Posts Tagged ‘JEMGLO’

New Year’s Acrostic-olutions

December 30, 2013

On the 2014 work agenda (some personal items too):

Aesolutions: Reading – maybe not AESOp’s Fables – but other great books that trigger the flow of creativity to many video projects.

Besolutions: Finishing the documentary Flory’s Flame, about 90-year old Sephardic musician, composer and performer Flory Jagoda, whose compositions in Ladino – an ancient Castilian Spanish language — harken back to pre-Inquisition Spain. “BESO” in Spanish (“bezo” in Ladino) means “kiss” – many of which are crucial to happiness in the coming year.

Cesolutions: While we don’t generally attend the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Curt Fissel in our office annually goes to the gigantic National Association of Broadcasters Show (April 5-10, 2014 in Las Vegas) where all the latest and greatest technology in the video production and broadcasting industry will be introduced and exhibited.

Desolutions: DESolate is what I plan NOT to be.

Esolutions: Helping our clients be ahead of the curve with regard to video and all its new arms as the electronic highway continues to expand, and finding E-SOLUTIONS to interesting issues that arise.

Fesolutions: FESsing up to gaps in my knowledge, filling them with deep dives into research, and supplementing weaknesses with the collaboration of colleagues strong in those arenas.

Gesolutions: Learning rather than GuESssing.

Hesolutions: As the female president of Voices & Visions, I’m all about “SHE –SOLUTIONS” (as compared to “HE-SOLUTIONS”), and I look forward to networking, brainstorming and collaborating with women executives.

Iesolutions: Exploring substantive topics calling for video production in their depths, then reducing the understandings reached to simple messages – the onscreen equivalent of the textual use of I.E.

Jesolutions: Like GESso used in artwork as a base before applying paint, continuing my commitment to thorough preparation before video shoots our company undertakes, which will ensure and preserve the quality of the final product.

Kesolutions: An English variant of “BESOlutions” (see above).

Lesolutions: Focusing on more solutions rather than LESs solutions.

Mesolutions: Always aiming to MESmerize with video productions we create.

Nesolutions: While the northeast (NE) is our home base, we now have an office in Dallas and we videotape on location internationally. Hoping to continue to expand our national and global work in the coming year.

Oesolutions: The US Bureau of “Oceans, Environment and Science” (OES) advances foreign policy regarding climate change, renewable energy, resource scarcity, infectious diseases, and related fields. In 2013 we videotaped the ways in which the farmers of the Fair Trade, interfaith Delicious Peace coffee cooperative in Uganda are trying to overcome the impact of climate change on their crops. We will continue to pursue producing video clips about this issue and otherwise helping the farmers.

Pesolutions: Had I been PESsimistic, I would never have taken the risk of running my own business. Optimism about everything – from small projects to the world economy – will dominate my thinking.

Quesolutions: QUEStions are beautiful; they prompt intellectual and emotional growth. I am grateful that I get to interview and ask unlimited questions to so many interesting people around the world in connection with producing corporate videos and documentaries. Looking forward to new questions and answers in 2014.

Resolutions: All of the above and below.

Sesolutions: Who “SAYS SO”? Our clients say so. I will listen to their goals, concerns, interests, and parameters and help them build tailored solutions.

Tesolutions: Marketing in 2014 will continue to TESt traditional vs. social media methodologies (including video) and with regard to the latter, how to measure ROI, the most effective combinations of approaches, and a host of other issues made possible by ever-expanding IT solutions. The question I will explore with clients is no longer whether to engage; rather, it is: What? Where? When? And how?

Uesolutions: YOU are the e-solution! Our We will rely on our partnerships with our clients to ensure our brains and talents work together to produce the best solutions.

Vesolutions: VES, Visual Effects Society, is an organization representing visual effects practitioners. From motion graphics in 2D and 3D to animations, audiences are growing accustomed to fabulous visual effects in videos. Looking forward to watching their growth in demand and providing clients with videos rich in a wide range of creative elements.

Wesolutions: WESOłych Świąt: Polish for “Happy holidays!” Since we have produced five documentaries in Poland, the culture and language are close to my heart. Early indications are pointing toward an event on the calendar in Poland in 2014.

Xesolutions: Having many opportunities to use XE, an online currency and foreign exchange tool, which helps calculate expenses when traveling to foreign countries. Italy, Spain, Bosnia, Croatia, France, Poland, and who-knows-where-else are on this year’s travel plans, so XE will come in handy.

Yesolutions: Saying “YES” much more than “no.”

Zesolutions: Tackling challenges big and small with ZESt as well as love for the opportunity to tell stories through video.

