photo by ivette spradlin
Spinning Goat Productions: an independent filmmaking entity
Founded: 2013 Founder & Director: Chris Mason
Chris Mason is an independent female filmmaker who launched Spinning Goat Productions (SGP) to produce visual works, such as documentary and experimental videos. SGP is not a separate business (yet), but a production moniker. In addition to films, future productions will include multi-media projects focusing on music, dance, poetry, theater, and other modes of creative expression.
SGP’s filmography from 2013-2017 includes music and cultural documentaries, promotional videos for nonprofits, event videos, and experimental/art videos. All films, to date, are directed and self-produced by Chris Mason.
Chris attended Pittsburgh Filmmakers from 2012-2014, focusing on documentary video production. Prior to that she obtained her A.S. in General Studies with a concentration in Anthropology from CCAC. Despite lack of financial and family resources, Chris is self-taught in many subjects, attends relevant trainings and conferences, takes classes related to her filmmaking and interests, and is an excellent researcher through practice. Chris’s ability to make connections and to explore the spaces around and in between different subjects makes her a good researcher, storyteller and artist.
Chris’s background is in cultural anthropology, history, and social justice, focusing on worldwide cultures and diaspora populations, and the role of media and artistic expression. Chris has a desire to produce ethnographic and culturally relevant films, that (re)discover music, traditions and other cultural practices that were mis- or under-represented in the past, or currently are in danger of being lost to future generations.
Chris, a former musician, has a keen interest in using and studying music as an expression of individuals within cultures in response to, and as a product of, their environments and daily lives. How music is used to express both joy and sorrow, transmit information about daily life, and, sometimes, as a form of resistance and empowerment. Figuratively, music and other arts are closest to the “soul” of a culture, and serve a practical purpose. Music has been, and can be used, to heal divisions between groups separated by economics, racism, and misunderstanding. Chris’s ultimate goal with each film is for viewers to learn at least one new thing they didn’t know and to see something in a different light. This helps to promote a deeper understanding of ourselves and our role in our societies – and, eventually, in history.
Chris uses creative and artistic production techniques to bring a story alive and to appeal to a variety of audiences. Chris accomplishes this using music, spoken word, experimental visuals, and innovative approaches to storytelling, along with more traditional documentary elements to anchor the film.
Chris emphasizes sharing people’s stories in their own words, and allowing their words and their perspectives, shaped by their life journeys, to inspire the crafting of the film into a living history. Chris also uses her extensive training in cultural competence and ethnic studies to approach each film participant – and subject matter – with appropriate care, respect and context.
Many of Chris’s films are a meditation and reflection on what is means to be human. History is really made up of many stories and perspectives. However, many stories and perspectives have been, or remain, hidden, and they may shine a light on inequities and other struggles faced by certain members of a society. But Chris’s hope is that uncovering these stories will inspire respectful understanding and lead to creative solutions for a better, more equitable future.
Music, specifically, has always been shared and has traveled from region to region and people to people since early human times, and many early communities were built by sharing music, food and other important things in life – not by work and toil alone. And while music makers have had a variety of motivations for making music, the common themes tend to be a desire to express one’s self/culture, have a creative outlet to release emotion, to make sounds that can evoke certain responses in others, and tap into that often-mysterious source of musical inspiration. Music promotes connections: to ideas, emotions, other people, and our inner selves.
Chris’s plan for SGP’s future:
Work on an ongoing documentary series that focuses on music and culture from different regions of the world, and in diaspora populations in the U.S. and in other countries. Weave together music histories and traditions in an appropriate context by sharing stories from different perspectives and by showing connections between different cultures and peoples through music and expression. Some paths diverge from a common tradition, and differences in approach and use will be respected without promoting division.
In addition to educating viewers about different musical traditions and the people who, either directly or indirectly, preserve these traditions, the documentary projects will aim to empower participants and viewers to embrace our rich, if troubled, history and focus on the more positive, creative energies that influence music, artistic expression, and human progress and innovation. How have we, and how can we continue to use creative problem-solving to guide us to a better future, amidst current political and environmental challenges around the globe? How can music and the arts contribute to our success?
To have a more lasting impact, in addition to producing documentary films, Chris will collaborate with other artists and community members to create companion photo, written, performance and/or public art projects to help preserve history and traditions, in both short and long term ways.
Note: a particular focus could be on intangible heritage at risk, as well as cultures and populations at risk due to war, environmental degradation, and other destructive forces.
Machete Kisumontao el Documental (short); completed 2015
TRANS: profiles of the Transgender community, (short); completed 2017
(working title) Musician in the Wild: Tom Moran (feature); started 2014; hope to complete in 2018
3 Rivers to Cuba (feature), started 2015; hope to complete in 2018-19
(working title) Water is Life (experimental documentary); started 2017; no completion date has been set
Film Festival screening history:
2 Minute Film Festival, Pgh, PA
Film Kitchen Contest, Pgh, PA (won Audience Favorite)
Steel City Shorts Film Showcase, Pgh, PA
International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival, NYC
Rincon International Film Festival, Puerto Rico
Learn more about Chris Mason/SGP and view full filmography: www.spinninggoat.net
Check out this awesome feature on Chris Mason in 1839mag: http://1839mag.com/profiles/a-look-at-chris-mason/
And in Preppy Trendy Mag, based in NYC: http://preppytrendymag.com/interview-2/
youtube: Spinning Goat Productions