I am working tirelessly to finish my final projects for my Master’s degree, which will include a digital visual storytelling project about Neolithic sites in SE Türkiye (Turkey), namely Göbekli Tepe and Karahan Tepe. More on this in a bit.
Since July 2022, I’ve been studying in Greece and South Africa for my degree program, and I’ve taken trips to various areas within Greece, & South Africa, along with trips to Romania, Türkiye, and I’ll visit Serbia. While in these places I have taken copious amounts of photos and videos, some of which would do well in experimental film format. 😉
Stay tuned for more updates coming this year about these film projects, a new visual blog, and possible film festival entries.
I’m excited, if a little exhausted LOL.
In the meantime, check out some footage from Thessaloníki and northern Greece, which I edited into like 4 mini films 😀 for a class assignment.
Time has flown since I started my master’s program. I didn’t realize it had been 6 months since my last update on here!
To sum up: I decided to take the leap and enroll in a master’s program in International Development and Service which started in January of this year, and I spent July-September in Thessaloníki, Greece (check out my photo essay blog from there: thessoteriki.wordpress.com) and I’m currently in Cape Town, South Africa until mid-December (new blog featuring content from there is forthcoming).
I return to Greece in January and will stay there until at least March 2023 to finish my final project and degree by end of April 2023. My main research in Greece is exploring components of sustainable communities & circular economies, and I’ll be doing a case study on an NGO in Thessaloníki that serves refugee populations by training them to make upcycled goods for sale. I’ll also be interviewing producers and business that are committed to zero waste/sustainable practices in northern Greece.
In Cape Town, I am doing a study on homelessness interventions in Muizenberg, a town in the Western Cape on the coast of False Bay (it’s also a surfer’s paradise!) This past October, I guest taught a tutorial on mobile/documentary filmmaking at the University of Cape Town, which was really fun! I like teaching, and may look for ways to do that after graduation.
I’ve done some traveling to Romania (July/August), and will to Turkey (December), while I’m overseas. I’m trying to fit in as much wandering as my budget (and energy) will allow while I have this opportunity to travel and live abroad.
I have been filming some video, but it is much easier to take photos for my master’s degree blog projects. I have some interesting footage, though, and I am planning short, experimental films using clips from Greece and South Africa. My hope is that I will be able to produce a film project as part of my final degree and post a segment of it on here and Instagram.
Stay tuned for more! In the meantime, check out this work-in-progress, 4-films-in-one experimentation that I completed for one of my classes in Greece. It includes footage I had gathered in July 2022.
The SXSW 2022 Showcase screening at Austin Film Society went really well, and it was awesome to watch 20 short films produced by the local filmmaking community in Austin. I love all the films my Avant-Garde & Experimental filmmaking classmates made and it was an honor to screen alongside them again.
The Layers is available to watch online (youtube or my preference: vimeo) and is in some ways a tribute to one of my favorite poets Stanley Kunitz. It uses primarily Super 8 film footage, along with 16mm found footage and some digital bits thrown in.
Check out Austin School of Film’s blog post that features a bit more about the 20 filmmakers (including me!) screening at the Official SXSW Community Showcase @ Austin Film Society Cinema, tomorrow March 12 at 2 pm. FREE event. 90 minutes and includes Q & A. Woot!
From Chris: Great news!! My newest film The Layers, which features Super 8 footage paired with music and a recitation of the Stanley Kunitz poem by the same name will be part of the Austin School of Film Showcase at SXSW 2022!
I signed up for the Avant-Garde and Experimental filmmaking class at Austin School of Film in Fall 2021, which included Super 8 cameras and film and instruction on how to use the camera. I started filmmaking later in 2012 and have been using digital methods ever since, so the chance to work with an actual film camera sounded way cool. It was definitely outside of my comfort zone, but aligned with my filmmaking process in general. And…I pulled it off!
While the bulk of the film is made from Super 8 footage I filmed, I also added a found footage section using 16mm archive film, along with a segment at the end filmed with my iPhone. So, it’s a mixture of different kinds of filmmaking, with analog film featured prominently.
This film is a bit more personal as this poem really spoke to me recently, so it feels semi-autobiographical. I also list the names of some friends who have passed away over the years, which impacted me.
More details to come, but the screening is set for Saturday, March 12, 2022 at 2 pm at AFS Cinema.
After more than a year, I am finally working on a new film The Layers, based on a poem by Stanley Kunitz. I have been taking an Avant-Garde & Experimental Filmmaking class at Austin School of Film, which focuses on using super 8 cameras for filming content. We shot on black & white film and hand developed it ourselves! We also studied many awesome filmmaker artists who I admire.
