Filmmaker: Nic S.

Secrets by Ruth Foley

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https://vimeo.com/92025859

Another of Nic S.’s innovative video remixes for a poem from The Poetry Storehouse, this time by the Massachusetts-based poet and editor Ruth Foley. Sebastian blogged some process notes; here are a couple of snippets:

The language of Secrets was slow and rather sensuous, and when I first read it, I took it as the description of a gradual process of discovery, an uncovering, a blooming of sorts. It was only on the second and subsequent reads that I took in the extent to which it was actually a slow process of flaying, and of destruction. Then it struck me as really incredibly violent, and all the more so for being presented in so meditative and lush a fashion.

[…]

For the soundtrack, I used a track appropriately titled ‘A rotten fairytale’ by a Soundcloud member called Mustafank, whose work I had run across in a video elsewhere (wish I could remember where now). It starts with a toy piano solo and moves into an electric guitar solo, with a faux-innocent sinister feel that really makes you think Hansel & Gretel, sweet gingerbread house & related bad things.

Read the rest.

Ruth Foley doesn’t seem to have a website (though she is all over the Google), but she does keep an amusing blog called Five Things.

Items of Value to a Dying Man by Kristin LaTour

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https://vimeo.com/90582292

This Poetry Storehouse remix by Nic S. deploys still images by artist Peter Gric and a soundscape by Jarred Gibb for a strangely compelling and disturbing accompaniment to Kristin LaTour’s poem.

The astounding reception of this kinestatic video might offer some lessons for those interested in videopoetry as a way to reach new and larger audiences. In a post on her personal blog, Sebastian pondered “What happens when a poetry video gets 3,000 plays in 5 days?” I encourage everyone to click through and read the whole post, which is much more angst-ridden than boastful (we poets do not always handle success well). I particularly liked this part:

A poem has no life outside its interaction with people. When they are not being interacted with, poems lie dead in the dark, where they are purposeless, and meaningless.

The role of the curator, remixer or publisher of poetry is to maximize the number of interactions each poem has with people. In the hands of the successful curator/publisher, the poem lives in interaction repeatedly and reaches a higher level of its interaction potential than poems in the custody of less successful handlers.

That’s the role of the curator/publisher in the scheme of things poetry. But it doesn’t have to be their motivation. This is where I got confused. If things go well, more people will interact with poems as a result of my remixing and curating. If things don’t, they won’t. But that’s not why I do what I do. I do what I do because I like voicing poems, I like exploring the technology of putting poems online in different ways, I like the challenge of combining poetry and digital imagery in video, and experimenting with sound.

Brother carried the poppies by Theresa Senato Edwards

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https://vimeo.com/91031891

A Nic S. remix of a poem in the Poetry Storehouse by Theresa Senato Edwards. Sebastian re-purposed some stock footage to gorgeous and disturbing effect, and the music she chose really carries the film. Here are her process notes:

For this haunting poem on abuse by Theresa Senato Edwards, I used both film and still image elements – first time I have combined the two.

For the backdrop of the bleak disastrous relationship, I used darkened stock footage of what was originally a relatively cheerful sunshiney scene of an abandoned house in a field. Once darkened, it looked lonely and empty – a context in which forbidden activity could easily take place unchecked. To begin, end and punctuate the piece, I slowed down and darkened stock footage of a summer lightning storm to represent the abuser.

For the victim, I used a stock still image from StockVault which suggested muffling and suffocation to me. I used the image as a fade-in at three different places in the film, each time adding a different Ken Burns effect to it – panning away, towards, across. The hollow ‘alien drone’ soundtrack was by Speedenza, one of my freesound.org favorites.

Many thanks once more to Theresa for sharing this powerful piece at the Poetry Storehouse.

Sebastian’s chronicle of her education as a videopoem-maker is really turning into a valuable resource for others who want to learn the craft. I advise either following her blog on WordPress.com, as I do, or else subscribing to the Videopoems category link in an RSS feed reader.

