Props to Les Blank

Who doesn’t love a 76 year old man wearing a cardigan? Les blank is cool and approachable and at the end of his presentation I wanted to walk over to him and smell his sweater. Thankfully for my co-workers, I decided against it and shook his hand instead.

He spoke at an event hosted by the SF Film Society called “Master Class: Les Blank on Documentary” — thank you ITVS! Most film fanatics out there have heard of Les Blank, or, at the very least they are familiar with some of his films such as Burden of Dreams or A Poem Is a Naked Person. For me, it wasn’t until attending this seminar that I was introduced to some of his other work and got a taste of his unique voice as a documentarian.

Les Blank is tall, thin, and has a wonderfully trimmed, thick white beard. He is soft spoken, goes straight to the point, and most importantly, he is one of the most humble filmmakers I’ve ever met. If you tell Les Blank he is a true artist, he will give you a puzzled look followed by a nonchalant ‘thanks’; when you ask him what his secret is, he will tell you he has none; and if somebody comments on his amazing ability to get unlimited access he will make a joke and say ‘I just hang around until eventually people get tired of me’. Les Blank’s vision is not simple but he doesn’t waste much time presenting himself as a superior visionaire.

I have seen about four of his films, all produced by his production company Flower Films. After watching them I began to admire how Les Blank captures situations and people is a very gentle way. He doesn’t stage any of his interviews and he may toss cue cards up in the air to give himself a fresh start in the editing room. Rather than producing with his thinking mind, Les Blank feels the story and then goes from there.

By looking him up on imdb it becomes obvious that Les is constantly working, always looking for the next interesting story to tell. His films capture family, traditions, soul, passion, and so many other aspects of life. Without documentary filmmakers like him, we would miss out on a great opportunity to experience the world through a different point of view, from another angle, with a different lens. That’s what a brilliant documentary filmmaker does, he lets a subject be free to express itself without judgements or hesitation. Les knows how to be patient behind the camera yet he is fearless when it comes to finding the true nature of the story. And regardless of his liking of the label, I think Les Blank is a genuine, passionate artist whose films inspire, educate, and resonate with audiences of all ages, all around the world.

Props to these gals

I’ve been told that when it comes to social media, one has to be generous. I find that to be good advice for pretty much anything we do. In generosity one finds self satisfaction; it’s the karma thing and the fact that ‘what goes around comes around’ because only in generosity we can grow. Got it? Very well then, enough of that.

In an effort to be generous with my writing, I would like to make a habit out of posting one “appreciation blog” every month. For this month’s post I will focus on three fantastic women in the entertainment industry. I decided to group them together because: They are all still active in their careers; they have achieved significant fame and recognition and they have all incorporated quality writing into their original art of choice. And of course, I like them all.

Amanda July (Filmmaker, Writer, Artist) – I was just in the bookstore this weekend when I ran into a copy of No One Belongs Here More than You. In the beginning, I didn’t realize that the writer, was the same Miranda that directed all those corky, off-beat indie comedies about awkward relationships. I have always loved her films but I found out from visiting her website that she is a very well-rounded artist with plenty to say and the creativity to make it interesting. Amanda: Thank you for your awesome hair.

PJ Harvey (Musician, Songwriter, Actress) – I chose PJ because I have the same birthday! Okay, maybe not because of that. In her Uh Huh Her album (released in 2004) PJ Harvey not only played all the instruments, but, she was also the producer for it. Unfortunately, unlike the movie Laurel Canyon (by Lisa Cholodenko) there are not many women music producers out there. Because of that, I want to to say PJ Harvey: Thank you for representing.

Debora Copaken Kogan (Photojournalist, Writer, Performer) – Despite the fact that she is also a Libra -obviously the best sign, ever- through Debora’s acclaimed book ShutterbabeI am learning about the tremendous hard work that goes behind being a photojournalist. Through her beautiful photos and her honest words she shares meaningful stories and she does so freely. Debora: Thank you for being fearless.