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Caught up in an information culture.


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“Learn to Say F*ck You”: Sol LeWitt’s Advice to Artists, Put to Music (Video, 2013)

Animated still from MOCAtv's "Learn to Say F*ck You", with words by Sol LeWitt and music by Rancid. (2013)

From MOCAtv’s “Learn to Say F*ck You”, with words by Sol LeWitt and music by Rancid. (2013)

Sometimes there’s a mashup so sublime, you just can’t resist. Modern art, punk rock, and good creative advice?  I’m on board.  I’m so behind that. Swirl some bright colors in my face, and the deal’s done.

MOCAtv, the digital channel of the Museum of Contemporary Art, writes this about their video:

In 1965, Sol LeWitt wrote fellow sculptor Eva Hesse a four-page letter of encouragement, urging her to stop doubting herself and to simply continue making her work. Despite the fact that some would consider their friendship unlikely, the two sculptors were close friends and wrote to each other frequently about their ideas, work, and personal lives from 1960 until Hesse’s death ten years later. Often quoted, LeWitt’s letter has become a source of inspiration and a vote of confidence for many artists the world over.
Producer Aaron Rose (Beautiful Losers, Become a Microscope) worked with punk rock band Rancid to remake LeWitt’s words into a bold and boisterous song. With wild and wavy LeWitt-inspired animation, this video energetically embodies the message of its writer.

Watch the video below, and if you’re up for a little hand-writing archaeology, you can also read LeWitt’s full letter.

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Ira Glass’s Advice for Beginners (2013)

AKA, “Make Bad Work”.

Neil Gaiman’s advice to young artists to “make good art” is useful and supportive, but equally useful and supportive is Ira Glass’s advice that young artists should be prepared to make bad work, and a lot of it.

Creative work is often discussed, even among people who know better, in a romantic language that implicitly contains our cultural myths about genius and inspiration, because that’s the language we have for creativity.  When we talk about a successful artist’s early career, it’s usually in terms of innate talent and voice that’s visible even in their early work.  It’s easy to forget, especially for young artists trying to figure out what’s worth showing and what’s worth finishing, that that’s an interpretation made in hindsight, and often contains more than a little wishful thinking.  There will be a lot of bad work.


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Weekend Longform Video: Screenwriting Lecture by Abi Morgan of “Shame”, “The Hour”

Still from Abi Morgan's lecture on screenwriting for BAFTA Guru.

Still from Abi Morgan’s lecture on screenwriting for BAFTA Guru.

Abi Morgan is one of the best writers out there, equally solid in television, film, and stage.  I’m incredibly impressed by the writing for The Hour: dense writing makes it light and fast-paced without being staccato or rushed, and the characterizations are incredibly rich.  In a large ensemble cast, every character is treated with great respect and shown as terrifically human, flawed and also wonderful.  (I’ve been thinking about how it’s done all week.  I’d love to see those scripts, but, man, try googling “scripts the hour”, and watch utter keyword failure in progress.)

In this video, she speaks about screenwriting in a talk for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

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The Cricklewood Greats (2012), Peter Capaldi’s Love Letter to British B-Movies

Still from The Cricklewood Greats (BBC, 2012).

Still from The Cricklewood Greats (BBC, 2012).

To round out my recent film history kick, we have perhaps the greatest documentary ever made on the history of British B-movies: The Cricklewood Greats, directed and hosted by Peter Capaldi, and written by Capaldi and Tony Roche of The Thick of It, Veep, and Holy Flying Circus.  A masterpiece.  A veritable masterpiece, sending up both British classic film and television documentary at the same time.  No, I’ll go further: a veritable masterpiece whose truthiness is capped off with a frothy Terry Gilliam confection, made up of documentary footage, all-too-painfully-true satire, digs at Thatcher, and the best worst only joke made at the expense of continuity girls in the history of comedy.

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Alice Guy-Blaché, the forgotten first female filmmaker

Alice Guy-Blaché, the first female filmmaker.

Alice Guy-Blaché, the first female filmmaker.

I think I’m on a film history kick here.  Filmmaker Magazine writes today about a Kickstarter-funded documentary on early filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché:

Alice Guy-Blaché wrote, produced or directed nearly 1,000 films over her 20-year career. She directed one of the first films to have an all-Black cast of actors. She was also a savvy businesswoman, opening her own film studio, Solax Films in the U.S., becoming the most financially and technologically successful film studio at the time on the East Coast. Alice also pioneered the first uses of synchronized sound and image manipulation/superimposition, among other things.

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Weekend Longform Video: The Bakery Girl of Monceau (1963)

Barbet Schroeder and Claudine Soubrier in Eric Rohmer's The Bakery Girl of Monceau (1963).

Barbet Schroeder and Claudine Soubrier in Eric Rohmer’s The Bakery Girl of Monceau (1963).

The Bakery Girl of Monceau is the first of Eric Rohmer’s series of Six Moral Tales, wherein a series of young men in pursuit of one woman become distracted by another.  Bakery Girl stars a very young Barbet Schroeder, founder of Films of Losange, the production company behind many films of the French New Wave, and later a director of narrative and documentaries.  Eric Rohmer was one of the oldest directors of the French New Wave, after an unsuccessful directing career in the 1950s.  Here, in the short form, he’s experimenting with editing and story before the mostly feature-length later instalments in his series.  The film is both a low-key slice of life, and fresh-feeling.  Criterion describes it as “Simple, delicate, and jazzy… shows the stirrings of what would become the Eric Rohmer style: unfussy naturalistic shooting, ironic first-person voice-over, and the image of the ‘unknowable’ woman.”

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