A teenager came up to me recently in the west loop.
“Yo man, your car is all over Instagram.”
So I decided to do a little social media experiment and paint the #camocamry hashtag on side of the car. I made this cheesy video of the process, though the video is honestly more of an excuse to listen to “Loveeeeeee Song” by Rihanna and Future.
Anyways we’ll see what happens… keep your eyes peeled on Instagram and Twitter.
7:10 pm • 2 March 2013
both the funny and the sad on the south side of chicago
As some of you know, I proudly shoot and edit for Al-Jazeera English on a freelance basis. We did a news story recently about President Obama’s trip to Chicago to address the violence situation, and interviewed several people during the course of reporting it. TV news stories are, tragically, too short; we talked at length with all the people you see in the package, but there was no way to include everything they said on the topic of gun violence. So I put together the following extended collection of their stories and insights.
It’s heavy, but I hope you enjoy and share it. The violence situation in Chicago is tragic to be sure, and with guns on our minds these days, I hope that people listen to what these folks have to say.
There’s another sentiment that needs mentioning. Though we were interviewing everyone specifically about violence and their experience living in communities affected by it, they all in some way expressed… dismay… that violence has become the defining characteristic of life in their neighborhoods. The media, many residents feel, only focuses on the negative. And like anywhere else there’s also good. As Dr Seuss says:
From there to here
From here to there
Funny things are everywhere.
So I’m including one more clip… if only as a kind of chaser to help you along with the rest of your day. It’s nothing more than the classic fight scene from Harlem Nights, and a handful of Studio59 regulars enjoying it on a lazy day at the hair salon.
I hope you enjoy this clip, too.
6:11 pm • 26 February 2013
I couldn’t believe it when this kid started dribbling.
Quick first update for 2013. My goal by the end of this month was to have tested a few ways for moving around between scenes. I have a lot of footage — of different people, different things going on — and I have ideas of how to put footage together to form a larger picture. However I’m also still filming (of course), and can’t control really what happens. For instance I was at the Morgan Park/Simeon basketball game last Wednesday when the student was tragically shot in the parking lot after. People (and kids) shooting each other is a big deal on the South Side and I have to cover that. There are also people I’ve been filming who are heating their houses with their stoves right now, and others who just got out of jail. People are struggling, people are hustling, people are surviving… but then people are also head over heels for Django: Unchained. It’s been difficult to stay home and edit when it seems like there is so much happening.
2:58 pm • 23 January 2013
Shane Ross is a Broadcast TV editor out in LA and frequent contributor to the online forums I frequent whenever I have technical questions. He blogs about all things post-production, and it was great to know that my admittedly ghetto-ass solution of backing up my media (at least now, in the short term), is acceptable.
You have to back your stuff up, plain and simple, and when you don’t shoot on physical media (tape, film), this means you have to keep it safe in some other way. I don’t have $50,000 to implement another solution (oh the equipment I would buy if I had $50,000), so I use internal SATA HDs. They’re inexpensive, which means you can buy a bunch of them and store copies of your backups (yes, copies of copies) off-site (so as to provide protection against theft, fire, etc). I’m in year two, and as you can see even without transcoding to an editing codec (i.e. ProRes), we’re still talking about terabytes of media.
A wise man once said, “Mo money, mo problems.” Maybe… but either way, this low-budget solution is just fine.
12:31 pm • 9 October 2012
My ‘98 Camry has a… unique… paintjob. People remember the car, and a lot of people I meet for the first time will say “yeah I’ve seen this car around.”
More than one teenage girl on the street has told me they think it looks like a cow, and more than two people (at red lights) have offered to buy it off me. ”Sorry,” I tell them. ”I actually do need this shit.”
My followers on Instagram know that, yes, in fact I DO have a Settlers of Catan bumper sticker: http://instagr.am/p/PAI56XqTLE/
In some ways, driving a camouflaged Toyota around the South Side is akin to a hunter wearing an orange hat.
Recently I was notified via picture message that elsewhere in the city of Chicago there are possible impostors. Here are those pictures. So beware, I say… and accept no substitute.
4:30 pm • 20 September 2012
Summertime in Chicago is lovely. This year it was very very hot.
