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Old December 16th, 2008, 10:49 AM   #1
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Morning Glory

UWOL crew, it's probably not appropriate that I post a video 'not' about wildlife here. The content is not why I'm posting it here. The audience is. To understand this peace, and to possibly help me make it better, you'll have to read a bit. Sorry, just hit the back button if you're not up to it. Understood.

Although I've been away from UWOL for a bit (no camera) I do still consider you guys family. I've noticed that many of you are parents yourself. Some of you film them, some of you talk about them, others you can just feel children are there. My son is adopted in a way. He came as part of a package deal I made with his mom two years after we fell in love. That was eight years ago.

One thing I've learned in my life to date is every one of us has issues. No one is excused. Our son Matt is no exception. Only difference is he wears his issues right out there where everyone can see them. This is pretty rough on him. The eating thing. Both his mom and I are athletes so the poor guy probably never feels he belongs. For many years we've ridden him. Jammed health down his throat daily. Camps, therapists, nutritionists, trainers, hikes, childhood obesity specialists, long talks, you name it. We've quarantined the kid, we've set him free to conquer it on his own. Not one effort helped the boy. Not one bit. In fact we've recently come to appreciate that all the poking and all the prodding is actually hurting him. Hurting all of us. So somewhat recently we've tried extra hard to lead, instead, only by example. To loosen our failing grip and let the boy be who he'll be.

Some interesting things have changed as a result of "letting him go." While his mom is still all twisted in knots inside about him (biological connection), I am actually much more relaxed now. There exists today a lot less stress between Matt and I. I'm finally only seeing the guy underneath. He's a good kid. Always has been. He's just not driven, by anything. Except one, very interesting thing. He loves glass blowing. If you talk to him ten times in one day, nine and a half times he'll bring up glass blowing. So, considering this new approach, and the new video camera I finally just got, I figured I'd do a piece on him - to support him. To help him. To hopefully, finally, make him proud of himself for what he's accomplished, rather than beating him down for what he's not.

And so I did. I shot him for an hour last Friday. Edited for eleven hours Saturday. It's not done yet, which is why I'm posting this here. Only the preliminary round of editing is complete. But there is enough done I thought, to show Matt. To show his mom. I thought it might get him all jazzed inside about himself. Maybe help motivate him for the voice-over I plan to have him do. So I sat Matt down, next to a girl he had visiting, with his mom standing behind him next to me. As they all watched the video, I watched them. The girl was excited, my wife was ecstatic, but Matt just sat there - still. As the scenes and the beats and the colorful excitement passed by us all, Matt sat three as steady as a corpse. Once the play head hit the end Matt did say it was cool. He did thank me for doing it. But that was it. Pretty anticlimactic. I didn't press it though. Just took it as a swing and a miss, and moved on.

About half an hour later though, after I was gone, with the girl in the other room Matt met his mom in the kitchen. She asked him, "How cool was it that Eric made that video for you? I mean, did you love it or what?" His only response was to stand there, still. Then finally he came out with it. As tears welled up in his eyes he quietly told her, "Mom. .....I never knew I was so huge." Then he closed the door to the garage behind himself and cried uncontrollably.

Matt Pilla, Glass Blowing


The irony here is amazing. Finally we've stopped begging Matt to look at himself, and now it's all he can see.

I plan to record Matt's voice-over, and also to capture proper sound of the machines, flames, and the activity of the morning. It's been raining non stop here though, and the glass studio is actually outdoors. I'll record all the sound tomorrow. But what I'd like to ask is, how do you think I can make this better? I don't want it to be a tragic story. In fact I'd like it to be the opposite. And not even so obviously about just Matt. I wish it could be about the special things we all have inside, rather than the individual issues we all harbor. Maybe about the awkwardness we all go through as teens, as we discover our place in life. This is why the awkward "Hi-five" at the end, and also the staring boy. But no matter what stories it tells, hopefully all of the above, I don't want any story to be so obvious. Maybe one message on the surface, and others buried far below.

If you can suggest anything, UWOL family, it would be greatly appreciated.


Merry Christmas everyone,

Eric
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Old December 16th, 2008, 02:22 PM   #2
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Hey Eric:

If I had watched this, without knowing you or having access to the introductory context that you supplied, I would have just received this film as a portrayal of an artist learning his craft and doing his thing.

Maybe that's all it is.

