7 Years of Spinning Goat #2: reverse/volverse

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.

7 years of Spinning Goat: a retrospective

Hello everyone!

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 called Licht 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

Online premiere: Improvising the Divine: the Music of Tom Moran TODAY #documentary #indie

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.

Improvising the Divine: the Music of Tom Moran
Filmed and produced by Spinning Goat Productions
Director: Chris Mason
© 2018 Chris Mason

Watch on youtube (see below) and vimeo: https://vimeo.com/354429058

“grafik” trilogy ~ an homage to abstract videos released #abstract #video

Just released ~

A trilogy of abstract videos I made, paying homage to black and white abstract film artists of the past.

grafik: My ‘ode’ to German abstract film. Main character is a leukocyte. Digital manipulation of archive and original footage filmed by Chris Mason.

grafik II: Abstract experimental video. Darker. Slow-ish. Ceiling fan. Filmed and found footage.

grafik III: The last installment in the “grafik” trilogy. Short but sweet. Don’t blink.
Found footage of lava flow; all other footage shot by Chris Mason.

Warning: quickly flashing images.

All music is the property of the artists and used via Creative Commons License 3.0.
© 2020 Chris Mason

Watch it on vimeo and youtube:

New film collaboration: anemoia

For the first time in a while, I collaborated with a musician to produce a new film!

episode_81 based in Cincinnati, OH (please check out their bandcamp) wrote and composed an experimental soundscape called “anemoia,” and they reached out to me about creating a short film. So, here it is…


Soundscape created by episode_81 evokes a sense of foreboding nostalgia. Created with Ableton Live 10.

Manipulated visuals by spinning goat impart a feeling of liminality, of going in and out of a dream.

anemoia: “nostalgia for a time you’ve never known”

Watch it on vimeo or youtube:


When We Look ~ online exhibit about hunger and food waste launched today #photography #documentary

When We Look ~ https://spinninggoat.wordpress.com/when-we-look-online-exhibit-on-hunger-and-food-waste/

While studying at Temple University, I took an informative and inspiring class at Tyler School of Art called Social Documentary Photography, taught by successful and dynamic artist Martha Madigan. The class was designed to use fine art skills to convey ideas about the issues of hunger and food waste, continuing the tradition of documentary photography. We worked with Philadelphia-based food rescue group Philabundance and toured local organizations like Broad Street Ministry and neighborhood gardens like Glenwood Green Acres in North Philly.

My approach to the project was both artistic and anthropological and as a result I created a 16-photo exhibit entitled “When We Look.” The photos are presented in pairs with narrative captions and explore different cultural aspects of food, hunger and waste. In lieu of an in-person exhibit (prevented by coronavirus), I am posting this documentary photo series online (scroll below).

My hope is that these images will inspire you to think about food, your relationship and access to it, and to find out more about hunger, food waste, and food rescue in your community. A term like “hunger” is a word that describes so much and nothing at all if we do not look deeper into what it means and who it affects.

I welcome comments and questions about any of the photographs or ideas presented; feel free to post a comment or email me at spinninggoat@gmail.com or connect on Twitter @cmason242 or Instagram @spinninggoat

Got to page: https://spinninggoat.wordpress.com/when-we-look-online-exhibit-on-hunger-and-food-waste/

~ Chris Mason

© 2019 Chris Mason

Update: #2020 and times are…strange

Well, I imagined I would be posting something a bit different once I got to this point in 2020.  COVID19 has definitely made things weird and sad and also a bit, well, exposed, I guess. My deepest condolences to anyone who lost a loved one to the coronavirus.

*  *   *  *   *  *   *  *   *  *   *  *   *  *   *  *   *  *   *  *   *  *   *  *   *  *   *  *   *  *   *  *   *  * *   *  * *

On May 7, 2020, I graduated with honors from Temple University with my BA in Visual Anthropology, so I am psyched about that even if graduating ended up being anti-climactic.  But I did it. WOOHOO!

I’ve learned so much and there were a few film and photo projects I worked on, trying out new approaches to ethnographic video storytelling, including experimental elements.  More additions to my site in the near future, including a social documentary photography project and a series of videos from Cuba.

In the meantime, please enjoy this new abstract video I just finished which completes the “grafik” trilogy, originally started with grafik, an ode to German abstract film, and then went a little darker in grafik II, and then ends on a short and sweet, but high note in grafik 3.

(P.S. I moved to Austin, TX, after plotting to do so for a while.  Not the most ideal circumstances, but I’m happy to be here)!

grafik and grafik II are linked in the youtube description if you’d like to watch all three!


#SXSW Improvising the Divine has been submitted to SXSW 2020!

Hello everyone!


