Monday, October 19, 2009

The New Alumni Reel for 2009

Here's the talk I gave on Saturday to about 50 parents and students in the Main Lecture Hall to introduce this years Alumni Reel showing.

Every year the Hampshire Alumni Relations people ask graduates to submit a clip of recent film or video work from which I build a compilation reel that gets shown first at Hampshire, then in New York, then in LA, and also at other locations across the country as needed. Each year the collection of submissions from alumni is slightly different and has a unique flavor. Some years it’s thin and cold, some years it hot and spicy. This year the vintage is good, but with a still yet different taste. Like any collection of submissions what we see is only what’s submitted. It’s not a true reflection of what’s being done – good or bad.

The odd part is both the list of usual suspects and the ever broadening list of just-past-recent graduates, not yet settled into that perfect job, but not too far away from it. They pop up in strange places and also have very strong ties to each other.

Even with the crowd that’s off in the distance, their friendships are personal, professional and re-occurring. Their names and titles are links that weave back and forth from project to project. They work for themselves, corporations and each other.

The near-recent travel in groups and maybe if they've grown apart they also eagerly come back to the center for fun films that might or might not even be real paying commercial work.

This year there are a few people that pop up more than once doing different jobs and working with different people. What’s instructive about this multiple submission is it’s a reflection of the reality of the new world of work. People don’t do just one thing any more, not even in the same year, certainly not for their entire career.

I met Ann Harrison at an alumni event back in May. She had graduated in media theory, went to grad school and got a masters in journalism, worked for newspapers, produced videos, wrote for magazines (Wired). I asked her what she was doing now and she said, “reconciliation”. Immediately I thought of divorce cases and winced. “Who was your last client”, I jokingly asked. “Liberia”, she replied, “I had a very good year.”

Even closer to home, outside the Liebling building in the stone entrance area are bricks with names on them (a fund raising device). One is from Donna Rockwell. She too went to grad school and got a masters in journalism, did on-air reporting, and now, I find, she has a PhD in psychology and teaches.

Still closer, my daughter is a recent Hampshire grad and is currently in graduate school in psychology. She did photography for her Div II and writing for her Div III. That’s what we call the “Hampshire straight line” of study.

But back to the Reel. People come and go each year for good and maybe not so good reasons: way too busy; on a shoot in Australia; we’re still in pre-production and I can’t talk about it and that last one, well, that’s so over now; Teresa can you take this call; oops, gotta go Paris Hilton just came in.

Yes, then there’s the range of work. Some, well, I don’t know. Others give me a hard time finding only a two minute clip instead of the ten minutes I really want to show.

So, as I always tell tour groups. You’ve all seen Hampshire work. Some times it’s obvious as with Ken, some times it’s invisible as with Dan Epstein. Some times you never thought about it - MTV and Chris Applebaum. Some times you’d be surprised - Lord of the RIngs, Spiderman III, Up, 60 Minutes.

On the technical side, this year all of the submission were on DVDs. About 60% were QuickTime files and 40% were video DVDs. The QuickTime files look better and proves to me that we’re moving into a new world of distribution with a new way of watching work.

Most people selected their own two minute clip, but some didn’t and those are the hardest. My selections are sometimes just for expediency and don’t really reflect the full tone or importance of the work. That’s my failing. This year I finished the reel the latest ever, just two days ago and any misspellings or typos are my fault because no one else has seen it yet. You’re the first.

On with the show.


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