Nepal, A Place I Love

Posted by Leonard on January, 31, 2014

I recently returned to Nepal for the 6th time in 20 years. Nepal has a special place in my heart after having studied there and learning the language for the first time in 1995. I subsequently spent time as a volunteer, working in tourism, teaching English, making movies and generally exploring this wonderful country.

Back in 2009, I’d filmed 3 videos for the Seattle Channel connecting Seattle and Nepal; about a Bellevue based nonprofit working to end the stigma of disability in Nepal, about a young Tibetan Lama who was born and family lives in Seattle, and about Bhutanese refugees being resettled in Seattle’s Rainier Valley‘s. I also shot a series of random videos for my YouTube channel that have been enjoyed worldwide including among the Nepali diaspora.

This was my first time back in 5 years and though I was returning mostly as a tourist, I did manage to do some filming, with the goal of developing my DSLR skills. Typically for work I am shooting with my Panasonic HVX 200 camera that uses a very different approach, but in this case was working primarily with my Canon (though I did also shoot some video on my Flipcam and GoPro). I’d set a rather unrealistic goal of making a short documentary about Kathmandu. While the idea itself was very doable, I’d set out to take on a project that required more than the roughly 4 days of filming I’d given myself.

Traveling with an old friend, we’d spend most of the trip outside the capitol city in mountain villages, then a few back in the big city together. He left 5 days before I did and it was in that window that I’d planned to do the work. Needless to say, I made the mistake of scheduling a bunch of interview shoots, which all turned out to be great and well worth the time. But in doing do, I didn’t leave myself near enough time to shoot b-roll and wander, which ironically was so strange given it was that wandering unplanned shooting that really inspired me and brings me the greatest joy in the first place. That plus the emphasis I put on the DSLR side instead of the exploration and having fun which I should have kept as the focus.

With that goal guiding me, I’d connected with my friend Dan McComb, an excellent Seattle DSLR filmmaker about some gear to rent in support of my goal. I ended up renting a hot lens, the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8, a Zacuto viewfinder, a microphone and a few other things. In the long run, there was a real part of me which wished I’d just gone for it with my Flipcam and not wasted any time trying to learn new gear. The main difference with the DSLR approach is for me that I’m used to running and gunning as a one man band, with built in audio, and limited variations. I’ve already mastered the gear I work with and know how to make things happen alone and on the fly. Not with my Canon.

So I shot a handful of great interviews with an urban planner, a cinematographer, a political writer, a DJ, a human rights worker, and a handful of others- mostly friends and friends of friends who I had connections to and loved all of those interactions. Those will each no doubt stand on their own as great interviews that I’ll share via YouTube and Vimeo but the main thread to hold it all together with beautiful chaotic visuals just wasn’t there cause I failed to make it happen. Good but frustrating lesson to have learned. I did shoot some additional videos with my flip cam, some sweet timelapses with my new GoPro, and some really great stuff with my Canon as well. The main challenge with the DSLR system is the need for everything to be on a tripod, which was antithetical to my random street shooting flow.

Here are a few random photo selections from the trip

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Owl & Pussycat – Free Outdoor Performances with Theater Simple

Posted by Leonard on September, 15, 2013

I had the pleasure of working with award-winning, internationally acclaimed performance group Theater Simple. They hired me to film a few of their performances of what they call their ricochet off of Norman Lear’s poem Owl & Pussycat. They had originally debuted the show at the Seattle Fringe Festival, but the performances I filmed were a roving production in the beautiful gardens of the Ballard Locks, and at Bumbershoot. At the locks, the production was staged in motion, with the audience following along as the performers lead children and families with a mobile set singing and playing. ‘Utilizing Shakespearean couplets, songs, four actors, and a pea green boat, Owl & Pussycat’s escapades illuminate a love of adventure and some adventures of love. Fur, feathers and puns fly. (Pigs will not.)’. It was a sweet change of pace for me workwise and the kind of performance I’d love to bring my own young son to, in a gorgeous Seattle park on a warm summer day, high imagination with live music and funky costumery. Theater Simple has been performing at international festivals around the world for over 20 years. I look forward to their productions in 2014.

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Filming Interviews @ The Annual SACNAS Conference @ Washington Convention Center

Posted by Leonard on October, 13, 2012

I recently shot a series of interviews at a major science educator conference at the Washington Convention and Trade Center. Working in collaboration with Earth Sky Science News, the interviews were a varied group of scientists who were members of The Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). Their research and professional work ranged from the impact of video games on the adolescent brain to volcanology, from nutrition to paleoclimatology. This specific group of scientists came from Mexico and Puerto Rico, and some of them worked at American institutions. SACNAS is a society of scientists dedicated to fostering the success of Hispanic/Chicano and Native American scientists—from college students to professionals—to attain advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in science. The segments were edited to screen on the Televisa and Telemundo networks as short pieces interspersed with regular programming targeted at youths. Being bilingual as a solid Spanish speaker helped me to follow the interviews in Spanish but the extensive nature of their vocabulary and themes covered were especially challenging.

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10.10.10 One Day On Earth

Posted by Leonard on October, 10, 2012

On 10.10.10 I participated in a global film project to document life on planet earth. When the final film came out in 2012, I was thrilled to see that 4 of the clips I contributed made it into the final film, and even one into the trailer. I’d contributed content from my friends Justin and Debika’s ‘Hindu lite’ wedding in Philadelphia. On Earth Day, 2012, the film debuted in the general assembly at the UN, and screened in every country around the world. My family was in Boston at the time and we hosted a small community screening in Jamaica Plain. It was a powerful family portrait of the shared human condition, both vibrant and struggling. THe film debuted in the general assembly of the UN and was also screened around the world in all kinds of unique venues.
The film Baraka had always been an early inspiration to me and much of my own personal work has been of the archiving of culture, technology, nature, music, labor, food, etc. that I encountered in my travels. The video was all shot spontaneously handheld on a flipcam.

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