Tag Archives: Blue Mountain Center

The Year in Review, Part 1

I took the advice of my friend Jenn Chen and reflected on 2010. Here then, with a focus on A Life’s Work, the year’s accomplishments.

February and March: Worked on the film at The MacDowell Colony.
April: Shot follow-up interview with Robert Darden in Waco, Texas.
June: Footage from A Life’s Work shown at World Science Festival.
July: Shot follow-up interview with Paolo Soleri.
August: Shot Bristlecone Pines in the White Mountains, California. Production over!
September: Worked on the film at Blue Mountain Center; A Life’s Work at Independent Film Project.

And then there were the grant proposals submitted, and 111 posts written for the blog and the cajoling of the guest bloggers who wrote 11 awesome posts.

Had you told me at the end of 2009 this was what I was going to get done in 2010, I would have laughed in your general direction.

I recommend this reflection exercise. (Looking back is only half of it, you also look forward. Visit Jenn’s blog, Typecraft, for the whole magilla.) I found it put the past year in perspective and made me realize that I can get a lot done in the coming one.

A Present for You

Here’s the last recording I did in the Blue Mountain Center boathouse, Tarrega’s Adelita. Again, it’s my guitar, not BMC’s beautiful Robert L. Vincent guitar. Still, I hope you like it.

To hear more classical guitar schmaltzily performed by me at BMC, click here and here.

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Marvin Gaye and A Life’s Work

While I was at Blue Mountain Center I edited a Black Gospel Music Restoration Project section with headphones on so as not to disturb my fellow residents. Unlike the clip that’s online, this bit takes place at Baylor University (Waco, Texas), the home of the BGMRP.

I was working on establishing the locale by putting together some shots of the campus, and linking them aurally through the campus bells chiming the late a.m. hour. I wondered if I could keep the bells ringing as I left the establishing shots and proceeded with a talking head shot of Robert Darden in an office.  I liked the idea, but when I tried it, I wasn’t completely won over.

A day or so later I was listening to my iPod and on came Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give It Up (Part 1).

Here’s a studio version of the song someone synced up to a Soul Train performance:

I’ve heard this song a bazillion times, but this time I was surprised to hear that the banter ran through the entire song. And it works. Brilliantly.

This doesn’t mean my idea will work in the film of course, but it might be worth spending more time on.

And if you’re wondering, there are two reasons why I didn’t include the BGMRP clip. One: I don’t like putting clips up that haven’t approached a certain finish, and two: there’s no way I’m going to compete with Marvin Gaye. The bass line alone is a killer.

Perfect! Print!

There was a time when I believed it was possible to achieve perfection in art. (See Practice, Practice by yours truly in Helen Literary Magazine.)

Here’s me playing one of the first classical pieces I learned, Lagrima by Francisco Tarrega, recorded at the Blue Mountain Center boathouse (hence the sloshing sounds). I’m playing my guitar, not BMC’s beautiful Robert L. Vincent guitar.

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The sheet music represents a kind of ideal; it is very clear what notes are to be played and it is unforgiving. Over the course of my guitar-playing life, I’ve played this piece thousands of times; it is hardwired in my brain and fingers. It’s about 130 notes total, twice that with the repeats. It’s not especially technically challenging  but whenever I perform it I always misplay at least one note. Always.

Here’s a still pulled from A Life’s Work.

We shot this interview at a lovely B&B in Chicago. That circled bit you see? That’s a framed, atmospheric photo of a large elm tree. It was on the mantle in this room and we tried to hang it where the arrow points. We tried to use gaffer tape but it wouldn’t hold. We didn’t want to make holes in the wall, and pressed for time, we let it go and placed it where you see it.

When I look at a shot from this interview I think, I should have tried harder to get that picture up there in the background. That would have made the shot perfect!

So this documentary, I’m sorry to say, will not be perfect. I’ve accepted that; I stopped believing in perfection in art (I never believed it was possible in people and life) a long long time ago.

But I am not dismayed, because there is something more exciting than perfection anyway: the happy accident. And A Life’s Work, like life, is full of happy accidents, like this one. There are many more, too, I’m sure. I just need to be attuned to them. And that is my job as I begin editing the whole film.

