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Posts from July 2012

RUTH'S PLACE HOUSE OF HOPE

SURELY you’ve heard of it, it’s the only women’s shelter in Wilkes Barre or even Luzerne County.  They had an event in May, an open house, and I went there with my (well, Marywood’s) handy camera to film it since I was also interning in WYLN TV in Hazleton (Channel 35 over the air, Channel 7 on the cable) so I figured maybe they’d use my video.
It was a proclamation by the Luzerne County Council (remember, there’s no more Commissioners, just council members).  Elaine Maddon Curry showed up to read the proclamation and Acting Chair Jim Bobeck was there too.  The chairperson of their Board of Directors, Bill Bolan, made a very inspiring speech that I actually captured on tape while actually holding the camera steady (this was in my pre-tripod days).  I did miss the actual proclamation, but evidently Elaine Maddon Curry isn’t much of a pol because there was lots of talking going on while she was making it anyway.  (In other words she wasn’t interested in getting the attention of the room, just doing what she came there do to.  More power to her!)
WYLN did actually use my video (after some careful editing by one L.A. Tarone) and here’s the news story that ran that evening:
 
THEN it was time to make them a PSA.  I knew I needed some actual women who had benefitted from Ruth’s Place to talk about it on camera, and I also wanted to interview Kristen Topolsky, who is the very smart and hard-working director.  Luckily Kristen got the releases so I didn’t have that pain in the butt to deal with.  I interviewed one girl who had actually gone through Ruth’s Place and is now employed there.  I interviewed another lady who volunteers there through the Area Agency on Aging.  I think they pay her.  And I interviewed the only person (besides Kristen) who actually made it to the commercial, Stephanie.  A very personable, active person who did very well on camera.  The reason she, and Kristen, are talking off to the side is, that’s where I was sitting.  Not the best angle, I know.
I wanted an evergreen (meaning a PSA that doesn’t have any upcoming events, or dated information, so it could run forever).  After seeing the great speech he made at the proclamation event, I wanted Bill Bolan to do the voiceover.  My previous PSA’s were all done by professionals, since I do know a few, and I wanted this one to sound, you know, “natural.”  I like to think I succeeded. 
As for the graphics, I found out how to make them “glowy.”  Like it?  I do.
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VERVE VERTU - THE PRETTIEST NPO IN WILKES BARRE!

Next video to shoot is Verve Vertu.  I HAD to shoot video because it’s an Art Studio.  In fact, as Gwen Harlemann, the director (who is actually a friend of mine, and also the sweetest person alive) says, Verve Vertu “taps into the creative energies of people with special needs.””  A neat explanation for an awesome nonprofit.
Much though I love all the nonprofit organizations I’ve come in contact with through this project, I think I love Verve Vertu the best.  They turn “special needs” people into “artists.”  That’s a label anybody’d be proud to wear and it really, really works here.  Talk about empowerment.
 
Anyhow back to ME!  I could only show a few of the artists and their art, since what I wanted the people to do is go down to the Farmer’s Market in Wilkes Barre every Thursday and buy arty stuff, like purses, keychains, dolls, silk batik collage, greeting cards, wallets, post cards, and tons of other things.  When you want the people to do something you have to SHOW them what you want them to do, so I put that picture of Gwen and one of the artists at last year’s Farmer’s Market so people will know what to look for.
 
Again stymied by the “motion” graphics, so they are pretty basic here.  I’m getting better, I’d like to think!
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A new tune from KISS? Hallelujah

By ALAN K. STOUT
102.3-FM, The Mountain 

Back in 1984, the day before KISS released its
Animalize album, I told a few high school friends that they probably wouldnt be seeing me for a while. Once I had a new KISS record in hand, I knew what Id be doing every day after school for the next few weeks: Id be hunkered down in my room, sitting in front of my stereo, listening to the album.

Thats it. Thats pretty much all Id be doing. A new KISS album was an event. And I fully absorbed the group's recordings, track for track, note for note.

Nearly three decades later, I still feel a sense of excitement when KISS releases some new music, and thus I was online at 7 a.m. on July 3 dowloading KISS new single, Hell or Hallelujah. The groups new album, Monster, doesnt drop until mid-October, but this little sneak peek certainly seems to have garnered a nice buzz and quickly became one of the most downloaded songs in the world.

And rightly so.

Hell or Hallelujah is a terrific modern-rock track. Some have said it reminds them of classic 70s KISS, circa Love Gun. Some have said it reminds them of 80s era KISS, circa Asylum. Others have compared it to 1992s Revenge. I hear a little of all of that, plus a continuation of 2009s Sonic Boom.But really, who needs to compare and contrast? All that matters is this:

The song rocks.

Opening with snarling and stingy riff, Hell or Hallelujah explodes into a torrid track thats fueled by Paul Stanleys energetic vocals. When he sings, “One heart is bre-a-a-a--king, you can feel the surge of classic KISS, and having Gene Simmons share vocals on a few lines also gives it an old-school feel. Still, this is no retro track. The production is big and the song booms. Drummer Eric Singer pounds with authority and bassist Simmons cleverly dances around the fretboard in a few spots. And with the fall release of "Monster," guitarist Tommy Thayer will have done something that only Ace Frehley and Bruce Kulick have done before: serve as lead guitarist on more than one KISS album. With “Hell or Halleluiah,Thayer has seized the moment and frequently steps up for notice. Big props to him for bringing his own vibe and putting his own stamp on the track. Its good for him.  And its good for KISS.