Your story reminds me a little of this: This American Life

might be worth a listen.
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Old December 16th, 2008, 02:32 PM   #3
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Yeah I was afraid of that. Thanks Meryem. As it's set in my mind, his voice over will be somewhat telling. I know that's not how it's supposed to go - "show, don't tell". But I don't want to make this too obviously about not only an artist learning his craft, but also a lost boy finding his way. The "boy finding his way" I'd like to be real subtle. I don't plan to write his script. More, I hope you'll hear between the lines. It's about glass blowing on the outside, but something very much more on the inside. That's my hope. I'm just such a lame story teller visually.. which is why I put this here.

Thanks Meryem
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Old December 16th, 2008, 04:30 PM   #4
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Eric,

Reading the post first made the video moving for me. I finished an education career a year ago and I have seen thousands of children with every kind of issue you can imagine and some you can't.

First, the fact that this young man has a passion sets him miles above the stoic gamers, drinkers and druggies. Children with a passion are often ostrasized by other youth and such but in the long term picture they are miles ahead!!!

Making the video of his passion was a great idea. I would assurredly carry on with it!!
this video will only build more confidence in him.

I can't really think of a more important video to be made.

You have some very nice shots there and I am sure when you get it all together with some voice over it will be even more interesting with out an explanation.

Bottom line is to ask what were you actually trying to show, and did you accomplish it and what could you add to meet your objective.

I would like morre close ups of the actual technical aspects of what he is doing, but then that also depends on the objective!!

Look forward to seeing your finished product.
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Old December 16th, 2008, 07:08 PM   #5
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No, I meant that in an "it's a cool video" way...that what you did with your boy and his hobby is free of all the judgment that the backstory implies...

I'm with Dale on this one, having something -- anything -- that you're passionate about is a gift, and it's lovely that you showed him and his friends engaged by something they care about.
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Old December 16th, 2008, 11:37 PM   #6
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Meryem, relax woman. Your response is exactly what I wanted. Screw cheerleading. I really want to make this good. And so far I am a pretty poor story teller. Your take on what I'd created so far is spot on. It's a glass blowing piece. NOT what I'm after. I'm all about the boy trapped inside the bubble.

We did his VO tonight. I'm working on it now. I think it'll help.

Dale. Thanks. You just made his mother cry. That's two down, one to go on the tears front. But don't go getting all excited. I got a big splinter in my toe last week. Not one tear.
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Old December 17th, 2008, 02:21 AM   #7
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boy - what a subject..

you've seen how Matt feels about watching himself on screen, how will he feel having a wider audience watch? Will he think that they are seeing the same thing he saw? not about glass blowing or a boy interested in something but just someone who's 'huge'.

One thing I didn't see was the finished product - isn't it the act of making something that he enjoys? - where is that thing?

I don't believe I'm qualified to comment in any way but that never stopped me before...

what if you recut and perhaps reshoot some of the footage to minimise seeing 'him' and concentrating on the process of glass blowing. His hand switching off the 6am alarm, his feet pounding the pavement etc. Showing hands turning the pipe, lips blowing the shape etc.. but not showing the form of the person or people involved. The voiceover would hopefully contain the interest and passion of the craftsman - only at the end would we see the beauty of the finished product and size of the man that made it.

might that make a statement about the value of what a man does being more important that what he looks like?

if he liked that and thought others would too, wouldn't he be happier having a doco about 'him'?

just my 2 cents worth..
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Old December 18th, 2008, 08:01 PM   #8
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OK so I hope we've made progress. I've added some sounds and Matts VO. He's a good kid but I don't need to say that. You can hear it.

I now plan to add two new scenes. One to open, with him sleeping - the other to close, with him surrounded by his peers, holding the finished piece. The final scene now is still the "hi-five". I plan to nix that all together. Originally I thought it captured adolescent awkwardness well enough, but it's just not working for me.

Matt Pilla, Glass Blowing


I hear you Paul. I gave that sensitive subject good thought before posting this. In the end I think the "hiding" is the problem actually. Or one of them at least.. There are so many angles to consider in balancing the parenting of Matthew properly I feel like I'm in the movie 300 where the sky is filled with arrows coming at you from everywhere. There is no hiding from this. He, I'm sure, feels no different. But facing it, at least I hope, will be the better path.
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Old December 19th, 2008, 12:09 AM   #9
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Wow - the voiceover really makes a difference. You've changed the music as well - (I think).

It's a terrific piece now and I think it's capturing the things you originally wanted. I wish my daughter had or could find an interest or passion like that - uneasy relationships are very tiring.

