“Speaking for Myself”

“…a wonderful, unpretentious and intimate film from a talented filmmaker who cares about his subject…introduces us to 8 individual NYC artists who speak to us through honest monologue and clips of their work. What is revealed is their character, their soul, their roots, their vision and tenacity…and interestingly, their intimacy with the City of New York. The artists are as diverse in culture and ethnicity as they are in artistic pursuits, but they all share a uniform love of craft, mountain of creativity, integrity of purpose and love of the city they find truly inspiring… I’m ready to charge into the Apple and get my own stuff done, damn it.”

“There is nothing pretentious, sugar coated or clichéd in this film, each artist is a fighter. Though you will not easily recognize any of them, each shows us a degree of success in a city where competition is staggering (and will bury the mediocre or the faint of heart), at the same time proclaiming this a city where anything is possible if you’re willing to fight.”

“’Speaking For Myself’ is an entertaining, thoughtful and honest look at some tough “working” artists who, despite the odds, are leaving their mark in a tough, yet vibrant city.… I left the screening inspired…”
– Wayne Miller, Sugar Moon Entertainment Capital

“Brilliant, Rich, Beautiful…Art from the inside-out, creation from a creators perspective!  Great work…”
– Chris Cave

“…impressively high level of production craft.  Across the board – composition, video quality, audio, editing, DVD encoding – it’s very strong…”
– Nick Ravitch

“’Speaking for Myself’ hit all the right buttons. A sensitive and honest film, I found myself connecting to the artists and wishing I could meet them. I don’t believe a viewer could ask for more. Thank you for an experience I’ll always remember…”
– Alan Helfman

“Loved it. Very well done I thought. I especially like the sequenced triptychs, and the slow fade at the very beginning from audio patterns to abstract black and white to the colorful streets of NYC. The cigar makers, the wig maker, the sandwich maker, though, made me want to see more of them…”
– Jim Rue

“Your documentary moved me. Toshinori Hamada piece was stellar. I thought his dance/movments on the bridge was the essence of the film. Striving for the relationship with NY and your art, he melded the two perfectly without altering either. I felt the deep respect that the artists had for NY and the life that they are pursuing…”
– Andrew Pagnotti

“I enjoyed very much watching all of the portraits you did. You have taken a wonderful approach, letting the artists speak for themselves without annoying comments or questions, giving them the space to talk, and giving the audience the time to watch them. Great editing, good photography, sound well done. Very nice little ‘New York stories’ in between!”
– Dirk Kolling, Berlin

“…you have shown your mastery of the documentary arts. The mix of interview and action is excellent and you manage to make each artist seem especially articulate.  I learned so much from their narratives. We are drawn into their worlds and we are richer for it. We understand why these people must be in New York City for highest inspiration…
– Charles De La Motte

“This film made me even more aware of how much I love New York!”
– Billie Harris

“Exhilarating! should be subtitled ‘An Ode to Artists’…”
– Carole Weigardt

“Speaking for Myself” seems to catch performers at different stage in their lives and in a variety of relations to Manhattan. These are fascinating stories. Strong, strong people – their melodies (ragas) may be different, but they have a similar rhythmic drive (tala).  So many shades of life, of music and art and the reasons for…”
– Barbara Scales, Latitude 45 Arts

“The film is wonderful, so rich on so many levels. Aside from the fascinating subjects, the extra character of New York is terrific. I especially liked the way it has its own presentation of multiple images at the same time.   I could rave on but for now I’m looking forward to another viewing…”
– Helen Ragheb


Doing the Don’t: Elliott Sharp

Label: Independent
Year: 2008

Jazz Loft:
This is an extraordinary 2  1/4 hour documentary about one of downtown’s most resourceful, inventive and diverse musicians and composers – Elliott Sharp.

For more than thirty years, Mr. Sharp, has navigated various streams of music – rock, jazz, blues,  noise, improv, modern classical, electric, acoustic, etc., playing assorted guitars, saxes, computer and instruments of his own invention, rarely resting and constantly evolving. For this lengthy documentary, Mr. Shapiro has captured many of E. Sharp’s varied projects and contexts. Elliott is interviewed throughout and explains his long story and development, mentioning his many influences that helped him explore and find his own sound.

While Elliott explains his own approach, he has a guitar in hand to show the points he is making. Elliott also shows a handful of the instruments that he has invented and put together from different cheap or abandoned instruments or parts. This documentary includes various performances of Mr. Sharp’s different ensembles and bands: an opera called “Em/Pyre” premiered in Italy, playing in Beijing with Chinese classical musicians, conducting one version of
Orchestra Carbon performing his work “Quarks Swim Free”, playing with his guitar ensemble, as well as his distinctive blues band, Terraplane.

