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The Instagram Proposal

Posted by Rina Svet:

Hi everyone.  Some news... my boyfriend of 5 years, Jerry, proposed to me last Friday night on our 5th Year Anniversary!  It was an amazing and unique proposal, so I'd like to share the story with all of you.  It's also available here.  :)

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I’m sitting here at Starbucks staring out the window at the foot traffic outside.  It’s 5:15PM on Friday, June 22nd.  It’s my boyfriend Jerry and I's fifth year anniversary today and he’s late. He told me we had dinner reservations for 5, and he won’t tell me the place.  He told me to wait on the corner of 3rd Ave and 67th Street, by the Caché.    I’m staring out the window and wondering where in the world he is, when my iPhone buzzes.

It’s a text from Jerry and it’s a cryptic, exciting thing.  “I’m in the city,” he writes.  “But you have to find me!  You’re going to get clues on Instagram.  Your name is Marie Antoinette.   Your first clue is up.  Happy hunting!”And so begins the most amazing, exciting, and rewarding scavenger hunt of my life, trailing me across Manhattan’s upper east side, and eventually leading my to the love of my life.

My first Instagram clue is pretty straightforward.  A picture of a Caché tag against a gorgeous fabric!  I read the caption on Instagram and I cannot believe my eyes  - it reads just like a post on Gossip Girl!

I cannot even… Jerry has tapped into my Gossip Girl fan girl side.  It’s amazing. Phenomenal.   Has he been listening to me ramble on this whole time? I run into Caché, and my adventure begins!

SlamNation: Team Austin - "Tube"

Posted by Paul Devlin:

“Group Pieces” are a truly unique art form that has emerged from the National Poetry Slam competition. The concept of a team of poets created by the competition naturally led to interest in collaboration. Some of the most innovative performing art I have ever seen on stage has been Group Pieces at National Slams, with poets using their voices and movement to create a masterful mix of vocal music and rhythm. Multi-dimensional poetry.

But a slam team is a fragile, ephemeral phenomenon, and a Group Piece exists as performance for a very short time. It is near-impossible to re-create after poets go their separate ways. As Taylor Mali points out, if a Group Piece is not recorded that season, it is usually lost forever.

Thankfully, this classic Group Piece from Team Austin was recorded for SlamNation. Wammo, Danny Solis, Phil West and Hilary Thomas were masters of the Group Piece that year. They were favorites to win, but as can be seen in the movie, the competition played out differently...

SlamNation DVD 
SlamNation Trailer

 

Freestyle - "SUPERNATURAL" (3 of 14)

Posted by Paul Devlin:

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His name says it all when it comes of Freestyling. A true master of his art form.

The Making of Freestyle (continued)

After starting my own movie about Freestyle, I discovered there was another filmmaker, Kevin Fitzgerald (aka DJ Organic) who had already been shooting a movie on the same topic for about 5 years. I thought about abandoning my project, until someone showed me a bootlegged rough cut of Kevin’s movie. It was a mess and ran well over two hours. I stopped worrying about it.

Check out Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme.
Buy the DVD.

Vanity

Posted by Rina Svet:

Vanity is a short story of a girl and her vanity. Shot on 16mm film, it is a beautiful piece of art that teaches a lesson about the darkness inside each of us.

Vanity was directed by Chris Cazavilan and edited by Rina Svet as a thesis film for The School of Visual Arts.

Slam Poem: Taylor Mali - "What Teachers Make”

Guest post by Taylor Mali!

The first thing to notice about this performance, which comes from the final stage of the 2000 National Poetry Slam in Providence, RI, is how loud the audience can be BEFORE the poem starts. You can hear someone yell out "I love you Taylor" before I begin; but that's tame! Sometimes that good-natured hooting and hollering can last almost 30 seconds, and if you're not prepared for it you can lose your focus.

The second thing I notice is how short my hair is. I really do look like a Republican! The quirky laugh that I give to the lawyer twice is something I have stopped doing over the years because I think it's distracting. Notice that when I take the mic off the stand, which I always do at the exact same moment, the sound quality becomes appreciably worse. I wonder why I didn't hear that and move it closer to my mouth?

Lastly, of course, a pirated version of this exact performance has been on YouTube and received close to 4 million hits. Consequently, whenever I begin this poem today, depending on the venue, the audience is filled with people who either clap in excited anticipation or roll their eyes and groan, "Not THIS old poem again!"

This poem is part of the 2000 National Poetry Slam!

SlamNation DVD   SlamNation Trailer

And check out Taylor Mali here!

2002 French Open Teaser

Posted by Paul Devlin:

I love those calls: “Hey can you come to Paris for a few weeks, and help us edit some tennis.” Hell yes!

The call came from Woods Communications, who had been hired by ESPN to help them cover the 2002 French Tennis Open (Roland Garros). I met Tom Woods when I was working for ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 editing World Cup Soccer in Paris. Tom and his brother Ian, are two Americans who set up shop in Paris years ago, servicing American sports networks in Europe. Fantastic business model and very clever guys. I also worked with them covering the Tour De France for CBS.

All that work in France made me fall in love with the place and I try to get back at least once a year, even when I’m not working there.

Power Trip - War In Abkhazia

Posted by Paul Devlin:

While I was shooting Power Trip in Tbilisi, I kept hearing about a war that nobody seemed to know of outside Georgia. The territory of Abkhazia had split away from Georgia and many young Georgian men headed north in a fever of patriotism to take it back. Unfortunately, these ragtag militia were mismatched against far superior Russian-backed forces. The result was massive casualties and many horror stories for the Georgians.

