Things to Watch

Another technology story, but this one touches on another thing I try to look at in my writing – the idea that as much as media, technology and communication change, we’re all still people trying to do and say the same things. Joking around with friends, flirting, having meaningful conversations, miscommunication… whether they’re in person, over the phone or on Snapchat, it’s still how we interact.

Social media tends to get a bad rap. We constantly hear how each Snap or text deteriorates our ability to have real, meaningful conversations. But the truth is, they’re just the new medium we use to be social.

Our Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds and even our text messages are all mediums we use to connect socially. Our phone’s contact list is on equal footing with our friend lists and follower counts. They’re all the latest tools that we use to communicate the yada, yada, yada of our lives.

Humans are hardwired to be social. We’re constantly looking for the newest way to connect with our friends and family members. Currently it comes in the form of tweets and texts. During the Seinfeld era it was the face-to-face pop-in. In the 50s it was the telephone. Every generation creates a new way to communicate with each other and at the same time people from the previous generation decide the new way will ruin humanity’s ability to communicate.

Read “From Seinfeld to Snapchat” on Backchannel/Medium

I found this simultaneously interesting, kind of cool, and slightly disgusting. Not disgusting in the “foodborne illnesses leaping from reheated tray of food to reheated tray of food on a cruise ship out at sea” sense, but in the sense that this ship is running to give us more of an online, interconnected, networked and logged experience than a change to escape from it.

It’s something I’ve thought about a lot and tried to touch on in my own fiction, but the real world seems to be catching up with the sci-fi and doing things I hadn’t even thought of – for better or for worse.

I wish Mr. Pierce would have asked a couple of questions about this – whether or not making our experiences more online and digital and shareable is a good thing – but he focused entirely on the technology (and why the people running the cruise think it will attract millenials):

You wear an NFC-enabled wristband that lets you into your room, lets you pay for drinks, and lets you book meals and entertainment just by tapping your wrist. You can check in before you ever get to the ship and track your luggage as it makes its journey to your room. Company CIO Bill Martin told me that Royal Caribbean never loses luggage, so it didn’t need a system like this one – but waiting for luggage made customers nervous, and a tracker brings peace of mind. Oh, and there’s Wi-Fi. More Wi-Fi than has ever existed on a cruise ship before, at a price anyone can afford. (Think $15 a day, not $1 a minute.) You can Instagram your cruise to your heart’s content.

Not that I blame him. It is pretty cool.

Read “I spent a weekend on a cruise ship staffed by robot bartenders” on The Verge

My film production company, Tasty Dude Films, is making a short film for Damnationland this year. If you haven’t heard of it, Damnationland is a yearly horror film festival that curates short horror films by Maine filmmakers. We’re incredibly proud that we’ve been asked to participate this year, and we need a little help making sure we cover all of our costs. Help us out through Kickstarter!

Donate to “Anima Sola” by Tasty Dude Films on Kickstarter

The Water in the Bay is an official selection for the Lewiston Auburn Film Fest (named one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” by MovieMaker Magazine), April 4-6. This will be the second-ever screening of the film, which is based on a story by myself, Jonathan Blood and Travis Curran, and a screenplay by me.

Tickets are available now on the LAFF website – a $19 Film Festival Viewing Pass will get you into any of the films.

Learn more about the festival and The Water in the Bay. 

The film production company I helped co-create, Tasty Dude Films, is working on a great new series for Entertainment Experiment called “Portland Music.TV.” Director/Cinematographer Jon Blood and host Jordan Handren-Seavey interview local Portland bands and film live performances. They’re putting out some great-looking and really interesting stuff – the latest episode features metal band Hessian.

Portland Music.TV on Entertainment Experiment

Last weekend my fellow writers and filmmakers Jon and Travis helped out at a video shoot for a local web series. Part of the shoot involved an unmanned remote-controlled drone, which are becoming cheaper for consumers to purchase (Brookstone, for example, offers one with a built-in HD camera for just $300). In an piece for Outside, Joe Spring takes a look at how these consumer drones and inexpensive consumer HD cameras could change adventure filmmaking.

Unmanned drones, once used primarily by the U.S. Department of Defense for wartime operations, are becoming a staple in the adventure world, deployed to do everything from monitor endangered orangutans in Indonesia to aid in search-and-rescue efforts in Colorado. But they’ve become especially popular with filmmakers. This is partly because, even at upwards of $5,000 per day, a drone runs a fraction of the cost of a helicopter rental. It can also get close to athletes without propeller wash kicking up snow or dust. And since drones are unmanned, they allow filmmakers to take greater risks in pursuit of the ultimate shot. In the past few years, unmanned drones have captured innovative footage of surfers in Australia, mountain bikers in England, and skiers in Oregon.

“How Military-Style Drones are Changing Adventure Filmmaking” by Joe Spring

Lately I’ve been really drawn to short, gorgeous documentary videos like this one. The best place I’ve found to browse them and get inspired is Those Who Make, a site that’s all about people who craft, sculpt, build, cook, and create, and how exactly they do what they do.

I love everything about this video of Stockholm’s Pärlans candy shop, from the old-school jazz music to the outfits to the lingering shots of wrapping candy.

For your relaxed Sunday viewing pleasure – Sanna & Oscar Liedgren make these gorgeous, wordless short films all about process.

We like to see things getting done: built, fixed, cooked, drawn, wrapped or hammered. Words are important, but need not always be spoken. Usually the making speaks for itself. Our technique is simple and straightforward: natural light, sequential shooting, single camera.

The Homegrown Swedes site, like their videos, is simple and beautiful. I can’t stop watching these.

Homegrown Swedes

Homegrown Swedes on Vimeo
Homegrown Swedes on YouTube