There are a number of extra features included as well like solo guitar and other ensemble performances, photos, musicians bios and other information on Mr. Sharp. I’ve always found Elliott Sharp’s music to be endlessly fascinating, challenging, surprising, often intense and occasionally overwhelming.

This long DVD captures Elliott’s restless nature and exhausting experimentation just right.
Features:
At the Venice Biennale, Sharp conducts premiere of his opera “Em/Pyre”.
In New York, he conducts Orchestra Carbon performing “Quarks Swim Free”.
See rare archival footage of Sharp and his orchestra at The Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1987 with his double-neck guitar.
Sharp with the renowned Sirius String Quartet and his acclaimed blues band “Terraplane”.
Hear artists and writers speak about this remarkable musician and his influences.
Additional features: In “Sharp on Sharp”, an interview with Frank J. Oteri, he talks about the music industry.
“Slabs, Plantars, Violinoids” traces the development of his early hand-made instruments.
Total running time 2 hours & 15 minutes with 80 minutes of original music.

ELLIOTT Sharp: Doing the Don’t.
Elliott Sharp: Doing the Don’t is a wonderful film documenting the life and music of a true American maverick.  Director Bert Shapiro gives the viewer an intimate look and listen to an icon of New York’s downtown music scene.   Combining a prodigious technique with a fierce intellect Sharp’s music challenges the listener to be open to all sonic possibilities.  Included with the film are an additional two hours of concert footage and audio tracks covering the whole range of Sharps eclectic output, be it a gritty blues band or contemporary opera at the Venice Biennale.  Elliott Sharp’s work and uncompromising vision serves as an inspiration to all artists to keep up the good fight and stay true to their dreams.   The proof is in the viewing and Bert Shapiro’s intricate direction lets the music tell the story.
John Frantzen, Composer. Los Angeles, California

“GOT IT….BEAUTIFUL.”
-Lawrence D. ‘Butch’ Morris

“Elliott Sharp is outside of the comfort zone, and this eloquently edited film shows the exciting results that he has achieved….inspiring!”
-Aaron Bond, bassist/filmmaker.

“Doing The Don’t” is a perfect chronicle of an artist in constant motion and evolution as told by the people who know Elliott Sharp best, including himself.”
-Craig Green, Composer/Guitarist

“This is an extraordinary 2 1/4 hour documentary about one of downtown’s most resourceful, inventive and diverse musicians and composers – Elliott Sharp. For more than thirty years, Mr. Sharp, has navigated various streams of music – rock, jazz, blues, noise, improv, modern classical, electric, acoustic, etc., playing assorted guitars, saxes, computer and instruments of his own invention, rarely resting and constantly evolving. For this lengthy documentary, Mr. Shapiro has captured many of E. Sharp’s varied projects and contexts. Elliott is interviewed throughout and explains his long story and development, mentioning his many influences that helped him explore and find his own sound. While Elliott explains his own approach, he has a guitar in hand to show the points he is making. Elliott also shows the a handful of the instruments that he has invented and put together from different cheap or abandoned instruments or parts. This documentary includes various performances of Mr. Sharp’s different ensembles and bands: an opera called “Em/Pyre” premiered in Italy, playing in Beijing with Chinese classical musicians, conducting one version of Orchestra Carbon performing his work “Quarks Swim Free”, playing with his guitar ensemble, as well as his distinctive blues band, Terraplane. There are a number of extra features included as well like solo guitar and other ensemble performances, photos, musicians bios and other information on Mr. Sharp. I’ve always found Elliott Sharp’s music to be endlessly fascinating, challenging, surprising, often intense and occasionally overwhelming. This long DVD captures Elliott’s restless nature and exhausting experimentation just right.”
-BLG, Downttown Music Gallery

“This was great to watch, and Bert has made an important DVD for anyone who’s curious about new music, and Elliott won’t disapoint an open mind.  Butch Morris comment is perfect; “whether you like Elliotts music or not, you’ll get inspired”.
-Lenny (Sweden)

“Mr. Bert Shapiro, sent us an amazing new DVD titled “Elliott Sharp: Doing the Don’t”… great work.”
-Fabrizio Perissinotto
, Long Song Records (Italy)

 


The Organistas

Master musicians reveal why they are passionate about the “King of Instruments”. 
Designers, craftsmen and women show the rarely seen skills of “voicing”, 
molten metal forming, and the many sophisticated hand and eye skills using hand-made tools to make the organ “speak” with a unique sound.