One of the characters in Power Trip, Datto Tabidze experienced this conflict first hand. As can be seen from this piece, the trauma was too much for him to talk about. Now of course, a more recent, much higher profile conflict over Abkhazia between Georgia and Russia has brought this issue into worldwide consciousness.

Datto was a compelling character. In addition to working for AES-Telasi, he was an entrepreneur. On the side of a hill above Tbilisi, the rock had been hollowed out as a passageway between two park areas. Datto had developed a huge project to convert part of this cave area into a giant dance club. Unfortunately, some unsavory characters wanted a piece of the project and Datto refused to pay the extortion. On camera, he showed me the scars from the bullet that went through his knee and out the back of his calf.

The project was never completed and the segment did not make the final film.

Power Trip DVD
Power Trip Trailer

Slam America Bus Tour: Shappy Seasholtz - "Butterfly"

Guest post by Shappy Seasholtz!

Hello, poetry lovers! My name is Shappy Seasholtz and this here is a video of me performing my poem "Butterfly". At this point in my illustrious "spoken-word career", "Butterfly" was considered my "signature poem" meaning I performed this ridiculous piece hundreds of times. To me, it was the "Satisfaction" of my poetic repertoire, like when you go to a Rolling Stones concert you expect them to play "Satisfaction". Sometimes I don't even understand that metaphor since I'm really more of a Kinks fan.

I wrote "Butterfly" for a Rod McKuen tribute show that famous rock poet Thax Douglas put together at the Lounge Ax in Chicago sometime in the late 90's. Rod McKuen was probably the last poet to show up on prime-time network television. He was a huge phenomenon in the late 60's and early 70's reading sappy love poems behind canned music. My mom had his books and an 8-track called "Listen To The Warm." I figured what could be a more groovy topic for a poem than a butterfly? Especially one with a drinking problem? I have since performed it with jazz combos, punk bands, at comedy clubs and, of course, poetry slams.

When this video was shot we were in the last miles of Gary Glazner's SlamAmerica 2000 bus tour. A crazy poetry experiment in which a rickety tour bus drove various slam poets across the country to perform a slam poetry revue in support of Gary's Slam anthology that had just come out from Manic D Press. Somehow it had Grand Marnier as a sponsor which meant us broke poets could drink as much of the syrupy orange liqueur we wanted. I haven't touched the stuff since.

We were all psyched to be performing at a NYC venue. Everybody turned it up to 11 that night. In 2000, I was on my first ever slam team (despite having been around the slam scene since 1991) representing the Mental Graffiti team out of Chicago so I had a huge chip on my shoulder and was ready to kick ass at Nationals which were in Providence, RI that year. I ended up in a 3-way tie for 11th place in Individual Finals tying a former National Champion and a NPR radio host which was impressive but kept me from the Finals stage. Our team got to semi-finals hosted by New York City poet Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz. She thought I was an asshole because I refused to shake her hand as I walked on stage. Needless to say, I feel heads over heels in love with her, and later moved to New York City to be with her. We've been together for 11 years.

But back to this vid: I think Paul caught me at great point in my poetic path. This was my New York coming out party. I'm cock-sure, a little buzzed and fucking with the slammers heads in this video. Who knew that a year later, I'd be moving to Gotham to help Bob Holman open the Bowery Poetry Club or that two years later I'd be on the first team fielded from the BPC, and that we'd win the 2002 National Poetry Slam with the Urbana Slam team?

So I guess you could say this performance really helped me earn my wings! Get it? Wings?

Thank you! I'll be here all night!

Uncle Shappy's Chuckle Parlour!

Follow Shappy on Twitter!

SlamNation DVD 
SlamNation Trailer

Kenotia – “Decorating for Cinco de Mayo”

Posted by Rina Svet:

Happy Cinco de Mayo! 

Seems like the perfect day to share this music video with everyone! This was one of the really fun projects I’ve worked on.  If you're at all familiar with my AMV background, you may know that I started off editing mainly music videos set to anime, and somehow after film school I've drifted away from my roots and now I mainly work on short videos and corporate projects, which are fun in their own way of course!  

This was a project I edited during the summer before my senior year of film school, and I really had a blast doing it!  No pun intended! :)

Syncing up visuals to music is just, well, awesome.  Despite the long and sometimes painstaking process, there's not many other words for it... and the result is so satisfying.  You won't find yourself watching that 20 minute medical corporate video you just finished editing together on loop for a day and a half for fun, but a music video is a whole other story!  So I hope you enjoy this one!

The band is Kenotia, and this is the official performance piece of the song, from the album "You’ve Dug Your Grave, Now Lie In It"  The official music video came be found here and was edited before I came on board, so I didn't edit this one.  Both videos were directed by Erica Ford.

Freestyle - "Unwritten" (2 of 14)

Posted by Paul Devlin:

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The classic debate – what is Freestyling? No better demonstration than P.E.A.C.E.’s performance in this excerpt.

The Making of Freestyle (continued)

After being inspired by Sage Francis, I decided my next movie would be about freestyle hip hop. I got started by shoot performances and interviews with talented Freestylers, including Sage in Brooklyn, Juice in Chicago and Jerry Quickley in Los Angeles.

Check out Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme.
Buy the DVD.

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