Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Slutcracker Dreams" Back in Production!

Well, I spoke to soon....
We are back in production! Filming this beautiful holiday burlesque in it's fourth year - Our third year filming. New casting, delicious new moves and some costume upgrades all continue to make the Slutcracker up her game.  Cast A and B are very different and it's been interesting filming them both opening weekend. I'm looking forward to this coming weekend. Of course in the process I need another hard drive...again. This is one of those moments that I feel thankful that I'm not shooting with a red camera. I think I would choose to work on a narrative film and not a documentary when having to store so much footage.

As I continue shooting my quest for what to edit this feature on gets a slight reprieve and I enrolled in yet another class in final cut X. I'm on the fence, I feel that apple is changing some of the things that people have been clamoring about and yet the program still feels foreign to me. I realize that Final 7 did take some time for me to be comfortable on it as well and with an open mind X might provide some things that 7 doesn't. To name that most important is easy...Keywords. You can imbed keywords into marked areas in footage. It doesn't sound like much but when dealing with hours of footage it could make life easier and editing go a little faster. I will make my decision by new years so I have a few more weeks to explore my options.

Here is the new Promo if you haven't seen it yet:)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Walter Murch and Slut Promo 2011

In my quest for editing genius it came to my attention that a true master of the art of editing and sound design was speaking in Boston, Walter Murch. He edited such films as Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, The Conversation and was going to be speaking about his craft, process and final cut X.

Walter Murch with a clip of himself covered in film from Apocalypse Now

His lecture in a nutshell had some inspiring thoughts....number one being Fungibility. He defined the word fungible: "being of such nature as to be freely exchangeable or replaceable, in whole or in part, for another of like nature or kind". He described the amount of footage he had to manage when cutting "Apocalypse Now" - 7 Tons - (This was not fungible). What is fungible is this new era of digital video and many exchangeable hard drives, of course personally I am finding my constant need for more hard drives a little overwhelming.

He is a huge proponent of standing when you edit, something I am happy to say I agree with. My editing station is up on a workbench, 2 monitors and a stool in case I need to sit or rest my foot on something. He reflected on his thoughts about standing to edit and how it's like being a Chef or a Conductor...they stand.

Final Cut X - He didn't say to much about because he hasn't worked with it yet...just that he was hurt and disappointed when he looked at the program. He loves Final Cut 7 which is what he did his last film on.
The search for what to do about Final Cut X has lead me to sign up for a class...maybe if I learn it from a pro they will know where all the hidden bells and whistles are and how to get out of all those "user friendly" settings.

Julia Van Daam with Andrew Weisblum 

I met the "Black Swan" editor Andrew Weisblum very briefly after his lecture - long enough for a photo:) It was fascinating to hear him talk about his process working with the director and dissecting and translating the script for Black Swan into the visual landscape that they choose. All in all it was an inspiring evening just what I needed to get back to my work bench and edit this years Slutcracker Promo.

In going through footage for the piece I found some beautiful footage that I have shot in slow motion last year. I had met with Vanessa and we decided to use some new music for this years piece. Last years Russian works so perfectly that it was hard to imagine using anything else but luckily Vanessa suggested the last minute of the sugar plum fairy - I love it. It gave me a little more time to linger on some clips but still had a crescendo to bring me to a sturdy finish. Please take a look - comment if you like it:)

2011 Slutcracker Promo!

In all my searching I also found some nice clips of Amanda Palmer, Jo Weldon and Johnny Porkpie! So it looks like I'll be creating another piece maybe more like last years "Inner Slutcracker"...coming soon!

Monday, October 17, 2011

AGF Sneak Peak: The Engagement

Our first Slutcracker audience engagement! Who up a wedding???
This summer I burnt a DVD for their wedding - Something to show their guests.
Thinking back on it it's not often that you have an engagement on film usually it's the wedding that gets taped. Well, best of luck to them and here is the first "sneak peak" from "Slutcracker Dreams"!!!

Working on the Slutcracker Promo 2011!

As I am reviewing footage looking for clips for this years youtube promo I am reminded of how wonderful a community this is. Vanessa White in creating this witty burlesque not only created a holiday classic that has people already buying tickets but she enabled a community of artists to work together in an amazing cohesive nature. Cheers to the Slutcracker!

I am attaching the 2 promos that I created last year and will hopefully have something shiny and new for you to look at soon.

Slutcracker Promo 2010

Inner Slutcracker 2010

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More Hard drives and the search for Asylum

Asylum: shelter or protection from the need for more hard drives...

Such is the fate of the digital filmmaker...At least the drives are getting bigger!

3 Terebyte back up drive received and used to copy my system drive.  Daemeon ran a diagnostic and found the old drive was running at 40% of the speed it should have been. Time to run an 3 T hard drive to replace the old system drive. I revealed some of my lack of tech savey when I discovered that deskstar is owned by Hitachi - who knew? not me.
So... needless to say this dance of the hard drives is coming to a close. Daemeon just copied the old drive onto the new and I'm convinced that this drive has enough speed to also do the dishes as I continue to edit.

Meanwhile... in my life with my camera - It is always a pleasure to film interesting artists!

ORG: Asylum the brainchild of Mali occured in all is insanity on Friday evening. The show was well curated.  I was thrilled to see Karen Montanaro perform a beautiful piece, mime, mask and dance.

Karen Montanaro
Cast members in the show that I have spent many an evening filming in the last two years included: UnAmerika's Sweetheart Karin Webb, Sarah Josselyn and Katrina Galore  (all in the Slutcracker Documentary!)
UnAmerika's Sweetheart Karin Webb
"The Madness and Moving Pictures of Michael Pope" Delivered storytelling that continued to capture my attention even after he stopped speaking... he continued, dimly lit, painting Sarah Paterson into a beauteous living statue. Other Musical high lights included the duo Hello Dust and Mali Jaggery took the stage with passion and authority.