The first entry in 2014, Outer Earth is one of many collaborations I have done with Pittsburgh musician Tom Moran. His song Tourmaline was released on the CD Oud Music for Snake Handlers, and it fit the concept I was going for from the festival’s theme of “outer space.” I wanted to depict every day nature on earth as if it was from outer space – or something like that. 😉
The second film screened in 2015 is Chaotic Chromatic, which was a very challenging work to complete. The theme that year was “The Silver Screen,” and I immediately thought of early filmmaking artists and the use of actual silver screens to project moving images. I am a fan of early film artists like Alice Guy-Blaché, the Lumière Brothers, and Georges Méliès, and I labored over several weeks to find archival films – starting with 20 minutes of clips – and painstakingly edited them down into a 2-minute film.
What aided the final editing process was finding Suavity Mouthpiece‘s song “MixedMedia,” released in 2014, which had a variety of aural elements that matched the video collage technique I was using in the film. It was also sort of frenetic, which was required I thought. 🙂 A special thanks to J. Trafford of SM for allowing this successful collaboration to happen.
The final entry I screened at my last 2 Minute Film Festival before moving out of Pittsburgh is States Past. In 2016, the films were screened at one of my favorite cinemas in Pittsburgh: Rowhouse Cinema in Lawrenceville. I don’t remember if there was a theme that year, but I had been becoming slightly obsessed with amateur home videos from 1940s-1960s that I would find on the Internet Archive and decided to find a home video clip from all 50 states in the United States to create the 2-minute video.
After successful collaborations with Tom Moran and J. Trafford separately, I asked if they would both collaborate to write a new soundtrack specifically for the film, which they managed to do remotely! And wow, what a beautiful piece of music!
In the end, I have clips from 34 states – all featured in just 2 minutes! I still get tired thinking of all the hard work I put into this one. 😀
Thanks for your support,
Chris Mason, founder and director of Spinning Goat Productions
To follow up on my previous post, I am having some fun going through past digital videos I’ve made over the last 7 years.
I started part-time filmmaking classes at Pittsburgh Filmmakers in 2012, and in addition to documentaries I discovered my love of creating experimental videos. In addition to digitally manipulating images I’ve filmed myself, I have also created a number of videos where I digitally manipulate archive videos.
My favorite site to look for material is the Internet Archive. I can spend hours watching documentaries, government films, old commercials and amateur home movies. Check out their site and support them and their mission to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge. Right on!
This is a short video I made in 2014 called “reverse/volverse” using an archive film I found on the Internet Archive. I wanted to make a point about the “March of Progress,” but also just tried to match the imagery to the awesome dark techno piece by Bolivian DJ Kusillo.
It’s been a while since I posted on my blog. Pandemic and all…ya know…
I have been feeling a bit more inspired to work on films again soon. I even signed up for an Avant-Garde and Experimental Filmmaking course at Austin School of Film this fall.
As I move into a new chapter in my life – in Austin, after school, pre-career shift – I’ve been thinking about the work I’ve done in film, and thought it’d be a nice to review some of the works I’ve put out into the world since 2014 as “Spinning Goat.”
Speaking of which, I came up with that name since I’m a Capricorn (GOAT!) and when I danced a lot more, I spun a lot. Like a lot, lol. And somehow no one was using that combination and so Spinning Goat was born.
The first film I’m posting is my first experimental film calledLicht Ex, which was also in my first official screening as a new filmmaker at the Harris Theater in downtown Pittsburgh in April 2014. For the soundtrack, I used portions of two songs by Lab Report, who graciously gave me permission to use their music. Yes! I am proud of this work and how my imagination was being stimulated by images and sound. I got into filmmaking primarily to learn documentary filmmaking, but I was really intrigued by what I could do with experimental video works. It’s one of my favorite pieces I’ve worked on. ~ Chris
From Chris, director of Spinning Goat Productions:
Happy New Year and 2021!
I feel a sense of relief, and grief, having made it through 2020. Let’s hope our continued work to improve society for ALL has many more fruitful results in the new year, and beyond.
As a way to kick off the New Year and celebrate independent, creative spirits – like Pittsburgh musician Tom Moran – I’m releasing my self-produced feature-length documentary about his musical journey online today for free!
About the film:
Tom Moran has been in music since he was a child, starting his first band with his friends in his basement in 1969. From there, he has grown and expanded into a musician that can play anything with strings, who seems to understand the “soul” of music, which he seems to embody while performing. He has collaborated with multiple artists in the US and from all over the world, and is a consummate expert in music history “from the mountains of Appalachia to the sands of the Sahara.”
Improvising the Divine: the Music of Tom Moran is a zero-budget, indie documentary feature about Pittsburgh musician, Tom Moran, and his 50-year journey performing rock, punk, bluegrass, Middle Eastern, Indian, experimental music – and everything in between.
Featuring performances by Tom Moran, The Five, The Deliberate Strangers, Stephanie M. Vargo, Cousin Emmy, Elizabeth Cotten, Hamza El Din, and more.
Not only can Tom play – and build – anything with strings, he exemplifies the independent, artistic spirit, demonstrates respect for cultural music traditions and musicians, and shows how cool it can be to reinvent yourself every once in a while.
The documentary is filmed and edited by “one-woman crew” of Chris Mason of Spinning Goat Productions.