DDM Films update - 09/09/2023

DDM Films update - 09/09/2023
The view out my window.

Looking for projects and an older one about my grandma

So with all that in mind, I am looking for my next project. If you know someone who would be interesting for to meet, I'm always game to throw a rock at the water and see what the heck happens. Or if you just have a gut feeling that a conversation might go somewhere, feel free to reach out.

It’s the kind of morning that only happens in late summer: a chilled breeze breaks an otherwise torpid heat. The air carries scents of a few recently fallen leaves. Grey skies give way to a darker horizon where lightning flashes before I’ve had a sip of my first cup of coffee. The house that my girlfriend and I live in is nestled into tall, North Carolina pine trees, and, surrounding the windows, is every shade of green imaginable. Chartreuse on top of olive on top of forest green on top of lime and emerald create a tapestry, an abstraction. This morning the hues take on a muted effect from the clouded light, reminiscent of a log-format codec (forgive the technical jargon), compressed colors, from the Sony cinema camera staring at me pointedly.

I’m writing at my computer and listening to a steady rain.

I have not filmed anything in a couple months now, which always makes me a bit stir crazy. We finished the film about dance choreographer Tony Johnson a couple of months ago, and I’ve set about finding my next documentary project, which is a unique task in and of itself. Finding a project to which I can commit a considerable chunk of time and resources is not easy. It requires patience and space for experimentation, something that often gets disrupted by the routine of daily life. I am constantly searching for ideas and turning them over in my head, playing them out over the next couple of years, asking myself: can I commit to that?

Meetings and encounters with people often inspire me. Great projects come from great conversations. I listen eagerly and ask a lot of questions. People will say interesting things if you listen. Not everything that people say is interesting, but in between statements you find original thoughts. I’m always probing.  I spend a lot of hours in conversations with friends, colleagues, acquaintances, strangers, etc. I go to bars, restaurants, coffee shops, parties, really anywhere there may be people who interest me. I poke around, ask questions, and see what comes of it.

I also start projects that never come to fruition. I’ve started a number of projects that just haven’t stuck for one reason or another. I usually know early in the process, thankfully, whether it’s something I can commit to. But, I will often shoot scenes and edit various sequences to test the concept and feel out if it’s something I want to take on. Then, when I decided later it’s not going to work, I’m left with half-edited sequences and raw footage on hard drives. My drives and Vimeo account are full of partially completed projects, interviews, clips etc., most of which no one besides me ever sees.

On occasion, I’ll actually just make a whole short movie, not really even intended for an audience, while “looking” for my next project. In 2017, I was in the exact position I find myself now: in-between projects and having conversations to try to find my next one. One of these conversations was with my grandma who lived in Washington D.C. Over the phone, she mentioned to me that she hadn't been back to her hometown for nearly 40 years. I asked her if she would be willing to take me and tell me about her childhood. She agreed. So, I found myself heading up to Washington to accompany my grandma all the way up to Rousess Point, New York. I figured I should film her story while I had the chance. And, as it turned out, it was the last time she ever traveled before she passed away in 2018, so I’m seriously glad I filmed our trip together.

Here's the edited project below– it's not really edited for a wide audience. It's more edited in a way that allows my family to have this as a memory of my grandma. Forgive the length if you watch it. As Twain said, "if I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."

Visit this link if the below vimeo link doesn't work.

To be honest, there is not really one process that I use to find my next project. It’s just kind of how I live my life. And then as I go, projects come up organically. But that's not to say that it comes easy. Organic is not easy. In fact, it takes a lot of effort. Finding projects requires a respect for small details that will lead you to a bigger story. Not to be too cheesy, but it’s a bit like skipping rocks (if skipping rocks took a long time and was a lot harder). You take a while to find a rock. You look for the right shape, the right weight, the right feel in your hand. Then you position yourself, breathe deep, and hurl it, angled slightly, at the surface of the water. There are no guarantees as it makes contact, but you are hoping for a long, beautiful sequence in which the rock lurches forward, as if with a mind of its own, from one spot to the next, kissing the surface as it goes. 5, 10, 15, 20 times it might touch the water before disappearing with a “plunk”. You breathe a little heavy and watch the ripples move outward quietly, slowly, and you marvel at the motion.

So with all that in mind, I am looking for my next project. If you know someone who would be interesting for to meet, I'm always game to throw a rock at the water and see what the heck happens. Or if you just have a gut feeling that a conversation might go somewhere, feel free to reach out.

Stay in touch,
-David

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