7 Years of Spinning Goat #6: Art is Everywhere #filmmaking #art


2021 seems to be truckin’ along and I can’t believe it’s already mid-November! Let’s hope we can shake the grip COVID has had on our lives and see some positive changes in 2022. I hope everyone and their loved ones are staying safe and healthy!

The next installment in my sort of 7 year retrospective is a film called tunnel. This film just emerged out of nowhere lol. 6 years ago, I was out walking and exploring with a friend of mine in Montour, PA, where a section of Rails to Trails exists. Rails to Trails is an initiative to turn defunct rail lines along Pittsburgh’s three rivers into bike and walking trails. As we explored areas along the trail, we found this tunnel and I was mesmerized by all of the natural and human-made features within. I just randomly started filming things of interest without a plan in mind.

Later, when I got home, I uploaded the footage with the intent to make an observational film, just showing all of the interesting bits put together, but during editing/review, I was inspired to write a poem about ‘the tunnel.’ So, Part 1 is strictly observational, with a transition to a more poetic Part 2: digital effects applied to the the footage, along with recitation of my poem as voiceover.

I am inspired by filmmakers like Agnès Varda and others, who combined elements of documentary and avant-garde film, and as a new filmmaker back in 2015, I was still experimenting with how to film real life, but then edit it into something else – exploring how we can interpret what we see, hear or experience. Art is everywhere, in the eye/ear/heart/soul of the beholder.


tunnel, 2015


7 Years of Spinning Goat #5: 2 Minute #Films – an exercise in editing short pieces and the beauty of musical collaborations #videoart #music

Hello everyone and Happy Labor Day!

This next set of films were all produced for the Carnegie Museum of Art’s “2 Minute Film Festival” which began in 2013 in Pittsburgh. My first entry was in 2014, and I screened that year and in 2015 and 2016. I was even featured in the media write-up about the 2015 festival! https://archive.triblive.com/aande/movies-tv/2-minute-film-festival-at-carnegie-museum-of-art-covers-all-genres/

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

7 Years of Spinning Goat: workworkworkwork #experimental #archive #video

I LOVE working with archive/public domain videos! Of course, they are easy to access – especially on the Internet Archive archive.org, my FAV place online, but you also have the opportunity to reframe the past or make commentary-style visual works. Context is somewhat removed in historical and found footage so it’s no easy task to either attempt to recreate historical context or to frame the message within a new, contemporary context.

One of my early works manipulating archive videos is workworkworkwork (2015). I didn’t go super deep with this one, but was struck by the repetitiveness of the footage. I thought about monotonous, repetitive work, that in some cases has been outsourced to machines, but in other cases has been outsourced to overworked and underpaid workers. 😦

Original description with the video:

Re-edit of a collection of workers filmed by Frank Bunker Gilbreth, who studied workers’ motions in order to improve efficiency. He was also the central character in Cheaper by the Dozen.

Despite research into how to improve the ways in which workers do their work (Gilbreth wanted to improve conditions for workers, but some of his contemporaries just wanted to increase profits, rather than concern themselves with workers’ welfare), it still seems rather unnatural for human beings to be doing repetitive tasks, like a machine. In modern times, we hear about workers in factories being forced to do repetitive tasks in sterile conditions, without breaks or time to feel…human. Many have, sadly, killed themselves.

This is a short piece, showing the monotony and repetitiveness, seemingly driven by Gilbreth’s motion clock. It is also a study in early industry, which some may say was the beginning of the end of art in making things.

Music by egohygiene https://www.egohygiene.ch/


7 years of Spinning Goat #3 – Spelling Bee-r!!

This was a fun project to work on!!! It was my first documentary project I completed in my first class in documentary video production at Pittsburgh Filmmakers in 2012. I was pretty happy with how it turned out, but it showed me that I had a lot to learn. I lost a whole night of great footage due to sound issues and it was more challenging than I expected to be “smooth” while operating a camera. But I learned a lot about storytelling, interviewing, and how to “be in the moment” when you are documenting footage.

This short documentary features Dave and Kumar, who hosted a weekly spelling bee at the Lava Lounge, a bar located in South Side, Pittsburgh. It was a novel concept and drew in the college crowds as well as really good spellers and Lava regulars. It was a challenge to figure out how to film in a low-lit place, but digital video cameras have an advantage over DSLRs in that respect.

Enjoy this blast from the past, and I hope it doesn’t conjure up any memories of junior high school or anything lol ~ Chris

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