Tag Archives: YIS

Nourish 2014

Yokohama, Japan. February 2014.

I have a lot to catch up on. I designed this poster for this year’s Nourish conference at school. It is a Saturday workshop about wellness, and this year’s conference was, well, nourishing. In no particular order, some reminders from the day of the things that nourish us:

• Community – what we give and receive with those to whom we belong.
• 6-Second Cuddles – longer, if you wish.
• Passions – football and coffee specifically, but choose your own.
• Making a place your own and becoming a regular.
• Running – for exercise and meditation and the practice of noticing.
• Self-awareness – for understanding yourself and others.
• Not making any one thing too big – it’s all just stuff that needs doing.
• Spark – identifying that thing that makes your life hopeful and meaningful.

I left the conference thinking of a lot of things that have nourished me, one of which is a love of cinema. And then I thought of Stranger Than Fiction, a film I was teaching in my English class, in which the closing monologue goes like this:

As Harold took a bite of Bavarian sugar cookie, he finally felt as if everything was going to be ok. Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Bavarian sugar cookies. And, fortunately, when there aren’t any cookies, we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving gesture, or subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace, or an offer of comfort, not to mention hospital gurneys and nose plugs, an uneaten Danish, soft-spoken secrets, and Fender Stratocasters, and maybe the occasional piece of fiction. And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives. I know the idea seems strange, but I also know that it just so happens to be true. And, so it was, a wristwatch saved Harold Crick.

What nourishes you?

Diploma

This year, I started a filmmaking activity for students at my school. A group of juniors signed up, already seasoned from a local film festival win the previous year and eager to get started on a new project. They decided they wanted to make a zombie film. I warned them that the downfall of most student films is trying to create something that they would see in a summer block buster without having control over locations and props and special effects that block buster budgets pay for. I encouraged them to think smaller and tell a story more dialogue-centered and character-driven. They summarily ignored me.

For which I am most grateful. When they set their minds to making a zombie movie, they started working on the story about a student who is determined to finish his diploma in spite of the zombie apocalypse. It isn’t a comedy. I told them they would have to work hard to sell me on that premise, that the only way I’d believe it is if finishing the diploma was like an anchor of routine in a world gone mad. We agreed that it would also be best on our non-budget to show the zombies as little as possible, and to get somebody figuring out how to do zombie make-up as quickly as possible. Bad zombie make-up makes a thriller into a comedy in a hurry.

The students set to work. Jun Sekiya took over the writing duties and, ten drafts later, produced a screenplay of about 20 pages. A screenplay usually translates to a page per minute on screen, so they were looking at a 20 minute film, which is a significant undertaking. With some script rewriting and ad libs along the way, the final film comes in at 42 minutes. Normally a student film that long would make me vary wary, but the truth is, these boys did a really solid job and the film is worth the effort, because in the end, it isn’t really about the zombies; like all films worth watching, it’s about the characters and how they are challenged and grow.

The filmmakers took their movie to the Kanto Plains Film Festival and won a gold medal and the Palm d’Or, the festival’s top prize. The film also won awards for Best Camera (Sunbird Tsai), and Best Editing (Jun Sekiya), shared the award for Best Actress (Hiyori Takashima) and got a nomination for Best Actor (Yuki NItta).

Sometimes it’s easy to forget to dream big when your pockets are feeling light. Our group, who call themselves the Filmeisters, have a few other projects on the go (including another zombie script), but those will have to wait for the fall. I am grateful for having the chance to work with these young filmmakers, and for being reminded of how much I love the art of filmmaking.

In the Current / Nourish

Yokohama, Japan. February 2013.


Every once in a while, I get to do some graphic design. These are poster designs I did to advertise In The Current and Nourish, new conferences for international school counselors and to encourage well-being in the school community, respectively. The pomegranates in the Nourish poster are not my photographs. I’ve used them under Creative Commons attribution and share-alike licenses.
Sliced Pomegranate: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by stevendepolo
Whole pomegranate: cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by You As A Machine