Mental Health In the Media

Mental Health In the Media

We wanted to share a media campaign that Cactus and Lyra Health partnered on recently that really impressed us. Presenting mental health in a physically alarming form to portray a strong message about the crippling affects of not addressing our mental health issues.

In our video storytelling journeys over the years, we've often been in spaces of discussing mental health issues and highlighting the stories of folks who are willing to be vulnerable about their health-related experiences. The landscape is changing in the realm of mental health and its associated stigma - more media is being released revealing just how prevalent mental health issues are, and more resources are being created for those that want to seek help. It all starts with talking about it openly and welcoming others into the conversation.

We're glad to see a widespread media campaign that speaks to the issue in such a striking, serious, yet lighthearted way to reach a wide audience of people and demand attention. What if our mental health problems were taken as seriously and treated as immediately as our worst physical ailments? It's the beginning of a big narrative shift around mental health stigma. 

Click to see full campaign

Click to see full campaign

Sam the Ham

Sam the Ham

We have a new canine team member! One awesome thing about working in Green Spaces is they allow dogs, because dogs make the community that much better! Chloe Wittry our Producer adopted little Sam from a rescue that brought him up from Tijuana. He is a dachshund mix, and as you can see from the photos, he provides us with quite a lot of entertainment. He has a big personality, likes his puppy naps, and keeps the office light-hearted. Enjoy the photos!

The Art of Listening: Why Isn't It Taught?

The Art of Listening: Why Isn't It Taught?

We came across this brilliant article written last week on one of our favorite publications, On Being, about a young man who walked 4,000 miles across the U.S. to listen. He carried a sign that read, "Walking to Listen," and that's precisely what he did - spending time with Americans from all walks of life in all different parts of the country. 

Listening is such an important part of our job as journalists, as filmmakers, because we have a duty to carry someone's story. We open people up through interviews, and it's only through real, curious, careful and attentive listening that those people feel comfortable talking to us. We ensure we're creating safe spaces for the interviewee to be able to open up. We listen in earnest, we listen not knowing the answer, we listen to gain perspective, and most importantly we listen with respect. 

We want to tell stories that bridge gaps and create a sort of ladder for people to climb the "empathy wall.." It's true that through authentic stories our minds can be changed, our hearts can be opened, we start to listen, we start to connect and the walls come down. To craft these stories we have to become vulnerable and create space for the the people with whom we're working to share. We receive, they give, and we in turn create a beautiful video or visual story to give to the community. It's a process and a journey, and it's not always smooth, but it is always worth the humanizing stories and tools that are created and sent into the world at the end.

We're inspired by this quote from the articled and how it applies to our storytelling: "Listening has a way of complicating any simplistic good-and-evil dichotomy in this way. When people entrusted me with their stories — their brokenness, their frailties and fallibilities — it made it impossible for me to hate them, even if I was deeply disturbed by some of the things they believed or had done. And when I didn’t hate them, and asked them questions without malice, they could remain open, and it is in this openness that transformation becomes possible."

We're so inspired by this individual and we hope to see more stories like this, of people getting out into the world and making connections, bridging gaps, operating with humility, in a cultural space that can sometimes feel reactive or disconnected. 

We'll leave with this quote from the article: "Listening with judgment, ready to defend and attack, is not the kind of listening I’m talking about. That’s critical thinking, argumentation, debate — important tools that most schools do a good job of teaching. What I’m talking about is listening, a commitment to exploring and building connection with others based on our shared humanity even when that kind of connection seems impossible."

Read the article

Building a Chance Multimedia Team

Building a Chance Multimedia Team

We're a small team of people at Chance Multimedia, and it's so important to maintain team members that will uphold the company's ethics and values and understand the often sensitive nature of what we produce. When our dear friend and editor Dan Sohner decided to take his career to the mountains, (where his heart belongs!), we were on the hunt for a new editor and cinematographer that would jive with our team as well as Dan did. 

We are so happy to have found Alex Sandberg, an East Coast native and wanderlust who started his career in L.A. before being called to the beauty and expansiveness of Colorado. Alex is approaching his one-year anniversary with us, and he's made our team so much better since we snatched him off the freelance market. Here's a little bit about Alex:

1. Why did you decide to move to Colorado?

I grew up on the east coast, and before moving here I had spent the previous three years in Los Angeles, so I was ready to get away from the endless urban sprawl. I love the outdoors and I’m an avid hiker, so I wanted to move somewhere in the western U.S. with forests, mountains, four seasons, and great weather, and nowhere fits that bill better than Colorado! I only knew a couple of people here but I decided to just take the leap, and I couldn’t be happier with the choice.

2. What was your first shoot experience like with Chance Multimedia? 

My first shoot with Chance was certainly a memorable one. The day after my interview, I got a call from James asking if I was available the following day for a shoot, which would also serve as a “test run” to see if I was a good fit. Then he asked me if I had ever been up in a helicopter, to which I replied something like, “Uhh… no.” I said I was free and up for the challenge, but couldn’t make any major promises about the quality of my footage. The shoot was a blast, and I managed to walk away with one or two usable shots (with lots of stabilization in post), which I guess was enough to pass the test! 

