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The Bear & Pony Show

mood: hanging in | drinking: some kind of Snapple tea

bear_pony_show

It’s about time for another film festival, wouldn’t you say? Been awhile.

This year, the Berkeley Video & Film Festival is screening our “Homeland Security” cinépoem, which features the lovely Alexis Woods and Carly Putnam. And their respective Bear and Pony alter egos.

I believe my cinépoem partner in crime Michelle Brown and I may be collecting some sort of shiny award, too.

So if you’re in the Norcal area and want to see some indie films lighting up the big screen, join us at the Landmark Cinemas on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley this Friday night. Screenings start at 7:30 and “Homeland Security” should be shining through around 8pm.

Peace out.

-Lo, who needs to get her bangs trimmed before the big night.

A post-event update:
Michelle and I are happy to announce that, for the 4th year in a row, we brought home a Grand Festival Award in the Arts category for our little cinépoem. Huzzah!

Getting Your Feet Wet

Mood: Celebratory | Drinking: *Clink*

water1

Come on in, the water’s fine!

I’m so very pleased to introduce you to ladonnawitmer.com, version 4.0. She’s been a long time coming — nearly a year, in fact, and I couldn’t be happier that I finally get to show her off to the world.

I’d like to give you a quick tour, but first I have to thank a few people who pulled a lot of strings and spent a lot of their late-night and weekend time to make this happen.

First, let’s talk about my far-away friend Eric Oehrl, working his Flashmaster magic out there in the wilds of Michigan. The nifty navigation over there on the left? That’s Eric. The amazingly awesome Flash movie that now introduces this site (lovingly dubbed “the cinébyte”) — that’s Eric, too. EO, my friend, without you, none of this would have been as moving. I bow down before your mad skilz. You rule.

Next, the ever-lovely Miz Kathy Azada. My partner in various crimes, misdemeanors and art projects. Kathy has already brought one miracle to life in the form of our art & poetry book, The Secrets of Falling. And have you seen all those must-collect postcards in our shiny new Store? Those are all designed by the fabulous Kathy, too. My friend, you make all things lovely. Thanks for dreaming with me.

None of these dot com shenanigans would ever have happened if not for one mister Chris Brown, my fearless web guru. It was he who came to me sometime last year and said, “We’re gonna redo your website.” And I was all, “Pshaw, why? I like it the way it is.” And he said, “No, trust me, we can make it better.” And I’m so friggin’ glad I listened! Chris, if this site doesn’t get you a truckload of new clients, nothing will. Thank you a thousand times over.

If you’re wondering who shot all these gorgeous underwater photos, may I direct your attention to my all-too-often behind-the-scenes husband, Bruce. One day last summer whilst on vacation in Mexico, I pulled a red ball gown out of my suitcase, handed him a waterproof camera and said, “Let’s go down to the pool.” One hour and lots of “1-2-3-holdyourbreath” counts later, we had a roll of film (yes, old school) full of aqua and red. (Check out Bruce’s gallery to see all the photos from the underwater shoot.) Thanks for going along with my crazy scheme, Bruce. As always, I owe you one.

Be sure to click around this site from top to bottom, starting with the home url, www.ladonnawitmer.com, where you’ll be instantly immersed in a mini-cinépoem called “Submersion” that will take you on an underwater adventure. Be sure you have your sound turned on for that one.

You’ll notice that some things that are familiar — The Writer still contains some foul language pertaining to one Mr. Johnny Depp, but check out the wee seahorse for a new treat. The Library still contains music from Franky & Wil, along with poems for your reading pleasure, but the poems are new.

The Others still contains links to lots of old friends, and a few new ones, too. And you can still send me an email via Says You, but you can also now comment on this blog — I know lots of you have asked me about that over the years, so you’d better make use of it!

Speaking of this blog, She Says is now a fully functional weblog with an RSS feed and everything, so you can add me to your blog roll and all that fun stuff. You can also search the archives via keyword for old entries, if you’re into that sort of thing. All of the old entries made the migration to their shiny new home.

The Cinépoems have a lovely new page with an upgraded and higher-quality video player for your viewing pleasure. We’ll be making ongoing improvements to that page over the next few months, too, because we’re not satisfied with mere perfection. Must. Keep. Tweaking.

