Open source film making

Have I written about this yet, or have I just thought about writing about it? I admit I’ve been inventing open source filmmaking in a vacuum, I am only slightly aware of what other filmmakers are doing on this front. I’ll eventually plug into all the social networking juice associated with open source film projects, but for now I remain blissfully ignorant, aside from the original inspiration of Robert Greenwald’s Rethinking Afghanistan. Actually, another important early influence was the Rebel’s Guide forum, where production strategies are shared.

What is Dan Kelly’s vision of open source filmmaking? So far three facets – chronicle, outreach, and get naked.


It’s about chronicling the process on this blog and connected channels – Twitter and Linked in for example. Even if nobody reads my ramblings, taking the time to communicate what’s going on helps me to focus and clarify my vision. As I take on more ambitious outcomes, I begin to walk the less traveled path. If there are other artists out there with related outcomes, perhaps they’ll improve their chances of success by learning about my exploits. If those folks and I connect and communicate, that’s nirvana. I am one neuron and the blog variations are my synapses, snaking out towards other neurons. You can make a brain by networking lots of neurons. Essentially, open source film making is one way to become part of something bigger, to amplify and extend myself.


That snaking pseudopodia part is important. As I mentioned above, it’s great to be a closet scribbler, that’s how Stephen King got his start after all. Eventually King had to slither out of his closet, he must have shared his work with friends and eventually editors. Without slithering, where would Stephen King be? One must learn to slither and ooze… what ho! Here’s the internet.

Oozing is a great word I think, because the internet is a universe of jagged dross. Spam and old school marketing schemes have inflexible edges meant to slice and tear, to force action. On the world wide web, incessant avalanches of edgy memes whirl and flash. Cognitive armor seems essential for extended surfing. Had enough metaphors? Bear with me… in RL surfing implies water. Water can’t be cut with a knife – it just gets out of the way.

Savvy neurons fluidly slide past sharp edges while expanding connections with oozed out extensions. These extensions are not hooks or bait, they are the neuron itself, awareness. Neurons flow into their surround, questing softly like spilled water on a level table. If water meets water, little puddles become bigger puddles, and the ocean of intelligence grows. Need some practical applications of how oozing works? On an online forum, only humans can enter. Having a persistent and relevant presence is the only way to network with the other humans there. That’s oozing… a sparkling puddle gently spreading. Oozing puddles are only good for making bigger puddles, so there’s no point in attempting a call to action or trying to motivate them.

I am sure this seems like a wild half baked digression, but outreach is not code for marketing. Making the distinction is important because we can’t afford to have ineffective outreach, the stakes are very high. Marketing harks back to the days of manipulating behavior and that’s the root of our problems on Planet Earth. Rather than manipulated behavior, let’s build a foundation on expanded consciousness. whoa.

Get Naked

Admit it, you skipped down to this part. Ok, maybe you started to read about the neural network, but that was boooring! So here we are, about to get naked.

Am I all about quality? Sure. Do I care about details and subtlety? I like to think so. Am I crafting a sublime aesthetic? You betcha! Well, screw all that – we are going open source!

Sharing the process goes beyond writing, it means providing access to a good portion of the raw footage. Sure some editing and assembling to illustrate the main ideas, but don’t get too precious, don’t fret about perfection. That’s what it means to get naked – to expose your bare essence to the scrutiny of the world. No polish or preening, no flowing mumu to hide my fat butt, no makeup or mousse. Just the raw sinewy meat, wrapped in glowing skin. Me, me… beautiful me!

This means that the work can be immediately available if activists or educators need it. It means I rough out ideas rapidly. It means others can give feedback and enhance the work. It’s an access point for collaborators to contribute. It’s gives the project a presence and buzz before the release. It’s a little more like what science is supposed to be, while retaining all the power of art. I keep finding things I like about this approach, now that I’ve gotten over being stark naked 24/7.

Drawbacks? Being stark naked is a little scary, but it helps that I am fit and svelte. I’ve got a nice body and by analogy my project is fun and engaging. So why not? Another problem is all that ownership crap, rights etc. In theory, Creative Commons protects the project from exploitaton by commercial entities. Another issue might be my eligibility for film festivals that dig the whole world premier schtick. My only defense there is that I am not posting my final edit, only sketches. If that doesn’t fly, then c’est live. Festivals serve the mission, not the other way around.

That’s my latest spiel on open source film making and why I am doing it. I think I may be repeating myself a little but that’s a habit I had even before I started turning into an old coot.

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