Flory Jagoda: The Celebration Concert

September 25, 2013

We are surrounded by music in our daily lives, but seldom are we transformed by its power.  The perfect combination of pitch, melody, harmony, rhythm, instrumentation, and texture – collectively infused with an all-encompassing breath of soul – is a rare occurrence. Such truly beautiful music has unrivaled power that causes the heart to soar, the mind to refresh, and the spirit to awaken in love.  It is ethereal, piercing, transformative, universal.  Its presence emanates like rays of sun touching our essence.

Getting swept up in one of these transcendent moments is a story worthwhile to share, and so I write today about the 90th birthday Celebration Concert of legendary musician Flory Jagoda that was held within the prestigious walls of the United States Library of Congress this past Saturday night. Long in the planning stage, the concert featured Flory and 25 others, including family members, colleagues, apprentices and students. Over decades of time, these associates have learned the songs that Flory has composed, taught and sung in her native Judeo-Spanish and Bosnian languages, all reflective of the Sephardic world of her childhood and of the generations that preceded her. A few days ago each of these very talented musicians honored their mentor by surrounding her on stage and chiming in with their voices and instruments –guitars, mandolins, violins, violas, cellos, bass, bongos, and bells –flawlessly weaving together melodies to which she gave life. The concert was presented under the auspices of the Homegrown Concert Series at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

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Flory has long been known as “keeper of the flame” for preserving, perpetuating, and expanding Sephardic Jewish cultural tradition through music. She was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia in 1923, and she was raised singing melodies taught to her by her Nona (grandmother) and other family members. A recipient of the rarely bestowed National Heritage Fellowship presented by the National Endowment for the Arts, Flory has also served as a Master Artist in the Folklife Apprenticeship Program for the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VfH). She has performed throughout the U.S. and internationally. Her solo voice, still miraculously close to perfection even at the age of 90, opened the sold-out auditorium housing almost 500 fans.  She sang the second song with her granddaughter Ariel Lowell, a 21-year old musician who inherited Flory’s complex and beautiful musical voice and is currently recording her first album. Their duet was followed by a few selections by Flory, Ariel, and three of Flory’s children – Betty Murphy, Elliot Jagoda, and Lori Lowell, Ariel’s mom. Halfway through their second song together, the side curtains of the stage opened and Flory’s colleagues, apprentices and students joined the Jagoda family’s chorus.

The songs that followed told stories that came from places and experiences that have defined Flory’s life. With a Jewish Sephardic family history that stretched back to Spain until the Inquisition at the end of the 15th century, then moved onto Turkey and spread out from there, Flory spent her early years living with her Nona, near her extended family in a small village in Bosnia called Vlasenica. She subsequently moved with her parents to Zagreb, Croatia. When World War II broke out and the Jews were forced to wear armbands with yellow stars, her parents sought refuge. They sent her ahead by herself to Split, Croatia, overcoming her 14-year old fears en route by playing her accordion in the train, which attracted the happy attention of other passengers and even ticket collectors. From Split the family escaped to the island of Korcula before ultimately arriving at a refugee camp in Bari, Italy, where she met the man who would become her husband – American soldier Harry Jagoda. After the war Flory learned that her entire extended family in Vlasenica, including her beloved Nona, had been murdered by the Ustase – the Croatian fascists who collaborated with the Nazis — and buried in a mass grave on the family property.  Devastated, Flory knew that only she remained to continue the centuries-old family traditions expressed through their music.

That cultural legacy is what the concert at the Library of Congress celebrated. Flory has succeeded in creating a litany of music that she has taught to and performed with extremely talented musicians over the past number of decades. Among them – and joining her on Saturday in addition to her family members – were her guitar accompanist Howard Bass and original apprentice through a program of the VfH Susan Gaeta, now both well known independently for their prowess in the Sephardic musical world. Two cantors with voices that made the heart stop accompanied Flory:  her longtime friend Ramon Tasat, president of Shalshelet: The Foundation for New Jewish Liturgical Music, and Aviva Chernick of Toronto, who frequently traverses the distance to Washington to be Flory’s current apprentice. And the magic that happens when Flory works with her two weekly students/colleagues Tiffani Ferrantelli and Zhenya Tochenaya was delightful to experience. Others who joined Flory on stage included Tina Chancey, David Shneyer, Betsy Cary, Alan Oresky, Larry Robinson, Theo Stone, Joel Leonard, Lynn Falk, Margie Jervis, Noah Taylor, Joanne Stefanick, Janet Dunkelberger, Heather Spence, Martha Halperin, and Cory Giacobbe.