Karen Montanaro,  Ginger Ibex and Michael Pope painting his living statue

The evenings event closed with a performance art audience experience brought by Amanda Palmer - nothing quite like putting the audience in the dark! We will see what all the footage looks like...I know I could see people that look like blue ghosts running through the room... very dark blue ghosts....

Amanda Palmer directs "Where's Jennifer"

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hard Drive, Beaver and my brother Paul

As I await the arrival of another...hard drive to back up my system before installing Lion and Final Cut  X I have been putting the finishing touches on a short promo I created for the show "Beaver". Another project from the creative mind of Vanessa White as she brings her brand of politics to the stage.

On a personal note, today is my brother Paul's birthday. He would have been 29. He died in a car accident September 7th 2003. One of the things I love to remember about him is how he loved people; Especially people who were different then he was. He showed patience, compassion and kindness that I can still aspire to.

In todays political climate I believe that we have lost sight of the simple fact that we are all people - We the people of the United States of America. Race, religion, and sexual preference do not change the fact that we are still people. The constitution was written for us, not the banks, corporations and insurance companies which are bleeding our nation dry. Paul's traits of kindness, compassion and intelligence, are some of the tools we will need in these upcoming years. I find it hard to understand the people in the political limelight who are so blatantly crusading against our freedom in the name of liberty and patriotism. So, I continue to remind myself that they are still people.

"My religion is kindness"  - Dalai Lama

Paul Van Daam

Friday, September 23, 2011

Our Bodies Ourselves - 40th Birthday Fundraiser

Last night I filmed the 40th "Birthday Bash" Cabaret & Fundraiser for the non-profit organization Our Bodies Ourselves aka The Boston Women's Health Book Collective. Like many people at last night's event I have memories of this amazing informative book. So, of course I bought a copy of their new 40th anniversary edition while I was there. 
For information about the organization and their books -

I filmed from the catwalk at Oberon always fun, but a challenge when the performers are somewhere other then the stage. So,  I also brought my Panasonic Lumix to attempt to capture the stairs, bar and walk through the audience shots. I can't adjust the picture manually, which makes me put that Canon T1 higher on my wish list but... it does offer to capture footage at 720p HD and frankly looks pretty good for a hand held snapshot camera. I originally bought it to shoot underwater (33ft!!!) but...I have yet to experiment with that feature. I'm thinking...Mermaids? link thanks to sugar dish!

Some of the performers of last night's show are also in "Slutcracker Dreams". It's always a treat to see them out in this vibrant Boston scene; That frankly wouldn't be the same without them. Robin Maxfield was the MC, Malice in Wonderland performed with Rogue Burlesque and Lolli Hoops did a glorious number with Little L - an amazing ode to Rosie the Riveter.

Sugar Dish, Mary Widow and Karin Webb together performed "Our Bodies Ourselves" a beautiful, dance, cabaret, burlesque piece that really brought the book to the stage. I felt the piece honored the evening in a most elegant way. My personal Fav!

Lolli Hoops and Julia Van Daam at Oberon 9/22/2011

A full list of the talented performers who donated their skill and time:

Boston Circus Guild -
Boston Tap Company -
Jenny Zigrino
Johnny Blazes -
Lady Rose
Lilly Bordeaux
Lolli Hoops & Little L (Boston Hoop Troop) -
Marcy Goldberg Sacks
Marci Diamond & Teresa Kochis
Mary Widow (Black Cat Burlesque) -
Rachel Kahn
Robin Maxfield -
Rogue Burlesque -
Sugar Dish (The Slutcracker, Babes in Boinkland) -
UnAmerika’s Sweetheart Karin Webb (Axe2Ice) -
Vadalna Tribal Dance Company -

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Slutcracker Dreams is going into "Post"!

This is my first "Post" about my post-production Slutcracker Dreams process. As I write these stories I will also be posting pieces of video and snapshots - interesting tidbits to tantalize the taste buds. So, follow this blog, our twitter feed or "like" AlphaGirlFilms on Facebook and you'll get every notice. We will also eventually have up and operational. Please pass it on to anyone who you think may be interested. 

"Slutcracker Dreams"  - A Documentary on "The Slutcracker",  A Burlesque retelling of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet created for international audiences by the fabulous Vanessa White aka SugarDish. If you haven't seen it yet....It will be playing in Somerville, MA at the Somerville theatre and you can keep up with Slutcracker information on Facebook or at

So, lets get started! First I want to send some thanks out:

Vanessa White! for creating a spectacular show and bringing together a community of richly talented individuals to realize your vision and giving me the opportunity to film you for Ohhhh  so many days:)
Tarah Alton for the fabulous Alpha Girl Illustrations she is creating for me!!!

Also I want to thank everyone who is in the film and took the time to be interviewed. I am looking forward to a full review of the footage and the opportunity to see all your performances once again.

As some of you know....I have amassed quite a bit of footage in the last 2 years and technology is a fickle mistress. There always seems to be one more terabyte of storage needed or now, the decision to upgrade to Final Cut X. What to do? Editors I have spoken to have all seemed to be going back to the Avid. Daemeon has been working on a way that I could potentially run both FC 7 and X off my one computer. 
The quandary of course is that anything I have done in 7 is not transferable to X. Well, that will be figured out in the next couple days and then we will be off and watching!

Thank you for reading and I look forward to this epic journey of Slutcracker Dreams!

Julia Van Daam - Director and Visionary

PS If you have had any Slutcracker Dreams and want to share please be in touch:)