All God’s children are not beautiful.

mood: almost there | drinking: agua

homogeneous_startBreak out the confetti cannons. A new cinépoem has arrived.

I’d like to present the latest This Blank Page poetry production, Homogeneous, featuring the voice and face talents of the lovely Emanuela Quaglia and the always fabulous Jim Doll.

This is a cinépoem like no other. Not only because you get to actually hear from the guest stars, but also because we filmed it “in triplicate.” Just take a look, you’ll see what I mean. You can view it on The Cinépoems page or on YouTube. (If you do head over to YouTube, be sure to leave us a star or five, yeah?)

Thanks to my fellow compatriot, Michelle Brown for her continuing dedication to the art of cinépoetry, which sometimes includes getting in front of the camera, and also to Kathy Azada (who served as production assistant AND extra). And special shout outs to Melissa Fondakowski and Darren Rodriguez for their sparkling cameos.

Go. Watch. Enjoy.

-Lo, trying to make herself presentable.

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!

Behind the Cinépoetry

Mood: lagging behind | Drinking:  Lipton’s

ab2

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.)

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.

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.

Cinco de Mayonnaise

buffysing2
Mood: Revving Up
Drinking: Nada

After 30 days of daily poem posts, I feel all rusty and creaky returning to the status quo of weekly(ish) posts.

But real life cannot sustain daily poems, at least not the kind of life I’m in the habit of living.

It was a brilliant idea, though, wasn’t it? Even though I thought myself insane in the beginning, I found it fairly easy to get into the regular rhythm of writing a poem a day, especially when I gave myself permission to post poems that unapologetically sucked or (this was even harder) poems that had the potential to be so amazing, but needed a few more days or weeks of percolating and editing.

Some of these un-percolated poems (Je t’aime, for instance, which now has a new name) are being re-thought and re-written as I type. Ok, not as I type, but in the general background of the return to real life, they are being revised.

Someday I’ll post them again in their better, shinier, actually finished form.

The best thing about all of this was that I wrote so many things that never would have been explored had I not given myself the daily deadline. Honey, for example, was an amazing accident, and I don’t think I would have thought to explore my personal history with bee stings had I not been wracking my brain for any scrap of story that could be whipped up into a poem.

The second best thing that happened was that I started tearing through several of the poetry collections I purchased back in January at the Associated Writing Programs conference in New York. I don’t make it a regular habit to read lots of poetry books, and it’s completely my loss. I found so much inspiration in the words of other poets, and I’m now simultaneously reading the work of Galway Kinnell, Laure-Anne Bosselaar, and Elizabeth Bradfield. What a feast!

So farewell, National Poetry Month celebration. Perhaps we’ll meet again next year.

A few bits of newsy things:
1. Michelle and I are editing a new cinepoem called “Yellow”
2. There is a ladonnawitmerdotcom refresh in the works that will include a real RSS blog feed (yay)
3. The Secrets of Falling is reviewed in the May issue of The Other Herald

All good things, all keeping me busy, busy, busy. Seems to be the way I like it… and off I go.

-Lo, with a “Grrrr” and an “Arrrgh”.

Barbie Girl

barbieMood: Industrious
Drinking: Sweet tea

A little body-image black humor on a lovely spring afternoon:

36. 18. 33.

Even Barbie thinks she’s fat
worries about the wideness of
her molded Mattel hips
tries to arrange her doll parts
into the most attractive combinations
while driving her pink convertible
past Ken’s house.

Every time Barbie catches a glimpse
of herself in the tinfoil mirror
she thinks her Twist n’ Turn stomach
looks bloated, imagines new dimples
on her soft vinyl thighs, tosses
synthetic gold tresses off her shoulder
and wonders if her makers
will go up a cup size.

In the right light, her frigid pink smile looks insecure.
She’s convinced Skipper is made of better plastic
and envies her youthful complexion.

Even Barbie thinks she’s fat,
so you will never be small enough.

*****

This one was inspired by my new pal Jim, who collects Barbie dolls. After seeing photos of his impressive (and expensive) collection, I started thinking about my own Barbie experience… My mom wouldn’t buy me a Barbie doll, but my cousin Becky gave me one of hers after half of its hair fell out.

Then I remembered these photos I took of my childhood Barbie after I found her in a box in my Mom’s attic. I remember a puppy gnawing on her face, but I don’t know when her arms fell off. I took a few nude Barbie photos before throwing her away.

But I got all nostalgic last week and did a search on ebay for the 1976 Ballerina Barbie and found myself a replacement, complete with tutu and toe shoes, with the wee golden crown molded right into her cranium. I have no idea what I’ll do with her when she arrives.

All this Barbie talk is weird. So many people have such violent opinions about a bit of plastic and vinyl. Here. Check out a more philosophical Barbie poem — the famous “Barbie Doll” by Marge Piercy.