The finished product will be great to see. I'm really interested to hear what he thinks of it.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 07:02 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Eric Gulbransen View Post
OK so I hope we've made progress. I've added some sounds and Matts VO. He's a good kid but I don't need to say that. [...] The final scene now is still the "hi-five".
Very nice -- you seem like a good father. I think towards the end, just before the high-five, there should be a shot of the final glass-piece.

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Old November 17th, 2009, 11:32 AM   #11
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Hi Eric:

Do we know each other? I'm currently in the long form contest, so I haven't been involved with the short form this year. Hello!

To dad, this is an awesome film that should be expanded and developed.

To Matt, you are a true artist with this craft! You are dedicated, passionate, talented and beautiful to watch when you work. Keep it up! God has blessed you friend, and the doors are open for you to fly with it if you choose to do so.

Cat Russell
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Old November 18th, 2009, 09:41 PM   #12
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No you don't know me Katherine, but we ARE related (passion, film).

I have been away from UWOL for a long time now. Miss it - the projects and the people. Things like your response here are why.

I learned a lot in the few UWOL challenges that I participated in. Mostly I learned that while I am a great story teller in person, and on a keyboard, I am horrible at telling stories on film. This fact gets me down, but it's ok it doesn't keep me down. I know the ability exists inside of me, I just can't reach it yet. I won't return until I can, at least a little bit better.

Oddly, I actually HAVE been filming while away from UWOL. Even making money. But that doesn't mean I am any better.

As for Matt, I don't know. He's in a hell of a struggle with himself. Ironically, one month after I filmed this piece for him, the unthinkable happened - he lost the privilege to glass blow. Devastating for him. Brought on by teenage behavior, resulting in heavier doses of the same. It was the single solitary thing he loved.

A year later (two months ago) I presented this film to the principle, the dean, the art director, and his counselor - in a battle to get him a second chance. This film, and about forty five minutes of heated debating, got Matt back to the ovens.

That marked the first time I ever won an argument with a principle.. :-)
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Old November 18th, 2009, 11:34 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Eric Gulbransen View Post
A year later (two months ago) I presented this film to the principle, the dean, the art director, and his counselor - in a battle to get him a second chance. This film, and about forty five minutes of heated debating, got Matt back to the ovens.
Besides doing a nice job on this video, the reason why I resurrected this thread was my curiosity of how Matt is doing nowadays. (Also, both you and I live in Palo Alto, ride Ducatis, doing video/filmmaking, and you also have a norwegian name ;^)

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Old November 19th, 2009, 06:34 AM   #14
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Hi Eric,



Nice video you have made. I like it.
You already got some great comments/suggestions here about focusing more about what he does, instead of filming him all the time. More close ups of his hands, the glass taking shape, his face and lips as he blows air into the tube... Would in my opinion improve your video.

Glad you won the battle over the principle!
Very nice that Matt gets a new chance. From what I could see in the video, he is skilled with the art of glass making.

Last edited by Trond Saetre; November 19th, 2009 at 09:53 AM. Reason: Noticed it was an old thread after reading Cat's post
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Old November 19th, 2009, 09:48 AM   #15
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WHAT???? O.K. I've been thrown for a loop here! When I read this thread yesterday, I wasn't paying attention to post dates, and I thought this was all current. So you mean to tell us that since the film was made Matt's high school stripped him from glass-blowing? For a year?? You had to fight tooth and nail for him just to have access to the ovens?

I'm a bit outraged at this news. I would term this as contributing to the delinquency of a minor if you ask me!

How long does Matt have in high school? Have you considered an apprenticeship somewhere? How about a scholarship for study in glass blowing? The UWOL community is a great place for creative thinking and stepping outside the box with ideas. If Matt has a ways to go in high school, and is not motivated there except for the glass-blowing could he be taken out of high school in exchange for intensive training in glass blowing?

This craft is where Matt has found his identity. How about a career in this? I've Googled glass blowing schools in California and there is a lot of opportunity there. Perhaps we, as the UWOL family, could start a small trust fund for his opportunity? I don't know, I'm just rambling. But all of it is food for thought. He is gifted. I'm certain he could obtain a scholarship somewhere.

Please forgive me if I'm jumping to conclusions without knowing the facts, the whole story and all that you are already doing for him! Way to go for recognizing how important this is and fighting for Matt's right to his creative expression. All the best in this.

Cat Russell
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