Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

October 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Since Patty Zimmermann and I have been developing our ideas about Open Space Documentary, I’ve wanted to report on my creative process developing the Open Minds Open Mouths project in this spiraling participatory media environment.

I’m trying to understand what is going on now for independent filmmakers like myself, and how new ways of financing, producing and distributing will change both the current project and how people are responding to it.

At the same time though, I hunger for a reprieve from the purely instrumental viewpoint on how the world — especially for creators — is turning upside down.

Without the infusion of a strong moral and values-driven dimension to ground ourselves in the digital future, I think that the forecasting rhetoric we see everywhere seems hollow and repetitive, framed only by economic and infrastructural models.

How can we as artists talk about what this revolution is doing to our cultural ecology? How can we offer other ways of imagining it?

To be sure, small artisanal filmmakers must pay attention to business, but other social and cultural needs drive and fill this work with purpose, making it what I have called Slow Media. Why do we do what we do in this environment, and what does it mean for our culture and communities over a long stretch of time?

Two years ago, I began working on Open Minds Open Mouths, a one-hour documentary film about the Berkeley School Lunch Initiative, and the plan remains to complete the long-form version within the next twelve months.

But since The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act is coming up in congress this year, we are seizing the moment and using our storytelling power to create (8) short webisodes right now — from our existing media assets which we have shot over the last 18 months.

This is my open space documentary project — a work-in-progress experiment –adapting and responding to online media creation, tapping our social networks as backers, and reaching out to new users and audiences to get inspired and get involved.

With my co-producing team at Citizen Film in San Francisco, we are making bite-size web-based stories of vision, passion and action that will easily and freely travel around the internet to build awareness of the importance of supporting and developing healthy and nutritious school lunch programs for all American children.

They will show how, in Berkeley, an economically and ethnically diverse community of cooks, educators, parents, health advocates, politicians and food vendors has persisted over a decade to reinvent school lunch – and successfully integrate it into an innovative cooking and gardening curriculum throughout the K-12 system.

We will produce the eight webisodes, and launch the Lunch Love Community: Stories for Changing the Way Our Kids Eat campaign live online by early summer 2010. These pieces will be there to share, and anyone, anywhere can use them to get dialogue going about food policy reform.

In a moment when education budgets are being cut, obesity is a major problem, and food insecurity is growing across the country, these little documentary glimpses into the Berkeley School Lunch program – one that is working remarkably well –can inspire people to change the way children are eating in their own communities.

The short stories will also help us build an awareness and interest community for the one-hour Open Minds Open Mouths film when it is completed and ready for release.

Food, love and children. It’s what Open Minds Open Mouths is about, and why it is such a pleasure and an adventure to imagine such a wonderful and workable way to do new things and make a difference.

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