3. What camera gear are you looking at right now? Drone? New DSLR? 

I’ve been thinking about upgrading my camera body for a year or two now, but just haven’t been quite ready to pull the trigger. I have Canon lenses, so I (like so many others) for years eagerly awaited the release of the Canon 5D mkIV, and I (like so many others) was disappointed when it finally came out. The photo specs are superb, but 60fps at 1080p is underwhelming for slowmo capability, and the 1.74x sensor crop in 4k mode is a deal breaker. I’ll take a bit of pixel binning any day over a crop that extreme. Sony on the other hand has been very impressive over the last several years. The A7S II and A7R II are both fantastic cameras and very tempting, especially with the performance of metabones adapters for using Canon lenses, and the cheaper price tag than the 5D mkIV. The A7S II is certainly the better camera for video with its fantastic low-light capabilities and 120fps slowmo, but the sensor size for photography is a bit underwhelming at 12.2MP, as compared to the A7R II’s 42.4MP sensor. My ideal camera is an all-in-one video and photo camera, which has me leaning towards the A7R II at this point. Sony also just released the A9, which appears to blow both A7’s out of the water. But with a price tag of $4,499.00, I may need a slight raise to make that jump... James? Jessica?

4. What do you do on the weekends? Tell us about your adventures. 

I try to spend as much of my free time as possible outdoors, preferably hiking. I’m also an avid nature photographer (childhood dream job was to be a National Geographic photographer), so I love finding new remote places to explore with the hopes of spotting any little (or big) critters who might be roaming the woods. I had an awesome adventure just this past Monday in the Mount Evans Wilderness, which is only about an hour from Denver. I hiked the Tanglewood Trail, which follows a beautiful bubbling creek through a lush forest before emerging above the treeline to a saddle beneath Rosalie Peak, a 13’er in the shadow of Mount Evans. I got to break in a new pair of snowshoes for the last couple miles to the top, and the trail was completely lost under fresh snow so there was some bushwhacking involved! The view from the top was incredible and I didn’t see a single other person on the trail all day. I also came across some large and quite ominous animal tracks in the snow, which I later ID’d as belonging to a mountain lion. Or it could’ve been an enormous dog... but I’m going with mountain lion. Makes for a much better story.

5. What are your dreams for the future in the documentary/video production business? 

I’m passionate about environmental issues and I hope to use the power of documentary filmmaking and visual storytelling to help spread awareness about the impact that climate change is having on all the living creatures of our planet. Facing existential threats are countless species and entire ecosystems, not to mention the homes and way of life of people around the world. I believe climate change is the greatest challenge we’ve ever faced, and I hope to use filmmaking and photography to be part of the fight. 

Ethics and Responsibility in Storytelling

Ethics and Responsibility in Storytelling

Our team was recently at an introductory meeting with a new client, and the topic of sensitivity and participant care-taking came into the conversation as a concern for the client. We're always glad when it does come to the forefront of a client's mind, because that means our priorities are aligned - they're putting the wellbeing of participants and interviewees in front of the story, which is always where we place the most importance. 

We have strict ethical guidelines in our work not only because of our journalism backgrounds as a team, but because we as individuals uphold strong ethics and values in our own lives, in our own day-to-day interactions with others. We're aware of the power we hold as storytellers with tools, and we ask subjects to make themselves vulnerable through the interview and storytelling process. As such we have a great responsibility to make sure we operate within the comfort of those subjects from beginning to end and beyond. The process involves building relationships, building trust, and intently listening, all keys to crafting beautiful stories and letting people's words be truly felt. 

We start every interview ensuring the participant that they are fully in control of what goes into the story - they don't have to say or answer anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, and even if they do, they have the right to strike it from the record. We're often in sensitive, nuanced situations where people may be hesitant about our presence, and we're sure to never push any boundaries to "get the shot". We are humbled when we're welcomed into communities, into people's lives, and respecting them is our number one priority. 

When our ethics and values are aligned with those we're working with and for, the storytelling process is truly powerful and impactful for all those involved. 

Green Spaces

Green Spaces

Did you know we moved?? Chance Multimedia has been growing and expanding in great ways.

When Chance Multimedia started, James and Jessica were working out of their home in the RiNo neighborhood, before it was hipster Denver, a time that Jessica fondly refers to as RiNo B.C. (RiNo Before Crema).

Then when the company grew a little they moved to Green Spaces, a co-working building down the street that offers work stations and a fridge full of beer in a very energy-efficient green conscious building.

When the Chances bought their first house in City Park West they renovated the attached garage into a cute, small Ikea-esk office space and moved out of Green Spaces. A couple turnovers, a new baby, and a few years later, we are back in Green Spaces!

The community has grown immensely, but it’s still the fun, quirky, relaxed environment that Chance Multimedia thrived in before. With the expansion of Chance’s nonprofit arm, Stories Without Borders, and the addition of a team member, Alex Sandberg, and the expansion of the Chance’s family with little baby Daniel, we just needed some room to spread out.