From my perspective, Flory’s success goes beyond the compositions she has created, which have been performed and recorded by musicians around the world. Most significantly, through her songs she is able to transport her audience to the world of her Nona and the generations before. As a Croatian attendee said to me after the concert: “I am not Jewish and do not speak Spanish, yet in all the time I have been in the US, I never felt as close to home as I did tonight.”

Amazing, that Flory Jagoda, which is why she is the subject of a documentary JEMGLO is producing called Flory’s Flame, featuring a number of songs from the Celebration Concert.  Through the film many others will have the opportunity that hundreds of audience members experienced this past Saturday night of metaphorically flying to a warm and transcendent space in the universe.

On the Road Again…in Bonn, Germany

September 7, 2013

I don’t have favorites, never have. I’ve always found confusing questions like: “What is your favorite color?”  — I like all the colors of the rainbow and the hues in between. Same thing when people ask me my favorite places to travel. My husband Curt Fissel — who is a director of photography and my business partner – and I (a producer/writer) are constantly on the global go for corporate video production and documentary shoots, but I don’t have a favorite destination.  There are aspects of each place I appreciate, so I thought I would write some blogs from the road, elaborating on things that make me smile in different locales.

 

Last week we were in Germany, videotaping for a private equity client that had just sold a company in its European portfolio and wanted us to produce a video highlighting the corporation and its impressive success over the holding period. When we finished all the field production relevant to producing a top line video, we took a few days to ourselves, visiting close friends who live in Bonn.

 

Enjoying sunny days with temperatures in the mid-70s, everyone we met told us that the winter there had lasted until the end of July. In fact, the past year in northern Europe has been exceptionally and uncharacteristically cold, snowy and rainy – much worse than usual. Curt and I had been well aware of that. We’ve been working on a project in Normandy, France for the past few years, and Rouen is listed in his phone’s weather app. Every morning since last mid-September we have had the same conversation:

 

Curt (checking weather in various locations we frequent): “Rouen: 50 degrees and raining.”

 

Me: “OMG. I’d feel so depressed.”

 

Yet that was not the weather that greeted us in Bonn last week, after the late spring climate had finally arrived on the cusp of July meeting August, and we had the chance to frolic in a few of the country’s attractions.

 

One of my favorite activities in Bad Godesberg, the little hamlet where our friends live, is jogging on the pathway that contours the Rhine.  Settled into rising hilltops along this segment of the majestic river are ruins of once-imposing castles. The age-old strongholds still convey a bygone aura of feudal importance, overlooking through cataract-type vision the goings-on of the world at their feet. Sightseeing cruises and cargo ships pass me as I run, reminders that the countryside’s natural counterparts (e.g., the river) run timelessly.

 

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Later in the day we all hop on board a train that also travels along the Rhine’s path. Whisking us south about 35 km., we get out in the village of Ahrweiler to partake in a winefest. Yes, you read it correctly: A winefest in Germany. Formerly not known as a serious competitor in the world of quality wine, this region has joined many others worldwide in improving its reputation, with impressive results. The vineyards in the Ahr Valley – known for its red wines — sit on 45 degree angles sloping up the sides of the Rhine. The fruits of the vines were exhibited in booths lining Ahrweiler’s main square, which framed the festival and the events taking place inside. An old-fashioned German brass band blared music to the much-anticipated annual election of a Wine Queen. A few speeches later, the coronation took place, after which the new queen was greeted by throngs of happy villagers holding bottles of locally grown Pinots and Rieslings. The year was 2013, of course, but it could have been 1913 or 1713. Unlike the physical castle structures along my morning jogging path, these old customs have survived in tact.

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Of course, even traditions are affected by change over time. Prior to World War II Ahrweiler had a small Jewish community. Apparently, the town was known as Nazi-resistant, but its Jews could not escape the Holocaust’s engine of death. No survivors ever returned to Ahrweiler. Significantly, however, the town has preserved the old synagogue, which is today used for cultural events. Curt and I, who have produced a number of documentaries on Jewish-related subjects, always visit these sites of former Jewish life in Europe. In Ahrweiler, our friends accompanied us to the former synagogue. We spent a few moments meditating in the atmosphere, listening to the voices in the wind and in our hearts, pledging anew to work to stamp out evil somehow, and experiencing gratitude for the energy of good people who remember, confront and commemorate.

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The next evening we visit a biergarten, the classically German hangout for the classically German drink. It’s as fun today as it was decades ago to sit at the tables covered with red and white-checkered cloths, surrounded by people drinking tall glasses of amber-colored beer with impressive white foam tops, toasting and celebrating everything always. (But in my opinion, with all the delicious craft beers available in the US today, the opportunity to imbibe the German selections are no longer the highlight of the biergarten experience.)

