Voodoo Freakout!

I might have to play a quick and dirty game of catch-up with this blog.

It’s nine-thirty on Sunday night…December 6th. I spent all of last week in Dallas, and tomorrow, before dawn, I’m on the road back to Dallas to do another week’s worth of work.

I’m decompressing at C4 Workspace. This is where over the weekend Pete and I worked on a short film for the San Antonio Film Commission’s 48 Hour Film Experience. Todd and Debbie were so kind to let us use C4 as a headquarters and shooting space. Everything is calm now. And, man, I’m just crazy about this new lighting scheme Todd installed while I was out of town. Big paper Chinese lanterns with colored compact fluorescent bulbs.

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The edit for the film (entitled Voodoo Daddy) finished fairly early. Pete did the lion’s share of the edit. I fancy myself a damn fast editor, but Pete’s no slouch. I haven’t seen him cut video in a few years, and he’s got Final Cut down solid.

What bit us in the ass was printing to a mini DV tape. Pete, who was using his lap top, had never produced a video tape from his computer. I supposed most of his deliverables have been on DVD or digital files.

The deadline was eight pm at the El Tropicano Hotel, just on the other side of downtown. Maybe a seven minute drive. We seemed to be doing good. Printing to tape is a real-time procedure. This little seven minute film only took seven minutes to copy onto a miniDV tape. But, dammit, it wasn’t recording the audio. I went in to the editing program and tried to change the settings. Tried again. It didn’t look like the audio was registering. Pete gathered up his laptop, external hard drive, and my Panasonic DVX camcorder (all of these devices were interconnected with a spaghetti of USB and Firewire cables, all humming along, doing their thing. We got in my truck and headed to the drop off. Time was ticking away. I parked illegally and we rushed inside, the tape just finishing. I untethered my camera as we walked to the entrance. I played back some footage. Nope. No sound.

Thankfully, Pablo Veliz was in the lobby. He quickly assessed the problem and reconfigured the software and got the machines chugging out a third copy, this time, finally, with audio. Thanks so much Pablo!

We made the deadline by maybe thirty seconds.

Some of the film folks crowding about were asking me how it went, you know, was it any good?

“Well, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It was a difficult birth. And even though I might not want to put it, as is, on my reel, I don’t feel a need to ask for my name to be removed from it.

I was too busy running around like an imbecile, hauling abut equipment and dressing impromptu sets, and, dammit, I would have loved to have taken some still images. Hopefully some of the photos shot by Paul Vaughn and Siggi Ragnor will surface to give a sense of some of the flashes of coolness and occasional rare brilliance.

Here’s a link to a piece of simple dream sequence I put up online. We shot this just a few hours ago.

I titled the clip Voodoo Freakout, and, really, I think even Pete (who wrote this quickie script) would have rather we had created something which could have legitimately sported such a title. But, it is what it is. And the final and rushed edit is really rather fun.

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When I drove home from Dallas last Friday night, I realized, in something of a panic, that my low fuel warning light had come on in that Sargasso Sea dead-zone on I-35E between Waxahachie and Hillsboro. There’s nothing there. No towns, no gas stations, nothing. Spooky at night, more so when driving on empty.

Thankfully I saw an exit sign for Carl’s Corner. This is where you can find Willie Nelson’s famous roadhouse and truck stop. It’s strange, but I’ve never visited the place before.

Kind of a weird place. I picked up some snacks and a cup of coffee (coffee’s free if you buy gas). The convenience store was awash and aswarm with folks fingering a wide range of countrified trinkets and geegaws, along with all those Hostess snack products, and each and every one one would not seem out of place in line to get Sarah Palin to sign a copy of the first book he or she had bought since the final in that Goosebumps series.

While I was gassing up, I saw the gibbous moon rising above a line of parked and idling eighteen wheelers. I fetched my camera and took this shot. Guess I could have benefited from a tripod.

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Speaking a photos. Below is a picture I took last week in Dallas. I was leaving my sister’s place and about to get into my truck to drive to the Auction House where I have been working. I was struck by these birds perched on wire, they looked cold and miserable. Nothing to do but suck it up and wait for Spring. But maybe I was projecting my own mindset on to these birds.

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Okay, it’s getting late. I need to go home, maybe find a morsel of something to call dinner, and then get some sleep. Tomorrow begins another work week in Dallas, three hundred miles to the north.

Here’s a photo of Ramon Juan Vasquez (not to be confused with his father, Ramon Vasquez y Sanches).

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He was reading some of his poetry last weekend at URBAN-15. Ramon is the director for AIT (the American Indians in Texas), and last week they hosted an event of art, music, poetry, craft, and such. This is their first year with this particular event. It was small, intimate, and a lot of fun.

And the weekend before that I worked on two dance video projects. Saturday was a collaboration between ST Shimi and myself. I chose the location and…um, well, I shot the video and will hopeful get around to editing it soon. But mostly it was Shimi providing a wonderful performance of dancing with a hula hoop along the San Antonio river. I was very honored top be able to work with her. Shimi is an extraordinary artist…and a beautiful woman to photograph.

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The next day I worked with my friend Deborah. She was working on another mandala project. She brought in one of her daughters, Katie, as a model. Her two gorgeous girls are as breath-taking as their mom. Here’s a shot I took of Katie with a still camera while my video camera was rolling.

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Deborah’s project was staged just a hundred feet from where Shimi was dancing Saturday. In fact, Deborah was on hand to help with that project.

That was quite an interesting and fun weekend. Dancing on the river. And well, the following weekend, hanging out with San Antonio’s native peoples was also fun. Right, and so here I am, recalling this weekend, making a quick and dirty film with people whose company I enjoy. I only wish there was some way to make this sort of stuff pay me money….

Alright. I really got to clean this up, post it, and head home to bed.

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