We also wanted to welcome clients, partners and friends into a space where we could offer coffee, beer, couches, and a creative ambiance. Our office is decked out with plants, accented by beautiful brick walls, and we feel great working in a space that is so energy conservative. We were able to become a Certified Green Business through the City of Denver just by being in this space and operating how we do as a company.

One of the best parts about this space is being able to mingle with other creative minds every day, as the whole building is full of entrepreneurs of all sorts. Need a web designer? He’s next door! Need someone to help on a shoot? There’s a videographer available! The community is amazing, and the craft beer in the fridge doesn’t hurt.

 

Lessons from the Community

Lessons from the Community

A huge part of our job as videographers and journalists is to listen and absorb.

We do a lot of community work for foundations and nonprofits who activate rural city participation through grant opportunities. The documentation of those community-led processes sends us all over Colorado, to Olathe, Fort Morgan, Manzanola… places we hadn’t even registered on the map. Those places have taught us incredible lessons about life in rural cities, reflecting all the rural communities that make up the majority of this country.

In these tense political times it’s easy to become polarized. The hard thing is cross those lines and listen to the other side. Rural Colorado has a unique voice, a unique perspective, it’s a dichotomy of new and old, immigrants and generations-old families.

When you sit and listen, you have the opportunity to embrace. We’ve heard stories of Somali refugees making the journey to Fort Morgan to work and build better lives, we’ve heard stories of families traveling from Mexico to find peace and security in the small farm town of Olathe, we’ve heard stories of three-generations of families living in San Luis Valley embracing the changes they’ve experienced in their own, small culture. The most important thing is, these people are all now listening to each other through grassroots efforts.

Listening creates empathy, empathy creates movement, movement creates great change, and we’re honored to be able to witness these transformations and capture them in visually beautiful ways.

 

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Our team kicked off 2016 with a retreat to examine and identify what we value and how, as always, how we can get better at what we do.

Questions of Copyright and Value: Where Does Inspiration Come From?

By Dan Sohner

Have you ever had an idea stolen? Copied maybe? It’s not a particularly great feeling. But now imagine that that idea ends up on the cover of, let’s say, National Geographic.

Photographer Tim Kemple has something to say about that. In short, Kemple made an image of an iconic rock climber on an iconic rock climb and another photographer, Jimmy Chin, made a nearly identical image, which he sold to National Geographic.

Jimmy Chin's image:

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Tim Kemple's image:

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You can imagine the conversation that happened. Mr. Kemple wasn’t very happy and Mr. Chin didn’t seem to see anything wrong.

Where does copyright begin and end? What is intellectual property, really? Is this ethical?

Where does inspiration truly come from?

As a creative person, I think it is sometimes hard to ask yourself where an idea came from or why you decided to create something in a certain way. When you start asking those questions, you start to discover your personal style, which then inevitably relates directly back to everything in this world which inspires you and has most likely inspired someone else at some point.

One of the hardest things we have to face as creatives is constantly figuring out how to stay relevant, fresh and innovative. It can be difficult to maintain uniqueness when there is such a saturation of content these days. But is the issue really about the physical production of a similar image, or is it more about the idea of something you made and believe is truly unique being recreated? Does this lessen the value of the unique way you see the world?

It is up to us as creatives to draw our own boundaries and direct the evolution of photography and video production in the manor we see fit because the conversations that arise are serving to shape our social values as a whole.

When producing content for clients, we have to make sure we can evolve the conversation while still maintaing the point and integrity of the story. As storytellers we give voice to those who may not have had the opportunity to share, and their voice is what inspires us to continue developing content. Even if the story we're telling has already been told, maybe it hasn't been told in this particular way by this particular person, and that interviewee getting their voice and message heard is what matters.

I think the point of visual storytelling, whether it's through photography or videography, is to present a platform that helps us all evolve the way we understand the world around us. We have to build off of things people can relate to and in doing that, have to accept the fact that some inspiration is borrowed. We have to tap into the collective conscience in order to build off of what has previously been done.

Shared experiences, like the ones we share through media, are some of the most powerful things we can feel as humans, only to be trumped, of course, by having an image on the cover of National Geographic…

The Editor's Chair

Chloe: Dan, how long have you been an editor? (Of photography and video) Dan: Ever since I started shooting, I have been editing. A lot of people try to be the “do it all” kind of person. Doing that teaches you a lot about efficiency, but is very difficult to do properly.

Chloe: What do you enjoy about editing?

Dan: I like seeing a project come full circle. I also like interpreting all of the content from the producer and shooter. I have to take the way these two people see the story and make it fit together.

Chloe: What do you do to set up an edit? What is your routine?

Dan: Everything begins with a meticulous file naming system and I start with the end in mind. I want all of the footage to be easily accessible and searchable by subject and date. I will set up the projects with a folder for Footage, Graphics, Music and the Premiere Project File. Knowing that this same folder setup will be imported into Premiere, making sure everything within “Footage” is labeled properly is important.

Inside Premiere, I will set up folders for Footage, Graphics, Music and Sequences. I make sure all of the Sequences are labeled with their contents, the version number and the date, just in case someone else in the office needs to find a specific edit or scene. This also makes naming our exports a lot easier.

Chloe: Do you think about edits you want to make during shooting? How much of the editing process is happening during actual production?