I’ve been filming for over a year now and have a good amount of footage. The next step at this point is to start cutting scenes and assembling these scenes together. How will we move from place to place in the movie, and through time? I have lots of different ideas about these things, and while I spent the summer out shooting (in addition to taking freelance work to pay the bills), the coming months will be more focused on editing what I’ve got so far. It’s time to try different ways of putting the footage together to see what works. How can I make the whole experience of this past year make sense to a viewer of the movie? Will viewers be able to follow along if I don’t have any narration? IS THIS WHOLE MOVIE STUPID?? SHOULD I FLEE THE COUNTRY AND NEVER RETURN???
All great questions. Personally, I tend to figure these things in the timeline, and by that I mean on the computer in the editing program. I have to play around with clips and audio, and arrange them and see what it’s like when you press play. Most people (actually who knows what most people do) use their imagination earlier on in the process so as to maximize their dollar when paying an editor. But since I AM the editor, and I care about what it’s like when you press play… I’ll be locking myself in my room now only to emerge for the occasional snack. And freelance gig. Because I need money.
I’m posting some footage because people have been hounding me to do so (god I need an intern), but this footage DOES NOT have the care and love I normally give a timeline. It’s just some raw footage okay? There are some fire hydrants, fireworks, Bernard’s crazy ass, one night at 2am when it was really really foggy out, and some shit-talking in the liquor store. Enjoy!
3:50 pm • 12 September 2012 • 3 notes
I heard about the Chicago United Hoops Classic on WSCR, they were interviewing one of the organizers about it during halftime of the Bulls game last week. I thought this might be a game Carla’s son might be playing in (you might remember Carla from this post), so I bought a ticket to go and film him (he needs to put together a reel to show coaches/recruiters, and since I annoy Carla so much, I want to help her out). ”Cyrus,” she told me on the phone when I called. “Mookie graduating from 8th grade. He ain’t in that game.” Oops.
Well I went anyway. I didn’t do any prep or get releases from anyone, so I knew I wasn’t going to put this footage in the documentary. But I love that the competitive basketball community put together such a positive event celebrating both athleticism and rivalry.
10:04 pm • 7 May 2012
Slowly but surely here in Chicago, it’s getting warm out. This means I get to open the window right by my desk and feel a nice breeze. It also means I hear much more clearly the seemingly constant gunfire in the surrounding neighborhood. I live between Woodlawn and Hyde Park, and it’s crazy out there.
Usually when I hear gunshots there will only be a handful in quick succession. Sometimes there are as many as 10, and sometimes more. I’ll reach over and flip on the police scanner sitting on my desk and listen to CPD officers from the 3rd district get dispatched to whatever is going on. This will happen about 60 seconds after any given string of shots, or sooner if a police officer in the field hears the shots himself/herself and radios in an estimated location directly to the dispatcher.
Tonight there were so many shots, and they were so loud (only three blocks away), that by the time I went and got my sound recorder out of my bag and put a memory card in it and turned it on and hit record… they were STILL shooting. You can hear a few shots about 20 seconds into the clip. At the end of the clip, you’ll hear the dispatcher remind officers of the “pending” calls in the 3rd district… 911 calls placed on the backburner while police deal with more-immediate emergencies (i.e. people shooting at each other).
Like I said, it’s crazy out there.
Here is this incident in the Chicago Tribune:
12:33 am • 3 May 2012
Stylist Mz Carla is no-nonsense. She has really pretty eyes, but telling her that hasn’t really gotten me anywhere. Out of all the people I’m filming in the salon, I’m probably scared to say hi to her the most… I’m always worried I’m going to be bothering her. Most of the time though when I ask she will reluctantly agree to let me film. She knows the banter and joking that goes on in the hair salon makes for good footage… she’s just not really dying to be on camera.
Carla has a lot of clients (she’s good), and you’ll find them sitting in her corner of the shop waiting for her well into the P.M. most days of the week. On top of work, she’s got a son in high school who is being recruited by colleges to play basketball… a difficult minefield to navigate on its own.
I’m actually really impressed with Carla. But yeah, I don’t think she cares.
9:48 am • 25 April 2012
I’m on Twitter!
People I meet in the hood are constantly asking me if I’m on Twitter, because apparently they all are, and finally I can say yes. People share a lot of stuff on Twitter, and in this day and age, more of what you hear through word of mouth is in the form of a message 140 characters or less. And I’m in the business of knowing what’s going on.
So follow me if you please (@cdowlatshahi
), or just holler at me the old-fashioned way if you see me driving around town. I’m in the camouflaged car.
12:40 pm • 27 March 2012