Lives in Focus: Family Life Behind Bars

February 6th, 2007

Lives in Focus: Family Life Behind BarsClick here to download
Lives in Focus is vlogging the impact on family relations and dynamics when one or more member of a family is incarcerated. How do some families overcome the separation, financial strain, social stigma and guilt while others crumble? Why is there a greater likelihood that a child of someone who is in prison will also end up in jail at some point? How do society, politics or special interests help or hinder family relations?

I plan to post a video about three minutes in length that focuses on a particular theme showcased through a family’s life. How do such obstacles impact the relationship between a parent and child (both the parent who remains at home and the one in prison)? Between husband and wife? Between siblings? Is there anticipation or dread or tedium at the thought of the long hike on visiting day? How are family relations re-established when a prisoner is released? What are the unforeseen consequences of being released? What efforts do inmates make to stay in touch from within prison walls?

These short, thematic vlogs will show people in their daily lives with relevant audio from interviews. I plan to post on a regular once-a-week schedule for 3 to 6 months.

I also plan to loan video cameras to a few families we select. Lives in Focus has already agreed to set up workshops in conjunction with Prison Families of New York to train these families to document their own lives. We will edit this material and post it to the vlog, giving credit to the families. The videos will be available to the public for free for non-commerical use with a Creative Commons copyright.

Lives in Focus is NOT questioning the guilty verdict that sent people to prison. We also recognize that many crimes upset the lives of others–in extreme cases even depriving families of their own loved ones. Lives in Focus believes, however, that it is important to document and be aware of the repercussions that imprisonment has on an inmate’s family, a large and growing population in America.

As an award-winning journalist who wrote frequently for the New York Times and as a journalism professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, I have already gained access to prisoners and their families. I have a strong track record working with people who are often ostracized by society. The previous Lives in Focus project, shot in 2005, documented the lives of men, women and children in India who are HIV+ or have AIDS.

Project Site: Lives in Focus: Family Life Behind Bars
Subscribe to the project.

A note from Jay Dedman, Lives in Focus’ advocate:

I met Sandeep when he wrote an NY Times article on Videoblogging back in 2005. It was the first time a journalist really seemed to respect what we were doing in the Videoblogging Community. We weren’t just people making funny viral videos, but actually had the ability to make videos of consequence. He ended up starting his own videoblog, Lives in Focus, helping set the example of what we can do with this new medium without boundaries. Any ambitious project needs some money to get started, so help fund the work we want to see.

Deliverables Approx. 1 video/wk for 3-6 months
Timeline To begin immediately
Purpose Equipment and Expenses
Amount $2500
Recipient Sandeep Junnarkar

Lost In Light

October 23rd, 2006

Lost In Light
Click here to download
This is a project about the 8mm film format. But 8mm is dead, you say? On the contrary! Not only is the format alive with innovation by filmmakers around the world, but hours and hours of Super 8 and regular 8mm film exist in attics and basements the world over—as home movies, educational films, works of art—that is slowly fading from the historical record.

We’re here to preserve that record before these films are lost, and to make those films available for viewing by the public and for use by artists seeking new, compelling footage. Lost in Light is a project devoted to preserving, showcasing, and celebrating films created on the small-gauge 8mm film format.

To that end, we will provide free Super 8 and 8mm to video transfers to anyone who asks, in exchange for posting their video to the Lost in Light site and on the Internet Archive with their choice of Creative
Commons licenses. In addition, Lost in Light will include articles and features by members of the filmmaking and film preservation communities, video tutorials for making 8mm films, as well as creative work, all with the goal of preserving and championing this important film format.

The site will have a soft launch with some content as soon as funding is available, with a full, hard launch set for January 2007.

Join us on this exciting visual journey through time and creativity!

Project Site: Lost In Light
Subscribe to the project.

A note from Markus Sandy, Lost In Light’s advocate:
I recently came across some old amusement park footage. It was a joy to discover. As a child, I had played at that very same seaside fun zone. The video triggered the recollection of so many memories that had somehow become buried over time. Without these archives, I can’t imagine how I would have ever recalled so many important details. It was truly a wonderful and astounding experience.

When Jen Proctor and Aaron Valdez first proposed their Lost In Light project, I immediately fell in love with the idea. Perhaps it’s because much of my own childhood was captured on 8MM. Perhaps it is the voyeuristic thrill of experiencing “other people’s memories” and a sense of “time travel”. Perhaps it is the community aspects around film preservation.

I just know that I love it and hope you will support this fine project that aims to both educate and preserve.

Deliverables Approx. 1 video/wk for 1 year
Timeline Soft launch immediately,
hard launch with full content
in January 2007.
Purpose To provide an interactive
archive of small-gauge
film for viewing,
reappropriating, remixing,
learning, and study.
Amount $1500
Recipients Jennifer Proctor &
Aaron Valdez

Maria Gomez-Colombia Migration Project

September 17th, 2006

Colombia Migration Project
Click here to download video

Economic crisis and globalization are putting unprecedented pressure on the lives of people in Colombia. Ten percent of the population have emigrated, many to the United States. Maria Gomez, a Colombian resident of New York City, has begun a video documentary project interviewing other Colombian people affected by this period of social upheaval and change.

Maria, who is trained in ethnographic data collection for anthropological research, has already interviewed many in the Colombian immigrant community of New York. She needs financial backing for a 4 month trip through Colombia gathering the stories of those still waiting to make the journey North.

Project Site:
Subscribe to Colombia Migration Project Subscribe HERE.

A note from Maria’s HMWV Advocate, Dave Huth:
Maria has valuable personal connections with this subject matter, and she’s very good at the kind of interviewing a project like this requires. She’s passionate about doing well, and I’m excited to see it be a success. This is a chance to document and distribute the voices of people dramatically affected by complex social forces.

Deliverables 1 Video per week for 16 weeks
Timeline Nov 06-Feb 07
Purpose Travel, Expenses, Editing
Amount $2100
Recipient Maria Gomez

Ashley Hodson-The Sustainable Route

August 13th, 2006

The Sustainable Route
Click here to download

What do you mean, sustainable?
Good question. The Sustainable Route will document the continuing exploration of the ’sustainable’ movement. Megan and I are recent Bennington College graduates with self-designed degrees in Visual Arts and Environmental Studies. We decided to take a road trip and visit different places around the country where average people are grappling with pending doom; ie global climate change, increasing populations, peak oil, threats to biodiversity, etc. There is a lot to chew on these days when it comes to making simple decisions. Where is our food coming from, how do we get electricity, what is the impact of our lifestyles on the world around us? What are average people, like ourselves, doing in their communities to define and work towards ’sustainability’?

Come with us as we travel along and seek out the crest of this green wave!
Go to to add suggestions of projects and places to visit.
Subscribe to The Sustainable Route Subscribe HERE.

We Support This Project:
First, we love Ashley because she’s Ryanne’s sister. She has been doing great vlogging work since 2005 (Common Courtesy vlog). Not only has she been creating, she teaches and inspires others around her (Rusted Gate vlog, Make A Difference vlog) We also love her project: drive around the country for 4 months(!) and make a video exploring every place she visits. Suggestions of sustainable projects to visit will be coming straight from the community. At the end, we’ll have an awesome scrapbook of what sustainablity looks like through individuals living and working in the United States. A portion of the money raised will be donated to a carbon offset program, like, in order to help reduce the ecological footprint her traveling will create.

Deliverables 1 Video per Location
Timeline Sept-Dec 2006
Purpose Food, Gas, Lodging
Amount $2000
Recipient Ashley Hodson