Dan: Absolutely. We have to be very strategic and efficient with our time at every step in the process. We do this so that we aren’t creating extra work for ourselves and so that we can deliver projects to the client in a timely manner. We will show up to a shoot with a rough outline of how we see the edit going, but are careful to leave room for the unexpected. We are always keeping a running list of the shots we have and constantly communicate the shots we are getting to each other to prevent shooting duplicate footage.

Chloe: What are the greatest challenges you have when editing?

Dan: I think the hardest part of editing is being concise with the edit. We often come away with a lot of great content and it’s hard to find a place for all of it. This means that I have to only select the very best content for the final edit.

 

 

Lessons from Professor john a. powell: Health Equity and Racism

by Chloe Wittry, Project Manager What Professor john a. powell has done to advance the discussion and action taken around social equity is astounding. His talk was engaging and extremely relevant as we’re facing some of our most pivotal racism, poverty and inequality issues today. The crowd of attendees were members of organizations and foundations that that are trying to make a difference in the social and economic systems of Coloradans.

John a. powell developed an “opportunity-based” model that connects affordable housing to racialized spaces in education, health, health care and employment and is the author of Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society. He’s written many articles for large publications like Huffington Post and appeared on various tv series and podcast publications.

One of his main focuses: Social belonging and how it relates to poverty and inequity. During his discussion he weaved in the cold-hard statistics of current poverty rates with the psychological research behind what is keeping many groups of people in poverty. But it goes way beyond either of these things, to an unconscious level. The fact is there is a huge misunderstanding of what poverty even means and what it’s defined by. One of the main concepts that hit me through powell’s discussion is that poverty extends beyond material inequality and is defined more by a sense of social exclusion and lack of belonging. There are many categories of social exclusion that create a group’s poverty including religion, gender, race and religion.

Nearing the end of the seminar, I began to feel a sense of hopelessness, that the solution to the issues being outlined would never be reached, or that there was nothing I could possibly do to make an impact. However powell’s view is that even simply discussing and making ourselves aware of the infinite layers of poverty and all types of social inequality is a movement toward a better world. These issues will always be evolving and the way we look at them will always be changing, so there is no place in which we can say “We’ve arrived.” Building understanding and engaging in discussion can create structural change to meet a multitude of needs and create a more inclusive society. Powell calls for a solution unlike any tactical policy that has previously been attempted, requiring us to communicate with the unconsciousness that derives social exclusion.

A powerful quote from powell to leave you with: “Creating belongingness will help eradicate poverty, and eradicating poverty will help create belongingness.”

After seeing powell speak, I will absolutely seek him out again when he comes back to Colorado. As our main interests lie in telling stories around social justice at Chance Multimedia, it's important that we keep abreast of these issues and ideas as they develop and are in constant flux.

The Colorado Trust puts on many wonderful programs through their Health Equity Learning Series. Keep an eye on their page for upcoming events or sign up for their newsletter.

I Heard You’re Having a Baby… What’s Up? Growth, Change and Maternity Leave

By Jessica Chance Chance Multimedia is growing. Stories Without Borders, our nonprofit organization, is gaining steam and producing great projects. And any day now, I’m going to have a baby.

What does this mean for our company, our clients and partners and the future? We’ve been answering a lot of good questions lately. Here are answers to a few. If you have more, please contact us at our team e-mail connect@chancemultimedia.com!

Congratulations on the baby! What does this mean for my project?!

This year we’ve truly become a full service, full time company, beyond James and myself, so we don’t actually anticipate any functional downtime at all once the baby arrives. This is entirely due to the addition of our awesome team members, Chloe Wittry and Dan Sohner, who have been preparing with us for this time all year long.

Yes, I will be stepping away from daily desk work starting September 1st, and be effectively on maternity leave from Chance Multimedia through December 15th. In my place, Chloe, our Project Manager, will be running CM full time. Chloe has been with us since the beginning of 2015, and she’s been shadowing me in anticipation of taking over this role for six months. She’s talented, creative and thoughtful, and we’re enthusiastic about the new ideas, energy and leadership she is bringing to our clients and projects!

Chloe will continue to serve as project manager. Upon my return, I will be able to refine my focus as a producer and director. Frankly, we were overdue for this expansion, and my maternity leave is the perfect time to bring in additional leadership.

Will James take time off? What if I need a photo or need to start a project?

James will take a few weeks of paternity leave once the baby is born. Luckily, since our office is so close to home, he will be able to return to work and be available for shoots on a regular basis in October, while still getting to spend time with his newborn son. Additionally, Dan Sohner, our talented cinematographer and editor, will manage any time-sensitive shoots that come in while James is away in September. Once October hits, we’ll be back to business as usual on the shooting side.

James will continue to serve as business leader at Chance Multimedia, assisted by Chloe, while I am on maternity leave.

What’s happening with the nonprofit?

Stories Without Borders has really taken off in 2015. We’re currently producing our second independent documentary, working with several strategic partners on projects, and have provided quite a few storytelling trainings from Denver to Senegal this year.