An impressionistic view behind the scenes into the fascinating world of the pipe organ.  
Master musicians speak about why they are passionate about the “King of Instruments”

The film uses music from Bach to the contemporary masters. 
Their glorious sounds are heard and seen in magnificent churches, chapels, concert halls and private homes.  Also included is rare filming of a tiny instrument built about 1680 being played in a private office in London, performed especially for the film.

“The Organistas” won The Directors Choice Award at the prestigious Black Maria Film Festival.

“a wonderful film about creation and artistry, not just about pipe organs”.

“wow.  I’ve seen any number of excellent organ building videos, but I’ve never seen one which ties the art of organ building to the art of organ performance so wonderfully”.

“For some 27 minutes one is taken on this roller-coaster ride……to experience much of this footage is a joy in itself and thoroughly worthwhile”.

“….really captures the energy, the excitement, and the sense of individual personalities coming together that makes organ building so important to those of us that must do it. Sebastian Gluck expressed it well as “art conveying art?

“…really made the organ a living, breathing instrument, connected to the real world… showed, beautifully, the way in which it is so lovingly and artistically designed, and built… a marvelous thing to behold in today’s world – every one working together for one glorious instrument… interviewing the folks who do this for their life work, seeing the organists talk about their work from the other side of the “world” so to speak was fabulous”.
“I think it is one of the most amazing films I have ever seen on pipe organ building because of the way everything is woven together so fluidly, without too much explanation or long introductions. ….a fine and outstanding work”

“… created an incredibly powerful visual and aural statement communicating the complexity and nobility of the pipe organ.  … main focus is the human element in the creation of art; how composer, organ builder and organist “collaborate” for the creation of music”.

“I absolutely loved the film. Very interesting and informative, packed with wonderful music, entertaining commentary, and great information!

“Thanks so much for doing the organ world such a service (twice!)”
-Nicholas Russotto, News and Events Co-ordinator, Organs and Organists Online

“Kudos on the film; very nicely done.  I shall look forward to sharing it with my architect-colleagues.  I cannot think of a nicer way to introduce the art of organ building to those unfamiliar with that profession.  Thank you for providing such an outstanding vehicle that will be educational for a wide-ranging audience.”
Montie Breeden

“Just completed the first showing of the DVD to my 8th graders; you would not believe their reaction. One girl said, “They’re so passionate about what they do.” A boy remarked, “I had no idea the organ was such a machine, so complex.” They loved the boys uniforms from Eton; their shorts and polo shirts don’t seem quite so bad now!  Thanks again for a wonderful look at both craftsmanship AND the organ.”
-Paul Aldredge

“I finally got the opportunity to view “The Organistas.” One word – OUTSTANDING! It was very interesting to see the full scope of organ making & all the artisans it takes to get the job done. The editing was superb & the locales, truely inspirational.”
-Ron Martella

“What an inspiring work you have created!”
-Beth Ann Vaughn

“After reading on these lists about the film “The Organistas” and the prestigious awards it has received, I figured it was time I got to see it.   I’ve just done so, and all I can say is “wow”!   What a terrific job film maker Bert Shapiro has done in capturing the magical essence of the King of Instruments.  I’ve seen any number of excellent organ building videos, and I have innumerable videos of great performances, but I’ve never seen one which ties the art of organ building to the art of organ performance so wonderfully.  Mr. Shapiro has explored the common threads between great organ building and great organ playing in ways which ought to reinforce what most of us know:  passionate commitment to beauty and quality are as true for builders as they are for players.  (And all this in just under a half hour!)

Mr. Shapiro has described “The Organistas” this way:  “In this impressionistic view behind the scenes into the fascinating world of the pipe organ, master musicians reveal why they are passionate about the ‘King of Instruments’. World-renowned designers and, craftsmen and women display how the rarely seen skills of voicing, molten-metal forming, and the many sophisticated skills are used to make the organ speak with a unique sound. The film uses music ranging from Bach to the contemporary master Stephen Paulus. Their glorious sounds are heard and seen in magnificent churches, chapels, concert halls and private homes.”