Oh, and notice that the newest cinépoem is one you haven’t seen yet… Bright Neon Love was shot in Las Vegas over the holidays and gets to debut with the big site unveil, that lucky little poem.

The Gallery has been completely retooled — all the old photos are still there, but they’re much easier to view now. There are new photos, too, from Bruce, from a fabulous young photographer named Caitlin Bellah, and from recent cinépoem shoots as well, so be sure to check that out.

And finally — my pet project — our Store. My two books, Shedding the Angel Skin and The Secrets of Falling are available for purchase (and well worth the asking price), as always, but now you can also get yourself some of those pretty postcards I mentioned earlier, as well as a few photographic art prints.

The Store lives on etsy.com, which is an amazing site in its own right and one of my new favorite things ever. Lots of very cool artists hawking their wares on Etsy, so be sure to explore. After you purchase a book and some postcards, of course.

So that’s the tour. Please make yourself at home, get a little wet, and let me know what you think. I’m off to go splash around a little myself. I just don’t get tired of playing with all these new toys!

-Lo, who should mention that it’s not really about drowning.

Something in the Air

Mood: balmy | Drinking: just-brewed iced tea

beelike

Spring. Love. Change. Whatever you wanna call it, there’s definitely something in the air, tingling along your scalp, settling in your stomach. Things, they are a-happenin’.

I know you don’t want to believe it, since you’ve been hearing this for awhile now, but big new things are imminent, IMMINENT I tell you, in this webspace!

My web guru Chris, design maven Kathy, and Flash superstar Eric have been busy as proverbial bees these last weeks, and even longer, getting something special ready to live and breathe.

We’re down to the final tweaks, the last-minute changes, the buffing and polishing now. I re-recorded some poetry trax at Chris’s house just yesterday morning (because the first track wasn’t perfect enough for you, dear reader). Feel free to start your countdown.

Other things are lining up, too. In cinépoetry land, Michelle and I have ambitious plans for the next shoot, and we’re meeting with brave volunteers Jimmy & Emanuela on Wednesday to lay down some vocal trax in preparation for that.

Meanwhile, when the shiny new site launches, a new cinépoem will be piggybacking. Bright Neon Love, shot in Vegas over the holidays, is in the can and ready to make your acquaintance, so don’t neglect The Cinépoems page when you’re exploring the new site.

Things are afoot for me personally, too. Some big decisions, some big dreams, and some not so boldprint events that I’ll be babbling about here shortly.

But for now, I must beg your patience. It’s all very much worth the wait, I promise. Any day now…

-Lo, who stuffs sleeves full of tricks.

Behind the Cinépoetry

Mood: lagging behind | Drinking:  Lipton’s

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Someone recently asked me to explain the poem-cinépoem relationship. As in, which comes first? Are poems written specifically for a shoot, or does the shoot use a particular poem that lends itself to visual aid?

The answer is Yes. Both happen.

There have been times when we just want to film a new cinépoem. So I’ll rifle through my stack of finished poetry until I find one that strikes my fancy. Maybe its one that reminds me of a certain place or scenery. Maybe it’s a topic that’s close to my heart at the time. Maybe it just sounds like something that would be interesting to interpret through moving pictures. Whatever it is that I’m looking for, one particular poem will usually rise to the top of the stack.

Other times, I know that I’m going on a shoot to a particular location, so I’ll write a poem with a shoot in mind, molding it to fit the scene. Or we’ll have a new shooting technique that we want to try, so I’ll write for that. This is something that’s happening right now, actually.

My cinépoem partner, Michelle, and I have been discussing a new method we’d like to try out on a cinépoem. The catch is that it requires a very specific type of poem, a poem that lends itself to multiple interpretations. So far I’ve got the first stanza nailed down. The rest of it is still percolating. Once I get all the words pried out of my brain and onto paper, we can start planning the shoot.

Which leads to the next question: Who directs the cinépoem shoot? How do you know what you’re going to be filming?

Because we use my poetry for the cinépoems, I’m the one who comes up with something that we call the “shoot sheet”. The shoot sheet breaks the poem down into visual bites, the poem on one side of the page, the corresponding scenes we want to shoot on the other.

Sometimes the shoot sheet is simply a guide for general ideas that we want to capture. Other times it is a line by line, shot by shot, very literal script that we follow.