When I return to work in 2015, I will continue to work with our talented Board of Directors to lead the organization as we continue to fulfill our mission, to work independently and in partnership with organizations to tell underreported stories and empower new storytellers.

I have a new project idea, but I don’t want to bother you once the baby is here…

Our doors our open and we're ready to roll! The new members of our team are allowing Chance to continue business as usual and we're thrilled to hear about new ideas and projects. Making room for a baby has forced us to look at the way we currently do things and envision how we can do them better. We’ve been working hard all year to prepare for this time and these transitions. When you contact us now or into the future you’re connecting with the same team you’ve come to know and trust, plus new equipment, more specialized talent, better support and an energized outlook. 

We look forward to working with all of our current clients, and some new ones too, as Chance Multimedia and Stories Without Borders moves into a new era!

Farmer to Cup

Farmer to Cup

Hi all, Things have been a little quiet lately on the blog because of a new project we’re working on, but we’re back online! We’ve been developing a new documentary with with a unique window into tea production practices in Kenya, the world export leader of black tea.

We spent the last couple of weeks in production in Kenya, meeting new people and discovering new stories on small tea farms. We are learning about the tea trade and synthesizing that information for a new media and storytelling platform. It’s exciting stuff! Not only are we capturing a unique story that has yet to be told in this light, but the way it’s going to be shared with viewers will be completely new.

We can’t wait to share these new stories with you! Until then, here are some pictures from the recent trip.

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Living with the Dead at the Intendence Film Festival

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Greetings! Our documentary Living With the Dead has been chosen to screen at the Intendence Film Festival the last week of June. We are excited and honored!

Living with the Dead is one of 13 films to be chosen from Colorado and 26 chosen from other states and countries. IFF's mission is to provide an inclusive film event that features the world-class talents of the Colorado film industry, while acknowledging good filmmaking wherever it originates. The festival also encourages and recognizes emerging young filmmakers. We are so happy to get Living With the Dead back out there for another screening.

Living With the Dead was our first feature-length documentary film researched and shot over a period of five years in Manila, Philippines. Manila is the most densely populated city in the world with an average of 43,000 people living per square kilometer. In the center of this heaving metropolis lies the North Cemetery which is home to a living community of more than 2,000 people. In a country where around 40 percent of people live below the poverty line, and population in Manila is reaching desperate proportions, the cemetery provides a unique residence for the hundreds of families that live and work within its walls. Our documentary explores the lives and dreams of several cemetery residents as well as the socioeconomic and political issues that brought them there.

We can’t wait to see what other incredible documentaries have been chosen to screen at the festival. There are so many stories that need to be told!

The Intendence Film Festival (IFF) will be screening films from Colorado and the rest of the world on Thursday, June 25, through Saturday, June 27, 2015, at the Open Media Foundation. Check out more information about the fest and film lineup at their Facebook page.

There are Many Ways to Capture a Scene...

We would like to introduce you to some key players on our team.  They lend us the ability to "extend our reach" and create shots that are even more engaging and interesting. Like hammers and nails - the use of specialized video equipment will have a different outcome and impact on a scene depending on whose hands they're in. It’s up to us to use them to tell a story beautifully and with impact. Introducing... the Movi, the jib and the slider.Movi

The Movi excels at following people and things - a child’s feet running with a soccer ball, a bike’s wheels trailing along a dirt path, or a presenter anxiously walking onto a stage to face the crowd. We use the Movi to capture close-up, intimate movements steadily, providing a visceral experience for the viewer.

MOVI from Chance Multimedia on Vimeo.

Slider

The slider likes to pan the scene. We use it to provide the viewer with a natural path on which to follow the story.

Slider from Chance Multimedia on Vimeo.

Jib

The jib comes in to grab the entire scene.  We use it to create a certain feeling of wonderment in the viewer, an awe that comes with the weightless aerial view of a situation that the jib instantly yields.

Jib from Chance Multimedia on Vimeo.

These are just a few of the tools we utilize in video production to capture scenes in the most unique and visual way. In the hands of talented cinematographers, under the eye of a keen director and woven together through the editing process, they allow us to capture a very intimate and dynamic experience for the viewer. You can see the results of these tools in our work.

Don't forget, we rent our gear out! Check out the Equipment Rentals page for more information.

A Visit from Colorado Academy

A Visit from Colorado Academy

Greetings! Yesterday we had a group of bright, young aspiring journalists, storytellers and filmmakers into our offices to give them a tour of the facilities and teach them the ways of a small documentary production company. They had been traveling to news stations and large networks, so Chance Multimedia was quite a different animal for them to see. We hope we were as inspiring to them as they were to us. It's an interesting thing to build a company from the ground up, then finally get to a place where others who are aspiring to be professionals are actually consulting you for advice. In what sometimes feels like a chaotic juggle of projects, timelines and budgets, it's nice to be able to simply and confidently answer the questions of curious, young people. We like being mentors, and we love seeing uninhibited passion. That passion is what drives great work.

So thank you, Colorado Academy students. You are welcome back anytime!

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Documentaries at the Denver Film Society

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Greetings, Just in case you didn’t know, Denver Film Society is going crazy with documentaries during May, and we wanted to pass the word along! There is something for everyone.