I’m just thrilled to discover that “The Organistas” is readily available and want to share my excitement with you.”
-Steve Best in Utica, NY

“WOW!!  I’ve seen many programs that tell, with varying degrees of success, the story of an organ, or of an organ-builder, but your film is the first I’ve seen that really captures the energy, the excitement, and the sense of individual personalities coming together that makes organ building so important to those of us that must do it. Sebastian Gluck expressed it well as “art conveying art.”
-Sean O’Donnell  

“You really made the organ a living, breathing instrument, connected to the real world.  It showed, beautifully, the way in which it is so lovingly and artistically designed, and built.  It was very interesting to hear these dedicated people talk about what they do and see the perfection and pride they have in their work.  You made it clear they are as talented and as committed to their work as the musician who sits down to play it.   A marvelous thing to behold in today’s world – every one working together for one glorious instrument.   I especially enjoyed the integration of the film.  Showing the actual process of making the pipes, putting together the many parts of the instrument, interviewing the folks who do this for their life work, seeing the organists talk about their work from the other side of the “world” so to speak was fabulous.  There seemed to be just the right amount of time spent on each phase of the operation for understanding the process.  At first seeing people play and realizing it was not in sync with the fingers playing the keyboard was a bit disconcerting, but I definitely feel you did the right thing by using the music the way you did.  Otherwise most of us would be listening to the playing, (and probably evaluating it) instead of seeing the overall picture.  The music was a good mix of familiar and not so familiar, which kept us listening throughout.
You and your staff are to be congratulated on a wonderful film.  I feel honored to have been included in this wonderful project and wish you great success in getting it out in the world.   I hope many, many people will have the chance to see this.   With gratitude for your fine work.”
-Nancianne Parrella


 


Creating the Stradivarius of Organs:

“Unlike other instruments, the organ is designed, built and voiced for a specific space. This film beautifully highlights the unique symbiosis between the instrument and the building and the instrument and the performer. I salute this inspiring tribute to the King of Instruments at St. Ignatius Loyola.”
-Joseph Colaneri, Staff Conductor, Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, NYC Director, Opera Program, Mannes College of Music, NYC

“I just received my DVD on the St. Ignatius Loyola Mander organ.   It is amazing!   It was wonderful to see pictures of the neat interior parts of the organ that I got to enjoy on the trip with Malcolm and to hear the interesting comments from John Mander.   Kent Tritle did a wonderful job, as well as the others who participated.

In addition, the extras on the DVD are exceptional.  Organistas showed some other wonderful organs and some great shots of the Disney Hall organ.  The dang thing is growing on me.   T-Magna made a very interesting comment in one segment that I have thought for many years.  He said, “organ pipes are like little people.”   His analogy was very interesting (you have to buy the DVD to find out what that is!!) and it was really interesting to get to see several of our very noteable builders in person.

I highly recommend the DVD and it’s worth every nickel.
-Bruise in the Mutastery
baskerbeagles.com (Bruce Cornely)

“Just finished a first look at the St. Ignatius video!   What a wonderful documentary on what is indeed a remarkable instrument.  You certainly have captured the excitement of the subject — much like you did in Organistas.  One of your most extraordinary gifts is surely your ability to get beyond the facts and figures and craft an experience that brings those of us to watch into the hearts of those to whom the subject is already so personally fulfilling.  I noticed the same thing happening inthe video you sent about “Soapboxers”.  Congratulations!

Bert Shapiro, producer of the high-acclaimed “Organistas” video, just notified me that his latest video on the making of the great Mander organ at St. Ignatius Loyola in NYC is ready for release.  Especially touching for list members is that Mr. Shapiro has dedicated the video to the memory of Malcolm Wechsler who, as Mander’s USA representative, had much to do with the St. Ignatius instrument.  In fact, it was only the unfortunate status of Malcolm’s health which prevented him from being interviewed for the video.  Entitled “Creating the Stradivarius of Organs,” the video documents the behind the scenes story of the design, building and installation of the organ and includes interviews with Kent Tritle, Michael Barone, David Higgs and Nancianne Parrella

I’ve seen the video, and it’s another winner.  In fact, I plan to use it at an upcoming A.G.O. meeting.”
-Steve Best in Utica, NY


“Auction Day” – Preserving A Tradition

A DVD Review
By Nathan Griffith

This 27-minute DVD is a documentary of the activities that take place at sheep auctions, capturing the sights and sounds of what seems now a disappearing institution.  All scenes take place in two types of settings: At the auction barn, and in the pastures of sheep farms. There are some scenes with and about cattle, but they are much in the minority—wonderfully vibrant sheep of several breeds are featured throughout.

Set entirely in northern Wales, the people’s thickly accented speech may at times be hard to grasp, like farmers advising how to select rams or nuances of the auctioneer’s tales. Running subtitles on the screen greatly assist.

A really nice thing is this mostly-unnarrated DVD gives a lot of great opportunities for us as flockmasters to explain the meanings of the tiny nuances of sale-day behavior so vividly captured on the screen.  Its “special features” are as engaging and useful as the main movie.

A great stocking-stuffer or anytime gift.