Panel 2: Filmmakers on The Creative Process
Speakers: Ben Relles (Obama girl), Gordon Quinn, and Mindy Faber
Mindy Faber showed a great video and discussed a student who made a video sampling sexist songs and images of young girls being sexualized, and afterwards said that she couldn’t look at TV the same way ever again, once having been in the position of analyst/creator. This is a key point because schools, in the position of institutions trying to manage risk, are scared by copyright and extremely deterred by the DMCA from allowing media learning.
Gordon Quinn spoke of the right to participate and the right to materially benefit from creations, and thus his desire to balance robust fair use with compensation. He showed a clip from one of his films—a use of “Puff the Magic Dragon” from Refrigerator Mothers, about the mothers of autistic children—one man wanted his mother to listen to the show, which are about “a boy in whose head was locked an untold secret.” The boy in the cartoon wouldn’t speak or communicate, and the man shared this cartoon with his mother. Restated the themes of the movie.
The author had a policy of not licensing, because everyone said the song was about smoking pot. Eventually, Quinn used a personal connection to get him to watch the film, at which point he granted a license. Stories like this explain why 10-second rules don’t work; every situation is different, and we need to work it out in collaboration.
Ben Relles: In total, his YT videos have been seen 6 million times, about the same as Obama’s YouTube channel. He relies on news clips, and when his clips are embedded elsewhere they aren’t always marked as humor; he seems quite sanguine about that. Coming up on 2 years of Obama Girl videos; fortunately for him, people want political humor even beyond the election cycle.
Faber and Quinn discussed moral issues: privacy, intimate stories are put on screen. Appropriating images of someone’s mother may be unethical regardless of fair use. Quinn discussed a movie he advised about underground abortions—very sensitive.
Relles: think about footage of Jeremiah Wright, or McCain supporters at rallies—people need to know what they can do to participate in the process. (I think this interacts with the previous discussion of morality: what does it take to become implicated in a public issue? Do we need to be fair to Jeremiah Wright, or individual McCain supporters?)
Q: Given how quickly Relles turns things around, how do you do clearance?
A: Once he was acquired by a big company, had access to lawyers to ask for ideas. Has definitely killed videos for lack of clearance, including one of Obama and Clinton making out at a Jessica Simpson concert, which he considered a real shame.
Q: How do you move this into schools?
Faber: Difficult in many ways: knowledge, resources, infrastructure. Teachers don’t know whether it’s okay for students to edit together material from YouTube, or for them to show clips of Hitchcock to teach about montage. School becomes increasingly irrelevant to kids because they are using a different system for learning. Faber supports the DMCA exemptions proposed by Renee Hobbs, which would allow both teachers and students to make clips for educational uses. Notes that you don’t need to be a success on YouTube; what you often want is to make change in the community, and showing your video to 200 of the right people may be success.