Honestly, it's hard to imagine anyone hearing this number and not looking forward to hearing more from "Monster" in October.

So how does it feel to get the first new KISS song in nearly three years? How does it feel to know that the kings of American hard-rock are still the kings? How does it feel to play Hell Or Hallelujah" loudly in the car, or to crank it on your iPod?

Well, to borrow from one of the catchiest lines in the song - and one that the Starchild will likely have the crowds singing along to on the band's upcoming U.S. tour:

It feels good!"

Really good.
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MY PSA FOR H.A.N.D.S. OF WYOMING COUNTY

I felt it necessary to try & get Nonprofits from all over Northeastern Pennsylvania; that’s why I went to H.A.N.D.S. of Wyoming County (which stands for Helping Area needs for Diverse (Early Care and Education) Services. It’s part of the Wyoming County Family Resource Center, which I didn’t know at first.  Mainly they provide training for early childhood educators, they have a nifty toy-lending library for parents and teachers, and they have lots of programs like story time every Friday at 9:30 am for the little ones, a Preparation for Kindergarten, and a “Parents as Teachers” program that provides home visits, access to screenings (like vision, hearing, & developmental), and group meetings for parents and children.
I took a course in Educational Psychology this summer (not recommended if you’re NOT an education major, which I’m not, I’m majoring in Communications, duh!) and therefore have learned how UTTERLY VITAL the first five years of life are.  This is the point of H.A.N.D.S. and the Wyoming County Family Resource Center, and some parents just aren’t aware of the importance of say, reading to your children.  H.A.N.D.S. does get some subsidies from the govt but there are a lot of gaps and they’re always looking for donations.
The first thing I did was interview the director, Annette.  She’s a librarian type of person, kind of shy and retiring but still passionate about her non profit
I wanted to film some children being, you know, early childhood educated, so they invited me back to the Friday morning story hour.  They have sixth graders come over from the middle school, which is about half a block away, to help.  These kids do posters and other things to help them teach the little ones the books they’ve chosen.  So this time three quite adorable girls came over, with their tri-fold posters.  I took some video of their posters, and kind of intereviewed them about how the reading-to-the-little-kids-program works.
Then it was time for the little kids and their parents to show up.  Exactly two kids came.  The girls didn’t really get to use their posters or teaching skills, they did spend a little time playing with the first kid to show up, and then during actual reading time it was just the lady you see in the video reading to the two kids.  It was very cute anyway, and I used as much of it as I could.  However, again with the no tripod, I balanced the camera on a bookcase and that had to do.
This one was hard because the concept that the nonprofit is based on wasn’t easy to communicate in just a few sentences, and it was difficult to package what we wanted the public to DO after watching the PSA.  They need public awareness as much or more than they need donations, but I wanted to push both agendas in thirty seconds.  Hard to do.  To be honest I wasn’t really happy with this one at all, since the point of the spot wasn’t really clear (and repetitive).  I would like to blame the nonprofit’s own marketing practices but, they are doing everything they can, so I can’t.
 
By the way, there's a Day Care in the same town connected with the Family Resource Center, so I went over there to see if I could film. No dice! None of the kids had been "release form"ed and they wouldn't even let me in the door. At H.A.N.D.S. everybody's already signed up. Stupid forms.
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ANOTHER FABULOUS PSA

This project is Dress for Success.  It’s a nonprofit that actually keeps new and gently used suits and other professional wear for women on site, and gives them to disadvantaged women when they’re going on a job interview.  Clever idea, since it’s something underprivileged women just couldn’t get on their own.
I had actually visited the one in Scranton first, she was quite nice, answered all my questions.  Then I visited the one in Wilkes Barre and she was all rah-rah to get going, get filming, so I made an appointment for the following week.  She said she would have somebody, an actual client, we could film coming in and being transformed into a professional looking woman.  Meantime she let me interview her ad nauseum about her non profit.  She was the one that told me in order to make us old, fat broads look good, you have to place the camera above the subject and tilt down.  Oh if I had only known before I recorded mySELF for those school projects!  Here’s a hint…don’t go back to school when you’re old enough to be all the other students’ GRAND-mama.
Arrived at the store, which is on South Street.  The woman that was going to be my guinea pig, I mean model, Shelly, was already there, and had signed the release form.  That’s a whole ‘nother blog, everybody’s paranoid about appearing on camera (well you can’t really blame ‘em) and so if you want to film ANYONE, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE that isn’t a public place, you have to get them to sign a release form.
Shelly is cute as a button, a very dear girl and unfortunately the PSA is only 30 seconds so you can’t really see the actual changeover.  She really looks professional at the end.  They give you a suit or a top, pants and a blazer, AND a purse, AND hosiery, AND shoes, AND jewelry….whatever you need to appear professional.  She tried on several outfits and Linda, the director of DFS, was right there with advice and encouragement.  Wish I could have filmed the whole process.  At this point I’m still dealing with shaky-camera syndrome (and later got yelled at for not bringing a tripod) as you’ll see in the PSA.  I was particularly proud of this one, however, because of the Shelly-entering-the-store at the beginning and Shelly-emerging-a-transformed-woman at the end.  Like bookends, kind of tells a story.
Large learning curve on the graphics, there’s a whole program called Motion you can use, but I found it easier and less steps just to edit using the motion control in Final cut.  Then when you edit in the logo it’s GIANT and takes up the whole screen, you have to go into “controls” and shrink it down, then it won’t stay where you want to put it.  That’s why it’s in the middle of the screen!
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