Most cinépoem shoots last only one day, although the prepartion for the shoot may begin months in advance. In fact, the writing, preparation, location scouting, volunteer recruiting, prop scavenging part of the process is more time-consuming than the shoot itself.

Then, once we’ve got the raw footage in the can, we have to begin the other time-consuming process — editing. Michelle and I both have very busy schedules, but we always edit together. So finding time when we both can sit down in front of a deck of computers and start splicing scenes together is always tricky. But we always manage.

We usually lay down the vocal track first, and then the music track, if we have it. Then we pull out the shoot sheet again and begin lining up scenes with sections of poetry. Of course, this is after Michelle has combed through all of the footage and picked the best and brightest takes for our use.

Usually for a 2 to 3 minute cinépoem, we’ll shoot 2 to 4 hours of footage. Multiple takes, multiple angles, B-roll fill-in footage — there’s a lot going on in those cinépoems.

We spend several weeks on the editing process, and then once everything’s finally polished to (near) perfection, we send our new little hatchling out into the world to meet all of you.

Speaking of which, there’s a new cinépoem about halfway through the editing process called Bright Neon Love. That should be online within the next month or so. Then in May we’ll begin shooting scenes for the next cinépoem. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it does have two new cast members: Jimmy and Lindsay. You’ll meet them soon.

So. That’s a bit of a look behind the scenes at our little cinépoem factory. Hope you enjoyed the tour.

-Lo, procrastinating on the percolating.

(P.S. That’s Abattoir on the big screen at last year’s Berkeley Film & Video Fest.)

Just a Little Taste

Mood: Dabbling | Drinking: Soon

nibble

A bit of poetry housekeeping, if you don’t mind.

I’ve been neglecting to mention that I have two poems floating out and about in the world of print, and now seems as good a time as any to mention them.

Last fall, Donna Marbach published an anthology of poems about women called Remembering Faces, and I have one poem in between those pages, “Little Sister”.

Donna is on the east coast, so you’ll probably have better luck finding the book there — if you want to hunt it down, contact Donna through her Palettes & Quills website.

A more recent publication came off the presses just this month — the latest (4th) issue of Nibble, a poetry magazine published here in the Bay Area by Jeff Fleming.

My poem “Farm Cat” is featured in that publication, along with a great many other fabulous (and short!) poems. To get your own copy or find out more about the magazine, visit the Nibble website.

And last but not least in this newsy little update: I am no longer languishing in the land of the unemployed. I am, as of last Monday, once again writing for the man. Which means my sushi habit and shoe shopping sprees are no longer endangered. Huzzah!

More to come later… I believe I’m going to be posting a new poem shortly, as soon as I run it through my writing group one more time, and I’m already working on a new cinépoem for “Bright Neon Love.”

No rest for the wicked. Or the Type A’s.

-Lo, doing that thing she does.

Applique Something Shiny

Mood: Endless | Drinking: Tea

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Oh. My. God.

I have been waiting sooooooo long to show you this cinépoem and at (very) long last, it’s finished!

Homeland Security is up on the cinépoems page and also on YouTube.

We shot it in Santa Cruz, CA in August with two gorgeous ladies, Carly & Lex, and a couple of masks. The poem (which is included in The Secrets of Falling) is a very dual-natured sort of beast, as you’ll hear, and so is the cinépoem. Michelle & I are really happy with how it all turned out.

Big ups, too, to our fine composer, Aaron Purvis. He created a delightful soundtrack that fits perfectly with the mood of this little poem, and I can’t thank him enough.

So go. Enjoy our new little story

Lo, with Elmer’s edible paste.

Let There Be Dark

Mood: Low | Drinking: Watery Tea

nuuanupali

Although I’ve never been a big holiday cheer sort of gal, I have, in times past, managed to muster up a helluva lot more cheer than I am this year.

2008 didn’t come in looking like a brawler, but she’s going out leaving me battered and bruised and more than a little bewildered.

I’m no stranger to getting laid off. I survived the dot com bust of ’01, and I know such things are to be expected when you’re a creative person working in a corporate company while the economy sinks below sea level.

Funny thing is, I wasn’t expecting it this time. I’m the only copywriter in my entire company, and I thought that alone garnered me some job security. Not to mention the fact that I’m a damn fine employee. I work hard and fast. I don’t miss deadlines. I’m more organized than the average type-A office manager. My cubicle is fetchingly decorated. In short, I’m a gem to have on staff.

