About Mandy

Documentary filmmaker, story & narrative editor, media educator, social media consultant, content strategist, www.OPEN CINEMA.ca founder and director, community activator, avid camper, curious cat and international woman of mystery.

Canadian media concentration in G-8

Canadian media concentration is 300% higher than US. We need more indie media! #MDDyyj. Haunted by this statistic @joannrobertsyyj revealed at yesterday's Media Democracy Days Victoria.

Canadian media concentration is 300% higher than US. We need more indie media! #MDDyyj. Haunted by this statistic @joannrobertsyyj revealed at yesterday’s Media Democracy Days Victoria.

Media Democracy Days

Are coming to Victoria's first Media Democracy Days on June 6? A day of talks about how to find the news that feeds us. Deets http://www.mddvictoria.org #MDDyyj
My company Media Rising sponsored Victoria’s first Media Democracy Days on June 6. It was an inspiring and informative day of talks about how to find the news that feeds us. Details: http://www.mddvictoria.org #MDDyyj

Media that Matters – Story Money Impact

Spent the last week talking about documentary with inspiring media makers in a yurt under towering trees on a remote island. Wow. It's going to take a few days to integrate, reflect and rest.
I spent the last week of May at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, talking about documentary with inspiring media makers in a yurt under towering trees on a remote island. It’s going to take a few days to integrate, reflect and rest.

Is there anything worse than ambivalence?

Aside

ambivalence[ am-biv-uh-luh ns ]
noun
1. uncertainty or fluctuation, especially when caused by inability to make a choice or by a simultaneous desire to say or do two opposite or conflicting things.
2. the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions.

Live + Virtual = Dynamic Hybrid Events

Since launching OPEN CINEMA Season 10 in October, we’ve been experimenting with adding virtual engagement elements to our tried and true community screenings of documentaries followed by open forum discussion in cafe style venues. The early results are extremely exciting!

Not only are we livestreaming the post-screening discussion for virtual viewers at home, but we’re also hosting a moderated Twitter chat. In November, we were extremely excited by the results, with a ‘reach’ of about 20,000 tweeters (according to www.Hashtracking.com). Not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds impressive. A more tangible measure of success? One tweeter from Toronto asked to use the tweetchat stream as a research resource for her Master’s Thesis in Nature Education. Read more about this amazing hybrid event here.

Last week I drew a Venn diagram to help our tweetchat team and guests understand the dynamic interactions it makes possible. It’s pretty complex!

venn diagram of hybrid event with speakers, tweetchat and livestream

So many conversations: Venn diagram of hybrid event with speakers, tweetchat and livestream

Our next hybrid event is tomorrow, Wednesday December 5th, following the Victoria premiere of Occupy Love with virtual guest Velcrow Ripper as well as live guests. Find out all about the event here.

Have you organized a hybrid event? I’d love to hear what worked (and didn’t work so well) for you.

The Silver Flask of Narrative Gold

A few months ago, while I was sorting and clearing my dear late mama’s house and antique collection, I found a beautiful silver hip flask that has become somewhat of a talisman. It never fails to elicit stories, memories, dreams and reflections while dispensing medicinal amounts of single malt scotch, as if it were the elixir of life.

photo of my mother's silver hip flaskThe Merriam-Webster dictionary defines talisman as: 1: an object held to act as a charm to avert evil and bring good fortune. 2: something producing apparently magical or miraculous effects. ”

The Genie in the Bottle

As a storyteller, this silver flask is narrative gold. It’s a conversation piece that never fails to both delight and ignite the imagination. People want to touch it, sip it, discuss it, hear about it, fondle it, marvel at it and, not least, savour its golden contents. The effect of this flask as a functional objet d’art, in combination with the malted liquid muse contained therein, is nothing short of remarkable! It’s like a Genie in a bottle!

photo of silver hip flask lid "James Dixon and sons"

So it’s becoming a bit of a ritual: before I head out to a party or gathering, I carefully fill the flask with Bush Mills or Auchentoshan Single Malt whiskey (I’m open to other suggestions). And then I wait for the right moment to pull it out…. the wide-eyed expressions of delight and surprise when people first catch a glimpse of it, is priceless! It’s as if they can hardly believe their eyes!

photo of The Silver Flask of Plenty

Ask the Flask

The stories it elicits have a timeless archetypal quality. One friend, who is not easily impressed, declared that if this flask were sold on the open market, it would be highly sought after, fetch a high price and find its way into the hands of a rich Saudi prince, who would treasure it as a gift from another world. Others have conjectured that it has survived the front line in a World War or two, offering a lifeline for a trench full of dispirited soldiers.  It’s even inspired the possible creation of a creative iPhone app and Instagram filter.

photo of silver mark on the bottom of the flask

The Hip Flask Chicks

I recently had dinner with a couple of digital media creator pals to brainstorm ideas and collaborations, and once again the flask found its way into the heart of our conversation. Not only did this beautiful silver vessel convert a scotch-hater into an evangelizing single malt crusader, but it so inspired her that she promptly spent an afternoon searching local antique shops to find flasks for both herself and her partner. And as we tossed around ideas for project names and hashtags, the flask even managed to become a hilarious steam-punk symbol of empowered female creativity and self expression.

I feel sure this Flask of Plenty will continue to bring me good storytelling luck by inspiring magical tales, miraculous effects, while keeping the single malt industry in business! Thanks mom!

Do you have a talisman that brings you good luck? Share please!

