Friday, January 28, 2011

New Blog

This blog has gone to a Wordpress platform. Please visit my suite of sites:

and beta testing:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Finishing and CACG

Summer has been rather a blur, checking things off my to-do list and wrapping up projects, clearing my plate for the endeavors of fall.

I've recently completed several big projects, sending them out into the world with little fanfare due to an unanticipated "unwired" situation during my vacation in early August.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be rolling out a series of videos, including some of the first ones I produced in the "Meet Your Maker" series as well as a 4 minute piece entitled "The Art of Oregon Cheese."

For now, I'd like to celebrate the cheese scene a little further south from the great state of California. I hope you'll have a chance to check out the recently released "California Artisan Cheese Guild Story".

It tells the story of the artisan cheese movement in the state through the voices of the cheesemakers - from well established to the up and coming. It explores how the CACG is supporting artisan cheesemakers, building a thriving community and connecting consumers with some incredible cheese.

See you in Seattle!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Seasonal Influences in the Creative Process of Video & Cheese

Feeling the intense, mid-summer energy right now, multiple projects spreading out in all directions, like a squash vine soaking up all that sun and running amok in the garden.

Back in the day, when I was living in a more traditional seasonal climate, I had all the time in the world in the winter when I was "trapped" inside. The seasonal energy at that time of year low and slow, imparting a less "get er done" attitude.

Living in the desert has the distinct advantage of being "trapped" inside during a season of energetic growth. Several projects that have been in process for several months -- and a fun new one, confirmed earlier this week, which will screen at the ACS Opening Night Reception at the Seattle Aquarium (SOOO cool to make it to a large screen venue!) -- are in the final stages of completion and are almost ready to move out into the world.

Completing these pieces will clear the way for a truly deep dive into the two long-format pieces when things "slow down" in the fall. It's clear seasonal energy supports my creative process.

I was reminded recently of how that same seasonal connection exists in the creative process that is cheese production.

Here, in an outtake from one of my all time favorite interviews, Ig Vella, Master Cheesemaker for Vella Cheese & Rogue Creamery, reflects on the seasonality of cheese production. View Video

Friday, July 02, 2010

Apricot and Golden Raisin Compote

This super easy fruit concoction is spiked with Bourbon and a hit of fresh basil. It's the perfect accompaniment to a range of cheeses, especially fresh, local goat cheese or a ripened cheese like Robiola. Keeps up to a week in the fridge.

1 c. dried apricots
1/3 c. golden raisins
1 c. water
2 tbsp. Bourbon (or Brandy)
pinch of cinnamon & salt
8 good size Basil leaves, chopped

Chop apricots to about 1/8" dice. In a small saucepan, combine apricots, raisins and water. Heat to boiling and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 - 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the water has been absorbed.

Add the Bourbon, cinnamon and salt. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the basil. Serve at room temperature with your favorite cheese.

In the photo: Rochetta, a sublime ripened cheese from Italy made with a blend of cow, sheep and goats milk. Don't forget the fabulous 34 Degrees Lemon Crispbread - it adds a compelling light crunch.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Revisiting the Great Oregon Cheese Adventure

Leaving Oregon and moving to Arizona was a pivotal moment for me. Living here leaves me quite disconnected from the lifeblood of the know your where your food comes from consciousness that is so palpable San Francisco north.

As I revisit my first "big" video project, the Great Oregon Cheese Adventure of 2007 - 3 days, 515 miles and 9 Oregon creameries - I am filled with gratitude for having had the opportunity for such an up-close and personal experience with cheese. It profoundly deepened my appreciation for artisan and farmstead products and the people who make them.

A bit of history - I could hardly believe my luck when, in August 2007, I was commissioned by the Oregon Cheese Guild and Dairy Farmers of Oregon to produce a short vignette for the upcoming Wedge Festival and several informational videos for the OCG website.

On the adventure: cheese legend Max McCalman in the area researching his latest book "Mastering Cheese" (2009) along with his photographer Nicholas Beckman. Behind the wheel of the workhorse Rogue Creamery truck was tour guide extraordinaire David Gremmels, showing off the varied cheesemaking regions Oregon.

For many reasons and seasons, this project has been put on hold. Until now.

It was an incredible moment for me to be there, gallivanting around the countryside with the likes of Max and David, two rock stars in the cheese world. It felt, on many levels, like I had arrived at the center of the cheese universe.

Revisiting the trip footage has been pretty amazing, taking me back to a time when cheese and the people who make it were in my backyard. I'm rather tickled by some of the gems I've re-discovered from each and every stop along the way.

Over the coming weeks and months, I'll be sharing periodic vignettes that may emerge during the editing process as well as some short profiles of cheesemakers we visited.

To Be Continued...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cue the Mic and Scrub the Sound...

Sound is probably THE thing I'm least comfortable with in video production. Varying levels of ambient noise, setting the camera's levels perfectly, all the technical stuff is hard enough to nail. Not to mention the things you can't always plan for like wireless signals jamming the sound, three dead batteries and no spare in 15 miles or goats chewing through hard-wired mics... I've had it all. And nothing has given me more grief.

Such is the case with the sound in this video. I love the sentiments, the camera work is solid for the most part (though intense background light is a pain...) but the sound is in certain areas disappointing. It's a difficult thing working around crowd noise, the ebbs and flows of nearby conversation can get louder and rowdier, especially late in the day after beer and wine has been enjoyed.

I'd imagine it's rather like working out the kinks in batches of "test" cheese that just aren't up to par. So many variables come together to make the final product. A slight change in vat temperature or audio level, curd set time or ambient crowd noise makes all the difference in cheese make or a video make.

Cheers to all the great cheesemakers from California and beyond who made this event oh-so-cool and a big shout out to the organizers and behind the scenes volunteers who made it happen!

...extra cheesy credit... can you spot the 3 non-California cheesemakers who make cameos? Hint: two are from Washington and one is from Oregon.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Sweet Spot ~ When a Video "Coagulates"

Video production is a many stage process. First there's the shoot - which, depending on the project, can lead to hours and hours of footage and interviews with 10 or more people.

Then there's logging - transferring all that footage from tape into my editing software, pulling out long stretches of "might be useful" bits (which amount to only about 10% of what I shoot) - and tagging the clips so they're easily found. It's a rather tedious process.

Next, as my husband Matt (knower of all things video production and without whom I could not do what I do) coaches, "you find the music," a whole process in itself which I'll cover in a future post.

And then, once all the preliminaries are done (and I've fretted enough about how it's not coming together), there comes a very definitive moment where the story begins to emerge.

Every time this happens. And it always surprises me; when, daring to use a cheese analogy, it coagulates.

I hit the sweet spot where all the good bits from many different people come together. A clear arc forms as a thought from one person merges perfectly into the sentiments of another, almost magically telling the story. I've been in this space these past few days, putting the finishing touches on the rough cut of the CACG video. Exciting...

Yet, as much as I love it when the story crystalizes and the extraneous falls away, it's beautiful and vexing in equal measure - pushing "cut" on those many, many extraordinary bits that I just can't fit -- requires a ruthlessness that I'm still working on.

...Guess that's why there are outtakes...