Catagories from Evening of Exploration

I’ve finally gone through the response cards from the Evening of Exploration and tallied the results. Admittedly, asking for ‘the most memorable moment’ was not a very rigorous approach to feedback but then the Evening of Exploration was about more than feedback. The primary objective was to gather the Northern Michigan arts community together and introduce them to the project. Also, setting an intense deadline was intended to amp up my post-production process.

I’ll do a more rigorous evaluation of the Evening and it’s objectives later, but for now let’s look at the responses. Of the 86 cards, there were about 131 different moments mentioned, including advice about editing and other random critique. Let’s keep it simple and concentrate on the top 5 moments, which are mentioned in 52% of the total responses. The top five break down as follows…

  • 32% (positive) Tanya and Homegrown
  • 20% (mostly positive, several strong objections) Cherry pit spitting monolog
  • 18% (positive) Hello World repair and packing sequence
  • 15% (positive) Rich Branstrom – builds things from trash, influences others
  • 15% (positive) Ray Minervini – cities for cars, not for people


I haven’t spoken with Chris and Tanya Winkelmann of Homegrown since November and I’m excited to let Tanya know that she stole the show. Some might think that organic food is old news, but the Winkelmanns’ story illustrates that it’s not, that education about the integrity of our food supply is vital. Tanya and Chris’s story is not only about edible education, but also “action instead of just thought or talk”. Indeed. Of the top five moments, Tanya’s interview grabbed 1/3 of attention.

Cherry Pit Spitting Monolog

The cherry pit spitting monolog came in second with mixed reviews. Several folks objected (strongly) to me talking with my mouth full! Love it. My intention was to break up the heavy ponderings with a little visual comedy and emphasize rather than minimize the cherry pit spitting. For the record, I don’t think I actually thought this through on location – I was just having breakfast and doing my usual on camera update. I had happened to put some wild cherries into my porridge.

The critical feedback helped me realize that I am not communicating how much work the Search for Sustainable Civilizations was. I ate while filming because there were only so many hours in the day and finding a way to combine two activities was a boon. I have to give more context – during the cherry pit spitting breakfast I was totally worn out and sore from sailing the day before. It’s not that I want sympathy from the audience but based on the almost angry comments about proper manners folks don’t get that my choices were constrained, that I was wiped out. Most of the positive comments focused on the content of the monolog, which is encouraging.

Hello World Evolution

My new filmmaker friend Andrea described the Hello World evolution sequence as my sparkling personality showing through. I am pleased that it worked for the audience because I put some solid time into the edit – I think it reflects my pleasure as an editor. It’s got several elements that I like – maker ethic, comedy, excitement and an epic feeling thanks to Gustav Holst. I actually see it as something of a placeholder for a more polished sequence, so it’s really encouraging to know that it’s getting high marks already. As a side note, the rest of Andrea’s comment goes like this, (paraphrase)… “in contrast to the Hello World sequence, your actual on camera monologs don’t really reflect how charming and funny you are in real life.” Gotta love that gal.

Ritch Branstrom, Adhoc workshop

Ritch was actually mentioned for more than trash art, so I broke the comments referring to him into categories. He made it to the top five for all the mentions of junk artist. Some folks also wrote about his energy or how well comes across as a character. Frankly as cinematographer and editor, I’ve got to take credit for his on screen vibe… through the magic of cinema, I made him seem like an amazing guy – another triumph of art over reality. Kidding! Ritch really IS amazing, honest.

Ray Minervini

Ray Minervini made an impression on folks with his “cities are designed for cars and not for people” line. That really seemed to resonate. Ray was really able to paint a picture with words and folks got it.

healing through food, homegrown, mission, children sick, chemicals in food, action instead of just thought and talk 22
breakfast and spitting cherry pits, hate the old, fear of nature (naive I) musings reached a rhythm of their own, timelessness of wilderness, cherries “into the wild” – scared (not enjoyable to see even a handsome man with mouth full of oatmeal I) (humor overwhelms the deep point you are trying to make I) (the spitting again and again was an insult to audience I) 13
gear packing and boat repair 12
Rich Branstrom – power, builds things from trash, influences others 11
Ray Minervini cities designed for automobiles and not for people, parking lots, building permits 10
Rich Branstrom – energy is pure, like his energy, medium for power in the world (cut it I) 7
monologs, rambling went on long enough to be memorable, long winded 5
the end – poetry incarnate, laying in the grass 4
extensive and specific advice on editing 4
practical interconnectedness of all things, (men who ride moutains) 4
big wave day, totally on (men who ride moutains) 3
interviews 2
earth from space 2
dan eating 2
mir space station 2
to exist is totally up to each of us, sustainability 2
going forward or turning around, terrible accident 2
more overarching narrative, where did you go and why? 2
larry – humans are renewable resource 2
like to see route outlined, don’t expect your audience to know the geography of michigan 2
me and gwen at bird bath 2
interviews at schooner festival 1
recycling 1
opening sequence, short statements 1
water 1
need more interaction between interviewer and interviewee 1
north manitou  quiet 1
choose a design and stick to it 1
face of the horse (deer) Rich Branstrom 1
straight talk about how we live on the planet 1
dan yawns makes audience yawn 1
less eating when you film 1
find people who don’t know you and don’t smoke weed for outside perspective 1
i suggest you study documentary 1
flame fluttering 1
(offered help and collaboration on the project) 1
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