If you like getting glimpses into artists’ private lives:

Cinema Q: Packed In A Trunk - The Lost Art Of Edith Lake Wilkinson

Edith Lake Wilkinson, an artist of the early 19th century, was committed to an asylum in 1924. This doc reveals some of the mysteries and work of Wilkinson’s life as her great niece goes on a journey to return some of her lost pieces to Provincetown. The documentary was funded by Kickstarter where 235 backers pledged $37,150 to bring the film into reality. Denver is one of the first cities to screen the doc, so don’t miss it!

Tickets

If you’re a late-90’s music lover, check out:

Heaven Adores You

Through the unique lens of Director Nickolas Rossi, the story of late musician Elliott Smith is told through an artful compilation of thirty-plus interviews. In the past his story has been told through the lens of addiction, drugs and darkness, but Rossi puts Smith’s music in front and center, with support from Smith’s friends and family members. This documentary also came to life through Kickstarter, raising $15,292 with 218 backers.

Tickets

If you’re interested in unique and curious portraits, see:

Meet the Hitlers

This documentary follows the lives of several of Hitler’s last descents, discovering along the way what’s in a name. The film captures individuals speaking about what it’s like to carry Hitler as a last name, and how it’s affected their lives and identities in a myriad of strange ways. The film challenges viewers to question their beliefs and biases about what a person’s last name really represents, if anything at all. Director Matt Ogens will be in attendance to answer questions after the viewing. For a peek into the director’s work, read Jamie Clifton’s interview with the director on Vice.com.  

Tickets

If you’re interested war and the mind’s of soldiers that have served….

In Country

A documentary teetering on the line of entertaining and disturbing, this film, also born of from a successful Kickstarter, peers into the lives of war veterans who spend their time reenacting their experiences abroad. The film follows the men, some of whom are still on an adrenaline rush from time recently spent in Iraq, as they reenact Vietnam war scenes in the thick forage of Oregon. It reveals personal footage of the men’s time spent in war mixed with old war movie footage to create a truly unsettling yet honest and vulnerable look into the lives of men struggling to reintegrate themselves back into the daily grind of American life after war. For some it’s a form of therapy, for others it’s purely a nostalgic act, and for the audience it’s a revealing, thoughtful and even historical account honoring those who’ve served. Catch it on it’s one and only viewing night at the Denver Film Center on May 25th.

Tickets

Read A.V. Club’s review of the film here.

A Letter to the Interviewee

A Letter to the Interviewee

Dear Interviewee, We’re going to show up to the scene with a multitude of cameras, lights and tripods. We’re going to set up a “stage” for you with lights all over and we’ll be standing behind and around the lenses asking you questions, but we don’t want these things to intimidate you, although we recognize that’s probably impossible.

We’re here to listen to you and tell your story. We value you.

The gear, the lights, the tripods - they’re just tools we are using to make your story beautiful to watch. It feels awkward right now, so keep in mind that we’re here for a larger goal. Your story is serving a purpose.

Now is your opportunity to say what you want an audience to hear, to tell your story honestly and without reserve. This is our opportunity to listen. We’ll take what you say and form new questions from it, keeping the flow of the conversation going very naturally. We like things to unfold organically. We’ll try to connect with you on an emotional level, if that’s where you want to go, because that is what will capture an audience the most.

Unless you’re delivering a thesis, there is no need to prepare. Who could know more about your experience than you? We’ve done enough research to know what questions to ask. We come to you having formulated some questions, but not all of them. We come to this conversation from a place of true curiosity. You have the story to tell, we have the job of weaving it together in the best way possible. You can leave the work and worry to us - all you have to do is show up and sit with us.

Being interviewed on camera is an extreme act of vulnerability and trust. That’s a lot to offer someone you just met. Trust that we appreciate this and in turn, we will treat your story with great care.

The secret is this: We have the gear, the knowledge, the expertise when it comes to making a video work. But your story is the reason we’ve all gathered here. So make “mistakes.” Ask to start over. Ask questions. Let’s collaborate for a goal beyond this awkward moment -- we’re ultimately here to educate, inspire and inform our community. When we remember that, we’ll do great work together… especially if you’ve never been on camera before.

Sincerely,

Chance Multimedia

 

Feature Photo:

Jessica Chance interviewing Hassan Latif for Take Care Health Matters. http://takecarehealthmatters.org/portfolio-item/hassan-latif

We spoke with Kevin Monteiro in 2014 for Take Care Health Matters. Kevin sat down with us 72 days after his release from a 30 year prison sentence. The experiences he shared, and more stories at takecarehealthmatters.org, are inspiring other justice-involved people to access health care.

http://takecarehealthmatters.org/portfolio-item/kevin-monteiro

Insights from Chance Multimedia's Director of Photography

Insights from Chance Multimedia's Director of Photography

Hi, Chloe here. Today I’m going to interview James Chance, our Director of Photography and co-owner of Chance Multimedia. He has been the creative eye behind all of Chance Multimedia’s shoots for 6 years, and had many years of shooting experience before the company’s inception. I’m curious to know how he does what he does, what exactly goes on in his brain while he’s on a shoot, and I’m sure you could glean some insight from it too.