I’d love to hear about your happy accidents. Care to share?

Related: More classical guitar music.


What’s A Life’s Work about? It’s a documentary about people engaged in projects they won’t see completed in their lifetimes. You can find out more on this page.

We recently ran a crowdfunding campaign and raised enough to pay an animator and license half of the archival footage the film requires. We need just a bit more to pay for licensing the other half of the archival footage, sound mixing, color correction, E&O insurance and a bunch of smaller things. When that’s done, the film is done! It’s really very VERY close!

So here’s how you can help get this film out to the world. It’s very simple: click the button…

Donate Now!

… and enter the amount you want to contribute (as little as $5, as much as $50,000) and the other specifics. That’s it. No login or registration required. Your contribution does not line my pocket; because the film is fiscally sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts, all money given this way is overseen by them and is guaranteed to go toward the completion of this film. Being fiscally sponsored also means that your contribution is tax-deductible. So why not do it? The amount doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you’re helping to bring a work of art into the world. And that, I think, is really exciting!

Questions? Email me at d a v i d ( aT } b l o o d o r a n g e f i l m s {d o t] c o m

A Last Look at BMC

My residency at Blue Mountain Center is over. It’s been a productive and reflective month, full of great people and delicious food.

Thank you, my fellow residents and everyone at BMC for making September 2010 so memorable.

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Here’s a photo of my set up at Blue Mountain Center.

If you read the VCCA and MacDowell posts, you’ll notice some familiar décor accents.

This is also my bedroom, one of several studio-bedrooms in this building that used to be a lodge back at the turn of the century (19th to 20th). There are two writers down the hall from me and one directly above me. This means we all must be respectful of each other’s need for quiet, which means I can’t play guitar whenever I feel the urge or need to look away from the monitor for a bit.

Now this is not a bad thing, because I suspect if I had an isolated studio and was left to my devices, I would be playing guitar more than editing. One reason this might be so is BMC has a beautiful classical guitar. I mean, a truly stunningly beautiful hand-crafted instrument with a rich, full tone, made by Robert L. Vincent, a luthier with a connection to this very special residency. I have played this guitar, to the joy and annoyance of my fellow residents, during non-quiet hours for hours on end. It is a wonderful thing to hold and play.

When I want to play it between 9 am and 5 pm, I take it outside. Here it is making itself comfortable in an Adirondack chair.

And here, for your listening  pleasure, is a recording of me playing the Chopin piece I’m obsessed with, Prelude 28 no. 7, on this guitar in the BMC meditation garden. It is my gift to you.

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If you’d like to give something in return, why not subscribe to this blog? The posts will go directly into your inbox, and should I ever do a newsletter featuring updates about the film, its subjects, and its topics, you’ll receive one of those. I’ll never spam you and I’ll certainly never give out your e-mail address.

P.S. If you would like to hear more classical guitar recorded at BMC, click here.

ALW on the Big Screen!

To be honest, I’m not crazy about screening works in progress, especially if the work is nowhere near ready for feedback. So when I go to an artist residency, my presentation is usually a brief introduction about how 8 1/2 x 11 was my film school and how Tango Octogenario was a reaction to the dialog heavy, static nature of that film.

But when the possibility of doing a “Meet the Filmmaker” night at the local movie theater was tossed out there, it didn’t take me long to decide to show A Life’s Work. Nothing compares to seeing and hearing work on a big screen.

Afterwards there was a q&a. The BMC artists and activist were an easy crowd, but I was thrilled that several Indian Lake residents were, judging from the thoughtful questions they asked, engaged with what they saw.

Thanks to everyone who showed up. You made it a memorable night.

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The Indian Lake Theater in Indian Lake, NY is a gem of a space, a 250-seat venue rescued from oblivion by Blue Mountain Center’s Ben and Harriet. The theater serves its community by doing more than showing Hollywood fare; it’s a community arts center that hosts live theater, music, and streams operas and ballets from European theaters. It is one of my fantasies to open such a space some day.

The “Meet the Filmmaker” series is funded by the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program, administered by the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts.