Climate March 2014

On Sunday, September 21st, 2014 I marched through the streets of Manhattan with hundreds of thousands of people. It was a thrilling event and I’m proud to say I was a part of it. To get a sense of the march, you should watch the video I created above. A friend who marched with me is responsible for capturing the audio. Below, you’ll read my opinion on what will hopefully be a march that will affect change.

327A1224Frankly, I’m disappointed by the lack of media attention this march has received. I’m also bummed by an article entitled, “The People’s Climate March May Have Been Huge, But It Wasn’t Historic” written by a woman whom I respect, Natasha Lennard. In the article she notes that she did not attend because she prefers “protests to parades” and “scowled at adverts aimed at drawing numbers to march” while riding the subway. I see her point. I suppose I’m still just a bit naive to think these adverts are incredibly cool. When I first saw them, I didn’t think about the vast amount of money it must have cost to plaster trains in New York City with ads.

I’m consoled by the thought that this is natural for movements of any kind. Civil rights still haven’t taken a firm grasp on people’s hearts and minds despite Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s efforts of decades past. Sure our nation has made some progress, but as evidenced by the recent shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO we still have a ways to go. Gay rights are making progress too. Many states are now recognizing same sex marriage and all of the corresponding benefits thereof are beginning to be endowed to couples who have been together for many years. My point here is that these fights – civil and sexual orientation rights – have been a long time in the making, but the people behind these movements have no choice but to fight. I agree with them. Were I to be in their situation I would do all I could to make sure my country and my government respected me and those of like orientation. I think these people are on the right side of history. I believe in my heart that they are doing the right thing.

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Without binding legislation from the United States, and the world for that matter, humans won’t be around long enough to make sure the other social issues are resolved for our descendants to witness. It will all be for naught. I don’t like that this is even a possibility. Because I want to see the human race begin to at least understand this is a defining issue for all, I am committed to learning how I can become a squeaky wheel. The first step for me was to march and interact with people of like mind. I became inspired. Watching the video above helps me relive the moment and remember why this is important.

Lennard closes her article by saying, “[W]e should not foreclose the possibility of an exciting political moment emerging, rooted to climate activism and undergirded by anti-capitalism.” She finishes by admitting she is hopeful that this is not the last event to protest the current handling of climate change policy. It seems to me Lennard is asking for more less-organized, police-friendly protests. I agree with her. While it is a shame that marches of this magnitude are less historic than just a few thousand people dressed in blue causing havoc on Wall Street, it’s true and protestors need to understand that.  I refuse to become jaded by the fact that this issue isn’t currently capturing by the media. That shouldn’t be a reason to give up.

A very powerful line was at the beginning of a documentary film about Climate Change I saw called Disruption.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will.”

Frederick Douglas said that during a speech he gave in 1857. The title, ever-so prescient is, “If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress.” Then here’s to the struggle friends! Please join me in raising your voice to make sure we let our elected leaders know precisely where we stand on this issue. We may not have the kind of cash that moves the needle of influence, but together we have votes, and when mobilized, that will always be more powerful.

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Successful Fundraiser

Successful Fundraiser from Brandon Smith.

With your help, I was able to raise $2,132 for charity: water. I made a brief video ti thank everyone who donated. I really appreciate your generosity and I know the folks in Rwanda will appreciate your generosity even more.

I’m doing much better. I’ve finally got enough stamina to allow me to switch to full-time at work. Not only is the a sign of physical improvement, it also means more income which takes a tremendous amount of stress of my mind.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Not Just Another Wedding Film

Bleibaum/Mallott Wedding from Brandon Smith.

Bowers/Thomas Wedding from Brandon Smith

Most independent filmmakers cringe at the idea of making a wedding film. And for good reason. Generally, all creative control on the filmmaker’s behalf goes out the window in favor of how the bride and groom want the end product to look. Not the case with my friends Amanda and Aaron, Todd and Kathy. Here’s the skinny: each couple saw the work I did for my other long-time friends Lance and Jenny and wanted something similar. It’s certainly not uncommon to receive RFP’s from friends based on recommendations from other friends when you’re in the freelance game. It’s a tough line to walk when mixing money and friends though. Fortunately, both couples had money set aside in their wedding budget to pay me, but one of the most important parts was this line in an email I received from Amanda: “I just want something on video to watch years down the road of one of the best days of our lives. Can you help us out?” I was intrigued. What filmmaker doesn’t want to make something timeless? Add in the fact that both couple were willing to let me follow my own vision with how I wanted to capture the day and I was sold. Giving me their trust was a huge compliment. I felt free to shoot, unfettered by any restraints. When I started to edit, their trust gave me the confidence that what I was doing was right because I was expressing myself using their wedding as a platform. I felt engaged as an artist. One of my biggest problems with wedding videos is that they’re generally pretty unwatchable for anyone but the couple and the couple’s immediate family. So I challenged myself to make something that would be palatable to an audience outside of each couple’s inner circle. Also, I wanted to use it as a calling card for the world that I’m willing to shoot your wedding if you’ll give me complete creative control. You have to trust me. If you want to be able to make suggestions and have any sort of control, hire a videographer. If you want something that’s going to be timeless and interesting to your grandkids and beyond, hire a filmmaker. So did I succeed? Let me know in the comments.

The Power of Human Connection – Kasasa Gas Giveaway

Kasasa Gas Giveaway from Brandon Smith on Vimeo.

Campaigns that help people connect with one another are right up my alley. When I first got in touch with Jenna from CSG PR in Denver, Colorado I knew this would be a great fit for my skill set. Jenna and her team were very well-organized and made capturing the mood and tone of the event a breeze. Plus, watching folks learn that they were going to be getting twenty bucks worth of free gasoline was quite a joy.

Since I already knew the strategy behind the piece, I just had to execute it on screen. It had to be lighthearted, but it also had to show the power of using face to face meetings in a branded way to create a memorable experience for potential consumers. I think the combination of warm smiles, a sunny day and upbeat music struck the right chord.

I shot this using my new Canon 5D, Mark iii set up and I enjoyed every minute of it. The workflow is easier than I’m used to with the Panasonic HMC-150 and the picture just jumps off the screen.

Do you need a video like this? Call me, let’s chat. I’m sure we can make it happen.