Great news, we (Tom Moran & I) have opted to submit the feature documentary Improvising the Divine: the Music of Tom Moran to SXSW Film Festival held during SXSW in Austin, TX in March 2020. We will get notification of acceptance (or not) by early February, so it will be a long wait.  I truly think this film would be perfect to screen during SXSW since it celebrates music and musicianship in a creative and interesting way.  And with NO funding, lol.

I’ll update everyone much later with the results, so please keep your fingers crossed and send out some winning vibes into the universe for us!


Chris Mason


An Autoethnography Experiment #film


It’s been a while! I’ve been working hard at Temple learning some cool stuff (and sitting through gen eds, yawn), and I made it through my first year! (ahem, with a 4.0) 😉

I am pleased with the results of a new film project I started working on called An Autoethnography Experiment. I am planning a series of four 15 min films that range from factual memoir to experimental video. It’s kinda my life story, through a cultural lens. It’s an exercise in both filmmaking and ethnography, and I plan to incorporate this type of film work in future collaborations,  featuring other people and their lives.

The first installment is a work-in-progress called Excavation.  Check out still photos below. I’ll post updates as this project progresses!


#2018 Year End Update #2018Milestones

Wow, 2018 was quite a year for Spinning Goat Productions and its director, Chris Mason.

From Chris:

In January 2018, after a lot of uncertainty and anxiety about the future, I decided to apply to Temple University to hopefully, finally finish my undergraduate degree in Anthropology (Visual/Media). I had worked very hard to build a film and social service career in Pittsburgh, but I was not making inroads nor gaining any recognition, which anyone needs to stay inspired and confident.

I was accepted to Temple in February 2018, and I wept tears of joy at finally having a chance to make something of myself, for being “accepted” somewhere, and to have hope that I could find a way to turn my passion and vocation into a career that I can be proud of. And, I’ll admit it, to feel better about myself. I think we always want to put our best face forward in these social media times, but it has not always been easy for me (and for others) who want to create art and influence for change. And often doing it while being under-paid, under-appreciated, tackling bills and debt, unstable housing, and past and present abuse and trauma.

Once I managed to complete my relocation to Philadelphia in July 2018 (no small feat, even for an oldster like me, lol), I was filled with hope and terror all at once.  There were days I felt so free and full of possibility, while on other days I was racked with anxiety and fear that I had gambled everything on this move and entry back into school, with $25,000 more added to my debts:What if it didn’t work out? What if I fail? What if…? It was hard to shake the feelings of insecurity and worthlessness that often plagued me in Pittsburgh. But over the last 4+ months, I have discovered that Philly is the exact right place for me to be, to create a future for myself while unpacking and resolving the past.

Philly is a large city (6th largest in the US), and has both its challenges and triumphs, but the vibe I get here is one of encouragement, with a right mix of sincerity and attitude, lol.  Despite inequities that persist here, as is the case in most cities in the US, I’m impressed by the desire that many Philadelphians have to improve things for other people and the search for ways through without solely focusing on barriers. You will likely receive support, not apathy, for wanting to find a way to solve problems facing your community and for wanting to create something new. Philadelphia is culturally diverse, and I’m inspired by the many organizations and community members who offer arts, educational and cross-cultural programs here.  I have found the right place to figure out how best to combine my skills and talents, my 25+ years (gulp!) of experience, and my desire to help other people learn more about the world beyond their own, to recognize the potential in themselves and others, and to dismantle stereotypes based on ignorance and fear. For real. 😉

Right now, I’m not really sure what my future will exactly look like.  I’ve had some surprises this first semester, like acing my first Arabic language class and realizing that while I love making films, I also have other strong skills that I hope to utilize.

And that it is not all that easy to figure out who you really are and what you are meant to do. I acknowledge that I am a bit lucky, but I also remember how much work I’ve done to make myself more…my self! Not to get too philosophical. 🙂 But truly, it is like I am finding a way back to my self, to the self that has always been there, but had gotten sidetracked by other people’s views and pressure, social dramas, insecurities, and getting lost in alcohol and abuse. I’ve spent the past 7 years working on resolving feelings of shame and worthlessness.  I’m almost there. 🙂

I’m almost at a 4.0 for the Fall semester (waiting on one more grade), and that makes me super proud! I have some scholarships to apply for for summer study and for my last year 2019-20, so this not only lets me know that I have what it takes, but demonstrates that to others. Who have money to give away. 😉 😉 😉

But it gives me confidence to stay on my path, searching for the best way forward.  And I want to thank my friends who have given me support that I cannot get from family, and to those who helped donate to my student loan issue in fall 2017, without which I would not have been able to afford to go to Temple anyway!

I am filled with gratitude and look forward to whatever 2019 brings! And I hope to post a few more films and other art projects next year, and provide updates on past ones.

But in the meantime, I plan to enjoy the heck out of winter break!

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