But it seems the hard truth of the lesson learned is this: Companies don’t give a shit about you.

It doesn’t matter how hard you work, how early you arrive or how late you leave. It doesn’t matter how valuable or singular your skills. When push comes to shove and you’re up against the almighty dollar, they will shove you out the door without a second’s hesitation.

Yes, I’m bitter.

I’ll get over it. I will. But when your entirely unexpected layoff is sandwiched in between the sudden death of your grandmother and your birthday; when said layoff means that the baby you’ve been postponing for 5 years has to be postponed even longer; when your CEO-dictated departure falls on the day after Christmas, well, I think you deserve a good wallow with a heaping spoonful of bitterness on the side. Don’t you?

In the meantime, my website has been down, my neck has a squinch, my dog’s eating dirt, and there’s a wee Asian boy outside my window screaming at his mother in Mandarin because she took away his favorite toy or some equivalent of toddler trauma.

*sigh*

Once the poor-mes are over, though, I’m going to fix my sights on a few things I’ve been promising you all for a long time and have not yet delivered. To wit: the long-awaited arrival of the newest cinepoem, Homeland Security; the long-overdue overhaul of this here fine website, including a real live RSS-feed on yon blog; and some shiny new poetry, fresh from my writing group revisions.

Sound good to you? Yeah, me too.

Now I’m just going to wrap up the boo-hooing and get on with it.

-Lo, keeping her silver lining intact.

Gooooold!

goldmedal
Mood: Buzzing
Drinking: Tea with melty ice

The Berkeley Film Fest is always a treat. Mel Vapour and crew are always incredibly kind, and this year was no exception.

This year they gave us gold medals. One for me, one for my cinepoetry partner Michelle. That’s my shiny piece on the right.

Award winning is always fun, especially when followed by a giant cheeseburger.

So after collecting our medals and watching the elderly people in the audience freak out a little during the bloody screening of Abattoir (when seen on a huge screen, it does look a bit more violent than it does on a wee web window), Shel and I and a bunch of our pals headed over to Nation’s for some giant burgers and, in some cases, pecan pie.

Nothing like following up a gross-out fest like Abattoir with some red meat.

Anyway, a big fuzzy thanks to all of you who showed up on Friday night for the festivities, and to all of you who couldn’t be there in the flesh, but sent your well-wishes.

And an even bigger thanks to the Berkeley Film Fest folks, my fabulous cinepoetry partner Michelle, and all of you who volunteered to get blood-spattered for free. You know who you are.

-Lo, feelin’ the lurve.

Festivus for the Rest of Us

berkeley08
Mood: Yup
Drinking: Yip

This weekend, the loverly berg of Berkeley plays host to the annual Berkeley Film and Video Festival.

One of our fine cinepoems, Abattoir, has been selected to play on the silver screen this year. It has also, for the 3rd year in a row, earned us a shiny trophy.

And by us, of course, I mean my partner in cinepoetry, Michelle Brown. The pair of us will make the trek across the Bay Bridge this Friday evening to collect our winnings and watch our bloody work freak everyone out, man.

You can come to, oh random blog reader, if you find yourself in or around the Bay Area. The film fest is playing at the Landmark Shattuck Cinema in downtown Berkeley. Tickets are $13. Abattoir shows up on the big screen at 7:55pm on Friday. Get all the details here.

And you can see the Abattoir trailer here. Yes. We have a trailer. Aren’t we snazzy?
Huzzah.

-Lo, who never gets tired of collecting shiny gold prizes.

It Was All Yellow

yella_cows
Mood: Chillaxed
Drinking: Sweet Tea

At long last, a new cinépoem has arrived.

Shot last November in the central valley of California (Pachecho Pass, Gilroy, Dinuba, Reedley, etc.), “Yellow” is a departure from the norm, if there has indeed been any kind of norm with our cinépoems.

It’s a mellow little fellow with more of an outward-facing perspective than most of my work, which tends to be introspective and more emotional.

Michelle and I tried to do something a little different with the visual representation of this poem to match the different tone of voice. We hope you like it.

Go get Yellow
YouTube Yellow

-Lo, who is quite a fan of roadside fruit stands.