POST SCRIPT (Nov 24) – my mother’s flask has started a craze! People have heard of it where ever I go and people are even shopping for antique flasks! Read Angela Hemming’s flask post, also inspired by my mom’s talisman! tee hee!

Road Trips, Instagram and a Random Encounter with Jack Kerouac

I’ve always been a gypsy at heart, but last week an Instagram photo revealed that Jack Kerouac was my first boyfriend’s uncle. Huh? Let me explain.

Cross country road trips, camping, travel and moving house have all been a big part of my life. By the time I was 8 we had lived in 4 countries on 3 continents. When I was 11, I saved up my pocket money and bought a tent, which I pitched in the garden. And now, finally, after years of longing, I’m on the verge of buying a VW Westfalia campervan. It’s my dream come true!

Toy Westie with street in the background

On the Road

By way of encouragement, friends and family have recently been giving me little tokens to keep my vision alive until I can drive away in my very own Westie. Earlier this month, my brother bought me an awesome ‘On the Road‘ leather keyring and luggage tag. I love the nostalgic classic orange penguin cover, it’s so iconic of a more innocent time, when travel and communication was purely mechanical and analogue, before the Internet catapulted us into a complex digital paradigm.

Last week I decided to go camping to escape the September crazies*, so I headed for the woods. An Instagram photo seemed the simplest way to inform my online peeps that I was out of town.

Keyring that looks like a penguin novel "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac

The Plot Thickens…

Screen capture of Facebook exchange about Jack Kerouac's nephew

Within a few hours, my status update was seen by an old highschool pal in Chelmsford, England and she had news for me! Mima and I both went to the British School of Brussels in the 70’s, a fantastic school that was popular with British and American ex-pats working abroad in Europe.

Well, as you can see from the conversation that unfolded (right), it turns out that Jack Kerouac was my first boyfriend’s uncle. Who knew? I guess George and I were preoccupied with other things, but somehow the subject of the Beat poets and Uncles just never came up.

There are so many things to love about this exchange! Of course, there’s the obvious thrill of a personal connection to an immortal cultural icon. And the thematic relevance of the novel’s quest for freedom to my own unfolding journey of discovery is delightfully poignant. But perhaps most intriguing is the random juxtaposition between the old and new, a contemporary digital echo of the novel’s core theme expressed via Instagram and Facebook: a clash of opposing forces. Route 66 meets the Information Highway. The Beat Generation shakes hands with Digital Natives. Layers of storytelling traveling across time and space on real and virtual freeways. Trippy, man!

The Unbearable Randomness of Being

What are the odds against this strange factoid ever reaching me, 35 years after the fact? It seems so deeply random, predicated on a whimsical gift, photographed and seen across the world by a particular person at a specific moment in time. I might never have discovered this minor plot point, if it weren’t for the always-on exchanges facilitated by Instagram and Facebook. It boggles the mind.

Six Degrees of Digital Separation

This curious little story got a few digital media storytelling pals and I thinking…how can we use photos, and specifically Instagram, to share stories and engage people in real time? We brainstormed a few fun ideas that you’ll be hearing more about soon…

Has digital sharing revealed new facts or opened up storylines for you?


* The September Crazies follow the August Lazies – suddenly everyone is back at work after the summer and it can be a little overwhelming.

 

Is Documentary Canada’s National Art Form?

If you know me or read my blog, then it comes as no surprise that I have a lifelong passion for documentary. Way back in 1984, my first film was a 16-minute experimental documentary: Citizen Soldier. In 1989 I emigrated to Canada specifically to work at the National Film Board of Canada, the worlds oldest government film agency and the birthplace of the documentary.

I’ve worked on dozens of social justice documentaries and hosted hundreds of OPEN CINEMA screenings in café-style venues with discussion, using documentaries as a catalyst for community engagement. And I’m now in my second term serving on the Documentary Organization of Canada‘s national Board of Directors. Yep, I’m a feature-length docuphile!

Documentary is a uniquely Canadian art form

But did you know that the documentary genre was actually born and nurtured in Canada? The world’s first documentary, Nanook of the North, was made near Inukjuak, Quebec in 1922, before the term documentary was even coined. in 1939, John Grierson launched the NFB, arguing that portraying reality on film was essential to saving Democracy from the rise of fascism in Europe.

poster for documentary If You Love This PlanetCanadians have made dozens of award-winning, popular and important documentaries. Most notably is Terre Nash’s Oscar winning If You Love This Planet (produced by Edward LeLorraine, who I worked with on the worlds first non-linear editing system EditDroid – another story!). Other well-known Canadian-made docs are Up the Yangtze, The Corporation, as well as Toronto’s Hot Docs, one of the biggest documentary film festivals in the world. You can read a comprehensive list of Canadian documentaries here.

Let’s protect our national heritage

Sadly, the documentary is facing a perfect storm that is currently threatening its very survival. The economic downturn, shrinking arts budgets, the advent of Reality TV, changing technology, YouTube and the riddle of Internet monetization are all conspiring to turn a once thriving industry into a flickering archival memory. I, for one, am not about to let that happen.

As Jazz is to America, so Documentary is to Canada.

Earlier this year, Kevin McMahon wrote an inspiring article that proposed making documentary Canada’s official art form. In response, POV Magazine has just published the first in a series of in-depth interviews with Kevin to further explore this idea. And the Documentary Organization of Canada has issued a petition to Minister James Moore.

You can help – please sign the Petition!

If you love documentaries, then we need your help, please! Read more about it, discuss with your peeps on social media and IRL and please, by all means, sign the petition.

Do you think documentary should be Canada’s official art form? I’d love to know your thoughts.