 

Back in Santa Monica, CA, I am working with some friends on an emerging project, www.EnjoyYourCoffee.net, which aims to be a travel website for coffee lovers around the world. Our Coffee Travel page lists good spots for coffee and conversation, beneficial for travelers to the region. Our group is trying to bolster the list of places worldwide, so wherever I travel, I try to visit the most popular cafes and add them to the list. In Bad Godesberg, my friends’ son Lorenz brought me to Café Lindentraum. The cappuccino was high quality and the atmosphere was quaint, but the conversations at each of the small tables were quiet and private (i.e., not group conversational). That’s a reflection of the culture, Lorenz told me. The same was true when I jogged along the Rhine: In many places where I have been, joggers passing each other share waves and smiles. Sometimes there’s even a “hello” attached in one language or another. Not here. It would be unfair to call it UNfriendly; it’s just not the nature of the culture to open up to strangers. In contrast, at the dinner party our friends hosted one night, we enjoyed conversations that quickly dove into interesting analyses.

 

I felt sad the morning of our departure. We had an amazing time with our friends. Their street fair was to happen that day, everyone on the block was cooking up something special to contribute, and the sun promised to continue shining. Anticipating the day’s events based on past years’ experiences, we were told that the young kids would run around and play together and the elders among the group would regale newcomers with stories that stretch back over decades.

 

Past, present and future live side by side there and find a way to communicate through the ups and downs of nature, time, governments, and people. And industrial and technological advancements whisk us across nine time zones and back to Los Angeles in about 11 hours so we can enjoy our coffee with our friends in Santa Monica a few hours after the fair has been cleaned up on our friends’ street in Bad Godesberg.

 

Starbucks Photo Exhibit

November 16, 2012

Whether the medium is video or stills, talented photographers see space in ways others do not. Curt Fissel, our DP at Voices & Visions Productions and JEMGLO Productions, carries this third eye around with him wherever our jobs take us. Sometimes our destination is a corporate video shoot when his task is to transform a boring boardroom into a compelling interview space. Other times it’s in the field shooting footage for an upcoming documentary. Some of the places our projects have taken us are beautiful landscapes, others war-torn, but few places stand out like the Mbale region of Uganda, where we shot Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean.

curt fissel, starbucks, voices and visions, corporate video, documentary productionIn addition to capturing hundreds of hours of footage in this beautiful Eden, Curt also documented the essence of Ugandan life through his first love: the still photo. Living in the artsy epicenter of Montclair, NJ, he has had the opportunity to show his “Delicious Peace” photo exhibit at several locations, including the Montclair Public Library during African American History Month and Parlor Hair Studio’s wall gallery. This month the show is at a Starbucks in the next door township of Glen Ridge.

The documentary tells the story of the Mirembe Kawomera coffee cooperative in Uganda, which is comprised  of Jewish, Muslim and Christian famers. Once at odds with each other over religious differences, these men and women have united by forming the co-op together, focused on  building prosperity for their families and fostering peace in their community. Their story is one of triumph; their initiative is a model for the world.

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The nature of Starbucks’ business and its corporate philosopahy make it, an appropriate location for this photo exhibition. Curt is very excited about the exhibition being held throughout the month of November, and we hope everyone in the area is able to stop by to see it! The farmers’ story is a message of peace. Our goal is to spread the framework of peace they have created through art, coffee and film.

When Video Editing is Not Enough

February 8, 2012

Yesterday we videotaped an interview with Indian artist Siona Benjamin for a new documentary. Last week we videotaped the jack grouting work of geotechnical contractor Moretrench at Manhattan’s Second Avenue subway-under-construction. And this morning we received an SOS email from a video editor working on a project for the museum at Yeshiva University who needed post-production color correction.

That’s why our world is fun. We really never know what the next day will bring. Equipped with all the field and post-production skills and equipment necessary to make every project shine, we are thrilled that so many folks like to play in our sandbox!

For those unfamiliar: Color correction is one of a number of fine-tuning tools of editing, and it makes a leap in quality difference over non-color corrected pieces in terms of bringing out the richness and depth of colors on all images that appears on screen. It is also a step that I think often gets overlooked, whether in the interests of time, budget, awareness of its availability, or how-to knowledge. Color correction is to our video editor Curt Fissel what incorrect word spelling is to me as a writer – a cringe-causing detail.  He was therefore very happy today to have been asked by the editor of this video to put the finishing touches of electronic paint on a production that will carry weight as an element of a museum exhibition.

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Curt doing color correction with another editor

Tomorrow’s plans call for a meeting in Philadelphia with a prospective client in an altogether different industry. Onto the next playdate!