June 20, 2022

Comments on the Interwebs

Nope. Not gonna write a big analysis of this. And this isn’t even a “policy.”

You’ll notice there are not very many comments on Rhetorica since its re-launch as my documentary film brand. And that’s just the way I like it 🙂

It also indicates that I have a smaller audience than during this blog’s heyday.

I’m always happy to engage with respectful people whether they agree with me or not. I’m not happy about providing a platform that can be abused. But, sadly, offering that platform is the price one pays for the desire to be heard (on some level) in the public sphere.

I was one of those academics back in the day who thought internet commenting was going to be a good thing for civic participation.

You can thank me later for the hearty belly laugh 🙂

June 15, 2022

Watch Lists for Documentary Films

I just posted my second tweet of the day regarding yet another list of documentary films. I sort of play this for a chuckle because there are so many of these lists published. But, really, I find these “listicles” very useful because I try (and succeed imperfectly) to watch a documentary film every day. I maybe actually watch only three or four per week 🙂

June 14, 2022

Work Continues on Back-to-the-Land Documentary

Now that I’m back from my trip to Portugal (see my personal project on becoming an expat), I’m back to work on the back-to-the-land documentary being directed by Denise Vaughn. I’m the cinematographer and doing some project consulting. Many of the interviews with members of the original 1970s movement into the Missouri Ozarks will be housed in the Special Collections at Meyer Library at Missouri State University.

June 13, 2022

The Whole Blogging Thing

So Rhetorica is one of the oldest, continuously published weblogs. Its earliest iteration began in 1998 as an academic project for my graduate work. It took its present form in March 2002 just before I graduated.

The explanation in the header about a snafu is there in case anyone who remembers the old Rhetorica comes looking for it. And that requires going the Archive.org to find the old content — about the rhetoric of the press-politics relationship in America.

New readers — are there new readers? — get to follow the latest change in my academic career and creative interests: documentary filmmaking  (see also Carbon Trace Productions). I’ve been at that since 2014 but only writing about it recently.

The problem with reinvigorating Rhetorica as a retro blog is that I’m no longer confident in my ability to gain readership in a form that’s no longer current. I briefly tried Substack and didn’t like it. I even tried TikTok for mini documentary film reviews leading to hilarious failure. I still use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Blogging just seems so 2004.

But I’ll keep it up. I like to write.

June 12, 2022

Playing Around With Bumpers

A bumper in the film business is a form of studio branding. You’ll generally see two or three at the start of almost every film. Here’s a list of famous ones you’ve seen dozens of times (sadly, an old list with a few gaps).

Sometimes bumpers are simply visually striking with little attempt to create meaning. The best ones, I think, try to say something about the studio. Here’s the bumper for Carbon Trace Productions, the non-profit documentary studio I co-founded in Springfield, Missouri.

Carbon Trace Bumper with Audio.mp4 from Carbon Trace Productions on Vimeo.

We thought we might be making films about broadly environmental issues of all sorts. Our first film — Downtown: A New American Dream — was a new urbanist film examining the movement back to cities by boomers and millennials. We ended up focusing more on humanitarian service. But the bumper was designed to indicate a cleansing of the earth through our documentary efforts. Hence the smoke cleared away as the moon sweeps by and the name is revealed.

Here’s a draft bumper I’ve developed for The Rhetorica Network.

Rhetorica is a character that represents the concerns of the discipline of rhetoric — the persuasive use of language. I’ve mixed the Old English font with Greco-Roman imagery to connect the past to my application of my academic field (rhetoric, not media) to the persuasive concerns of documentary filmmaking.

Anyway, bumpers are cool and fun to make. So here you go.

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