Chloe: So James, first can you tell us how you came to be so enamored with shooting video?

James: My background is photojournalism, however, I always had an interest in video because it was another tool. Way back, in my early foundation courses I specialized in video rather than photography. It had always been at the back of my mind. As I got more serious about visual journalism, although my track was still photography, there was always an interest and it grew. Mainly because it offers so much as a medium for storytelling. You can only do so much with stills. Being able to hear someone’s voice… It’s just a an added layer of the story.

Chloe: What does it take for you to prepare for a shoot? What steps do you take beforehand?

James: I’m uber-organized. If I could give one piece of advice to people starting out, it would be ‘stay organized.’ Especially with video, there’s so much stuff, so much gear, being organized is essential. I put a lot of thought and prep in before getting on location to ensure I have everything I need and that it’s accessible.

I like to know ahead of time what’s expected. That’s the benefit of working with a team, it helps to have someone in a production role. Starting out, there’s a lot of people having to do the one-man-band thing and it’s challenging. For one person, staying organized when you’re dealing with complexity is tough. You need someone to keep you on track so you can lose yourself creatively in any moment. Coffee is also important.

Chloe: You have a very unique style to be sure. It is what sets Chance Multimedia apart from others. How do you achieve the unique movements that we see in shots, where we are following a character’s feet as they walk, or getting a sweeping overview of a landscape?

James: Specifically with equipment - you have to conceive the idea first and then apply it with equipment. Physically I can’t carry everything -- that’s how we’ve grown as a company in striving for better production value. The main pieces of equipment we use are jibs and sliders. We also recently got the Movi. These are all just tools to facilitate ideas and high production.

First and foremost we’re talking about motion. Motion defines video. So given that, I want to make the best motion I can, use motion to my advantage because it determines production value. In any visual medium, providing the viewer with intriguing or new perspectives is important. When I do workshops, I teach photographers and videographers that you always think about where you’re shooting from. If you don’t move that much and every picture is the same, it becomes very dull. You have to create interesting angles and perspectives so the viewer is challenged in a way. Great images offer a unique perspective. The tools and equipment are really just to provide fluid motion, because you can only do so much with a handheld camera. We still do a lot of handheld stuff, but it’s all about production value.

Chloe: I’ve also always wondered, how do you achieve the beautiful vignette that we see around certain shots? And what affect do you think this has on the overall aesthetic of the video?

chance
chance

From “Rotary Projects in the Dominican Republic

James: This type of look is used a lot more in our documentary. Without getting too technical, a lot of times when shooting with lens apertures wide open, that vignette is created. Also, using neutral density filters is critical when shooting on DSLR cameras. However at their highest settings, they tend to vignette. This effect draws the viewer in toward the middle of the screen. It’s not something I deliberately seek, it just happens as a side product of the way I’m shooting through the lenses. We do it less with commercial stuff because it’s more difficult to shoot that way.

Chloe: What is the first thing you do when you get to a shoot location? How do you set up your shots and know what to capture?

James: Usually when we arrive we know there’s going to be an interview. So we scope the best location for the interview - looking for natural light and a clean area that’s not too cluttered. An important thing is to get a lot of distance behind the subject, because we’re using quite a shallow depth of field on the lenses to make the subject pop out. We do interviews first as a rule so that we can illustrate any points that were made. If the person talks about getting their eyes tested using a specific tool we need to get a shot of them doing that after the interview.

Generally with B-roll we work as a pair. One person will have the A-camera which is handheld with audio to make sure we’re getting the basics and the sound. Then the B-camera is usually a DSLR like a 5D, which is rigged on a slider or jib to complement the basic stuff with more high-production-value shots. The balance in necessary.

Now that’s for live action situations. Next we’ll pull away from that and look for specific pickups, shots that can fill spaces which aren’t dependent on a subject doing a specific thing. They’re more about a space, more detailed shots, more conceptual in nature. With that stuff we’ll use the equipment to achieve high production value. All the while I’m thinking about the editor as well. In order to make their job easier you have to use a combination of wide shots and close shots so that they have enough to make a very dynamic-looking video.

Chloe: How do you balance being behind the camera and also engaging with the subjects of your video? The people in front of the lens?

James: My history as a stills photographer taught me the huge importance of engaging with the person you’re shooting. As storytellers we all have different styles that are personal to us. As a photographer, I would spend a lot of time talking to people and hanging with them and getting to know them before shooting. We often don’t have that luxury now on video shoots because it’s go-go-go. But people being comfortable in front of the camera is everything. If people feel awkward or shy it absolutely is read by the viewer. Sometimes I’ll stop shooting and chat with people and goof around a bit, then we’ll start up again. You know, we’re not doing hard news generally, and although our responsibility to the clients is very important, I try not to make it all too serious. People are intimidated when the video guys come in, especially with a multi-person crew. So we just try to put people at ease by recognizing the fact that it’s a bit uncomfortable.

