Tuesday, January 26, 2010

post-production time

Why does it always cost so much? The mentor at the Star Lab where GMU Final Cut Pro resides (the film editing software) told me that I can't upload the 15 hours of footage that I have onto a public computer. She suggested I buy an external hard drive, and bring it to the lab to work on. It's $99.00.

I want to upload some videos for people to catch some previews and interviews in their entirety, but in order to get the space I need, gotta shell out $60.00 Yes it lasts a year but still. Meh

I was excited to see the Cocolai video again. So I'm excited to share my work soon.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I'm back. This experience has been an adventure, a learning process, and I can't friggin wait to upload all 20 hours (yes, 20) of film and start editing, cutting, and pasting. I have no idea how to use Final Cut Pro, but I'm going to take a stab at it. It will not be as exciting to blog about my learning a computer application, but I'll still updated this with how the editing process is going. I would love any feedback, ideas, or if you are up for looking at some rough cuts, let me know!

Thank you everyone for your amazing support.

Friday, January 15, 2010

that's what I get for bragging

It has been raining for three days now. I still went last night to the first night of Fiestas de la Calle, although all the events and mask parades had been cancelled and there were a lot less people expected. There were still plenty of people on the street of San Sebastian. It was rainy but by 10pm, plenty of drunken bachanalian revelry. It was interesting to see that the festival did have heavy sponsorship by beer companies, especially from Medalla, the local Puerto Rican beer. Most interesting were the yellow and black hats that people wore...

San Sebastian was a martyr who was said to have been shot by arrows so many times, his body was completely covered but he did not die. Among the usual assortment of miracles and healing the sick and dying, he was killed by romans for his Christian faith.

The hats? Well, blazoned with a Medalla logo for starters, the hats also screamed out SAN SEBA with an arrow logo underlining the word "san." The irony and double meanings with this little adornment are palpable. I'm hoping to find out a little bit more on how the festival started and why the choice was to hold it on San Sebastian street. I managed to get some footage of the street action (which basically reminded me of Bourbon St NOLA on your average night) except for one thing:

While there were plenty of bars blasting latin rock, bachata, and reggaeton, the real action, the real frenzy, was focused on the street. Three pleneros were beating a rhythm on their panderetas and the street was clogged, by people staying out in the rain, singing along, dancing, and not just for fun, but out of love, or adventure, or connection or, something else. Yes they were drunk. Yes, it probably made the rain less of an issue. But, there were plenty of bars, with plenty of room, and plenty of indoor dance floors. But these people chose differently and here is where the interesting part is. How can I define it, explain it, or analyze it? I still don't know what to make of it myself, its just an instinctual feeling that in these street gatherings there is a nexus of meaning of something, I just seem at loss of words for it right now. To make matters even more difficult, how do I transmit this onto a video? I got some footage but did I really? I felt something great watching it take place, but on video does it just look like people dancing in the street? I think its important, but will anyone else care? Is anyone else happy that Medalla and Coors Light parties are not enough? That corporate sponsorship can't encompass meaning of festival?

Oh and did I mention that for the first time, the city is imposing a curfew on the fiestas? Nothing major happened last night, the cleaning trucks came, and the police told people to go home. For the most part, they did. But many have said that other things could happen, and to be ready to run.

Tonight will be different, I am going to a paranda! So a different kind of party.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Um, from start to almost finish

Going into the Fiestas de la Calle, there is already plenty of rumor floating around. Rumor has it that the city of San Juan is going to instate for the first time ever, a curfew on the street festivals. Nobody really knows what that means, if it means stores have to close at a certain hour, or just restaurants serving alcohol, or if everyone has to be off the streets by a certain time. It will be interesting to see how the crowd reacts. I've also been given a tentative invite to a paranda on friday night, so I'm pretty excited about it. It's the one traditional Christmas event in Puerto Rico that I still have not been able to go to.

After so much trial and error, I am finally pretty confident with my panasonic camera, it needs less external lighting then I initially thought, and nothing says guerilla video like a non-tripod or monopod'ed shot. Who knows what might happen for the street festivals. Running shots?

My british camera guy has left today, and the continental U.S. one is arriving tomorrow. It makes a huge difference having someone to share the load. Both in equipment, and brave adventure :) So thank you London kid! Hola Americano!

There are so many things happening back home that I am beginning to take care of now, that its kinda nice having the distance. But I'm looking forward to seeing folks and getting started on other projects.

However I do need to tell you all. It's sunny and 86 degrees here right now. Hugs!

Saturday, January 9, 2010


I admit it. I am now in holiday mode. After that trip to Cocolai's house, everything is just icing on the cake. Yesterday we headed to San Juan and visited an artisan shop. It's run by the Cruz family and Jose Cruz is also a history teacher at a local private school.

He's opinionated, feisty, well spoken, angry, thoughtful. It was my second time last night seeking him out for an interview, but it was worth it. He was a little hesitant and nervous at first, but eventually started to loosen up. Since he was worried about getting his work for the shop done, I promised him I would only take up ten minutes of his time. However, once we got rolling along, he wanted to say more, and he kept the interview going for another 20 minutes. All in all great insights on Puerto Rican culture, people, religion, life. This is the guy everyone wants their kids to learn from. I only hope the parents at his school appreciate him (Since like most teachers, his salary probably doesn't reflect the importance of his role)

Old San Juan has little nooks and cranies everywhere that are new and different every time you walk them. It's like there is never enough time to see it all. It has to be one of my top favorite places I've ever had the opportunity to visit. There is also a Calle de la Luna with a little crescent moon symbol underneath the sign. I think I need a picture.

Went to Rio Piedras today and saw the University. Great campus, from outside the gate at least. They are still on break so I couldn't get in to walk around. I did buy a children's book though in Spanish, about the moon, called Lagrimas de la Luna. I saw it in a book store by campus and something compelled me to buy it. I think the moon is following me on this crazy adventure of mine, for luck.

Ciao luna!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A day that folklore dreams are made of....

I wake up and Juan is running late. The Maori chant of "I live! I live! I die! I die!" is in my head because I've convinced myself that if this day does not happen I will not have a wonderful film and I will be a total failure. I am asking myself if I want to live, really live, and learn to roll with the punches, or just lay down and wait to die,,never taking chances, and living a boring life. As I am having this mini psycho-drama in my head, Juan comes and we pack up the car and head to Mayaguez.

First stop, Cocolai's house. He happens to be one of the oldest living pleneros at 83 years old. Not only do I get a more extensive interview with Juan, I also get one with a professor who is an expert in Puertorican folklore music and most important, I meet Cocolai.

Cocolai is 83 and still remembers a lot of plena songs. He plays the panderetta like he's 23 and jokes around in a way that would put top comedians to shame. He plays practical jokes, and makes fun of everyone's accents. I adore him from the start.

I honestly feel blessed and honored that I was able to film this musician in his home, playing music with his friends. I only hope, that other people can appreciate him as well.

I left Coco's house to go eat some of the best seafood in my life. Then we headed back to San Juan. I feel relieved and lucky and blessed. I have such amazing footage! And I'm so excited to start cutting and pasting. Now just heading to Las Fiestas de la Calle.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mas fotos!

Camera guy "el gran" Bonny
La Isla del Encanto from a restaurant window
Tito and Juan rockin' it at a show in Rio Piedras
An altar for the Three Kings
One of the most beautiful voices and a great pandareta player. Goes by the name, "el gato"