Orchids by Diane Lockward

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https://vimeo.com/89698273

A poem by Diane Lockward from The Poetry Storehouse, in what Nic S. calls a still image remix — the first of two videopoems she’s made so far with the digital artwork of Adam Martinakis. Nic has just posted some process notes for the two videos. A couple of snippets:

I loved [Adam Martinakis’] weird and wonderful images as soon as I saw them. His website pictures are downloadable (not everyone is so open, even though the files for online viewing are necessarily quite small), so I was able to download the ones I liked and privately get a good sense of how I might work with them before I asked Adam for permission. He gave it at once, and went so far as to say there was no need for me to clear the final version with him. (I did, though – things work better if you keep folks posted all the way, I find).

[…]

A subset of Adam’s images were more rawly sexual, almost predatory, and these came together in my mind as a great backdrop for Diane’s lush, voluptuous poem about orchids, but not about orchids. The poem is couched as a warning to the predator against obsessive pursuit of the object, and I thought I could present the corollary of that – the vulnerability to exploitation of the object, whether a woman or an orchid in the wild. Adam’s image of the falling girl in a fetal position wrapped in gold foil struck me as exquisitely vulnerable and a wonderful way to wrap up this ‘story’.

This genre, to which I have perhaps inappropriately applied the term kinestasis — basically, fancy slideshows in video form — probably accounts for 90 percent of all poetry videos on YouTube. Most, of course, are thoroughly unimaginative, so I told Nic in an email that I was happy to see her elevating the genre a bit. Much to both of our surprise, however, the four still-image remixes she’s made so far have already surpassed almost every other videopoem she’s ever made in the number of views they’ve racked up. I would suggest that’s because, when the artists whose work she uses link to the videos, their artist friends on Facebook actually go and watch them. Poets trying to get other poets to watch videos is always going to be more of a struggle. At any rate, read Nic’s full account on her blog.

Spiders by Kristine Ong Muslim

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https://vimeo.com/88535455

Nic S.’s trademark focus on audiopoetry (as well her growing mastery of video remix) are really on display here as she experiments with a whispered delivery of a poem by Kristine Ong Muslim.

This is one of the latest videopoems based on material at The Poetry Storehouse, which continues to attract high-quality submissions of poetry from around the world. I strongly encourage filmmakers at all levels of expertise to make it their first stop when looking for texts to adapt to film/video.

This Long Winter by Kristin LaTour

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https://vimeo.com/86794324

Another simple-but-effective Nic S. video remix of a poem from The Poetry Storehouse, this time by Kristin LaTour. Nic posted some process notes at her blog. Especially interesting are her comments on blending multiple voices, and how she collaborated with the other reader, Jonathon Lu, for the voiceover heard here.

Like poem-making, videopoetry-making is a binding/weaving process, a deliberate or serendipitous blending of disparate things (words, images, sound) that were not linked before. Since voice is for me a hugely prominent element of the process, I continue to look for ways to create voice duets, voice dialogues, voice mosaics.

Read the rest.

Sandburg and Photograph by Lennart Lundh

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https://vimeo.com/84858997

A simple but effective videopoem. Nic S. used a text from The Poetry Storehouse contributed by Illinois-based writer and photographer Lennart Lundh, but as she notes at her blog, the video imagery came first.

For this one, I started with the footage and then searched for the poem.

One of the challenges for a videopoem maker not yet handy with his or her own camera (that would be me) is finding video footage that a) works and b) is copyright-free and c) is either free or inexpensive. There are a few sites (eg Motion Elements or OrangeHD) that put up video clips for free use, and I trawl them regularly, downloading and saving footage against future need. The clip subjects are super-odd and almost comically random and nearly always fall in the ‘you never know’ category.

In this case, I found a series of shots taken of and through the side rear view mirror of a car. They struck me as metaphorically powerful and I went back through the Storehouse poems, deliberately looking for one which would match the metaphor. Lennart’s elegantly tragic simple/complicated piece, with its telescoping rearward/forward depiction of time and space jumped out at me very quickly.

Read the rest.