As far as engaging with the subject while I’m focusing on the shots...you kind of just get used to multitasking as you shoot. It becomes second nature, like how you can have a conversation and make a sandwich at the same time. You’ve made a lot of sandwiches, so you can do it. That’s where organization comes into it too, because when you know what points you have to hit coming in, you can move very freely within them, you don’t have to think too much. It becomes easier to find the right exposure and angles. Between shooting moments you can re-engage with the subject. If there’s action going on between two people, I’m not going to say anything, I just let it play out.

Chloe: Because we do impact reporting and uncover serious issues, there must be times where being behind the camera is difficult. What is the most difficult shoot you’ve been on? And what advice do you have for filmmakers in those situations?

James: The worst situation I’ve seen people surviving in is a community that lives around the landfill sites in Manila. There is a site we shot at specifically in Vitas, Tondo. The people there are surviving off two things - one is sorting through the landfill where all the trash is getting dropped off to find recyclables to sell. The other is producing charcoal .They are pulling scrap wood from wherever and cooking it down to produce charcoal. So this whole area is full of black smoke, and it’s just unbreathable. For shooting, I could duck in for 20 seconds at a time, breathing through a handkerchief, and then run out. Not only are people working in there all day, but there are communities living right next to it. There are kids with no clothes and bare feet just running around the trash. Not only was that tough on a physical level, but emotionally it’s just hard seeing people live that way. It’s always the kids that hit you emotionally. What future do they have?

My advice to other filmmakers that may put themselves in the same situations -- Be compassionate, be sensitive, work sensitively. Always put the subjects first. I’m not going to upset anyone to get a better shot. If they don’t want me there I’m just going to smile and wave and say ‘see you later.’ You have the responsibility of representing a whole field and that I take incredibly seriously. You also have a responsibility to represent your subjects honestly. If you’re in a situation where they are consenting to being recorded, with that comes a huge responsibility to tell their story correctly, truthfully. What are you doing if you’re providing misinformation? What’s the point? It doesn’t serve.

Chloe: What do you believe video and documentaries do for the people on the other end of the camera? The people and lives you’re featuring?

James: You hope that the window into other people’s lives promotes change in society as a whole. I try really hard not to be the bleeding heart. When I was 18 I thought I could save the world, but as you grow older you just realize all you can do is use your skills to help as much as possible. There are organizations that are far better set up to deal with the massive challenges.

Honestly, you do it selfishly and you do it for other people, it’s fifty-fifty. I can make a difference and I am satisfied by the work. I have a skillset, and I would rather offer my skill-set toward social change because it’s important.

Chloe: To end on a light note, what are the most inspiring types of shoots for you to go on? What do you enjoy capturing the most?

James: I like shoots where I can take my time. Time is the most valuable asset. It promotes creativity. It’s not so much subject matter that excites me the most, there’s a scale obviously, but it’s more about having the time to approach any subject as creatively as possible rather than having one morning in one situation to hit all the marks. We’re good at that now, but it’s not as satisfying because there’s not time to be as creative. It takes time to ingest a situation, wait for things to happen organically. There could be something twice as interesting an hour later but you just have to go with what you’ve got because you’re on the clock.

To answer the obvious side, I always enjoy working with people, telling their stories. It’s the personal stories that I like. It’s an honor to represent people, it’s a responsibility that I love. Some people open up about incredibly personal things and it’s not easy to do.

Introducing New Team Members

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  Spring greetings!

We have some great new content lined up to share with you throughout these upcoming months.

First things first, meet Chloe and Dan.

Chloe came to us as an intern, hungry for more knowledge and experience in the video production world. She admired our mission, having a passion both for working with nonprofits and using video and photography as mediums to tell the untold story. With a background in journalism from Colorado State University, she was eager to develop her skills in that field and gain some real-world experience. Her natural knack for listening and narrative development quickly earned her a spot on the team as a Creative Production Assistant, where she is able to get her hands dirty in a variety of areas. She enjoys being a jack of all trades. She is currently working on building up Chance’s website, attending shoots to assist the team, blog planning, updating Stories Without Borders.com, organizing video projects and narrative development as an assistant editor.

What inspires her the most?

“When I watch a finished draft of a story we’ve told, a story that I’ve been involved with from start to finish, I feel incredibly inspired. Creating a story takes so much work, so much attention to detail, so much listening and attentiveness to the people being featured...it’s amazing when it all comes together.”

Dan came to us as a skilled craft editor.

He came to Colorado by bicycle in 2013 and just recently landed at Chance Multimedia. Living in Ohio, he had attended Ohio University for Photojournalism and Film and held a position as a staff photographer at the Columbus Dispatch. While freelancing in Colorado for outdoor lifestyle clients, Daniel was looking for something bigger which would help him give back to a larger community. As an Editor and Cinematographer, he is able to help tell stories which, in turn, help inspire people to think outside of their immediate lives. Daniel has experience working with nonprofits such as Local Matters in Columbus, Ohio and Paradox Sports in Boulder, Colorado and is using those experiences to help communicate the stories we here at Chance Multimedia are passionate about.

What inspires him the most?

“I am inspired by passionate people or groups who are not afraid to stand up and make their voices heard. We often work with exceptionally driven subjects and try to tell their stories with as much conviction as they tell them. Being able to feel that energy and weave it into the work we are doing here is a very inspirational feeling.”