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Posts tagged "urban"

• 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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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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Pangeality Productions Wins National NATOA Award

Posted by Leonard on July, 26, 2010

Via my work with The Seattle Channel, I’ve just learned that we won a NATOA Award, commonly referred to as the Emmys of government television. The Government Programming Awards (GPAs) are annual awards that recognize excellence in broadcast, cable, multimedia and electronic programming produced by local government agencies, in this case The City of Seattle.  The piece was the story about Rob Rose and his organization The Rose International Fund for Children and their work on behalf of young people with disabilities in Nepal, and the movement to battle the stigma of disability in Nepal and South Asia. We won’t know until September whether we won the category or not, but the nomination itself is an award as all nominations are given recognition for their work. There will be an awards banquet in Washington D.C. in early October. Very cool.

This is the piece

Challenging The Stigma of Disability in Nepal from Pangeality Productions on Vimeo.

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Saving an Iconic Seqouia Tree in Downtown Seattle

Posted by Leonard on July, 26, 2010

I got a call late one afternoon recently from my client Cedar Grove Composting to ask me to come film some footage of a special project they were working on. Together with the Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities, Cedar Grove Composting was involved in trying to save a very special tree. The giant Sequoia tree is in the heart of downtown Seattle at the corner of 4th and Stewart, that was originally planted on Aurora Avenue, but was relocated in 1972. The tree is also the official Christmas Tree downtown every year. Over the years, the tree continued to grow but recently, birds had infested it and their droppings were both damaging the soil below as well as the canopy was slowly becoming covering with their acidic poop. Not sure about how to save the tree, SDOT approached international tree specialist James Urban, author of the book Up By Roots who had been in Seattle recently and paid the tree a house call, diagnosing the problem and prescribing the solution that this group eventually implemented.

So using an air spade to blow out vertical holes and a giant sucker truck to take the dirt away, a number of 4 ft deep vertical columns were dug around the base of the tree, and filled with fresh compost donated by Cedar Grove. Better irrigation and gas flow to the roots was the goal to supplement the pruning they’d already done.

Here is the video I produced about the work.

From Aurora Ave N. to Downtown

From Aurora Ave N. to Downtown

Sequoia on Aurora before being transplanted, 1972

Sequoia on Aurora before being transplanted, 1972

Placing the tree downtown at 4th and Stewart, Seattle

Placing the tree downtown at 4th and Stewart, Seattle

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Article in Nepali newspapers ‘Republica’ & Kathmandu Post about our Emmy Nominated video

Posted by Leonard on May, 18, 2010

Click on the image below to read the article

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Talking Compost w/ Mariners Fans at Opening Day @ Safeco Field

Posted by Leonard on April, 13, 2010

Yesterday I spent the day down at Safeco Field for the Seattle Mariner’s opening day with my client Cedar Grove Composting.  Cedar Grove is taking all of the thousands of pounds of food scraps left behind at the ballpark, and instead of them going to a landfill, turning them into compost that’ll then be used among other things in the planters and landscaping around the ball park.  Unfortunately not on the field which would be the ultimate application but in the flowers and trees surrounding the park which is pretty great.  And not only the foodscraps and green waste, but Cedar Grove provides many of the food trays and napkins, and even corn based plastic cups and utensils at the snack bars throughout the park. And in addition to Safeco Field, Cedar Grove has similar partnerships with The Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field, The Washington Convention Center, The University of Washington and over 2,000+ other businesses and event facilities around Puget Sound. Very impressive, a great client who I’m excited about continuing to work with and share with Seattle this leadership in large scale urban sustainability practices. At Safeco, I was actually following around 2 guys in meat and banana costumes asking Mariners fans about their own understanding of compost and how they felt about knowing the Mariners were leaders in Major League Baseball environmental practices. When you consider how many millions of people go to baseball games across America every year and the impact it could have if similar practices were implememnted at other ball parks. That would be hundreds of millions of tons of material diverted from landfills and turned into a healthy byproduct that would otherwise have been waste.

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Top 10 Capitol Hill Seattle Videos of 2009

Posted by Leonard on January, 9, 2010

I stumbled upon this great collection of 2009’s best Seattle videos, compiled by The Capitol Hill blog. It’s a great celebration of community and art and joy and transformation, from the election of Mike McGinn to leveling blocks of Broadway for the new light rail station, time lapse sequences to sledding parties on Denny Way. Each of the pieces is produced by a different filmmaker in a variety of styles and formats, all about life in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Some true Seattle vibes shining through.
See the films here.

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