Did you know that (accd. to wikipedia) if Barbie were a real woman, her measurements would be a ridiculous 36″, 18″, 33″? Crazy, I know. Hence the title of my little ditty…

On to less scandalous topics. I am not a 2008 Mastermind. Disappointing, but not surprising given the high caliber of my 14 fellow finalists. You can’t win ’em all. But I have to say the “party” that SF Weekly threw at Mojito was pretty lame. “Artopia” it was not. Somebody over there needs a lesson in how to do an artist shindig up right!

Speaking of doing it up right, Shel and I are almost finished with cinépoem #19 (holy cow!). “Strange” just needs a few more visual tweaks, and our brand new composer, Aaron Purvis, is mixing up the final score. That’s right, we’re debuting an original score for this one. Movin’ up to the big time. I think you’ll all dig it.

And that’s about it for today. Be safe, be well, and don’t be too hard on Barbie. She thinks she’s fat, poor thing!

-Lo, who thinks an 18″ waist must be kind of painful to achieve.

Masterminding It

invitationMood: All Business
Drinking: All Water

I found out yesterday that I and my cinépoetry partner, Michelle Brown, have been named finalists for the 2008 Masterminds competition.

The program is sponsored by SF Weekly, and promotes local San Francisco artists. There are 14 finalists, and 4 winners will be chosen to receive a $2,500 grant. We are crossing our fingers that our cinépoems win!

Everything we’ve done so far, cinépoetry-wise, has been without any budget to speak of, so imagine what we could do if we had some money to work with! I’m getting stars in my eyes just thinking about it…

Check out all the fabulous Masterminds finalists here, and come to Artopia on March 27th (at Mojito in North Beach) to get yourself a drink, check out all the art and cheer Michelle and I on.

As if that weren’t enough to get the party started, we also have cinépoems screening at the Sacramento International Film Festival!

If you’re in northern California, stop by and check out some great new work. The festival runs from March 29 to April 6, and our collection of cinépoems (titled “Slippery Shiny Feathery Things”) is screening at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 4, at 24th Street Theater in Sacramento.

Whew! I’m all worn out from all the excitment.

-Lo, with visions of Big Top cinépoetry in her head.

Adjusting to the Afterglow

berkeleyaward
Mood: Reluctant
Drinking: Tea

So there you have it, internet. Michelle and I and our pretty shiny thing.

The Berkeley Film & Video Festival this past weekend was lovely. It was downtown this year at the California Landmark Theatre, and there was a nice big crowd for opening night. Probably because that’s when the awards were being passed around, and everybody does love to add a shiny something to their shelf.

Our cinépoem collection was screened Friday night, after a short film about the beauty of man boobs. Tough act to follow.

It’s always more than a little astonishing to see your work glowing up there on a really really big screen. Especially when you’re looking at your own head magnified to the size of a small VW bus.

As I said during my hasty little acceptance speech, I really do feel like an imposter at these film festivals. I’m not a filmmaker. I’m a dabbler. I borrow the medium to give my poems a bigger voice, but I am not fooled into thinking of myself as a real live filmmaker. Even though that’s what my festival badge said.

The Berkeley Festival dudes, Mel and Paul, have always been extremely kind to our cinepoems, though. This was our 3rd year as part of the festival, and we’ve won an award every year. I’m very grateful for the inclusion.

But it’s Monday now, and time to hang the shiny thing up on the wall and get back to work. Shel and I are recording voiceovers tonight for the next cinepoem, Apres un Reve, as well as the next two after that, which are most likely going to be Matchstick Girl and Yellow. We’ll see how it goes.

-Lo, who has not yet memorized her lines.

Slippery Shiny Feathery Things

filmfestival1Mood: Accomplished
Drinking: Absolutely

For the second year in a row, my cinepoem partner Michelle Brown and I have been invited to the Berkeley Video & Film Festival.

As one of the 2007 official festival selections, our cinepoem entry, titled Slippery Shiny Feathery Things, is being screened next Friday night, October 5th.

If you want to attend the festival, it runs October 5-7 at the Landmark California Theatre at 2113 Kittredge Street in downtown Berkeley. You’ll find the screening schedule here and can get tickets in advance from the East Bay Media Center or during the festival at the theatre box office.

Michelle and I are also extremely proud to announce that we have a shiny new accolade to add to our modest collection: The 2007 Grand Festival Award for Arts. We’ll be giving awkward, hasty speeches and collecting our award at the film fest next weekend.

The only place you can see Slippery Shiny Feathery Things is at a film festival. (It will be screening in November at the Poppy Jasper Film Festival, as well.) Once we complete our next big (BIG) project, however, you’ll be able to see all of our cinepoems, including all film festival entries, on DVD. But I wouldn’t hold your breath because that’s going to take awhile!

Until then, come on out to the theatre or eat some popcorn while you watch cinepoems online. It’s almost the same…

-Lo, who confesses a ferret-like affection for shiny objects.