Friday, December 31, 2004

Special Service for Armed Forces

NOTE: The following has been taken down from its original source. However, after some recent (February 5, 2007) discussion with others in the independent professional wedding and event video production industry it is possible that another resource for this worthwhile program will develop.

A member of the Wedding and Event Videographers Association (WEVA) recently posted something I thought might be of interest, not only to those in the video production business, but those members of our armed forces, and their families who could benefit from this program.
Get in touch with Perry Hillis,, 706-935-5543, for more information.
Hillis' Operation Bedtime Story ( project offers one free DVD or VHS video of anyone actively serving in the military reading stories to the camera. This, says Hillis, will allow their families to have something to remember them by when they cannot be present.
Hillis, and participating video producers across the country, are providing this service free of charge as a way "to show support for our troops," says Hillis. "I know if I had to be away from my family, with the possibility of not returning home alive, I would appreciate something like this."
The product is created by connecting the video camera to a DVD or VHS recorder and burning the video in real time as the participant is reading from a book, diary, journal, or other reading resource. There is no editing involved as the project is based on reality, not creativity. "They will leave with their video in hand," says Hillis.
Hillis, limited to doing this in the Chattanooga, TN area, has posted on the WEVA members forum web site, offering other members the opportunity to extend this project into their service areas. If there is enough response and interest from both people in the service and video producers across the country, "I will buy a domain name so that people can find a local videographer to read to," Hillis concluded.

Perry Hillis

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Memories Get Trashed

Maybe it was the Coca-Cola Classic Young Movie Maker series that played some time back at theaters during the preview "advertainment" segment.
While most everyone else is waiting in line for the popcorn, drink, candy, hot dog and/or pretzel that will triple their out-of-pocket entertainment experience, I can usually be found actually watching not only the "advertainments", but even those boring movie history questions inserted between local, homegrown business advertisement movie billboards - slides, actually.
But I'm pretty sure it was the current Young Movie Maker reel that captured my awareness. That, and the fact that I am a full time professional commercial, wedding and event video producer.
In the Young Movie Maker reel the scenario is that an older woman is cleaning out her closet? basement? and comes across an old reel of movie film. She tosses it, probably because she doesn't have anything to project it.
Or, she hasn't thought (doesn't know) about people like me who provide (sometimes for a reasonable price) services transferring film, old videotape formats and images-photos-mementos-graphics and other stuff to the current storage medium. The current medium is DVD, although some are still transferring home movies and stuff to videotape.
Anyway, for whatever reason she tosses the old reel of film. Then we see a dumpster diver digging it out, other characters come into play and in a series of disconnected events the film winds up spilled and spooling around a bicycle wheel sprocket with the sun shining "just so" through a Coca-Cola bottle in the street and onto the side of a perfectly parked, perfectly flat, perfectly reflective, white delivery truck.
The older woman is looking out her window to see such commotion, and everyone freezes into an awed Kodak Moment while the nostalgic scenes play out on the side of that truck.
For someone who makes a living helping others preserve such memories, that was one of the most wonderful cinematic experiences I've ever enjoyed. It blew me away.
Maybe it was that recollection that caused me to notice some old reels and videotapes in a trash can as I was walking a neighborhood. I am not by nature a dumpster diver. I rarely, if ever, shop yard/garage sales...
...Wal*Mart is about as cheap as I'll go.
But there were those moments from the past, probably some person's memories carelessly discarded. Maybe not. But, there they were. I'm seeing that emotionally charged Young Movie Maker segment. So I took them. I am going to play and review what I can. If they are commercial rejects then I'll toss them again.
But! If they are not! If they are someone's memories...
...I'll likely see if I can find an address. A name. I'll put what looks right onto a DVD and mail or hand deliver a sample of it. If they don't want to pay for it, depending on how I read the circumstances, judge their reaction, I might just give it to them anyway.
If THAT happens, I'm going to want an interview on video, or an article for a magazine.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Long Term Loan

Nearly 15 years ago a guy approached me as I was making an ATM withdrawal. It was during the holiday season.
He presented me with a pretty good story - nothing I had not heard before, but pretty good nonetheless. Being a writer, a journalist, a wannabe fiction novelist, I enjoyed the story, doubtful as I was.
I made him a deal. I gave him a twenty dollar bill and told him it wasn't a loan, simply a gift. "But," I told him, "if you really want to improve my attitude toward people in general, people with really good stories specifically, here's my post office box number. When you get situated, overcome your problems, if you return that twenty dollar bill you will have proven more to me than I am currently able to believe about people in general."
I've not ever really forgotten the incident, but I certainly had not been dwelling on it. I love a lot of people and a lot of people continue to disappoint me.
But somebody recently sent me a wrinkled twenty dollar bill in an envelope with no return address. I could not read the badly applied cancellation mark. I'm going to keep the twenty. Was it that guy? I'll never know, but he sure got even with me.
Now I don't know if I should work to improve my attitude toward people in general, or just those who have a good story.